Rainforest Rev: Silicon Valley’s Secret Subculture and the Entrepreneurs Index

Are you trying to build an innovation ecosystem? You are not alone. Become a Rainforest Architect. Join an exclusive community of professionals sharing breakthrough ideas, practical tools, and peer support to build Rainforests and to transform lives. The Rainforest Architect Lab is a three-day, one-of-a-kind immersive design course. The next course is on June 1- 4. Click here to find out more, and sign up today!

Silicon Valley’s Secret Subculture, Not So Secret Anymore
Victor Hwang, CEO & Co-Founder of T2 Venture Creation, from Forbes
Television shows might lampoon the Valley’s geek culture, but beneath the stereotype is an edgy arts scene complete with street festivals celebrating innovation in all its forms. Read more here.

Entrepreneurs Index
Barclays and BGF
A detailed report that measures the United Kingdom’s 2013 entrepreneurial activity across geographic regions and business sectors. Read more here.

M.I.T.’s Alex Pentland: Measuring Idea Flows to Accelerate Innovation
The New York Times
A scientist uses remote sensors to study patterns of human movement that generate “social physics” theories about the spread of innovative ideas. Read more here.

Scale Your Innovation Initiatives
Strategy + Business
How to expand successful corporate innovation efforts without additional personnel or costs. Read more here.

Podcast #1: The Rainforest Podcast with Greg Horowitt
the innovation rainforest blog 
An interview by T2VC Chief Evangelist Greg Horowitt of Eliot Peper. Eliot is a former associate and entrepreneur-in-residence at T2VC and the author of the world’s first “startup thriller” novel. Listen more here.
The Big Comeback: Is New Orleans America’s Next Great Innovation Hub?
The Atlantic
The Big Easy’s difficult road back from Katrina has lead to a city of startups. Read more here.

A Tech Startup Ecosystem in Paradise
Tech in Asia
Talented techies from around the world are doing business from Bali, where the beauty, balance, and low cost of the Indonesian island nation’s “work-life haven” are an ideal counterpoint to the stresses and strains of the startup struggle. Read more here.

The Rise And Future Of The New York Startup Ecosystem
NYC’s startup ecosystem is now the second largest in the country. Deal with it. (We’re looking at you, Massachusetts.) Read morehere.

Cape Town’s Startup Ecosystem is Teeming with Innovation and Rich Culture
Tech Cocktail
The South African city’s limitless leisure activities are complemented by a culture that embraces entrepreneurship. Read more here.



Podcast #1: The Rainforest Podcast with Greg Horowitt

We are pleased to present our first Innovation Rainforest podcast!  It’s an interview by T2VC Chief Evangelist Greg Horowitt of Eliot Peper.  Eliot is a former associate and entrepreneur-in-residence at T2VC and the author of the world’s first “startup thriller” novel. His book combines the excitement of entrepreneurship with nail-biting mystery and action.  You can learn more about the book here.  Click below to listen to Podcast #1: Greg Horowitt’s Interview With Eliot Peper.

Games of chance? Cause and effect in innovation ecosystems Part 2

Notes on the practice of innovation and technology commercialization

“That is why, according to Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier’s book, Big Data, ‘causality won’t be discarded, but it is being knocked off its pedestal as the primary fountain of meaning’. But a theory-free analysis of mere correlations is inevitably fragile.”
Big data: are we making a big mistake? Financial Times, March 28, 2014

“You have on each table cardboard, drinking straws, glue, string, balloons, paper cups, and other bits and pieces. Use these materials to build a model your local innovation ecosystems.” These were the instructions given to multiple groups of five or six from among those of us who participated in the recent Global Innovation Summit in San Jose California. An undisclosed prize, based on unexplained criteria (a slice of innovation humor?) was to be given to the winner. This modeling game was a lot of fun, provided insight to some, and also raised the question of what kinds of models might represent innovation ecosystems?

We usually build system models to simplify the world around us in order to better understand it – and hope that in such simplified models we have included the important features of the actual system. For example, it is not possible to include what may be large numbers of possible causes producing observed outcomes.


A model may be a physical structure, as in the picture above of one team’s product from the Global Innovation Summit, or in the form of mathematical equations (in some cases this may have been the way an actual system was designed), computer simulations, or even a set of stories. Using narrative to understand the dynamics of innovation ecosystems will be explored in a future blog in this series.

One difficulty is that the more we expand and generalize models to take into account wider circumstances the more unmanageable they become and usually we have to make additional simplifying assumptions or model small subsets of a system.

