IoT: Special Notes For Entrepreneurs

A free companion to Innovation on Tap
 © Eric B. Schultz, 2020
Innovation on Tap is written for any reader interested in exploring the history of entrepreneurship in America. 
But the book also includes features designed to help modern entrepreneurs improve their innovation and leadership skills.  The set of questions below has been developed to highlight these ideas for both entrepreneurs working through the book individually or as a team, and for instructors using chapters as case studies.
One issue highlighted in the chapter on Eli Whitney, for example, wonders how a New England native and liberal arts graduate who had never seen a cotton plant was able to solve, in a matter of months, a mechanization problem that had stumped industry insiders for a century.  Likewise, the story of King Camp Gillette goes to the heart of how strong personal networks are necessary, but ancillary “weak” networks can be pivotal to success.  And the chapter on Elizabeth Arden asks if it is ethical to sell a product that provides value but does not work, at least as advertised.
Entrepreneurs will likely find many other issues worth exploring, but the questions offered below should be a good start to profiting from the ideas captured by Innovation on Tap.
Corrections and additions are always welcome.  Please contact me at

To download a PDF version of this guide, click here.  (If this link does not work, please email me and I will send you a copy of the PDF.)




1.       The value of education: Whitney’s career as an entrepreneur may never have required the Latin and Greek taught to him at Yale, but this collegiate network proved invaluable to his success.  There has been much written about the value of a liberal arts education in a STEM world, and about the value of college in general to an entrepreneur. 
How do you assess the worth of such an intangible in your life?  How has it influenced development of your community?  What advice would you give to a “modern Eli Whitney” who is gifted at software coding and wonders if pursuing his degree would be worth the time and money?
·         “Peter Thiel Pays Students to Drop Out of School,” September 4, 2015,
·         Gregory Ferenstein, “Thiel Fellows Program Is ‘Most Misdirected Piece Of Philanthropy,’ Says Larry Summers,” TechCrunch, 2013, Verizon Media, 2013–2019,
·         Ilana Kowarski, “How Having an MBA on Your Resume Affects Your Career,” US News and World Report, February 4, 2019,
2.       How innovation arises: Innovation on Tap suggests that Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin was “as close to a ‘flash of genius’ as exists in the annual of invention.”   But there may have been precedent in the form of a paper/pulp-making machine he saw on route to his first job in South Carolina.  The question of how innovation arises has received considerable attention in the last generation.  In the reader’s experience, how does innovation form?
·         Scott Berkun, “The Ten Myths of Innovation: The Best Summary,” Scott Berkun, March 26, 2013,
·         Malcolm Gladwell, “Who Says Big Ideas Are Rare?,”, New Yorker, May 5, 2005,
The other remarkable piece to the Whitney story is how a person who had never seen a cotton plant and had no experience in processing cotton could solve a problem in a matter of months that had plagued farmers for a century.  Even today, some historians are unwilling to give Whitney credit for his invention, feeling certain that he must have borrowed or stolen the idea from elsewhere.  How are outsiders able to make such extraordinary leaps of innovation?
·         Karim R. Lakhani and Lars Bo Jeppesen, “Getting Unusual Suspects to Solve R&D Puzzles,” Harvard Business Review, May 2007,
·         Henry Chesbrough, “R&D Through Open Innovation,” TECH & INNOVATION, May 19, 2003 / Summer 2003 / Issue 31 (originally published by Booz & Company),
·         Lori Valigra, “’Proudly Found Elsewhere’: The Move to Distributed R&D,” Update from University of Warwick, Science|Business Network, March 1, 2006,   
3.       The value of patents: In a lifetime of innovation, Whitney applied for and received one patent, the ill-fated issue for his cotton gin.  After a decade of battling to defend this intellectual property, he gave up on the patent process, preferring instead to secure contacts, innovate quickly, and allow others to copy his practices if they were able.  Why or why not is this still a good strategy?  Under what conditions does patenting make sense today?
·         Shantal Erlich, “Should You Patent Your App?,” Kommbea Inc., December 7, 2018,
·         Oliver E. Allen, “The Power of Patents,” American Heritage, September/October 1990,
·         Allison, John R. and Lemley, Mark A. and Moore, Kimberly A. and Trunkey, Robert Derek, “Valuable Patents.” Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 92, p. 435, 2004; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 03-31; UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 133. Available at SSRN:
4.       Choosing the business model: Whitney and his partner, Phineas Miller, chose an outsourced business model for their cotton gin that seemed ideal for their market, yet it failed almost from the start.  Why?  What might they have done differently?  What lessons might an entrepreneur take from their experience?
·         Joan Magretta, “Why Business Models Matter,” Harvard Business Review, May 2002,
·         Kay Plante, “Why Business Model Innovation is Critically Important Today,” Innovation Management, May 29, 2011,
·         Mark W. Johnson, “Digital Growth Depends More on Business Models Than Technology,” Harvard Business Review, December 14, 2018,
5.       The role of “lying”: Whitney relied heavily on government funding to construct his arms factory in Connecticut.  In the process of securing an extension and new funding, he may have “lied” to government officials about his ability to manufacture standardized parts.  Do you believe he did?  Why or why not were his questionable statements warranted?  When can or should an entrepreneur lie, if ever?  What similar situation, if any, have you faced?
·         Daniel Isenberg, “Should Entrepreneurs Lie?”, HBR Blog Network, April 8, 2010,
·         Gideon Lewis-Kraus, “One Startup’s Struggle to Survive the Silicon Valley Gold Rush,”, April 22, 2014,
·         Guy Kawasaki, “The Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs,” The Harvard Business Review, from the January 2001 issue, 
·         Rebekah Campbell, “The Large Cost of Small Lies,” Financial Review, June 30, 2016,
·         “When Lying is ‘A Business Plan,’”, MSNBC, April 17, 2012,
6.       The question of focus: Whitney was a northern farmer, born in a state that had abolished slavery by the time he turned 18 years old.  His family did not own slaves.  It is unlikely that any of his neighbors did.  When Whitney traveled to South Carolina and invented the cotton gin, however, he saw first-hand the cruelty and depravity of a slave-based economy—yet he never once wrote about it in his correspondence or papers.  Why do you think? What obligation, if any, does a driven, focused entrepreneur have to the world beyond making his innovation a success?
·         “Bitcoin’s Climate Impact is Global. The Cures Are Local.,” Wired, Condé Nast, June 12, 2019,
·         Tad Friend, “How Frightened Should We Be of AI,” New Yorker, May 7, 2018,

