Google's New Platform For Entrepreneurs Will Spark A Butterfly Effect

You’ve got to hand it to Google: they rarely do anything in a small way. “Google for Entrepreneurs”, the search giant’s new, global umbrella initiative of programs and resources supporting entrepreneurs and startups, is genuinely impressive in its breadth, depth and thoughtfulness. They’re kicking off the initiative with Google for Entrepreneurs Week with events in 26 cities in 13 countries around the world this week.

They’ve already got entrepreneurial-support programs and partnerships set up in places as wide-ranging as Korea, Israel, South Africa, Bulgaria, London, Egypt, Australia and Kenya – not to mention activities in Portland, Austin, New Orleans, D.C., Atlanta and numerous other U.S. locations.

I appreciate several things about what Google is doing with this effort, but let me highlight three here. First, they’re taking a holistic approach, providing people support and expertise, community – both virtual and in-person – online tools, and in some locales, even incubator space and mentorship.

Second, they’re approaching entrepreneurship with an attitude of social responsibility, with special programs to assist minorities and women, and going out of their way to support activities in the developing world. And third, they’re being open and approachable, making sure it’s easy for individuals to tap into the available resources by simply perusing the clear online kiosks.

It would have been easy for a company like Google to put up a bunch of web tools and re-label them as “…for entrepreneurs” – and then hold a few live sessions in Silicon Valley. But to put feet on the ground in Nairobi and Nashville and Ho Chi Mihh City and Haifa is a different matter entirely.

Time will tell, but the conditions are ripe for this platform triggering a ‘butterfly effect’ — ripples that build to waves of new startup activity around the world.

Jim Price is a serial entrepreneur and Adjunct Lecturer of Entrepreneurial Studies at the Zell Lurie Institute at The University of Michigan Ross School of Business. ©2012, James D. Price.

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