I recently caught up with Robert Wuebker’s (non-academic) work, which has essentially created an easily deployable, non-profit, community-driven, facilitation-based model for entrepreneurship acceleration (apparently with research publications, which I’m yet to look into)
Here’s some points that I’ve noted down from a recent talk he gave on his work (see video at the bottom, with terrible audio, but a clear signal :). These points tear conventional wisdom about accelerators to shreds, wisdom that has been used to design some of today’s major profit-oriented models.
- Founders (young ones particularly) tend to choose ideas to pursue, based on what looks good in front of a group, rather than on the basis of a self-conscious decision about what motivates them. If you don’t put personal development, and agency central to acceleration, everything breaks, and very early down the line.
- Increased levels of agency also helps to define measures, and milestones of progress that are more real, and fit to the ambitions of the founder.
- Everyone always operates under severe time constraints, regardless of whether they’re being paid for their time or not. This goes for both the founder, as well as the facilitator. If everyone, both founder, and facilitator, knows that they can achieve value within the given time constraints, it reinforces commitment of the founder to the program, and the facilitator for her part-time role in supporting the entrepreneurial journey.
- Design the program to optimise for fruitful discovery (of for instance personal drive) in constrained windows of loosly-structured human interaction. All the rest can be deferred to Google & Youtube.
- Exceeding these time boundaries exponentially increases the requirement for management time, and comes at the cost of loosing productive time to actually do stuff.
- Use frictionlessly expandable tools that are easy to use, and can give anybody a direct, and clear understanding what the learner/founder is working on; tools that you also actually use yourself (!!). Criterium of frictionlessness: The marginal cost of implementing these tools at the starting stage, should be equal to the marginal costs of using them at scale during growth stages.
- Alignment within a small group of random collaborators creates more effectuation, and impact to society, than program management will ever achieve. Invest in connecting a community, rather than in managing an organisation.
- Community also means connections, which help a new business to play with configurations to create value sustainably.
- in that same vein, handing out money to founders fosters competition over collaboration, to the detriment of a community’s health, and its benefit.
From what I can gather on the impact of this “machine” to society, it seems that the rate of return is high. The minimum of building more rounded, skilled people is always met. A big part of them actually start a sustainable business. A small number of them grow big. All at the bare minimum of cost, both in monetary terms, as well as in personal. In every way better than the results of any conventional monetary profit-constrained accelerator model out there.
Here’s Robert’s talk. Make some tea, and enjoy.
PS. If you visit the Quatere Foundry youtube channel, there’s ample explanation of tools, and whiteboard presentation of entrepreneurship basics. Take it, and deploy it at your own convenience!