2: Oliver Ames  

1.       The advantage of context: Oliver Ames operated his shovel business during America’s decades-long transportation revolution, providing his enterprise a lifetime of skyrocketing demand, from toll roads and canals to the growth of railroads.  Whenever America went to war, the demand for Ames shovels also spiked.  How important a role does context play in an entrepreneur’s success?  What are other examples?

  •          Besides the transportation revolution, America has witnessed a communications revolution (telegraph, telephone, web), an entertainment revolution (movies, radio, television, cable, web), and a computer/digital revolution.  You may be able to think of others.  How have entrepreneurs benefited from each of these?  From the point of view of innovation, were there  lucky and unlucky times to be born in America?  See Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Blip,” New Yorker, July 19, 2013 “The forces of the second industrial revolution, he believes, were so powerful and so unique that they will not be repeated.”
2.       The value of interning: Ames’s first job experience was at the Springfield Armory, the epicenter of American innovation in the early republic.  As a young man he met some of the finest craftsmen in the country and was exposed to cutting-edge ideas about mechanization and interchangeable parts.  How did this experience impact his future shovel business?  What other “schools for entrepreneurs” exist today, and at other times in American history?
3.       Entrepreneurship and fragility: Ames, and Whitney before him, experienced devastating fires, loss at sea, entire cities abandoned to yellow fever, and workforces sidelined by seasonal epidemics.  With the advent of insurance, improved transportation, and modern medicine, these threats have been mitigated.  What factors today create “fragility” for a modern entrepreneur, and how are these threats mitigated?

