Start-up Soldier vs. Start-Up Hero

I just discovered a Techcrunch post about “Silicon Envy”. It’s entitled Is the search for the Startup Hero holding back startup teams?

There is a lot of interesting content and if you have the time, listen to the full roundtable. It’s a good summary of our current or maybe complexity crisis. I do not agree with all arguments, for example the ones saying Europe is weak because of regulations. I believe it’s cultural. But probably, regulations change culture over the long term.

I noticed the usual-suspect arguments:
– You need a culture of rivalry and competition.
– You need money which means smart capital.
– We need an education to build (products and companies) not only academic skills.
– You need to be international from day one and not local only, so do not be modest. The topic of language was seen as much as an asset as a liability for Europe.

Esther Dyson is quite convincing in our need for the skills to build company. “In Europe, your mother tells you to work for SAP or Coca Cola.” Then she added it’s easy to create a 5-people company but it is tough to scale to 1’000 and there you need middle managers and skills. You may read Esther Dyson directly in her own post The Dangerous Myth of the Hero Entrepreneur. As important, Esther Dyson shows it is a complex topic.

As she nicely wrote in her post:
“But there are two benefits that do redound to a hero entrepreneur’s home country. First, the local entrepreneur serves as a role model. He (rarely she) encourages people to dream – and also to take risks, persist in the face of long odds, and generate economic activity.
Yet sometimes I think this hero-entrepreneur myth is dangerous. In an economy such as the United States, where start-ups are revered, people who would make perfectly good project supervisors or salespeople establish their own companies, starving the ecosystem of middle managers. Thousands of perfectly smart and highly useful people feel inadequate because they are not heroes. Many make the wrong career choices in search of glory.
In cultures where start-ups are considered risky and not quite honorable, it’s also hard for entrepreneurs to find troops to play the non-starring roles. Most people would rather work for an established company, or for the government.
So, rather than focusing on the supposed shortage of entrepreneurs, consider for a moment the very real shortage of qualified people willing to work for them.”

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