Books and Me: Trailblazing in Entrepreneurship

Title: Trailblazing in Entrepreneurship – Creating new paths for understanding the field

Authors: Dean A Shepherd and Holger Patzelttrailblazing-book-cover

This is not a review of the book. I am sharing this book for a number of reasons:

  • I got it from one of the co-authors (Prof. Dean Shepherd) who and whose work I admire a lot
  • It is a great resource on where entrepreneurship scholars can look at for the future of entrepreneurship research
  • It is a great resource on literature in entrepreneurship research from two highly respected scholars
  • The authors have been generous to make it freely available so that a lot many scholars who cannot access expensive resources can gain access to good material
  • It is an ‘open access’ book and freely available. Link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8gg18ojh-w_SzZWcHc2Y0JZQWM
  • More than everything else I feel it is only fair that young scholars must read the right literature in entrepreneurship and identify promising areas of research for themselves

I have already started reading it and I have shared it with a few colleagues who have good words for the book. Hence I am sharing it with the blog’s readers so that all of you will have the opportunity to trailblaze through the wilds of entrepreneurship research.

Good Luck and Happy Reading!

Books and Me: The Launch Pad – Inside Y Combinator

Book Title: The Launch Pad – Inside Y Combinator

Author: Randall StrossThe launch pad Book cover

Its an unusual book. Its a page turner. Its an experience.

It is not a dramatised version of a science fiction novel, but a matter-of-fact story of a real happening. ‘Y Combinator’ was the world’s first accelerator. Though Paul Graham does not refer to it as an accelerator, the phenomenon has really caught on.

This book is more like an ethnographic account of what makes ‘Y Combinator’ a celebrated place in the valley. The author gained access to spend time through one cohort and write a detailed account. The story gives us an idea of how a startup is selected, what they go through and how they prepare themselves for growth. While acceleration seems to only speed up the process of testing and going to market, there is no assurance of success or a sure-success pill.

I enjoyed reading the book. It seemed more fiction than non-fiction. There are interesting anecdotes and experiences that startups, ecosystem stakeholders and policy makers can learn from. Though Silicon Valley itself has enormous lessons for building entrepreneurship ecosystems, places like ‘Y Combinator’ provide equally compelling models of creating ecosystems for catalysing entrepreneurship.

I read the book because of my interest in the phenomenon of accelerators. But startup founders, policy makers, entrepreneurship ecosystem support stakeholders – all equally have interesting take aways from the book. If not anything else, it is a well written story of what happens in the world of startups.

Enjoy – happy reading!

Witnessing middle east’s ‘entrepreneurial revolution’

25% of all tech start-ups in the middle-east are by women! Did that startle you? Then welcome to the entrepreneurial revolution happening in the middle-east. While a lot that is known about the middle-east is restricted to oil, mega exhibitions, gold, and at times wars; one thing that is slowly starting to take shape but has not received much attention is the – entrepreneurship activities. Entrepreneurship is not just starting companies, but also creating local employment, looking at innovative ways to solve local problems, and inspiring another local person to take the plunge.

Read a note from the the author of a new book on the subject: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/christopher-schroeder-arab-uprisings-spurred-entrepreneurship/

The interview above gives a hint to the wide variety of activities taking place to make such a revolution establish itself firmly. The many initiatives to promote innovations, the accelerators and programs for entrepreneurs, the increasing interest of strategic investors, and increasing number of VC’s and Angels. If an ecosystem has to develop, a number of parallel initiatives have to be put in place to make it grow well and grow healthy. I am quite excited at the interview about how the middle-east as a geography and some countries within them are attempting to use entrepreneurship as a tool for social development and economic growth. There are hints in the interview to number of lessons for people in policy, large scale ecosystem development to pick from this book. I am quite sure this book (titled “Startup Rising”) will be on my reading list pretty soon. The last time I came across something like this was a book titled “Start-up Nation” – do you remember?

Read, think and try to do something about it in your own context!

What Should Entrepreneurs Read?

In recent times a number of entrepreneurs who started their businesses in late seventies and eighties have begun to reap fortunes for their hard work. This is quite visible from the number of companies that have sold their operations for tremendous valuation, whose operations have been valued dearly by world famous investors and the numerous biographies and autobiographies that are hitting the shelves. Interestingly many young businessmen also seem to look up to biographies for reference and learning. Please don’t think I am against biographies of businessmen. Personally I collect and read this genre as well.

What struck me recently while listening to someone make reference to reading such works , is that there is a fundamental mismatch in what is to be taken and what is being taken from such reads. While every honestly written biography or autobiography is worth reading to understand the story of the individual, in the case of entrepreneurs, this is considered to be equated to lessons about the evolution of the company as well.

In almost every entrepreneur’s case the person and the firm are almost seen as inseparable. The extreme case of this can be Apple and Steve Jobs. Hence when aspiring and young entrepreneurs listen and read these works they receive useful guidance for their personal growth as individuals, which are then mistakenly extrapolated and applied to the ventures as well.  The result of such application does not seem as stunning as what was showcased in the reading.  Disheartened by this, some of them even go to the extent of recommending non-reading of books as a useful tip.

The real gap is that the biographies and success stories do not showcase the growth challenges of the institutions at various stages to the required detail.  They deal more with the entrepreneur’s evolution and not with the challenges, the tribulation, the demands that was experienced and expressed by the venture at hand.

Does this actually suggest that there is lacuna in the available literature about the growth of firms? One would think so. Though there are some works worthy of mention, they are sporadic. However, even these are not consumed by entrepreneurs with a desired level of enthusiasm and interest.

I once again would like to reiterate, this is not to say autobiographies or biographies are to be avoided. As institution builders entrepreneurs must use biographies and autobiographies for personal growth and look up material that is from the business growth perspective for utilization in their journey of enterprise creation.   Hence I reiterate that entrepreneurs must not just stop with reading biographies but must go beyond and pick useful studies on business growth and enterprise creation.

Happy Reading!