3: Against the Odds

1.       Individuals that embody innovation: Innovation on Tap makes the case that William Grimes, by virtue of being a person of color operating in a world dominated by whites, is a living example of Schumpeter’s “novel combination.”  Do you agree?  Katherine Graham of the Washington Post (The Post Co.) became the first female of a Fortune 500 company in 1972, and Ursula Burns of Xerox the first African American female CEO of a Fortune 500 company in 2009. Do you see any parallels in what the three individuals might have faced in the workplace?
2.       The power of community: How did community impact the career of William Grimes?  Compare Grimes’s experience to Whitney’s and, in chapter 4, King Gillette’s. 
3.       The place of social good: Both Thomas Downing and James Forten used their wealth and position in the black community to work to abolish slavery and fight for the rights of people of color.  Did their choices enhance or distract from their core businesses?  Under what circumstances should entrepreneurs “stick to the knitting” of their primary businesses (see Whitney above) and under what circumstances should they use their positions to advance a social agenda? 
4.       Ahead of their times: James Forten’s career was made possible by his Quaker friend, Robert Bridges, and the greater Quaker community in Philadelphia.  What are modern parallels, when a community “ahead of its time” has helped to inspire and support the success of an entrepreneur?
·         Michelle Ma, “This Venture Capital Firm Wants to Hear From You,” Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2019,
Note on Entrepreneurs of Color: Entrepreneurs starting their careers in 1900 found 1 out of 8 Americans to be a race other than white.  A century later, entrepreneurs found 1 in 4,[1] with many entrepreneurs themselves being people of color. 
Today’s demographers expect that whites will no longer be a racial majority in America by about 2040.[2]  This trend was foreshadowed in the 2000 US Census when more people identified as “two or more races” than any other single race,[3] and in 2011 when more minority babies than white were born in America for the first time.[4]  Today’s entrepreneurs live in a country where the traditional concept of majority “white America” is vanishing.
A report by the National Urban League calculates an “equality index” made up of economic, health, education, social justice, and civic engagement components intended to measure the progress of Black Americans in the US.  In 2018, the index stood at 72.5 percent, meaning, the report explained, that “rather than having a whole pie (100%), which would mean full equality with whites in 2018, African Americans are missing about 28% of the pie.”[5]  The median African American household income, for example, was $38,555 compared to $63,155 for white households. 
The 2018 report places special focus on the digital revolution and its potential to enhance equality.  Blacks were excluded from the advance of farm technology in the nineteenth century because of slavery and its aftermath, National Urban League President Marc H. Morial writes.  When the Industrial Revolution brought advances to transportation and manufacturing, “African Americans—once again—found themselves on the outside looking in.”  Today, Blacks are enthusiastic consumers of digital technology but grossly underrepresented in the digital workforce, composing just 1.8 percent of the combined workforces of Google, Facebook, and Twitter. 
A 2017 study of nearly 190,000 tech employees in Silicon Valley concludes that race is a greater impediment than gender to promotion in Silicon Valley.[6]  Morial sees the promise of the digital age to right historical wrongs, but only if the nation is willing to “strategically leverage this moment for broader goals of justice, equity and economic opportunity.”[7]
No group in the twenty-first century faces steeper barriers in the workplace than women of color, who represent 17 percent of entry-level positions but just 12 percent of manager-level and 3 percent of executive-suite positions.[8]  In 2016, there were only 88 US-based, Black women-led tech start-ups[9] of almost 18,000 total.
America’s Hispanic population has been increasing rapidly and represents a force onto itself.  In 1980, Hispanics constituted 6.4 percent of the US population, growing to 13.5 percent in 2002 when, for the first time, the Hispanic population in America surpassed the 12.7 percent who identified as African Americans.[10]  Most of America’s Hispanic population are legal residents, and recent growth has come primarily from births, not immigration.[11]  Demographers believe that by 2060, America’s Hispanic population could be 30 percent of the total US population.[12]  With a forecast of some 400 million US citizens by then, the Hispanic-American population at mid-twenty-first century could be equal to or larger than today’s Mexico.
With size comes economic clout.  Hispanic buying power in the US in 2015 was already equal to the gross domestic products of Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and El Salvador combined.[13]  However, there remains a sizeable economic gap between the opportunities afforded Hispanic and white Americans.  The National Urban League’s “equality index” for American Hispanics is 79.3 percent, suggesting that, as a group, Hispanics are missing move than 20 percent of the economic, education, and civic engagement pie.[14]  A study by the Brookings Institute reports that Hispanics had increased their presence in occupations related to computers and math from 5.5 percent in 2002 to only 6.8 percent in 2016, which represents some progress but well below their 16.7 percent representation in the workforce.[15]  
Research on team and company performance shows the importance of diversity.  The top quartile of public companies for racial and ethnic diversity in management were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean.[16]  Research conducted by professor Sahil Raina shows that venture capital firms with female partners are richly rewarded; their superiority in selecting and advising women-led start-ups results in “a whopping 25 percentage-point difference” in successful exits.[17]   Mixed gender teams have been found to be more generous, build stronger work processes, create more meaningful relationships, and generate more sales and profits than all-male teams.[18]  And organizations that are gender and racially diverse process information more carefully, are more willing to challenge one another, and are more innovative.  Every percentage-point increase in diversity, one study suggests, can lead to a three-point increase in revenue, or $400 billion dollars annually.[19] 

4: King Gillette

1.       The anxious entrepreneur: King Gillette demonstrates a dual personality, one that seemed to embrace both capitalism and socialist utopia at the same time.  His biographer, Russell R. Adams, jokes that it’s as if Karl Marx paused after writing The Communist Manifesto to develop a dissolving toothbrush.  What signals did this contradiction seem to send to people around Gillette?  How did it hurt or help his entrepreneurial efforts?  What are instances today where entrepreneurs have spoken out about social causes in ways that impact their businesses and careers?
·         David Gelles, “How the Social Mission of Ben & Jerry’s Survived Being Gobbled Up,” The New York Times, August 21, 2015,
·         Oliver Balch, “Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard: ‘Denying climate change is evil’,” The Guardian, May 10, 2019,
2.       The nature of community: How did Gillette and his eventual partner, William Emery Nickerson, come to meet?  What does this circumstance teach about the nature of community?
·         Eileen Brown, “Strong and Weak Ties: Why Your Weak Ties Matter,” Social Media Today, June 30, 2011,
3.       The myths of business: Gillette gets credit for a razor-and-razor-blades business model that he did not invent and that his company did not practice until its patents on the manufacture of disposable blades expired.  What does this example say about the nature of myth in business?  What other myths influence modern entrepreneurs?
·         Kaitlyn Tiffany, “The Absurd Quest to Make the ‘Best” Razor,” Vox, December 11, 2018, Web August 29, 2019,
·         Pino G. Audia and Christopher I. Rider, “A Garage and an Idea: What More Does an Entrepreneur Need?,” California Management Review, Vol. 48, No. 1, Fall 2005,
·         Jill Lepore, “The Disruption Machine: What the Gospel of Innovation Gets Wrong,” The New Yorker, June 16, 2014,

