I was deeply moved yesterday when I read Vivek Wadhwa’s post A Better Formula for Economic Growth: Connecting Smart Risk Takers. He directly dispels the theory of clusters, research parks, university tech commercialization programs and every other top-down approach to create innovation and entrepreneurship. I highly recommend you check it out.
I completely agree with this notion and started thinking about what entrepreneurship really is and how to build a striving tech eco-system in a given area.
First, lets discuss what entrepreneurship is not:
- It is not a program set in place by decision makers.
- It is not a building you put innovation in and commercialize.
- It is not grown from public money.
- It is not developed by having a bunch of venture capital available.
- It is not focus on certain sectors or markets.
- It is not an easy way to get rich.
- It is not chaotically chasing after ideas and projects.
This is what I have come to learn entrepreneurship is:
- It is a passion that drives a person to achieve unimaginable things.
- It rewards those who have a vision to create things that are valuable to others.
- It has to be focused, strategic and sensitive to the idea of failure.
- It has to be taught and mentored to people at a grassroots level.
- It has to be fostered in a culture of innovation.
- It has to be supported by numerous, connected people.
- It is an attitude that can be adopted by anyone in any position.
- It requires talented, creative and skilled workers.
- It requires investors who can skillfully manage risk and add significant non-monetary value to a company.
While some of the things on the first list can accelerator entrepreneurship they cannot be the driving force and it will not kick-start an innovative tech eco-system. First you need the culture and community.