Where investors are missing startup opportunities in America – Joni Cobb and Joseph Hadzima

Joni Cobb, Founder and CEO of Pipeline; Joe Hadzima, Sr. Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

From Entrepreneur

Venture capitalists and other startup investors regularly jet from coast to coast in search of the next big deal, routinely referring to everything in between as “flyover country.” While there has recently been more attention given to the heartland in terms of investing — such as AOL co-founder Steve Case’s new Rise of the Rest fund– there is still undeniably very little awareness of just how strong the entrepreneurial markets are in the middle of the country.

The entrepreneurial activity in the Midwest and Plains states — the middle of America, broadly speaking — may not be as concentrated as the mega-agglomeration economies of California’s Silicon Valley or Boston’s Route 128 region or New York’s quickly expanding borough clusters.

The activity is more spread out and it doesn’t hit you square in the face after leaving the airport, driving to and from appointments, past corporate parks adorned with the signs of famous tech companies and VC firms. But, it’s there in places like Kansas City, St. Louis, Omaha, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland and other cities with growing clusters of startups involved in a wide range of tech activities.

Some of the startups, like FarmMobile in Overland Park, Kan., are, unsurprisingly, focusing on technology tied to industries traditionally associated with the heartland, such as agriculture and manufacturing. In the case of FarmMobile, it’s developing products to store, share and sell agronomic and manufacturing machine data.

But, there are other young and dynamic companies involved with technologies that have little or nothing to do with agriculture and manufacturing, such as Kansas City’s Zoloz (previously known as EyeVerify), maker of identification management technology for mobile devices. It was the first U.S. company acquired by China’s Alibaba Group.

In America, entrepreneurs are increasingly starting to play to their respective region’s particular economic strengths. Read More »

Trump and transforming capitalism: making our movement see itself – Otto Scharmer

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer Otto Scharmer

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Otto Scharmer

From Huffington Post

“Trump is America’s wake-up call” I heard a visitor to the United States say the other day. True. Trump’s first year has been a wake-up call heard around the world. But are we really waking up? And who is “we”? And what, if anything, is the new awareness that we are supposed to wake up to?

This column inquires into these questions, and announces a major initiative that blends the news and social media power of HuffPost with the online-to-offline movement-building capacities of MITx u.lab.

Over the past few months, having attended events and grassroots gatherings in various parts of the world, I’m encouraged that such a waking-up and movement building process is well underway. I’ve seen firsthand a new landscape of initiatives focused on transforming the foundations of our economies and our social structures that is emerging. At the same time, social media movements such as #MeToo have shown how quickly latent and necessary changes can be catalyzed in our current moment. While there is still much more structural and systemic work to be done, it’s increasingly clear that as our old economic structures and civilizational forms hit the wall of our planetary limits, a new world is taking shape that focuses on bridging the three major divides of our time: the ecological divide, the social-economic divide, and the spiritual divide.

This awakening process is not only happening in grassroots movements. It’s equally observable among many, particularly younger, leaders working inside our traditional institutions. Everyone knows that we live in a moment of profound disruption. An old order is about to end. And something new is about to be born.

Last week, I was running a session at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. During the discussion, one of the senior management attendees said: “The problem you describe is not totally new. The destructive dynamics of prejudice, ignorance, hate, and fear have been around for a long time.” And then he asked, “But why is it so much worse today? What is actually different now?”

What a great question. It prompted me to deepen my own sense making.

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How blockchain technology will impact the digital economy–Christian Catalini

MIT Sloan Professor Christian Catalini

MIT Sloan Professor Christian Catalini

From University of Oxford Faculty of Law.

The Platform of the Future?

The survival of any organization depends on its ability to outperform competitors and marketplaces in attracting and rewarding talent, ideas and capital. As communication and transaction costs have drastically declined because of the internet, new platforms have emerged, delivering goods and services at a speed and efficiency previously unimaginable. These new digital players took advantage of the changes in the underlying technology to challenge established business models and rethink pre-existing value chains. The ones that succeeded did so because they achieved a level of efficiency that their brick and mortar counterparts had trouble replicating. Through online reputation and feedback systems, digital players were able to create global marketplaces where individuals, products and services could be matched more effectively than ever before. By providing curation and ensuring the safety of transactions, these new types of intermediaries were able to reap the returns of this first wave of digitization.

A similar transformation is about to happen as blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies mature and mainstream applications emerge. Under this new wave of technological change, intermediaries will still be able to add value to transactions, but thenature of intermediation will fundamentally change. Whereas some established players will be able to use this opportunity to further scale their operations, others will be challenged by new entrants proposing entirely new approaches to value creation and value capture.

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How to incubate innovation–Christian Catalini

MIT Sloan Professor Christian Catalini

MIT Sloan Professor Christian Catalini

From MIT SMR Custom Studio

The first thing an organization can do to nurture innovation is to tap into its own human capital. At a high level, all organizations care about ideas, and more often than not, in corporate settings, people already have ideas. Staff have expertise, know the customers, and throughout the organization they can interface with interesting sources of data and information.  It’s just that their day-to-day requirements do not allow them to execute. Slack time can be an important lever for incubating creativity and a meaningful way for executing ideas employees have had in mind for some time.

But if you ask employees to be entrepreneurial, it’s not same – they may end up directing their own unit, but not building and scaling a multi-billion dollar start-up. It’s hard when you have the safety and surroundings of a large organization to act like entrepreneurs who have to attract capital from outside. The challenge is once you identify talent and the ideas inside to incentivize to execute an experiment as though it were a start-up. Perhaps the biggest organizational change is to think like a small start-up.

From an organizational perspective, firms can learn a great deal from university accelerators. At MIT, we have Global Founders’ Skill Accelerator, where we get students with good ideas to scale businesses. The interesting thing is that students who have no experience of entrepreneurship get feedback and advice from a set of seasoned entrepreneurs. Similarly, an enterprise may have skills and expertise on the tech side, but no track record of taking an idea and scaling it to a multi-billion project. The challenge is how to recruit entrepreneurs to train employees with the good ideas to take them to the next level.

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Wow! That’s Such a Cool Job! – Trish Cotter

MIT Sloan Lecturer in Entrepreneurship Trish Cotter

I have recently been catching up with colleagues from companies past, and when I let them know what I am doing now, I often get the reaction, “Wow! That’s such a cool job.” And it is … I’m fortunate to be the director of delta v, MIT’s student venture accelerator. Each year, we guide a new group of startups through “entrepreneurship boot camp” and help them to launch their startup ventures into the real world. This past summer, I worked with 21 startup teams as they were striving to either gain traction or make the tough decision to regroup. It was an amazing group of students with ideas that address real world problems.

But, I also thought I had a cool job at age 12 when I cleaned up after dogs at a kennel. I had a sense of purpose, got to fulfill a passion of mine by working with animals, and met some great people as well.

The organization I worked at most recently, prior to MIT, was IBM – a company that is trying to bring data analytics insights to companies, so they can address real world problems. The complexity of what both our MIT startups and IBM are doing, albeit in different ways, struck me. Are they so different? I have deep respect for IBM’s CEO, Ginni Rometty, who is moving a company the size of a small nation. However, the leaders of the MIT three-person startups are also scaling difficult challenges and placing bets with tremendous odds of failure.

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