5: Mary Elizabeth Evans Sharpe

1.       Moving ahead of regulations: Mary Elizabeth began making homemade candy, in part, because the manufacture of store candy was unregulated, and product could be adulterated and dangerous to consumers.  What are other examples where entrepreneurs have taken advantage of perceived unhealthy, dangerous, or unsustainable practices by offering better product, even when regulations did not require it?
·         Clare O’Conner, “How Jessica Alba Built A $1 Billion Company, And $200 Million Fortune, Selling Parents Peace Of Mind,” Forbes, June 15, 2015, and, what happens if the brand does not live up to its promise: Julia Horowitz, “Jessica Alba's The Honest Company Can’t Catch a Break,” CNN Business, June 12, 2017,
·         Deena Shanker, Lydia Mulvany, Mike Hytha, and Bloomberg, “Beyond Meat Just Had the Best IPO of 2019 as Value Soars to $3.8 Billion,” Fortune, May 2, 2019,
2.       Defining courage: Mary Elizabeth found the act of meeting customers to be difficult.  “I felt,” she wrote, “like I was just a tiny little any in a great big world.”  Alfred Sloan had a similar feeling.  Have you ever felt this way?  What is courage, and how does it play a role in entrepreneurship?
·         Jenna McGregor, “Introverts Tend to Be Better CEOs—And Other Surprising Traits of Top-Performing Executives,” Washington Post, April 17, 2017,
3.       Brand vs. reality: Mary Elizabeth cultivated a homespun brand while employing modern automation and organizational practices to scale her business.  What are other examples where consumer brand and backroom operations are so different?  What customer risks might this brand vs. reality contrast present?
·         Andy Meek, “Former Executive Shares The Secrets To How Disney Runs Its Empire,” Fast Company, January 27, 2015,

6: John Merrick

1.       The “third place”: John Merrick gets his start in a barbershop in Durham, North Carolina, a setting that sociologist Ray Oldenburg calls a “third place.”  How does a “third place” work to inspire innovation and support entrepreneurs?  What “third places” have you taken advantage of to build your career?
·         Matthew Dollinger, “Starbucks, ‘The Third Place’, and Creating the Ultimate Customer Experience,” Fast Company, June 11, 2008,
·         Stuart M. Butler and Carmen Diaz, “’Third places’ As Community Builders,” Brookings, September 14, 2016,
2.       The value of charisma: When one of Merrick’s employees decides to quit, Merrick convinces him to stay.  Describe the situation.  What happened?  How did it happen?  What does the fact that the employee spoke with Merrick about quitting before he made the decision say about Merrick’s style?  What lessons do you take away from this story?
·         Ronald E Riggio Ph.D., “Charisma: What Is It? Do You Have It?”, Psychology Today, February 15, 2010,
·         Fabiola H. Gerpott and Alfred Kieser, “Charismatic: A Second-Order Surveillance of the Self-Reinforcing Entrepreneurial Ideology,” May 22, 2017,'s_not_charisma_that_makes_extraordinarily_successful_entrepreneurs_but_extraordinary_success_that_makes_entrepreneurs_charismatic_A_second-order_observation_of_the_self-reinforcing_entrepreneurial_(can be downloaded as PDF)
3.       Economic power: Discuss the ways that Merrick used his economic muscle to improve the social conditions of black Americans in Durham and throughout the American South.  Merrick believed that economic power was the key to political power.  Do you agree or disagree, and why?
·         Buttonwood, “Where Economic Power Goes, Political Power Will Follow,” The Economist, November 6, 2017,

7: Willis Carrier

1.       Thinking small: Carrier’s introduction to the science of air conditioning came about when he tried to solve the problems of humidity in a small, Brooklyn, New York, printing plant.  Today, HVAC is a global, multibillion-dollar industry.  Modern entrepreneurs are often told that they must “think big” about the future.  Carrier thought small about the present.  Can you think of other instances when “thinking small about the present” led to longer-term, fundamental, global change?  In what ways is “thinking big” a myth of entrepreneurship.
·         “Transcript and Video of Speech by Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook,” Barnard College Commencement, May 17, 2011, New York City,
2.       Becoming the “father of”: What actions did Carrier take to earn the “Father of Modern Air Conditioning” title?  What are other examples of someone becoming known as the “Father of” an invention?  Do you agree that such a title is justified?  Why or why not?  (And why are there not many “Mother of” titles conferred?)
·         Stephen Jay Gould, “The Creation Myths of Cooperstown,” Natural History, November 1989,
·         (Also above😊 Malcolm Gladwell, “Who Says Big Ideas Are Rare?,”, New Yorker, May 5, 2005,
3.       The nature of luck: Carrier and his partner, J.I. Lyle, launched Carrier Engineering Corporation at the start of World War I, a time filled with potential commercial disaster.  Yet, they succeeded.  What role did luck play?  What role does luck play more generally in entrepreneurship?  Can an entrepreneur improve his luck and, if so, how?
·         Diego Liechti, Claudio Loderer, and Urs Peyer, “Luck and Entrepreneurial Success,” 2014,  SSRN Electronic Journal, 10.2139/ssrn.2476839,
4.       From industrial to consumer: The pivot of air conditioning from the factory floor to consumer applications represented a complete rethinking of the product.  What factors brought this about?  Why was it successful?  What risk did it hold for Carrier’s established industrial lines?