At this point it’s important to make a distinction between complex and complicated systems. Complex (adaptive) systems are what we have been discussing in the past few blogs. We noted, for example, that in such systems the same inputs may not always yield the same outputs and the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Complicated systems may be broken down into smaller and smaller constituent parts (superposition principle); the whole is the sum of its parts and behaviour is completely predictable. An economy is complex. An modern passenger aircraft is complicated. Both systems are composed of a system elements connected in a system structure. Both kinds of system perform specific system functions in its system environment. Both systems may have a permeable system boundary allowing inputs from, and outputs to, the external environment.

The difference is that complicated systems can be fully modeled whereas complex systems are inherently resistant to modeling.

My colleague Henry Doss, is his series of Forbes blogs on leadership, put the issue well “We live and work in a world that wants specificity and predictability, but we live and work in systems that defy predictability…  A strong leader of complex systems knows this truth about systems, and understands that oftentimes judgment, intuition and commitment are more important than measurements, projections and predictions.  Knowing that systems are resistant to predictive models, and are rich in unforeseen, often positive, outcomes is a powerful foundation for effective leadership.  And it’s an awareness that will make for more informed and nuanced decision-making.” Does Synergy Really Mean Anything? http://www.forbes.com/sites/henrydoss/2014/03/24/does-synergy-really-mean-anything/

Do difficulties relating effects to causes mean that we cannot model complex adaptive ecosystems? In fact no, even without predictive capabilities progress can be achieved. Sharon Zivkovik at the University of Adelaide, Australia, in her article Addressing Society’s Most Pressing Problems by Combining the Heroic and Collective Forms of Social Entrepreneurship http://www.emes.net/uploads/media/ECSP-R11-27_Zivkovic.pdf notes “According to complex adaptive systems theory, under certain conditions interactions between independent agents produce system-level order as agents interact and learn from each other, change their behavior, and adapt and evolve to increase their robustness. Empirical research has shown large complex systems such as communities require enabling conditions to be created in order to maintain the coordination required for emergence self-organization and adaptive capability.”

These communities may be said to be engaged in ‘collective entrepreneurship’ by integrating knowledge and resources from different, and sometimes diverse, parts of the ecosystem, capitalizing on properties of far-from-equilibrium complex adaptive systems such as self-organization, and using the resulting resources to address difficult problems.

Dr. Zivkovik further notes “The aim of interventions at the point of self-organization is to enable community system members and their resources to recombined into new patterns of interaction and working arrangements that improve the functioning and performance of the community system and displace the old way of thinking.”

It is this recombining into new patterns of interaction or moving from one ‘basin of stability’ to another in a Rainforest innovation ecosystem that allow us to build, if not complete ecosystem models, then at least some predictability around these stable regions. I use the word “moving” and this indicates what’s missing in our discussion so far; a model must be dynamic and include flows such as those of knowledge, and capital in the innovation ecosystem. These are relatively new ideas in the context of innovation ecosystems and present considerable challenges to the modeler. However, it does seem that we should be able to model such systems beyond string and Styrofoam™.

The first part of this Blog is at: Games of chance? Cause and effect in innovation ecosystems Part 1

Next month: A review of the 14 blogs so far in this series, their connections, and what I hope we have learned.

Rainforest Rev: Stable Teams and the eNetworked Ecosystem


What makes places like Silicon Valley tick? We take those lessons, and we apply them to drive sustainable growth and competitive advantage. We do this by designing the ecosystems that foster entrepreneurial innovation. We call them Rainforests. The Rainforest Architect Lab is a three-day, one-of-a-kind immersive design course that provides leaders with the insights, tools, and skills to build their own innovation ecosystems.  

June 1-4                         August 24-27                         November 2-5
Click here to find out more, and sign up today!


Unlocking the Power of Stable Teams with Twitter’s SVP of Engineering
Innovation Daily
The key to growing a company beyond the start-up stage is creating a structure in which modular teams become the unit of scale. Read more here.

IT – Revolutions in the Industry: From the Command Economy to the eNetworked Industrial Ecosystem
The Impact Institute
A position paper that examines the change from a top-down managerial approach used in the Industrial Revolution, to an emerging paradigm based on a bottom-up clustering of resources that leverages the power of initiative as a competitive advantage. Read more here.
Metro Startup Hubs And The University Factor
Recent research conducted with the Kauffman Foundation challenges conventional wisdom on the importance of universities to innovation hubs. Read more here.
An Interview with Bob Sharon – Green Global
The Switch Report
Bob Sharon, Founder and CEO of sustainable IT leader Green Global Solutions, describes how ‘rainforest’ concepts influence his business strategy and vision of sustainability. Read more here.
Innovation Lessons Down Under
Government Executive
The Australian Public Service’s approach to embedding innovation in its systems shows how government can incorporate the latest innovation tools and techniques in its operations. Read more here.

Next Silicon Valleys: Why Cambridge is a Start-up City
BBC News 
Academic research and startup technopreneurs can be strange bedfellows, but Cambridge is making the relationship flourish. Read more here.

