Beyond Silicon Valley: Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies

Explore how communities in transitioning economies around the world are working to enable the growth of entrepreneurship when the resources from the private sector alone are limited.

About The Course

The path for entrepreneurs to grow their companies outside of well-developed entrepreneurial ecosystems like Silicon Valley is challenging. Most markets around the world do not look like Silicon Valley, and they never will. But there are other models to support new businesses. In transitioning markets (where entrepreneurs do not have much access to private sector financing), government officials, donors, and business leaders are experimenting with creative approaches to support the growth of entrepreneurs. Northeast Ohio, whose largest city is Cleveland, is one such community. During our time together in this course, we will be exploring some of these innovative approaches.

A massive intervention of government and donor resources in Northeast Ohio has been in place for over ten years. In that time, Northeast Ohio has experienced success (including job creation and follow-on funding) with alternative methods of financing startups, but it has not been easy. Yes, some progress has been made, but whether or not they've hit on ultimate success has yet to be determined. A dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem takes many years, even decades, to develop. Government officials and donors typically are looking for shorter term success with their support programs which makes long-term support for entrepreneurship challenging.

During this course, we will hear from entrepreneurs who have launched products and services ranging from medical devices to LED lights to whiskey. You will learn how these entrepreneurs engaged with resources made available to them through a variety of programs and intermediary organizations. We have chosen to talk with many business people that are still in the process of developing their companies and whose ultimate success or failure is still to be determined.

In addition to learning about Cleveland's attempts to support entrepreneurship, you will also be hearing in the lectures from leaders in selected markets around the world including Greece, Vietnam, Tunisia, Argentina, Rwanda and China about how they are working to support the growth of start-up companies.

One of our goals is to learn from you how different communities around the world are approaching implementing strategies and methods to support businesses. Taking what we've learned from our examples in class, I will ask you to reflect on how to best grow entrepreneurship where you live. I am excited to use this global platform to create a dialogue where information flows in multiple directions.

Most MOOCs rebroadcast professors’ lectures, but this course will be different. Don’t expect to see me standing in front of the camera, talking and lecturing every week. Instead, the lectures will be relatively short in length and will have more of the feel of an engaging documentary than a static classroom setting. We will also be providing you with opportunities for live engagement each week with the featured entrepreneurs and thought leaders through a number of interactive sessions during the course.

Please note that additional Czech subtitles will soon be available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?
Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

What resources will I need for this class?
You need an Internet connection. Also, while not required, I am hoping that participants can submit a short video (2 minutes) to accompany their final project. I recognize that not all students have access to a camera or smart phone so this video submission will be optional.

What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this class?
The greatest thing about entrepreneurs is that they are crazy enough not to listen to the skeptics who tell them that the majority of new businesses will fail. They believe that they will succeed in spite of the odds. I think you will learn in this course that if you combine the optimism of entrepreneurs with sound, thoughtful support programs (that have resources behind them), your community will increase its odds of having more of its entrepreneurs succeed in launching successful companies.

Recommended Background

There is no specific background needed to take this course, but having what I call an “entrepreneurial mindset” would be useful. The course is designed for anyone interested in learning more about how communities are creatively supporting the growth of entrepreneurship around the world. We hope that the mix of participants will include entrepreneurs, policy makers, and business leaders.