8: Charles “Buddy” Bolden

1.       The nature of innovation communities: Compare the world of New Orleans in 1900  to Detroit in 1920 and Silicon Valley in 2000. How did each community nurture innovation and support entrepreneurs?  From what weaknesses did each community suffer?
·         Steven Klepper, “The Origin and Growth of Industry Clusters: The Making of Silicon Valley and Detroit,” Journal of Urban Economics, Volume 67, Issue 1, January 2010, 15-32,

2.       The nature of genius: What, if anything, made Bolden a musical “genius”?  What was the downside of his prodigious talent?  What are other examples can you think where tortured genius has generated innovation? 
·         Nick Romeo, “What is a Genius?,” The Daily Beast, November 9, 2013,
·         Walter Isaacson “The Genius of Jobs,” New York Times Sunday Review, October 29, 2011,
·         Gilbert King, “The Rise and Fall of Nikola Tesla and his Tower,”, February 4, 2013,

9: Elizabeth Arden

1.       Customer trust: Arden sold products that she may have known did not work.  Yet, it appears her customers did not care or were convinced otherwise.  In your opinion, is it ethical to sell products that you believe do not perform as promised?  Can you think of other examples where entrepreneurs have sold products they knew were ineffective or harmful?
·         Charlotte Markey, “5 Lies from the Diet Industry,” Psychology Today, January 21, 2015,
·         Lindsay Goldwert, “Skechers Must Pay $40 Million For Lying to Consumers About Benefits of Shape-Ups ‘Toning’ Shoes, New York Daily News, May 16, 2012,
·         Tom Peter, “Tom Peters True Confessions,” Fast Company, November 30, 2001,
2.       The nature of leadership: Arden was a perfectionist and micromanager.  She could also be a bully. (This description might also apply to Oliver Ames and Steve Jobs.)   Yet, she was wildly successful and her people were loyal.  How do you explain this?  What are the advantages and disadvantages to such a leadership style?
·         David Aaker, “Steve Jobs and The Bobby Knight School of Leadership,” Harvard Business Review, March 13, 2012,
3.       Catching a wave: Just as Oliver Ames leveraged America’s transportation revolution to sell shovels, Arden leveraged a consumer revolution.  Describe this consumer revolution.  Was Arden a force behind the revolution, a beneficiary of the revolution, or both?  What are other examples of entrepreneurs taking advantage of large-scale changes in the industrial or consumer worlds to grow their businesses?
·         Natalie Wolchover, “The Real Skinny: Expert Traces America's Thin Obsession,” Live Science, January 26, 2012,
·         Christine Miao, “Why You Don’t Care About Internet Privacy. (And Why You Need To.),” Medium, May 24, 2018,

10: J. K. Milliken:

1.       The invasiveness of work: Milliken constructed a town around his cloth-bleaching factory that was described as an extension of the factory.  In what ways do modern companies, both manufacturing and knowledge-based organizations, “extend their factories” into the lives of their employees?  Is this a good or bad thing, and why?
·         Pullman was an iconic company town in America.  See “A Brief Overview of the Pullman Story,”, Web July 22, 2019,
·         Elizabeth C. Tippett, “This Is the Real Cost of Company Perks and Benefits,” Fast Company, April 28, 2019,
2.       Differing perspectives: The celebration that Mount Hope Finishing threw for its customers and employees in 1951 was intended to improve the company’s fortunes.  Employees saw something different, however.  What happened?  How do the “good works” of management sometimes go awry?  What might the company have done differently?
3.       A changing employee landscape: It can be argued that Milliken was consistent across fifty years in his employee practices.  Yet, what employees in 1901 would tolerate was different than what employees in 1951 would tolerate.  What had changed?  What signs might Milliken have missed?  In your opinion, could Milliken have adapted?  What signposts do you feel modern organizations need to monitor to ensure they do not miss radical changes in the employee landscape?
·         Kristen Bialik and Richard Fry, “Millennial Life: How Young Adulthood Today Compares With Prior Generations,” Pew Research Center, February 14, 2019,

