thoughts on entrepreneurship in Louisville
While it’s fresh on my mind, some thoughts:
- Recognize and play up your strengths. And weaknesses. 657 other cities are vying for the dubious title of a “hot bed for healthcare innovation” but they actually have infrastructure and an educated pipeline of talent and a stable of businesses to support the claim. Don’t discount our world-renowned strengths in logistics, restaurants & food service, ecommerce, spirits & brewing, advanced mfg.
- Connect the dots (e.g. job pipeline) between academia and business and vice versa. Supply and Demand are far from equilibrium in Louisville vis-a-vis opportunities in more competitive / progressive cities.
- Find ways for local govt to help entrepreneurs in ways that go beyond sending threatening letters from the Metro Revenue Commission. Provide value and resources to entrepreneurs, not discouragement.
- While real estate development is important to economic development, it’s not the only means of achieving success. The BIG goal should be serial, systemized innovation, not higher tenant occupancy rates or increasing the price of rent per square foot.
- The outcome of an MBA program with a focus in entrepreneurship should not be a theatrical production of business plan. It should instead be a real business and/or solution to a real problem that an existing business or the marketplace has demonstrated.
- “Small” businesses and base hits are not only ok, but serve as the flywheel for serial innovation. Stop swinging for the fences with healthcare / biotech; Louisville has a long-standing, strange hangover and cognitive dissonance vis-a-vis this particular risk/reward proposition.
- If some portion of corporate philanthropy was directed toward incubator programs (like Brandery) instead of directly to the arts or civic programs, for example, the endowment of wealth created from successful business ventures would likely have a multiplier effect far beyond the amount of the initial charitable contribution.
- -> Let’s define it: What civic or social challenges can incubator-backed startups help solve for local organizations? Successful solutions can probably solve issues for hundreds of other NPOs, governments, and businesses worldwide just like Blackbaud, Ushahidi, Metromapper, et al have.
- A better understanding of the differences between venture finance and operating capital would probably help to inform and to improve the interactions between angels, VCs, entrepreneurs, academia and companies.
- Cross-sector / cross-functional expertise is a really, really valuable thing in recognizing and capitalizing on opportunities and customer needs. I’d bet on a high school drop-out that has managed three disparate businesses instead of the mid-level manager MBA who has worked for the same insurance company for 15 years.
Let’s get smarter and work together, Louisville.