It's All About the Network

Everybody loves talking about and celebrating entrepreneurship ... but do Greater Philadelphia's business, public sector, and civic leaders really have a shared approach to spur entrepreneurship in our region over the long haul? When it comes to entrepreneurship and what we need to do to get more of it in our region, you'll hear people talk about a lot of things. Do we need more venture capital in our region? Is it about less government regulation and taxes? Do we need to become less risk-averse as a region?


We covered all these bases and more on the 30-person World Class Business Growth Strategy Team that I co-chaired with Russ Kaufman of The Wistar Institute last year. What this group of business executives, civic leaders, and all-around thoughtful people convened by the Economy League and the CEO Council for Growth wrestled with in our deliberations together was what does this region really need to focus on to get the best return on our collective investments to spur entrepreneurship and startups.


That this group came up with increasing the availability of growth capital, accelerating the commercialization of ideas and technologies from our universities, and focusing on talent strategies around cluster strengths as top business growth priorities came as no surprise. What really excited me and gave me hope that we might be on the verge of turning a corner is the GPS’s emphasis on what for me is a critical ingredient for startup success – strong entrepreneurial networks. Having launched several successful tech companies in the region and now devoting a significant amount of my “free” time to supporting our region’s startup community through Philly Startup Leaders, what has made every step along my entrepreneurial journey possible – access to ideas, talent, capital, support, luck ... you name it – has been my network. Fueling and supporting connections between entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, and support organizations can help us address some of the biggest challenges our region faces with respect to entrepreneurship – expanding our pool of serial entrepreneurs, breaking away from our cultural legacy of Quaker modesty and risk aversion – perceived or otherwise, and fostering a culture of collaboration and information-sharing.


Now’s the time to build on some recent successes and exciting announcements – Mayor Nutter’s launch of the StartupPHL initiative, Drexel University opening the region’s first stand-alone school of entrepreneurship – and galvanize our region’s leaders around what it will really take to move the needle on entrepreneurship in Greater Philadelphia.