How to Spread Entrepreneurship Like a Virus

Bootstrap entrepreneurship doesn’t create entrepreneurial ecosystems, says a new study from Bain Capital and startup accelerator Endeavor. But entrepreneurship can be contagious, and the best way to spread it is to give a handful of pioneer founders what they need to grow.

After a “Patient Zero” gets on her feet, she can mentor, inspire, and reinvest her time and money to infect others. In these groups, collaboration and tough love prevail, rather than a survival-of-the-fittest attitude.

The study focuses on the startup scenes in Mexico City, Istanbul, and Buenos Aires. A social network map of the tech hub in Buenos Aires traces 80 percent of today’s companies back to three companies that got their start in the 1990s. You can see similar trends in Mexico City, Istanbul, and New York.

This brings to mind a scene from the documentary Something Ventured in which Don Valentine, founder of Sequoia Capital, describes a conversation with an investor. The man expressed shock that Valentine didn’t go to Harvard Business School. Valentine said he went to the best business school: a startup, which he eventually left to create some of the best-known companies in Silicon Valley. So when it comes to entrepreneurial ecosystems, the question is not who you know but who does everybody know. Entrepreneurship doesn’t always spread on its own.

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Photo Credit: Cedim News