Rules of the Rainforest
Rule #1: Break rules and dream.
Rule #2: Open doors and listen.
Rule #3: Trust and be trustworthy.
Rule #4: Experiment and iterate together.
Rule #5: Seek fairness, not advantage.
Rule #6: Err, fail, and persist.
Rule #7: Pay it forward.
‘According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not
the most intellectual of the species that survives;
it is not the strongest that survives; but the
species that survives is the one that is able best to
adapt and adjust to the changing environment in
which it finds itself.’
(Megginson, ‘Lessons from Europe for American Business’, Southwestern Social Science
Quarterly (1963) 44(1): 3-13, at p. 4.)
A New Paradigm
• Predict and Repeat Learn and Adapt
• Business Planning Business Modeling
• Eliminate Risk Manage Risk
• Never Fail Fail fast and cheaply
• Outputs Outcomes (Patents ≠ Products)
• Invention Innovation
Ambiguity + Discomfort
"The truth is that our finest moments are most likely
to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable,
unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such
moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are
likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for
different ways or truer answers.“
Uninformed + Intelligent
Diversity and independence are important
because the best collective decisions are the
product of disagreement and contest, not
consensus or compromise.
James Surowiecki, the Wisdom of Crowds
Roots of an Ecosystem
1. Smart Policies
2. Informed & Engaged Private Sector
3. Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Support
4. Responsive and responsible workforce development /
5. University – Industry Linkages
6. Robust Capital Food Chain
7. Flexible, but strong Intellectual Property Frameworks
8. Proactive Innovation Leadership Development
9. Supportive Infrastructure
10. Active Youth Engagement
•Who are the entrepreneurs?
•Who has the reputation, resources and •Who are the service providers? •What is the regulatory environment for
commitment to lead new initiatives? •Who are the inventors? innovation?
•Who will champion new initiatives within •Who are the capital providers? •What legal/bureaucratic barriers stand in
their own organizations? •Who are the support organizations? the way of entrepreneurship?
•How can leaders and champions be more •What is the role of government? •What widespread social norms surround
inclusive? •Who are the other key participants in the innovation ecosystems? the innovation ecosystem?
•What are people already doing to stimulate •Where, when and how do stakeholders
•What resources are available to aspiring innovation/entrepreneurship?
•Who are the local entrepreneurs that have
interact? built successful companies?
entrepreneurs (knowledge, mentorship, •How are these people collaborating with •How do ideas, talent and capital come
cloud hosting, etc.)? each other?
•Who are the local entrepreneurs that
•What sources of capital are there in the •What activities drive participation in the •What are the lines of communication
haven’t yet been successful and what can
marketplace? we learn from their failures?
community? between partners?
•How does this capital flow and interact with •What events create ‘buzz’ and generate •What regions have similar attributes and
•How do members of the community resources?
interest? collaborate with each other?
•What is the volume and quality of talent in •What organizations have shared
the labor pool?
•How does the community engage external visions/values?
or global partners? •Are there other regions with successful
•What are the main sources of innovative •How does the community encourage recruit
ideas/discoveries/inventions? innovation ecosystems that we could learn
•What resources are available to service and •How do young people get involved?
from or emulate?
support organizations that interact with
entrepreneurs (workforce training, etc.)?
•What forums exist that allow the breakdown
of social and professional hierarchies?
•Where do people come from?
•What are their value systems?
•What are their motivations (money, reputation, lifestyle, self expression, etc.)?
•What are the ‘amenities of place’?
•What is the density and quality of service providers (law, IP, consulting, real estate, etc.)? •How do we create and maintain a sense of urgency?
•What boundary spanning organizations exist? •What kind of innovative social networks exist already?
•What is the local level of serial entrepreneurship? •How do people deal with uncertainty, risk or randomness?
•What is the density and quality of physical infrastructure (airports, internet connections, etc.)? •How is failure perceived?
•What are the core sectors of the local economy? •Do people build for perfection or iteration?
•What are the strongest regional comparative advantages?
“While we associate economic growth
with technological development,
organizational innovation has played an
equal, if not more important role since
the beginning of the industrial
Economic historians Douglass North and Robert Thomas (P47 of “Trust”)
"It is better to have dreamed a
thousand dreams that never were
than never to have dreamed at all."
A new book by Victor W. Hwang and Greg Horowitt
Managing Director, T2 Venture Capital
Co-Founder, Global CONNECT, UC San Diego www.therainforestbook.com
Kauffman Fellow www.innosummit.com