4. The startup community must have continual activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial community. While cocktail parties and entrepreneur-of-the-year awards are nice, you need activities that engage everyone involved in entrepreneurship. These can be things such as accelerators in the mold of TechStars, simulations of entrepreneurship such as Startup Weekends, or multi-month programs for innovation education such as Singularity University, where I serve as Vice President of Innovation and Research.
Feld also explains why he believes government efforts fail. He says the differences between entrepreneurs and governments are:
Vivek Wadhwa is Vice President of Innovation and Research at Singularity University and Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University. His other academic appointments include Harvard, Duke and Emory Universities as well as the University of California Berkeley.
Brad Feld, managing director of the Foundry Group LLC, talks about his investment strategy. He speaks with Emily Chang on Bloomberg Television's "Bloomberg West." (Source: Bloomberg)
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1. Entrepreneurs are intensely self-aware. They know—and admit—what they are bad at. Feld says entrepreneurs often use words such as “this is what I suck at.” Government leaders, on the other hand, get defensive and rationalize why things didn’t go their way. They focus on impacting public opinion.
2. Entrepreneurs work bottom up and government works top down. Entrepreneurs rarely have significant resources when they start a company—they have to do all the work. Governments have well-defined hierarchies, existing staff and infrastructure, and “clear rules of engagement for getting things done.”
3. Entrepreneurs focus on the micro—on specific things that need to get done while governments focuses on the macro. Feld says, when he talks to government leaders, “they use words like global, macroeconomic, policy, innovation, and economic development. These are not words that entrepreneurs use; entrepreneurs they talk about lean, startup, product, and people.”
4. Entrepreneurs are hard-wired to take action, while government leaders focus on creating policy. In other words, entrepreneurs believe in doing vs. controlling. To them, it is all about making an impact and getting things done.
I suggest that, before government officials waste public funds on trying to build yet another cluster, they read Feld’s book and hang out at the cafés in Boulder or Silicon Valley. They will realize that their best hope to foster innovation is to team up with entrepreneurs such as Feld.
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