A wide-ranging discussion of how to create thriving entrepreneurial communities with the assistance of online education.
In 2012, while teaching entrepreneurship at the National Economics University in Hanoi,Vietnam, as part of the Fulbright Scholarship Program, debut author Goldberg (Entrepreneurship/Case Western Reserve Univ.) was asked to provide a course on how that Southeast Asian country could emulate the success of California’s Silicon Valley. Instead, he decided to use his native northeast Ohio as a cautionary example—an area that once boomed as a center for shipping and steel manufacturing, but then spiraled into decline in the middle of the 20th century. The seminar was so successful that Goldberg was encouraged to re-create it when he returned to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where he’s an assistant professor. This time, it was a massive open online course (MOOC) that spread virally; it was eventually translated into 16 languages. This book is an accessible version of that seminar, roughly divided into two parts: stories about international entrepreneurs adapting to their unique political and economic environments, and a case study of Cleveland’s impressive economic turnaround. Its global breadth is remarkable—the author collects anecdotes about entrepreneurial success in Tbilisi, Georgia; Gaborone, Botswana; and Düsseldorf, Germany, among many other locations, and discusses the political challenges to business innovation in environments such as Venezuela and Iran. Along the way, Goldberg touches upon a host of issues, including government intervention, mentorship, networking, and philanthropy. The author clearly intends this work as an introduction; for instance, he doesn’t take for granted that readers will be familiar with the concept of the angel investor. He also treats each topic synoptically, rather than exhaustively, seemingly designing them as gateways to future study. Nevertheless, the discussions are notably incisive, despite their brevity, and are very candid about both the vices and virtues of MOOC-driven learning. The overarching point of the book is powerful: that the Silicon Valley model isn’t one that can or should be duplicated everywhere, and that there are other equally innovative ways to foster a culture of business ingenuity.
A marvelously succinct introduction to entrepreneurship.