The Best Entrepreneurs Think Globally, Not Just Digitally

The Best Entrepreneurs Think Globally, Not Just Digitally

“Born Global” is becoming the new “Born Digital.” Social media and digital platforms giving local start-ups global reach increasingly facilitate “born global” start-ups. The “two guys in a Silicon Valley garage” paradigm is surrendering to cross-border collaborations between “two guys in a Noe Valley garage, three female coders in a Pune office park, and a machinist of indeterminate gender with a 3D printer cluster in Nanjing.”

In other words, today’s innovators don’t “go global”—globality is baked into their origins. Innovation isn’t merely outsourced to low-cost providers, it’s globally networked between peers and partners. People with fundable ideas increasingly seem as comfortable and confident acquiring essential talent and capital from around the world as they do from across the country. Better that gifted group of Estonian coders than the decent but uninspired pride of freelance programmers from Raleigh-Durham.

This globality phenomenon is itself surprisingly global: the Berlin and Beijing startup scenes, for example, appear almost as technologically transnational as Boston’s and the Bay Area’s. “Ecosystems have become more interconnected and startup teams have become more international,” according to one comprehensive 2015 global research survey.

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More granularly, the data are tentative but trending: for example, the average proportion of foreign employees within a start-up is 29% for the top 20 innovation ecosystems surveyed. For Silicon Valley, however, that proportion rises to 45%.

Worldwide, the number of start-up offices in those top 20 ecosystems that are second offices outside the initial ecosystem or founding headquarters that were moved rose more than 8.4X (!) from 2012 to 2014.

Even as a Silicon Valley and Berlin and Cambridge and Bangalore have become more entrepreneurially vibrant locally, they’ve become more global operationally. Essentially, innovators—and their investors—now worry that if they don’t go global from the beginning, do they risk starting off behind?

Consider Kaggle, Innocentive and other global competitions designed to bring global talent to bear on provocative problems.;

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