Startup Guru Horowitt to Italy’s Young People: “You are important!”
An Italian language article about Greg Horowitt, T2 Venture Creation’s Chief Evangelist & Co-Founder, who visited Italy recently on a blockbuster tour promotion startup innovation. Read more here.

Rainforest Rev: The Significance of Synergy and Post-Launch Innovation

Only 5 spots left in next week’s Rainforest Architects Lab! Join the world’s first course on innovation ecosystem design.  It is an exclusive three-day course in Silicon Valley for leaders seeking to catalyze entrepreneurial culture in companies, communities, and countries. The lab will cover the spectrum of ecosystem design, including macro systems (environment), micro solutions (practical, real-world tools), leadership skills (behavior change), and workplace implementation (doing). 

Register now for one of four upcoming Rainforest Architect Labs:
April 6-8           June 1-4           August 24-27           November 2-5

Does Synergy Really Mean Anything?
Henry Doss, Chief Strategy Officer of T2 Venture Creation, from Forbes
Synergy is an appealing if malleable concept that is more often invoked than it is clearly understood. But it might just be the perfect way of describing the unpredictability of complex systems. Read more here.

Post-Launch Innovation: The Next Business Frontier
While most innovation investment is focused on pre-launch, front-end activities, it’s possible to stay nimbly flexible while in-market, even for businesses that make products with complex development cycles. Read more here.

Is Facebook Just a Big Venture Capitalist?
Marketplace Public Radio
T2 Venture Creation’s Co-Founder and Managing Director Victor Hwang provides a Silicon Valley perspective on the social media giant’s $2 billion purchase of virtual reality pioneer Oculus VR. Read and hear more here.

Smart Cities: Opportunities for Startups
GIGAOM Research
The problems that urban centers are going to face in the coming decades are promising avenues of development for savvy entrepreneurs. Read more here.
When Does Establishing a Good Startup Culture Outweigh Being Cheap?
The inspiring story about the scrappy startup that bootstrapped its way out of a garage can lead to a “cheap at all costs” approach that can actually impede early-stage companies from advancing to the next level. Read more here.
Innovation Happens When Ideas Have Sex
La Opinion
A Spanish language article about T2 Venture Creation Co-Founder & Managing Director Greg Horowitt’s ideas for spurring innovation in the nation of Colombia. Read more here.

Looking For a Hot Startup? Have You Tried Chennai?
The capital city of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu has the talent to follow in Bangalore’s footsteps. Read more here.

Study Cites Metro Detroit as High-tech Hotbed
The Detroit News
It might be hard to imagine, but Detroit’s technology industry is growing faster than Silicon Valley’s. Read more here.
Berkeley Staff Aims to Grow City’s ‘Innovation Ecosystem’
Hoping to quiet the siren song of nearby Silicon Valley, the City of Berkeley strives to slow its tech talent “brain drain.” Read morehere.
Liquidity Announces the Launch of Revolutionary Drinking Water Purification Product
We are proud to congratulate our friends and partners atLiquidity on this special announcement.
Liquidity, a company that has developed breakthrough water purification products based on membrane nanotechnology, announces the launch of its first generation purifier. The purifier is a revolutionary new tool for a world with declining clean water resources and a growing health crisis.

Launch: Silicon Valley 2014

We are proud to share this announcement from our friends and partners at SVForum on their upcoming event. 
Launch: Silicon Valley

The World Cup Tech Challenge
May 20,2014, Microsoft Campus
Silicon Valley

Rainforest Rev: Innovation Church and Supporting Start-Ups



The Rainforest Revolution
The latest news on growing innovation ecosystems in
companies, communities, and countries

How do you accelerate the innovation process? How do you create trust-based ecosystems of entrepreneurial creativity? The Rainforest Architect Lab is a three-day immersive design course in Silicon Valley that provides leaders with the tools they need to create their own innovation ecosystems. 

Register now for one of four upcoming Rainforest Architect courses:
April 6-8            June 1-4            August 24-27            November 2-5
Register today!


Innovation Church: The Tie That Binds
Henry Doss, Chief Strategy Officer of T2 Venture Creation, from Forbes
A participant in last month’s Global Innovation Summit described it as “innovation church.” While Silicon Valley’s secular denizens might reject the comparison, Henry Doss finds much about it that rings true, containing, “… the secret to building powerful cultures, moving experiences and a sense of purpose.” Read more here.

Supporting Start-Ups With Connections, Advice and Caffeine 
The New York Times
The Kauffman Foundation’s “1 Million Cups” program simulates Silicon Valley culture in small workshops held in 30 cities across the country. Read more here.

Innovation Is Messy: Navigating the Twists and Turns
The Huffington Post
Which is more important for innovation to occur: conflict or cooperation? The answer is certainly one of these choices, or both, or neither — depending on the chaotic, circular, highly iterative, and perhaps idiosyncratic process necessary for a system or organization to innovate. Read more here.