11: Alfred Sloan

1.       Being an introvert: Sloan was a lifelong introvert--nothing like the stereotypical entrepreneur—yet he was effective and successful.  Was he successful because he was an introvert, or despite being an introvert, or both?
2.       Explaining innovation communities: Some people look to regional advantage to explain the rise of an innovation community.  Others look to the power of spin-offs.  Compare the two theories.  Are both credible?  Are they mutually exclusive?
·         AnnaLee Saxenian, “Inside Out: Regional Networks and Industrial Adaptation in Silicon Valley and Route 128,” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research, Volume 2, Number 2, May 1996,
·         Steven Klepper, “The Origin and Growth of Industry Clusters: The Making of Silicon Valley and Detroit,” Journal of Urban Economics, Volume 67, Issue 1, January 2010, 15-32,
3.       The nature of memory: Henry Ford remains one of the best-known entrepreneurs in history.  Alfred Sloan, who could have put Ford out of business (had he not wanted to invite scrutiny by regulators) was as important to consumerism as Ford was to mass production—yet is often forgotten.  Why are some extraordinary talents remembered and others not?
·         Chuck Klosterman, “Which Rock Star Will Historians of the Future Remember?,” The New York Times Magazine, May 23, 2016,
·         Brandon Griggs, “Gladwell: In 50 Years, People Will Forget Steve Jobs,” CNN Business, June 9, 2012,
4.       The most successful: Make a case for or against the idea that Alfred Sloan was the most successful entrepreneur in America ever.  What constitutes “success”?  Who else might challenge Sloan for the title of “most successful American entrepreneur ever”?  Why?
·         John Light, “The 25 Most Important Entrepreneurs of the Past 25 Years,” Worth,  March 31, 2017,

12: Branch Rickey

1.       Analytics driving decisions:  Branch Rickey used analytics to assess his pool of baseball talent, sometimes leading him to trade popular players in moves that made him unpopular with fans.  What are modern examples, from sports or in business, where management has been willing to make the right decision for their business despite it being unpopular with their customers?  What are examples of when management has relied on analytics to make the wrong decision?
·         Matt Day, “How Microsoft Emerged From the Darkness to Embrace the Cloud,” The Seattle Times, December 12, 2016,
·          Uri Friedman, “SunChips: A Brief History of a Packaging Disaster,” The Atlantic, February 24, 2011,
·         Julia Curley, “McDonald's Just Changed Its Apple Pie Recipe and People Are Not Happy About It,” Today, September 19, 2018, Web August 29, 2019,
2.       Profit or prophet: Together, Rickey and Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball.  Assess Rickey’s motivations.  Was he attempting to do good, make money, or both?  Do you care?  Why?  What are modern examples where doing good and doing well complement one another?
·         K. Aleisha Fetters, “Why Ecotourism Is Booming,” U.S. New and World Report LP, November 16, 2017,
·         Entrepreneur Staff, “10 Companies That Are Doing Good While Doing Well,” Entrepreneur, May 31, 2018,

13: Stephen Mather

1.       Something from nothing: Stephen Mather was gifted at generating interest and revenue (“going viral”) from promotions that required little investment.  Who are other modern entrepreneurs who have accomplished similar feats? What other products have been successful with minimal traditional marketing investment? What lessons can you learn?
·         Nidhi Dave, “Top 3 Viral Marketing Campaigns to Take Inspiration From,” SEMRush blog, March 9, 2018,
2.       Preservation vs. conservation: Describe the difference.  When is each appropriate?  Where is this debate playing out today?
·         Robert Hudson Westover, “Conservation versus Preservation?”, U.S. Forest Service, March 22nd, 2016,
·         “Revisiting Leopold: Resource Stewardship in the National Parks,” A Report of the National Park System Advisory Board Science Committee, August 25, 2012,
3.       The “mountain party: Mather’s mountain party was a lobbying effort held far from the halls of Congress.  How did this venue exploit his strengths (and manage his weaknesses)?  What made it successful?  What lessons can you learn from it?
·         Rob Jordan, “Study Finds That Walking in Nature Yields Measurable Mental Benefits and May Reduce Risk of Depression, Stanford News, June 30, 2015,
·         Steve Tobak, “Should You Focus on Strengths or Weaknesses?”, Moneywatch, October 17, 2011,
4.       Machine in the garden: Thanks to Mather’s efforts, the automobile became essential to the National Park experience.  In retrospect, was this a good or bad idea?  What, if anything, would you have done differently?
·         Christopher Ketchan, “The Future Is the Car-Free National Park,” The New Republic, April 10, 2018,

14: Emily Rochon

1.       Giving voice: Rochon says, “It was really just a matter for me of finding who I could give my voice to, and I chose the environment.”  Does this decision resonant with you?  Have you found your calling, passion, or career by providing a voice to the voiceless?  Can you think of other examples where an entrepreneur has “given voice” in an effective way?
2.       Finding a place: When Rochon walked into the Capitol in Rhode Island to lobby on behalf of Earth Justice, she thought, “This is the work I need to do for the rest of my life.”  This moment of clarity is not uncommon in the stories of entrepreneurs.  Have you had such an experience, where you instantly felt at home in a new place, or a new situation?
3.       Storytelling: Rochon says that one of her strengths is the ability to provide the “framing, story, and arguments” that result in new, environmentally sound business models.  What role does storytelling play in successful entrepreneurship?
·         Robin Bruce, “On the Importance of Entrepreneurial Storytelling, Forbes, February 21, 2017,
·         Rebecca Gill, Ph.D, “Is Storytelling the Answer?”, Wake Forest Center for Entrepreneurship,
·         Kyle Harper, “How Tom’s of Maine Has Organically Grown Its Brand Storytelling,” DISQUS, June 24, 2016,

