I have been a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley since the mid-nineties, and have experienced multiple booms and busts through the years. I have also thought deeply about the dysfunctions in capitalism, and today, I am working on a venture that is aimed at fixing some of them. But let me tell you a bit of a story, first.
In November 2009, I wrote an important piece on my Forbes column called Capitalism’s Fundamental Flaw. In it, I underscored the observation that capitalism has been hijacked by speculators, and value creation and entrepreneurship are no longer at the centre of the system. The modern financial crisis is but a manifestation of this fundamental problem, and rather than focusing on the rich vs. poor debate, we need to focus on how to rehabilitate the capitalistic system to put the emphasis back on value creation and entrepreneurship. This piece triggered a huge discussion all over the Internet.
In October 2010, I defined what the new form of capitalism needs to look like, and called it Capitalism 2.0:
Rather than just a handful of companies building up to become billion-dollar enterprises, we need millions of companies building million-dollar businesses. Or even 500,000 dollar businesses. 200,000-dollar businesses. 100,000-dollar businesses. 50,000-dollar businesses. 10,000-dollar businesses.
Yes, the 10,000- or 50,000-dollar businesses are important as the developing world finds its own stride and grassroots entrepreneurs in all those regions build within their own capacity and economic realities.
I am convinced that the Western world’s economic turnaround and the developing world’s economic development are both dependent upon how well and how fast the entrepreneurs around the world step up to the plate. They are also dependent on how successfully world leaders design policies and frameworks to support this movement.
Indeed, my vision of capitalism 2.0 is a democratic, distributed capitalism that puts the emphasis on entrepreneurship on a very large scale. As a Computer Scientist who did most of her under graduate and graduate research in the area of scalable parallel and distributed systems, my thought process in the domain of economics and capitalism has also been focused on designing a scalable, distributed entrepreneurship development methodology, educational curriculum and delivery model, as well as a virtual incubation and mentoring process that entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world can access and benefit from.
The result, my friends, is the One Million by One Million program. In 1M/1M, we offer a case-study-based online educational program, video lectures, and methodology, online strategy consulting at public and private online roundtables, as well as introductions to customers, channel partners and investors (pre-seed, seed, angel, VC, bank, alternative financing). The public roundtable is a free program accessible from anywhere in the world. The rest of the services are for paying members only. The $1000 annual fee grants paying members unlimited usage of the service.
In her recent article on 1M/1M, Marylene Delbourgh-Delphis explains the benefits of the program’s inclusiveness:
Physical incubators, even the largest, can only host a limited number of companies, which means that the vast majority of entrepreneurs are on their own for all sorts of reasons. 1M by 1M doesn’t have to select or exclude entrepreneurs to function, and thus can accept companies regardless of their prospective TAM or the speed at which the business will grow. Small niche businesses are the economy operating system of the world, and yes, any small business owner can benefit from being trained. As a matter of fact, the program heavily focuses on bootstrapping and leadership (something useful to entrepreneurs with larger ambitions, anyway). 1M by 1M is a fully international social network of entrepreneurs (they only have to be able to speak/understand English). Changing the world for the better is a collective effort, where each entrepreneur defines his/her vision of effectiveness, while benefiting from sharing lessons learned. [You can read her full article here.]
Indeed, we’re not exclusive at all. We want every entrepreneur to have access to our curriculum and services, and give them an opportunity to build their businesses, irrespective of the scale of their entrepreneurial aspirations. After all, there are many more $5M, $10M, $20M ideas out there than $500M or billion dollar ones. The latter is the domain of venture capital, but the former is what we need to also nurture to startup America. [You can watch a video on this subject to understand more about what VCs do and don’t fund, and why.]
I have learnt a great deal being based in the heart of Silicon Valley for the last 15 years, and having access to its inner circle. However, as I started designing 1M/1M, it was clear to me that what we have learned and fine-tuned here at such a furious pace needs to be encapsulated and made available to the larger world of entrepreneurs. No, you do not need to come to Silicon Valley to learn entrepreneurship. With 1M/1M, we have packaged the lessons from the trenches of over 400 entrepreneurs. We have synthesized a methodology that draws from their best practices. We have created case studies that help you get an up-close-and-personal experience of sitting down with some of the best entrepreneurs of our time, and sharing, perhaps, a cup of coffee with them.
I invite all entrepreneurs to come have a look at the program, starting with our FREE online strategy roundtables. Every Thursday, starting at 8 a.m. PDT/11 a.m. EDT/8:30 p.m. IST, entrepreneurs are invited to attend or pitch their businesses. You can find more details and register here.