Founder Institute chief Adeo Ressi is preaching Silicon Valley heresy.
Counter to the conventional wisdom that tech start-up entrepreneurs simply must move to the valley if they want to have any hope of success, Ressi stopped by NBC 11’s “Press: Here” this week to say it’s more important to export Silicon Valley to tech start-up entrepreneurs wherever they are.
Sure, some argue that immigration reform is needed to allow the best and the brightest to build companies in the valley.
“But in some ways,” Ressi responds, “you’re sucking out the oxygen of these local ecosystems. I like to see the best and the brightest stay in their cities and build great companies there. There is no reason that there is one destination for smart entrepreneurship.”
Ressi, who works out of Silicon Valley has a stated goal of creating 1,000 enduring technology companies a year in 30 cities across the globe.
It’s an ambitious and interesting idea. Why not create clusters of innovation around the world? In his book “The Geography of Jobs” University of California economist Enrico Moretti writes about innovation hubs; the idea that a collection of smart people tend to attract more smart people.
Silicon Valley is one of the places that has a critical mass of brainiacs and therefore it has established itself as a good place to start a tech business. Ressi, through assessing and training potential entrepreneurs, is working to create more such centers.
The Sunday morning show’s panel pressed Ressi. Do we really want to force entrepreneurs to stay, for instance, in Indonesia, when they’d rather work in Silicon Valley?
“We shouldn’t force them to stay in Indonesia,” Ressi says. “I think that we also want to see great ecosystems emerge in different markets around the world because more people will come online in Indonesia than in any other place in the next three years. Why shouldn’t there be a thriving ecosystem in Indonesia?”
Ressi says he knows there are smart people out there — he knows because he tests them. Yes, he rates entrepreneurs on a scale of one to five before accepting them — or not — into the Founder program.
“There are great people everywhere in the world,” he says. “We have tested about 8,900 people and we can measure attributes of entrepreneurship. My guess is about 2 percent of the human population have the raw materials to make great companies.”
And, he says, as much as those of us in the valley might like to think so, we don’t have the market cornered when it comes to where they live.