15: Kate Cincotta

1.       Having impact: Cincotta found that the disadvantages of working for a large organization outweighed her contributions to the organization’s positive impact.  She departed to found her own company, though many of her colleagues were content and chose to stay.  Have you ever been in this position of weighing large vs. small company?  What factors were relevant to your decision?  What are the trade-offs of such a career move?
2.       Low tech: Cincotta and her partner, Vanessa Green, settled on a solution to produce clean water that was low tech.  Why?  What advantages did this low-tech solution create?  What are modern examples where simplicity in technology or a business model has proven more powerful than complexity? 
·         Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor, Rory McDonald, “What Is Disruptive Innovation?,” Harvard Business Review, December 2015,
·         Jared Vineyard, “How a Box Changed History: The Shipping Container Story,” Universal Cargo, June 18, 2013,
3.       Creating new entrepreneurs: Cincotta’s original goal was provide clean drinking water to rural communities in Ghana.   Not only was she able to do that, but she also created opportunities and nurtured new entrepreneurs.  How did this act of creation occur? How might this emphasis on new entrepreneurs have changed the dynamic of her organization? Where else globally is the creation of new entrepreneurs happening?

16: Viraj Puri

1.       Choosing a financing strategy: By 2011, Viraj Puri and his team had launched their first successful greenhouse.  Venture capitalists began approaching Gotham Greens to provide financing, but Puri resisted.  Why?  Later, Puri accepted venture funding.  What had changed?  What lessons do you take from this experience?
2.       Choosing partners: Puri and his two partners complement each other in terms of skills, but also in terms of what he calls “risk tolerance.”  What does this term mean?  Why might risk tolerance be as important as skill?
3.       A nuanced business model: Rooftop gardens gave Gotham Greens a “wow” factor, but Puri says the company is really a “vertically integrated real estate developer, agribusiness, ag-technology, marketing, and distribution company.” What advantages does such a broad business definition provide?  What disadvantages?
·         Amy Gallo, “A Refresher on Marketing Myopia,” Harvard Business Review, August 22, 2016,
·         Suppose you are the brand manager for Life Savers (  One of your colleagues wants to define the market for Life Savers as “hard candy with holes.”  Another wants to define the market as “candy.”  A third wants to define the market as “snack foods, a fourth as “breath mints,” and a fifth as “nostalgia.”  What implications do each of these definitions have for how you set strategy?

17: Brenna Berman

1.       Big company experience: Brenna Berman worked for IBM for 12 years.  How did this influence her values and leadership style as CIO of Chicago? 
·         Our Values at Work: On Being An IBMer,”
·         Harvey Deutschendorf, “5 Reasons Your Organization Needs a Strong ‘Why’,” Fast Company, January 17, 2019,
2.       Framing solutions: Berman says, in Chicago, “you’d never walk into the mayor’s office and ask to see his ‘smart city strategy.’”  Why is this way of approaching smart-city initiatives important?  What other innovations have been reframed, or could be, in ways that make solutions more comprehensible and powerful?
·         Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg, “Are You Solving the Right Problems?”, Harvard Business Review, January-February 2017,
3.       What’s an entrepreneur?  Berman argues that she is not an entrepreneur.  Lin-Manuel Miranda says he doesn’t think of himself as an entrepreneur, either.  Innovation on Tap argues that both are. What do you think? What would Joseph Schumpeter say?

19: Brent Grinna

1.       The power of community: Grinna is another example of an entrepreneur who uses community effectively, in part because of his willingness to volunteer and help others.  Describe this trait.  Why is it so powerful?
·         Pamela, Laughland, “10 Ways Helping Others Will Improve Your Life,” August 7, 2019,
·         Lindsay Nahmiache, “Now to Network Like a Pro,” Forbes, May 10, 2018,

20: Jason Jacobs

1.       The value of an MBA: Jason Jacobs had a specific goal in mind when he decided to attend business school.  Was he successful in meeting this goal?  What value, if any, did Jacobs’s MBA contribute to his future success? (Compare this to Eli Whitney’s experience at Yale.)
2.       Laying it out there: Jacobs pivoted his app from a tightly knit community of happy runners to a broad, partner-oriented, “Health Graph” platform.  Describe how and why this pivot happened.  He says, “If you take some narcissistic twenty-something with a megaphone, all hopped-up on energy drinks, with a big audience, and the press talking about him all day long, in this emergent field that nobody knows anything about, but everyone thinks is the next big wave, and he just lays it out there with fervor—in that moment of heat maybe you can make a lot of things happen that couldn’t otherwise.”  What does he mean?  What are other instances where this scenario has happened, either successfully or unsuccessfully?  What lessons can you learn from Jacobs’s experience?
·         Rick Tetzeli, “The Man Who Made Apple Famous: On the Danger of Frothy Startup Narratives,” Fast Company, March 6, 2017,

21: Guy Filippelli

1.       The impact of 9/11: The attacks of 9/11 play a role in the lives of several entrepreneurs featured in Innovation on Tap.  What changes did 9/11 mean on the battlefield, and how did Guy Filippelli respond?  In what other ways has 9/11 impacted innovation and entrepreneurship?
·         Laura Santhanam and Larisa Epatko, “9/11 to Today: Ways We Have Changed,” PBS Newshour, September 11, 2018,
·         Dean Takahashi, “9/11 And Its Impact on Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship,” VentureBeat, September 11, 2011,
2.       Establishing a base: Filippelli had a successful career in the military and then a successful launch of Berico Technologies and later RedOwl Analytics.  Despite these accomplishments, he says, “Now I feel like, for the first time in my life, I have a base.”  What does he mean?  How strong is your “base”?  What might be missing, and what actions can you take to prepare yourself for success as an entrepreneur?

