On Season 2 of Fast Frontiers, we noticed that a lot of our guests were talking about myths that they had uncovered. So we thought we would do our own version of “Mythbusters” and do a detailed rundown for all our listeners of every myth we busted during Season 2 of Fast Frontiers—and there were plenty.
Let’s face it: There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the subject of entrepreneurship and venture capital, particularly about venture capital and tech enterprise in regions like the Midwest. I had the privilege of sitting with a variety of great entrepreneurs, VC’s, authors, and more, who us identify—and debunk—many of these various myths.
Mythbuster #1: Wendy Lea
First up busting the myths is episode 1 guest Wendy Lea. Wendy, a leading digital innovations strategist and ecosystem development guru and the current CEO of Energize Colorado, helped us debunk a big false conception in the entrepreneurship world. What is this myth? The belief that if the process works in one place, it will automatically work in another.
Now, if anyone could attest to the falseness of this belief from firsthand experience, it would be Wendy, who detailed for us how at one point in her career, she left Dallas and headed off to Europe on her own: “I left Dallas, Texas [and] that was a whole other chapter [where] I really got my chops globally and [began to understand] a lot more about my weaknesses relative to cultural norms.”
It’s this crucial importance of being sensitive to what Wendy calls “cultural ecosystems” that dispels the above-mentioned myth. This new European chapter in her life and career opened Wendy’s eyes. It made her adapt to cultural differences, which drastically differ based on location, that will determine what works—or doesn’t—and how. In a nutshell, you’re not going to be able to blow into a new company in a new place and declare: “This is how we did it in Silicon Valley, here’s how we’re going to do it in ______ (insert your specified locale here)!”
This mindset won’t work, and in fact, might offend people. What’s great is that Wendy DID share with us what WILL work, which is building strong relationships.
“I always treated my relationships with grace and with respect. And whoever I met or was introduced to by anyone, I found that an honor,” she explained. She also added a final highlight of wise advice for when seeking to establish these thriving ecosystems: “All you can do is stay present and listen, and learn and observe … being mindful of where you are and how that place has certain cultural norms [that need to be respected].”
Mythbuster #2: Noor Sweid
The next guest—and expert mythbuster—was Noor Sweid, who tackled two common misconceptions. Noor is the General Partner at Global Ventures.
The first myth broached the subject of location: A region’s companies are only for that region. Not true, said Noor, who explained that “Our region’s companies can compete globally on a SaaS perspective [and] a cybersecurity perspective, so from all perspectives.”
Second, is the belief that there are no female founders in the Middle East region. Noor refuted with numbers once more: “Our portfolio is 30% female, which for a venture, is about twice the average.” And they are looking to increase that, so stay tuned for exciting things to come.
Mythbuster #4: Bruce Vojack
Another myth to bite the dust was dispelled by our guest expert Bruce Vojak, the co-author of Serial Innovators: How Individuals Create and Deliver Breakthrough Innovations in Mature Firms. Bruce’s myth that he busted: if one does a list of things, researches, and manages the process upfront, innovation will come out the back end.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Not so fast. According to Bruce: “A lot of these processes can be helpful [talking about design thinking, phase-gate processes, developing roadmaps, etc.]. These are all good tools and processes, but while they help you, they won’t guarantee success.”
Thankfully, Bruce doesn’t leave things hanging there. He encouraged, “That’s where people come in. It’s like saying I’m a world-class chef, but I also have a few recipes in the book on the side. The recipes help you, but the world-class chef knows how to go in and ‘season to taste.’ And that’s what a lot of innovation looks like.”
It’s these people, these innovators, that Bruce said we need. Specifically, we need innovators who “instead of being detached, they’re very intimately involved in understanding the problem. Instead of being reductionists, breaking it into its elements, they look at it holistically.”
Mythbuster #5: Mackey Craven
Finally, we wanted to highlight Mackey Craven as the final mythbuster to grace our podcast with his insights. Mackey is a Partner at OpenView, where he focuses on enterprise infrastructure and data-driven application software. The myth Mackey chose to debunk was that you simply can’t hire in the Midwest.
Mackey shared facts to combat this false perception, pointing to the great strides in technology that we’ve seen in recent years—technologies that lifted so many constraints, including those related to hiring and operating. According to Mackey, “It’s only constrained by folk’s abilities to operate… You don’t need to be in a watering hole in Silicon Valley or New York, or Boston, to get [all]that you might need.”
He added: “Now, through technologies like Zoom and Slack, it’s much easier to deliver products and services, and to engage with customers and prospects over a great distance.” In other words, a distance in miles—like age—is nothing but a number.
There were several more superstar guests that we were able to converse with and learn from during season 2, which we don’t want you to miss. For more insights, head to our website to listen to the full podcast episodes.