Britain is well known as the site of the world’s first Industrial Revolution, but until recently London – home of the scientific and financial revolutions that preceded industrialization – was rarely considered an entrepreneurial hotspot since then.
London seemed simply not to have captured the kind of world-class, innovation-driven entrepreneurship that has propelled Silicon Valley and Kendall Square to international acclaim.
Seeking to play my role in helping London recapture some of its entrepreneurial tradition, I took up a post in Fall 2012 as a Visiting Scholar at MIT Sloan on behalf of the British Government. For the previous five years, I had been Britain’s Consul General to New England focused on transatlantic business development and had moved the Consulate into One Broadway (aka E70) to deepen the links with MIT, Kendall Square and the high-tech sectors.
When Congress passed the Jumpstart Our Business Start-ups Act (“JOBS Act”) last year, the rationale sounded right: some “good ideas” don’t come to market because entrepreneurs often lack the necessary connections to privately raise significant amounts of capital. If they could get such funding, the argument went, jobs would be created. And that’s a good thing.
So part of the JOBS Act now permits private firms, including start-ups, to seek equity investments without registering shares for sale, though only from accredited investors. But if implemented, other provisions of the law would allow entrepreneurs and others to use crowd sourcing or social media to troll for money from virtually any would-be private investor. And that’s not such a good thing.
There is a lot of buzz lately about entrepreneurship hotspots across the country. We hear about successful startups in many places, from Austin, Tex., to Reston, Va. What does this mean for entrepreneurs? If you’re launching a startup, does it really matter where you locate?
Yes, it does matter. If you’re starting out, it’s by far best to be in either Silicon Valley or the Boston area. They remain the hottest centers of entrepreneurship and venture capital, so you’ll be in an inherently supportive ecosystem where entrepreneurship is as natural as drinking water. Read More »
George Westerman (MIT Center for Digital Business), interviewed by Michael Fitzgerald
October 29, 2012
Big traditional companies get overlooked when it comes to digital transformation. But companies across all industry sectors are remaking their operations, their customer interactions, and even their business models. George Westerman tells us how they’re doing it, whether they are technology champions or beginners.
It may be just a bumper sticker aphorism, but lately it’s got me thinking. Peter Thiel, early Facebook investor and Paypal cofounder, announced recently that he’s offering $100,000 to 24 young people to drop out of school and pursue an entrepreneurial idea in Silicon Valley. Thiel says the emphasis on having a degree has created “a bubble” in education, and he believes ideas can develop in a start-up environment much faster than on a university campus.
“We need more innovation,” he told the Financial Times recently. “There’s a tremendous cost to having the most talented people in society take on enormous debt, then take well-paying but dead-end jobs to service those loans for the next 15 to 20 years of their lives.”