22: Meghan Winegrad

1.       The lessons of a big company: Meghan Winegrad’s experience shows that a large company can successfully innovate.  What lessons did she learn working for giant organizations that she was able to eventually apply to her own start-up?
·         Andrew Corbett, “The Myth of the Intrapreneur,” Harvard Business Review, June 26, 2018,
2.       Who can innovate most successfully? Describe the Schumpeterian hypothesis (see page 259).  Do you agree with it?  Why or why not? How important is context?  How important is the availability of technology or financing?  How do economic cycles impact innovation and where it occurs?

23: Hamilton

1.       What’s an innovation?  Innovation on Tap argues that Hamilton is an innovation and Lin-Manuel Miranda is an entrepreneur.  Do you agree?
2.       The power of community: How does Miranda use community to leverage his own creativity and enhance his innovations?  Describe the roles each member of his community plays, and how it complements Miranda’s skill set.
3.       Management vs. entrepreneurship: Pitting management against entrepreneurs, writes Peter Drucker, is “like saying that the fingering hand and bow hand of the violinist are ‘adversaries’ or ‘mutually exclusive.’  Both are always needed at the same time, and both have to be coordinated and work together.”[20]   Describe what he means.  How does this dynamic work at Hamilton? At McDonalds?  At other organizations that rely on being brilliant at innovation and repetition for their success?
·         Michael Simkins, “An Actor’s Life,” The Guardian, April 23, 2002,
·         Morgan Cutolo, “Here’s Why McDonald’s Almost Didn’t Add the Egg McMuffin to Its Menu,” Reader’s Digest, Web July 22, 2019, and Renee Bailey, “How Has McDonald's Been So Successful for So Long?”, Franchise Direct, April 12, 2017

[1] Frank Hobbs and Nicole Stoops, “Demographic Trends in the 20th Century,” US Census Bureau, November 2002,, 71.
[2] William H. Frey, Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America, Washington, D.C.: The Bookings Institution, 2015, loc. 139.
[3] Frank Hobbs and Nicole Stoops, “Demographic Trends in the 20th Century,” US Census Bureau, November 2002,, 71.
[4] William H. Frey, Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America, Washington, D.C.: The Bookings Institution, 2015, loc. 92
[5] “Powering the Digital Revolution: State of Black America 2018,” National Urban League, New York, 2018, Web June 20, 2018,, pg. 4.
[6] Nitasha Tiku, “Why Tech Leadership Has a Bigger Race Than Gender Problem,” Wired, October 3, 2017, Web June 7, 2018,
[7] “Powering the Digital Revolution: State of Black America 2018,” National Urban League, New York, 2018, Web June 20, 2018,, pg. 7.
[9] “Powering the Digital Revolution: State of Black America 2018,” National Urban League, New York, 2018, Web June 20, 2018,, pg. 7.
[10] James T. Patterson, Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Kindle, 2005, 295.
[11] “Tu Casa Es Mi Casa,” The Economist, May 13, 2015,
[12] Tessa Berenson, “How Latinos Drive America’s Economy,” Time, September 26, 2016, 34.
[13] Tessa Berenson, “How Latinos Drive America’s Economy,” Time, September 26, 2016, 30.
[14] “Powering the Digital Revolution: State of Black America 2018,” National Urban League, New York, 2018, Web June 20, 2018,, pg. 12.
[15] Mark Muron, Alan Berube, and Jacob Whiton, “Black and Hispanic Underrepresentation in Tech: It’s Time to change the Equation,” Brookings, March 28, 2018, Web June 20, 2018,
[16] David Rock and Heidi Grant, “Why Diverse Teams are Smarter,” Harvard Business Review, November 4, 2016, Web June 20, 2018,
[17] Sahil Raina, “Research: The Gender Gap in Startuup Success Disappears When Women Fund Women,” Harvard Business Review, July 19, 2016, Web June 21, 2018,
[18] Sander Hoogendoorn, Hessel Oosterbeek, Mirjam van Praag, “The Impact of Gender Diversity on the Performance of Business Teams: Evidence of a Field Experiment,” Harvard Kennedy School, July 2013, Web June 20, 2018,
[19] Macy Bayern, “How Much is Diversity in Technology Worth?,” August 3, 2017 Web June 20, 2018,
[20] Peter Drucker, The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management, (New York: HarperBusiness, 2001), 198.


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