MIT Sloan Assistant Professor Christian Catalini has targeted his research on the economics of innovation, entrepreneurial finance and crowdfunding. Catalini is part of an elite few academicians who are analyzing the emergent investment crowdfunding space, so when he shares his findings, and associated perspective, it is worth paying attention.
Catalini, along with his co-authors, Ajay Agrawal and Avi Goldfarb at the University of Toronto, have labeled syndicates the “killer app of equity crowdfunding”.
There has been much discussion and debate if it is the wisdom of the crowd or herd mentality that reigns in investment crowdfunding, but according to Catalini a hybrid mix of professional insight, alongside the crowd, is easily the best.
In their working paper entitled, “Are Syndicates the Killer App of Equity Crowdfunding?”, the trio affirms that lead investors, be they angels or VCs, can inform potential crowdfunding investors about deals they might not otherwise be aware. Equity crowdfunding syndicates fill a major gap in online investing, at least in part the need for investors to be able to actually meet issuers instead of just communicating virtuatlly.
Companies helmed by or fronted by celebrities can have meteoric rises, but can also face dramatic and public setbacks. Recent news stories, for example, have highlighted both the stratospheric success of some celebrity companies and also a set of well-documented problems with some celebrity companies.
Celebrity companies are unique in many ways, but studying them can yield important insights into where everyday entrepreneurs should put their energy and emphasis. Read More »
Some of you might be old enough to remember the milkman – the person who delivered dairy products to your home every few days. Or you might recall the Columbia Record Club, which regularly brought music to mailboxes. And then there’s the venerable and still-going Book of the Month Club, which keeps subscribers abreast of trends in literature.
Let’s keep that history in mind as we consider the soaring popularity of subscription services in which boxes of products or food or goodies appear regularly at your door. Companies like Birchbox,Blue Apron, Club W, OwlCrate,BarkBox, and Bespoke Post are among those leading the way in services that let consumers sample beauty products or exotic food or young adult books or other specialty items without leaving the house. “Best of” suggestions for subscription boxes are also popping up this season as hot items on numerous holiday gift guides – which would certainly lighten Santa’s sleigh.
Yet the basic concept is as old as the cheerful man in white who left bottles of milk in the box on your front step. What’s new about subscription boxes is their use of Internet technology, in which consumers can order subscriptions online, customize the items they want in some cases, and record and upload their reactions to social media. And then there’s the emotional effect that the milkman didn’t spark – the experience of opening the box, that anticipation of the surprises inside and the sense of gift giving … to yourself. It’s like Christmas every month without the standard rejoinder of: “Oh, you shouldn’t have.”
In 2013, I wrote a light piece for Forbes about the “Six Whopping Lies Told About Entrepreneurs” but in hindsight I left out the biggest myth of all about entrepreneurship itself. The single most overrated, and yet common, belief about entrepreneurship is that the idea is paramount.
Yes, an idea is necessary, but it is so much less important than the discipline and process with which the idea is pursued. And, interestingly, all of these are even less important than the quality of the founding team.
The belief that the idea is important becomes invalidated when you work with successful entrepreneurs and begin to see a common pattern emerge: how an original idea morphs and evolves over time as the team does primary market research and starts to focus on customer needs, rather than their initial eureka moment. This observation is borne out in recent research by Professor Matt Marx of MIT, summarized in “Shooting for Startup Success? Take a Detour,” showing that for successful entrepreneurs, the idea they originally started out with is rarely the same as what they ended up succeeding with.
The idea of a better search engine wasn’t novel before Google got started; its value creation was all in the high-quality execution. Similarly, the concept of an electric car was not new when Elon Musk started Tesla, yet it has experienced unprecedented success while others before and since have failed. Likewise for the smartphone and Apple.
Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center
Organizations are dealing with higher levels of uncertainty and deeper complexity than we’ve ever seen before. Not surprisingly, this changeable landscape is causing employees to act cautiously in order to keep their jobs. (After all, who wants to “rock the boat” or be blamed for a failed project?) While this reactive behavior makes logical sense, it’s also creating a major roadblock on the journey to innovation.
Innovation begins with either a passion or a problem. Passion means you’re motivated to innovate because you care deeply about something. For example, thanks to watching Neil Armstrong land on the moon as a child, Richard Branson became very interested in space and realized that he wanted to go there like Armstrong did. For decades, he asked questions, kept notebooks of ideas, talked to different people and worked hard to figure out a way for his passion to become a reality. With a long-term commitment borne by the head and heart, it’s no wonder that the stars lined up for Branson to start Virgin Galactic, transforming his passionate idea into a tangible business.