Tag Archives: Entrepreneurship

A different story from the Middle East

I wrote about our first meeting with Chris Schroeder, author of Startup Rising, in May 2015. Startup Rising covers the rise of technology and entrepreneurship in the Middle East.

Fast forward two years, and the startup ecosystem in the Middle East has developed significantly. Companies like Souq, Namshi, and Careem have each proved that large tech businesses can be built in the region.

What hasn’t changed is Chris’ dedication to the region. In this insightful article in the MIT Technology Review entitled “A Different Story from the Middle East: Entrepreneurs Building an Arab Tech Economy”, Chris shares some of the most recent positive developments and entrepreneurial success stories emerging from the region.

Chris’ active coverage and global promotion of tech entrepreneurship in the Middle East continues to be very valuable for the region.

Getting accepted, formally and informally

There are two ways to get accepted into an institution. Examples of such institutions include companies and schools.

The first is to apply using the institution’s formal application process, and the second is to offer up your candidacy through informal means, by getting directly in touch with people at the institution.

If you take the first approach, you’re competing head-on with thousands of other candidates. It’s hard to differentiate yourself.

The second approach makes you stand out. It shows that you want the position more than the thousands of people who applied through the formal process, and that you’re entrepreneurial in getting what you want.

Desire and entrepreneurship are important predictors of success in the eventual role, so most people respond positively to seeing them in a candidate. If they don’t, you might want to question whether you want to be part of an institution where these qualities aren’t valued.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be qualified for the position. I’m not advocating for cronyism or nepotism. Although these unfortunately also often produce results, these results are hollow as you haven’t earned the position.

But the formal process has so many qualified people that you need to do things to stand out. You need to do the informal.

Age, productivity, entrepreneurship, and life expectancy

This post was inspired by Marc Andreessen‘s post on Age and the Entrepreneur. In the post, Marc shares his views of what ages are best to be an entrepreneur. Although Marc doesn’t give a definitive answer to the question, he proposes a framework to think about the problem.

The gist of the post is that there’s a tradeoff between enthusiasm and experience. Enthusiasm is usually higher at a young age and experience is greater at an old age. Your view on the best time to be an entrepreneur depends on whether you believe that enthusiasm or experience is a bigger determinant of an entrepreneur’s success.

My view is that enthusiasm is the first step to motivation, and that motivation with a baseline level of intelligence is what produces success. I therefore think that enthusiasm is more important than experience and this favors a younger age for entrepreneurship.

While this is my theoretical view, in practice I’ve seen successful entrepreneurs in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. So clearly this theoretical view oversimplifies the practical reality. The reality is that great entrepreneurship happens when you become obsessed about something and it’s difficult to predict the set of circumstances which will come together to make this happen.

In the post, Marc draws from the research of Dean Simonton, a professor of psychology at the University of California Davis. Here are the interesting parts.

“One empirical generalization appears to be fairly secure: If one plots creative output as a function of age, productivity tends to rise fairly rapidly to a definite peak and thereafter decline gradually until output is about half the rate at the peak.

The location of the peak, as well as the magnitude of the postpeak decline, tends to vary depending on the domain of creative achievement.

At one extreme, some fields are characterized by relatively early peaks, usually around the early 30s or even late 20s in chronological units, with somewhat steep descents thereafter, so that the output rate becomes less than one-quarter the maximum. This age-wise pattern apparently holds for such endeavors as lyric poetry, pure mathematics, and theoretical physics…

The typical trends in other endeavors may display a leisurely rise to a comparatively late peak, in the late 40s or even 50s chronologically, with a minimal if not largely absent drop-off afterward. This more elongated curve holds for such domains as novel writing, history, philosophy, medicine, and general scholarship.

Indeed, because an earlier productive optimum means that a writer can die younger without loss to his or her ultimate reputation, poets exhibit a life expectancy, across the globe and through history, about a half dozen years less than prose writers do.”

There may be other reasons why poets live shorter lives than prose writers. However, if we assume that the difference in life expectancy is entirely the result of poets believing they’ve reached the top of their craft earlier than prose writers, avoiding this belief will help us live longer.

We need to get better at what we do each and every day no matter what we’ve accomplished in the past. The moment we stop doing this is the moment we begin dying.

The state of entrepreneurship and technology commercialization in Turkey

The European Investment Fund’s (EIF) Technology Transfer Accelerator (TTA) recently published a 40 page report on the state of entrepreneurship and technology commercialization in Turkey.

Following a brief overview of the global state of entrepreneurship, the report dives into the Turkish ecosystem by sharing statistics pertaining to the technology sector, startup formation, and startup investment in the country.

The report also provides an overview of the different players in the local startup ecosystem including accelerators, angel investors, VC funds, corporate VC’s, governmental organizations, universities, corporations, non-governmental organizations, and the media.

The report concludes with an overview of the regulatory landscape around technology startups and recommendations to further promote tech entrepreneurship in the country.

You can read the full report here.