Venture capitalist Steve Grizzell, founder of InnoVentures Capital, recently returned from a trip to Cairo where he advised the government on the formation of a stronger ecosystem for entrepreneurs. We profiled Steve and his thoughts before the trip and have asked him back to report on the trip.
Steve made three key observations:
- Start with the entrepreneurs! During my recent trip to Egypt I looked at the components of an entrepreneurial ecosystem: venture capital, government regulators, experienced service providers and entrepreneurs who know how to start a great business. I asked myself where to start when all of the components of the ecosystem were weak. After I interviewed several entrepreneurs at Startup Grind Cairo the answer became very clear. Enthusiastic entrepreneurs will be able to solve the problems they face in creating a business and the other components are secondary.
- Screen for real entrepreneurs to help! I would guess that 90% of the people that I met at the Startup Grind event would never actually try and start a business. Most of the audience were looking for someone to take away all of the risk for starting a business. They wanted the government to provide the business training to help them figure out what kind of business to start. They wanted experienced investors to provide low-cost capital and for the investors to help run the business. Most of the audience were afraid to take the risk and just start their business.
- Collaborate and Educate! Bring government, investors, universities, service providers and entrepreneurs together in structured networking events so that they can educate each other. The relationships that are built during networking events are critical in order to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Government officials, university faculty and service providers are best educated from direct interaction with entrepreneurs. All three of these sectors can be very helpful to entrepreneurs but not until they actually understand what the issues are from entrepreneur. The venture capital community also needs to be educated by entrepreneurs. Building venture capital professionals is a slow and expensive process. It is important to create a process so that entrepreneurs and investors can learn from each other how to grow successful businesses in an economic environment that is not very supportive.
Steve Grizzell in Egypt with his family, courtesy of Steve
On Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 1:00 Eastern, Steve will join me here for a live discussion about his trip and the insights he’s drawn from it. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
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More about InnoVentures Capital:
InnoVentures Capital provides loans of up to $250,000 to entrepreneurs in Utah. The lending criteria we use don’t rely on collateral unlike conventional loans. We understand that information technology and service companies don’t have collateral but are critical businesses for developing a modern economy based on innovation and entrepreneurship. InnoVentures is a part of risk capital ecosystem that is necessary for growing businesses that need expansion capital.
Steve Grizzell, courtesy of InnoVentures Capital
Steve’s career is a unique blend of risk capital expertise and international economic development. It began in Indonesia when I realized how empowering it was to the poor to start their own business. In eastern Java, a women’s cooperative helped women launch their own businesses. The unexpected result of this effort were the women seeking out birth control. This was contrary to the conventional wisdom that rural Islamic women would not use birth control. The evidence seemed to point out that once these women had opportunity they made different choices without any incentives from government, NGOs or international aid organizations. I recognized a similar opportunity when I moved to Utah. Young people would become entrepreneurs if they one of their peers become a successful entrepreneur. The question that I asked myself was, “What were the critical components to foster the growth of entrepreneurship” I have explored this question and the efforts to answer it all over the United States and internationally.
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Devin D. Thorpe