The holiday period is a great time for reflection and then behavior modification – often referred to as resolutions. While a bit artificial to the logical engineer, this opportunity can be helpful. This year, my favorite insight came from a former student and employee, Elliot Cohen, co-founder of PillPack.
While thinking about the major aspirational goals for the upcoming year that motivate me to get out of bed every morning with high energy and purpose – such as getting my second book out in March, significantly raising the endowment of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, developing the concept of “Inclusive Entrepreneurship” to battle the deep societal alienation we have seen in 2016, and, of course, just becoming a better entrepreneurship educator to my students – there is one underlying enabling resolution that can help me achieve all of them more efficiently and effectively.
In 2015, venture capitalists invested $58.8 billion in the United States, topping the figures for the previous two years by a substantial margin. In 2016 investors have been substantially more cautious, and if the current slowdown is a course correction rather than a blip, it will also be an important test for the nascent equity crowdfunding market.
Many equity crowdfunding platforms have sprung up, including AngelList, FundersClub, Wefunder, OurCrowd andSyndicateRoom.
To succeed, these two-sided markets need enough good investors to be attractive for entrepreneurs to post their ventures, and enough high-quality ventures to be worthwhile for investors to spend time and capital on them. If early-stage capital becomes tougher to obtain, only platforms that are surfacing high-quality deals and matching them efficiently will be able to keep growing.
A particularly interesting feature within the equity-crowdfunding world involves syndication between the crowd and a lead investor. Platforms that have introduced syndication, like AngelList and SyndicateRoom, have done it to address the problem of information asymmetry.
In 2005, I was shopping for an acoustic piano. Back then, piano shopping worked like this: Go to a showroom. Play every instrument. Pick one, and negotiate a price. Have it shipped to your house. Everyone understood that a piano store does not maintain much inventory on site.
Apparel shopping was completely different. Shoppers went to the store, tried things on, then paid and left with their purchase in a shopping bag.
MIT Sloan Associate Dean for Innovation Fiona Murray
From City A.M.
Increasingly, it is innovation-driven entrepreneurs who are providing effective and scalable solutions rather than aid agencies or governments.
Traditionally, the focus of entrepreneurship in the developing world has been on creating small- and medium-sized enterprises serving local markets. However, that emphasis must shift from small firms to what MIT calls innovation-driven enterprises: start-ups that can scale for significant impact.
Building an innovation-driven enterprise is full of challenges for any entrepreneurial team. They must find an appropriate beachhead market, prototype and pilot, and recruit and retain top talent. They also require specialised entrepreneurial finance at each stage.
For development entrepreneurs, access to appropriate types of capital is a significant constraint.
Their challenges are not just about the limited availability of institutionalised venture capital, but to the full range of “risk capital” options, from initial financing by friends and family and angel investors to VCs, private equity and commercial banking. The creation of a pipeline of financial instruments is a critical bottleneck.
Georgina Campbell Flatter, MEng (Oxon) SM, is the Executive Director of the MIT Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT and Lecturer in Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management
MIT Sloan Experts participated in a Twitter chat with Georgina Campbell Flatter MS MEng, Executive Director, MIT Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship, Lecturer in Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management and Chris Stokel-Walker, a dynamic writer for The Economist, The Guardian and The New Statesman.