How to Build a Productive Tech Economy
The Atlantic
Creative Cities champion Richard Florida discusses a study highlighting social factors that are essential to building innovation economies. Read more here.

American-Style Start-Ups Take Root in India
The New York Times
Despite conventional wisdom about the difficulty of doing business on the subcontinent, U.S. investors are increasingly funding Indian startups. Read more here.

Innovation Ecosystems, from Silicon Valley to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Maria Douglass, a friend and collaborator of T2 Venture Creation (blog)
King Abdullah University of Science & Technology helps build a Rainforest innovation ecosystem from the ground up, contributing to the kind of information-sharing and mentorship culture that made Silicon Valley a success. Read more here

Next Silicon Valleys: Beijing’s Start-ups Show Stamina
BBC News
Despite the high-cost of living, stiff competition for university graduates, and other barriers for entrepreneurs to overcome, tech startups are clustering in Beijing, where they find community in places like the Garage Cafe, a site where investors and entrepreneurs can meet informally. Read more here.

UNM Wins Award for Aiding Development
Albuquerque Business First
According to the president and CEO of the University of New Mexico’s technology transfer and economic development agency, its success at building an innovation ecosystem can be attributed to the adoption of ideas from the book, “The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley,” by T2 Venture Creation CEO and Co-Founder Victor Hwang. Read more here.
Atlanta’s “Innovations in City Hall” Report Released
A new report showcases the winners of Atlanta’s “CityIdeas” competition among City employees for ways to reduce waste, cut red tape and save money on operations. Read more here.

T2VC’s Money-Laundering Cartel Revealed In Debut Novel

We are extremely proud that Eliot Peper has just published his first book!  Eliot is a former associate and entrepreneur-in-residence at T2 Venture Creation.  His book is the world’s first “startup thriller,” a novel that combines the excitement of entrepreneurship with nail-biting mystery and action.  You can learn more about the book here.  Today, we feature a guest column from Eliot about the writing process and the inspiration that goes into it.  Needless to say, we were shocked, shocked to learn about the money-laundering activities happening at T2VC that were the inspiration for Mr. Peper’s book…


Sources of inspiration and innovation

By Eliot Peper

There’s always something behind a story. Maybe it’s a glowing light bulb of inspiration as the shampoo is sluicing down the drain. Maybe it’s a dream that left behind a particular flavor of emotional hangover. Maybe it’s the death of a loved one or the passion of a one-night-stand. Whatever it is, it leaves an indelible impression on the story. It sets the tone in terms of look and feel. It’s the well the author can return to whenever plot threads run thin or characters dry up.

No sacred muse hands out such experiences like mana from heaven. We all experience these moments in our everyday lives. They constitute the highlight reel of our living memory. Any of those peaks on our life’s graph has the potential to give shape, texture, and flair to a story.

While working on the first draft of Uncommon Stock, I discovered that those moments are just as relevant for the characters as they are for the author. Writing fiction is often an exercise in choosing what not to say. How do you decide which slices of your protagonists’ experiences deserve inclusion? Your characters are real people living real lives. If James Bond doesn’t brush his teeth, he’ll get cavities. If Frank Underwood doesn’t make his monthly payments, his credit rating will plummet. If Yoda doesn’t sweep out his Dagobah hut, well, he probably never has but may the Force be with him anyway!

At the end of the day you can only afford your readers staccato glimpses into your characters lives. Weaving these moments together into a compelling, cohesive whole is the craft of storytelling.

Uncommon Stock was born out of frustration. I’m a voracious reader and my work with Greg, Victor, and technology entrepreneurs gave me an inside view of the natural drama in the startup world. There are countless invaluable pieces of business nonfiction that detail the rigors of entrepreneurship. Nonfiction is a fantastic instrument for sharing experience and best practice.

Fiction is a different beast altogether. Fiction is a magical medium that gives readers an intimate view of the characters’ emotional journey from inside their own heads. I wanted to read a book that captured something from that ether. I wanted to sit on the shoulder of the protagonists and share their adventure through the startup world. But my frustration grew as I couldn’t find any entrepreneurial fiction to read. So instead, I decided to try my hand at writing it.

That frustration fueled me through countless bouts of writer’s block, frequent doubts, and revision after revision. I have no idea whether anyone will be interested in the result. I just hope there are a few people out there like me who will get a kick out of it. But that’s not the point. The point is that the creative process is an end in itself. It wears out your stamina, exhausts your mind, and drains your soul. But then, suddenly, there’s a story.

We interpret our lives in the form of stories. We link together our memories, that highlight reel, into a narrative that structures our own identity and understanding of self. We are all storytellers. Those moments of inspiration smolder inside every single one of us.



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