Smart, Non-Grandiose Entrepreneurship

By Yonatan

In our survey of case studies in the course we encountered several types of entrepreneurial approaches that range from Living PlanIT’s system-level IT solution and Masdar’s top-down support of cutting edge technology to Sarvajal’s business model innovation for clean water delivery to individual rural Indians. These and other examples demonstrate approaches that vary across many dimensions, two of which, I would like to argue, are most important: the degree of technology innovation and the scope of the solution (i.e. room, apartment, building, neighborhood, city; not scope as in size of addressable market). [Maybe “ambition” or “scale” would work on this axis too? – John M]

There are numerous reasons for why these dimensions are particularly important. The degree of technology innovation has vast implications on upfront R&D expenditures, time-to-market, level of customer education and required guarantees on one end and competitive barriers-to-entry, asset intensity and costs of operation on the other. The scope of the solution influences scalability, level of coordination and concentration/fragmentation of the customer base, among other things. Overall, these are chief in determining the go-to-market strategy, profit formula, availability of funding and other elements of the opportunity that impact the probability of success for a new venture[1].

With this in mind, I believe that the middle-ground of these two dimensions are the “sweet spot” for entrepreneurship in the fields we have been discussing, especially for applications in existing cities. The following diagram illustrates my rough evaluation of some of the examples we discussed in class and others [2]:

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Kenya’s New Konza City – ‘Golden Goose’ or ‘White Elephant’?

By Jessica Asunugo

In January 2013, on empty savannah land 60km south of Nairobi – in an area primarily inhabited by elephants and wildebeests – Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki broke ground on the new Konza City. Konza City, also referred to as Kenya’s Silicon Valley or Silicon Savannah, is a $14bn ‘green field’ techno-city development project spanning 5,000 acres. The city aims to advance technology investment and growth, and cement Kenya’s position as Africa’s technology leader. The city will feature infrastructure to promote mixed-use commercial and residential activities. In addition to technology and science districts, the city will include a university campus, mega malls, a championship golf course, world-class hotels, a high-speed mass transport system, and 35,000 residential homes. The project is expected to be completed by 2030, and generate up to 200,000 jobs. Continue reading