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Not so Tech; Not so Startup.

Posted on Jan 23, 2014 in Authored, The Economist

Originally posted in The Economist on January 23, 2014 Daniel Isenberg, who created the entrepreneurship ecosystem project at Babson Executive Education, thinks that our special report on tech startups, “A Cambrian moment”, promulgates the misimpression that entrepreneurship is exclusively, or even largely, about small, accelerated, lean social media startups. We invited him to write a reply. THE distinction between tech and non-tech entrepreneurship is false. Today, every business venture, entrepreneurial or otherwise, requires technology to be competitive, whether it is diamond trading, transportation, construction, or energy. There is nothing intrinsically more technological about Twitter and Facebook, say, than about Harley-Davidson or American Express. In fact, medical devices and alternative energy are arguably more technology-intensive, generically, than any of the report’s wide-eyed examples. Furthermore, for any business, anywhere, ignoring the opportunities and necessities presented by technology is backing light speed into...

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Crazy Diamonds: True entrepreneurs find worth in the worthless and possibility in the impossible

Posted on Jul 20, 2013 in Book Coverage, Print, The Economist

Originally published in the Economist, July 20, 2013 ENTREPRENEURSHIP is the modern-day philosopher’s stone: a mysterious something that supposedly holds the secret to boosting growth and creating jobs. The G20 countries hold an annual youth-entrepreneurship summit. More than 130 countries celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week. Business schools offer hugely popular courses on how to become an entrepreneur. Business gurus produce (often contradictory) guides to entrepreneurship: David Gumpert wrote both “How to Really Create a Successful Business Plan” and “Burn Your Business Plan!”. But what exactly is entrepreneurship (apart from a longer way of saying “enterprise”)? And how should governments encourage it? The policymakers are as confused as the gurus. They assume that it must mean new technology; so they try to create new Silicon Valleys. Or that it is about small businesses; so they focus on fostering start-ups. Both assumptions...

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Seeding Entrepreneurship: How to Build a Venture-Finance Ecosystem

Posted on Nov 2, 2011 in Authored, Print, The Economist

Originally published in The Economist, November 2, 2011 New York Mayor- entrepreneur Michael Bloomberg, not known for shyness, recently proclaimed New York City as America’s new entrepreneurship capital, roaring past Boston in venture capital and soon to leave Silicon Valley in the dust as the “go to” destination for entrepreneurs. Indeed, the world media are awash with proposals to kick start entrepreneurship as a strategy for economic revival, with support for venture finance at the heart of many programs. Yet the title of Harvard’s Josh Lerner’s recent book, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” is no coincidence, because proclamations are one thing, actual success is quite another. Fortunately, there is a lot of experience around the world about what works and what doesn’t. Here are some practical principles that the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project have been identifying and developing for public...

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Green Shoots of an Entrepreneurial Spring

Posted on Jun 24, 2011 in Authored, Print, The Economist

Printed in June 2011 in The...

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Intelligent Evolution: New Ecosystems Where Entrepreneurship Thrives

Posted on May 24, 2011 in Authored, Print, The Economist

Printed on May 24 2011 in The Economist...

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Entrepreneurship ≠ Self-employment

Posted on Apr 1, 2011 in Print, The Economist

Why policy makers must separate programs for entrepreneurship and self-employment April 1, 2011 In the 1970s the economist E. F. Schumacher set the scene for environmental sustainability with Small is Beautiful.  But small is not beautiful for entrepreneurs: small is a stigma. Small connotes self-employment and stagnation, which is not only different from entrepreneurship; it is fundamentally its opposite. In the words of Abhi Shah, an award winning entrepreneur from Ahmedabad: “Thing big! Thinking small is a crime!” Entrepreneurship vs. self-employment. A century ago, with his third-grade education and as a WWI veteran, my immigrant grandfather became a wallpaper hanger in Philadelphia. He eventually owned a wallpaper store, but he never imagined becoming a Wal-(Paper)-Mart. He did not respond to or create opportunities to grow; to the contrary, for his children he wanted respectable, salaried jobs. Not self-employment. Three generations...

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