Entrepreneurial Culture


Entrepreneurial Culture & the Chaos Theory

In the 1990 movie, “Havana,” Robert Redford delivered one of my favorite lines of all times.

He said “I believe it can happen. I believe that a butterfly can flutter its wings over a flower in China and cause a hurricane in the Caribbean. They can even calculate the odds. It just isn’t likely, and it takes so long.”

His statement is basically a description of the chaos theory, which states that small differences in initial conditions can yield significantly – even wildly — different outcomes.

This is why I am passionate about the concept of entrepreneurship, and providing support to start-ups and inventors. The support we provide at the beginning of such ventures creates massively greater outcomes for success.

It is said that we are at the beginning of an economic revolution that is as important as the scientific revolution in the 16th century and the industrial revolution in the 18th century. We are beginning an entrepreneurial revolution. New products are emerging daily: new software, hardware, bio-tech and clean-tech and even non-tech products. We are seeing more and more entrepreneurs arise– some driven by need, due to economic lay-offs; and some driven simply by creative energy and the vision of opportunity.

There are so many good things happening in this revolution: With the consumer internet now driving creativity and invention, opportunities are multiplying. Crowdsourcing is being used to inspire screenplays, music & lyrics, and conceptual design and development for technical and non-technical products alike. Crowdfunding provides economic resources not usually accessible to people everywhere. The entrepreneurial revolution can change the way we do business and bring economic vitality to our nation and our world.

But to truly be successful, inventors, start-ups and entrepreneurs need the support of tried and true business and technical expertise. Start-ups are encouraged to focus on delivering a minimum feature set in the shortest period of time, and by doing so they are able to deliver a first version of the product to customers in a fraction of the time traditionally required. This lean methodology is essential – – but they also need the practical support of an entire village of resources to help them not only take their products to market, but to create sustainable, profitable ventures.

Organizations such as the NW Innovation Resource Center are working to develop this culture of support through enabling access to resources for product development, prototype builds, and production capacity. We are working to enable different options for financial support, and have created a broad network of mentors and advisors that offer the capacity and guidance to help get products to market.

A culture that is truly entrepreneurial creates innovation. Why is this important? Because by supporting inventors and entrepreneurs, we will create jobs, enhance our educational opportunities and improve our economy. Our world will enjoy the results of creative thinking and an innovative workforce. This is the essence of our work at the NWIRC.

This is particularly important for regional economies such as our own. We are at risk for losing our “Next Generation” – our young graduates, who are moving to more highly populated areas in order to carve out a sustainable living. This loss does not make economic sense for our regional communities, nor for the national economy, which requires a much broader geographic distribution. We need to provide our “Next Gen” with the types of jobs and opportunities that they are looking for, and help them to find ways to invest themselves in our communities and their futures.

This “village of resources’ that we are developing essentially serves as the butterfly which changes the initial conditions for a start-up in a way that dramatically changes the outcomes of success. I believe that the support we are providing to start ups will not only dramatically impact our economic outcomes, but will do it in a way in which success is HIGHLY likely and which does not take so long.

The NW Innovation Resource Center is happy to partner many community agencies, educational facilities and businesses to help create this village of resources.

Debbie Ahl is the Founder & Managing Partner of Edgewater Advising, and serves on the Board of Directors for the NW Innovation Resource Center.

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