At ID8 Nation, we describe entrepreneurial communities as ecosystems; coauthor Greg Horowitt, narrows it down to a specific biome in his book, The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley.
Horowitt has thought long and hard about entrepreneurship and has the credentials to prove it:
• Cofounder and managing director of T2 Venture Capital, which invests in companies and advises organizations and governments on how to foster entrepreneurship.
• Cofounder of Global CONNECT, a think tank at the University of California, San Diego specializing in developing innovation ecosystems worldwide.
• Former entrepreneur, cofounder of Global Innovation Summit and founder of Innovation Salon.
• Kauffman Fellow.
Horowitt’s contention is that most efforts to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem are misdirected. Planners are building plantations — neat, orderly systems with carefully selected ingredients, linear processes and predictable results. What they should be building, according to him, are rainforests – messy, tangled ecosystems where ideas, capital and talent wrap themselves around each other and “have sex.” That’s the best way to grow weeds. And weeds — unexpected, impossible-to-predict successes like Facebook and Google — are good.
A San Diego resident, Horowitt has plenty to say about his hometown.
Click on the audio players below to hear Horowitt’s thoughts:
On why San Diego attracts a different type of entrepreneur than Silicon Valley:
On how San Diego’s geography improves its entrepreneurship:
Despite the subtitle of the book, Horowitt doesn’t think every city can be a Silicon Valley or should even try to copy it.
On finding your own Valley:
Many cities try to launch entrepreneurial ecosystems by building tech parks, opening incubators and starting venture funds. Those are fine, Horowitt says, but it’s more important to go through a self-evaluation and deliberate process of improvement.
On the four steps of entrepreneurial improvement:
For a business book, The Rainforest spends a lot of time talking about love. Horowitt contends that love – for an idea, for work and for each other – is the key to building entrepreneurial ecosystems around trust and good will. Listen:
On love and entrepreneurship:
The human brain is wired against entrepreneurship. Tribalism, a suspicion of strangers and a tendency to favor short-term gain over long-term planning all conspire against us. Overcoming that requires a change in how we think and behave. Horowitt says T2 Venture Capital has been able to change the way large groups think.
On overcoming evolution: