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Why does Big Tech often fail in healthcare? – Healthcare IT News

Why does Big Tech often fail in healthcare? – Healthcare IT News

If there were a graveyard for failed health IT projects, it would be cluttered with the tombstones of initiatives first launched with fanfare by Big Tech companies such as IBM, Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

The question has been asked: Is healthcare too hard for Big Tech firms?

That’s the perspective of industry veteran Kyle Silvestro, who over the years has seen numerous tech companies spend billions to build healthcare projects, only to shutter them years later with little to show for it. Silvestro is president, CEO and chairman of SyTrue, a healthcare artificial intelligence/natural language processing company.

Big Tech firms continue to seek a seat at the healthcare table. And while some have been making inroads in recent years, especially with cloud offerings – it was hard to miss the big booths of AWS, IBM, Microsoft and others on the HIMSS22 show floor this past week – that progress has come after lots of trial and error. 

That’s often because consumer-facing tech vendors do not understand the nuances and complexities of healthcare, nor the unique challenges that come with massive amounts of inconsistent, siloed and dirty healthcare data that is not easily interpreted nor shared across organizations.

Healthcare IT News interviewed Silvestro to explore Big Tech in healthcare and discuss why he believes the constant entry and exit of non-healthcare specific vendors is stifling innovation and slowing healthcare transformation.

Q. How would you describe the history of Big Tech in healthcare?

A. The track record of Big Tech companies in healthcare is not a good one. Time and again, industry giants including Google, IBM and Amazon have embarked on healthcare initiatives, each setting expectations that their size, infrastructure and influence would help bring order to our nation’s dysfunctional, inefficient and archaic healthcare system – even if by force of will alone.

However, the actual impact of these efforts has been much different. Most Big Tech healthcare initiatives have ended in failure, stifling true innovation in the sector and reducing the market’s confidence in technologies that are successfully addressing real market needs.

Much like the promises, these failures have been grand in scale and thoroughly documented. Google Health, the search giant’s attempt at a personal health record service, shuttered after only three years, plagued by interoperability issues and low user adoption.

While excellent at answering questions on TV’s Jeopardy, IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence and data analytics platform made a nominal impact in healthcare, ultimately proving unprofitable before being sold off in pieces.

Similarly, Haven Health, Amazon’s joint venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway aimed at disrupting healthcare and health insurance, disbanded after three years when it became apparent that it would fall short of its grandiose ideals.

It’s easy to understand the appeal that healthcare has for Big Tech. It’s a $4.1 trillion market that is plagued by disorganization and waste. Big Tech has been successful at addressing these issues in broader consumer and business markets and many are confident they can apply similar principles to fix these inefficiencies in healthcare.

However, these corporate titans quickly discover that the healthcare industry is a different animal, with intricate, deep-rooted problems that can’t be solved with a one-size-fits-all approach. Truly improving healthcare requires specialized knowledge and applications that transform processes from the inside out.

Q. You suggest that most of the Big Tech systems are not customized for healthcare and require months or years to customize and are not scalable to address the needs of healthcare organizations. Please give an example of this, and the outcome.

A. Google Health is a prime example of how oversights in healthcare customization impact usability and the ultimate outcome. While the user interface for Google Health received praise both inside and outside the healthcare industry, the process for bringing data into Google Health was complicated.

Patients often didn’t get reliable health information transferred to them. Many didn’t take the time necessary to update details in their health records. Furthermore, information complexity became too difficult for patients to manage on their own.

The root of the issue here was the data itself. Big Tech companies continually underestimate the problem healthcare has with “dirty data.” Health data is rarely clean or consistent. It is full of industry-specific terminologies and formats such as ICD-10, SNOMED, RxNorm and MedDRA that don’t cleanly align or integrate with others.

Furthermore, patient data is contained in a multitude of disparate sources – including varied and distinct lab systems, imaging systems and electronic health records.

Adding to the difficulty, up to 80% of the data that healthcare organizations need to improve decision making is unstructured in nature, trapped in the clinical narratives of EHRs or as PDFs and image files that are difficult for machine learning algorithms to decipher.

The failure of Google Health to truly address the challenge of dirty data in healthcare created integration issues that its snazzy user interface couldn’t overcome.

Q. What do you think of the pending acquisition of Cerner by Oracle? Do you think Big Tech can make a major EHR sing?

A. Given the poor track record of Big Tech in healthcare, Oracle has a lot to prove in this arena. Oracle can’t fall into the trap of not giving healthcare the focus it demands simply because it is only a part of what the company does.

Oracle does have one thing in its favor that was absent from many other Big Tech companies that failed in the healthcare space. It’s starting with an acquired company that was born and bred to serve the needs of the healthcare community.

Oracle isn’t starting from scratch, attempting to apply its strategies and philosophies to a new, unfamiliar vertical. Oracle has a known entity in Cerner that is well-versed in the challenges of healthcare and has already addressed many of the issues that have historically caused many other Big Tech companies to abandon their efforts in the space.

Rather than trying to tear down and rebuild what Cerner has already done, Oracle should focus on leveraging its platform, database and low-code development tools to accelerate the modernization of Cerner’s established EHR.

If Oracle uses its resources to improve and streamline the EHR experience for the caregiver – via voice-enabled interfaces, secure cloud applications and more – it has a chance to succeed where other Big Tech companies have failed.

Q. What would Big Tech have to do to succeed where it has failed in healthcare?

A. Success in healthcare requires complete immersion in the space. It requires not only domain expertise, but a monumental investment in time, resources and money to address prevalent issues with dirty data, privacy considerations surrounding patient information, and interoperability challenges between all stakeholders in the care continuum.

When healthcare is only a piece of a Big Tech company’s overall operation, it becomes expendable. It becomes too easy for the challenges and costs to outweigh the potential benefits and payoffs. Therefore, it becomes easier and more tempting to abandon healthcare initiatives to strengthen short-term financial performance and appease shareholders.

To succeed, Big Tech needs to go all in on healthcare just as many smaller companies purpose-built for healthcare have done. At the very least, Big Tech companies should invest in and build upon the knowledge and solutions already entrenched in the space. However, these are moves most Big Tech companies seem unwilling or unmotivated to make.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
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Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

Seven biggest success to failure stories in world football as Euro champs Italy fail to qualify for World… – The US Sun

Seven biggest success to failure stories in world football as Euro champs Italy fail to qualify for World… – The US Sun

ITALY were left shellshocked after failing to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

Roberto Mancini’s side were seemingly riding high after beating England to win the Euro 2020 crown at Wembley last summer.

Italy failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in one of the biggest shocks in world football


Italy failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in one of the biggest shocks in world footballCredit: EPA

But just 257 days later, Italy were beaten 1-0 by North Macedonia as they were KO’d from World Cup qualification.

The Italians’ absence from Qatar this winter will go down as one of the biggest surprises in international football history.

But how does it compare to some of the other biggest shocks?

We take a look at seven of the biggest…

ITALY – 2022

JUST last summer, Italy were dancing on the Wembley turf parading the European Championship trophy in front of heartbroken England stars.

Seemingly a team very much on rise after years of poor performances by their standards, the Azzurri were expected to make a deep run in Qatar this winter.

Jorginho missed two penalties during Italy’s crunch qualification group-stage draw with Italy, which saw them need to fight through play-offs.

And incredibly, despite taking 32 shots on goal, Italy LOST through an extra-time screamer from Aleksandar Trajkovski to send North Macedonia to the play-offs final – and Italy home.

Most read in Sport


GERMANY – 2018

IN 2014, Germany lifted the World Cup for the first time in 24 years after beating Argentina thanks to a Mario Gotze winner in extra time.

Fast forward four years and Joachim Low’s side were sent packing in the group stage of the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Germany lost Mexico in their group-stage opener thanks to a Hirving Lozano winner, before squeezing past Sweden 2-1 to keep their knockout stage hopes alive.

But a 2-0 defeat to South Korea ensured a star-studded squad including Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos were booted out at the first hurdle.

Germany were KO'd in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup just four years after winning it


Germany were KO’d in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup just four years after winning itCredit: AFP or licensors

HOLLAND – 2018

NOT quite on par with Germany, but Holland’s demise absolutely shocking.

The Dutch roared to third place at the 2014 World Cup – losing on penalties to Argentina in the semis before thumping Brazil 3-0 to avoid finishing fourth.

But after that, the team went on an horrendous slump – failing to qualify for Euro 2016, finishing fourth in their group, or or the 2018 World Cup after ending up third in their pot.

Holland have since finished second in the 2018-19 Nations League – but only made it as far as the last 16 at Euro 2020 to prove their inconsistent patch is very much alive.

Holland went from third at the 2014 World Cup to missing two straight major tournaments


Holland went from third at the 2014 World Cup to missing two straight major tournamentsCredit: Reuters

WALES – 2018

FANS were in dreamland after Wales reached the semi-finals at Euro 2016, even beating giants Belgium 3-1 in the quarters.

Their dream ended with a 2-0 defeat against eventual champions Portugal.

But it turned into a nightmare just months later after failing to make it out of a simple-looking World Cup 2018 qualifying group.

The Welsh were beaten to top spot by Serbia – who qualified automatically – with the Republic of Ireland coming in second.

Wales did qualify for – and reach the last 16 of – Euro 2020, but were thumped 4-0 by Denmark in the first knockout stage.

Gareth Bale is leading the charge for his nation to reach their first World Cup since 1958 after his double saw them beat Austria in the play-offs semi-final.

They’ll play Scotland or Ukraine in the final.

Wales reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 only to miss out on qualification for the 2018 World Cup


Wales reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 only to miss out on qualification for the 2018 World CupCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

FRANCE – 2002

THE French clinched the 1998 World Cup on home soil with a flourish, thumping Brazil 3-0 in Paris.

But just four years later they were licking their wounds after being sent packing from Japan and South Korea in the group stage.

France lost their opening match 1-0 against surprise package Senegal, before a draw with Uruguay.

Incredibly, the reigning champions lost 2-0 to Denmark to ensure they would not make the knockout stages in 2002 despite boasting Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Zinedine Zidane and Co in their squad.

France went from champions in 1998 to group stage victims just four years later


France went from champions in 1998 to group stage victims just four years laterCredit: EPA

DENMARK – 1994

THE Danes pulled off one of the all-time great upsets by beating Germany to the Euro 1992 crown.

But their star-studded squad including Peter Schmeichel and the Laudrups failed to make it to the 1994 World Cup.

Denmark were beaten to the tournament in the USA by Spain and the Republic of Ireland.

Denmark won Euro 92 but failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the USA


Denmark won Euro 92 but failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the USACredit: EPA

ENGLAND – 1974

AND finally, England…

In 1966, the Three Lions won the World Cup – still their only ever major tournament win.

They only qualified for the 1970 edition thanks to their status as reigning champions and did manage to reach the quarter-finals.

But England failed to make it to the tournament proper in 1974 or 1978 in a shocking decade for the Three Lions.

England won the 1966 World Cup, only to fail to qualify in 1974 and 1978


England won the 1966 World Cup, only to fail to qualify in 1974 and 1978Credit: PA:Press Association

New Research on How to Overcome Setbacks – Psychology Today

New Research on How to Overcome Setbacks – Psychology Today


Source: JerzyGorecki/Pixabay

A setback is an occurrence that delays, prevents, or even reverses progress.

Some examples of self-regulation setbacks (i.e. lapses in self-control and self-discipline) are: cheating on a diet, purchasing non-essential items when on a budget, and watching TV or playing computer games when one should be studying.

Because setbacks are common, what differentiates successful from unsuccessful people is not whether they have ever experienced a failure. The differentiating factor is, instead, how they have responded—e.g., with greater determination and a renewed commitment to the goal vs. losing hope and giving up.

Research shows people are more likely to experience subsequent failures after an initial self-control failure. This is called the setback effect. The setback effect commonly occurs when a person attributes a failure to internal factors beyond their control (e.g., genetics).

According to a recent study by researchers Adriaanse and Broeke, attributing the initial failure to external sources can prevent the setback effect. Attributing the failure to external factors may allow people to refocus on the goal, remain confident in their abilities, and achieve sustained success. This research, published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, is discussed below.

Investigating a Technique to Overcome Setbacks

Study 1

Sample: 298 females; average age of 25 years old.

The authors recruited only women aged 18–30 who were trying to manage their weight. The goal was “to create a relatively homogeneous group for whom dieting is a relevant concern.”

Methods: At Time 1, participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: control group, dieting intervention, or procrastination intervention.

The intervention had two parts; reading a text and forming an if-then plan. The text read: “Research has shown that whether you can get back on track actually has a lot to do with the way people think about the causes of their [unhealthy eating behavior/ procrastination].”

The next section instructed participants to attribute failures to external factors, “such as the environment, or the people around you that influenced your behavior.”

The implementation intention (the if-then plan) applied the above shift in mindset to potential future failures. For instance, those in the dieting group read: “If I fail to adhere to my dieting goal” then “I will reflect on the external factors that contributed to this failure,” and “will continue to pursue my dieting goal as usual.”

Those in the control group did not read the first text nor make an implementation intention.

At Time 2, procrastination and dieting success/failure were assessed. To take one example, dieting failure was calculated as the sum of daily ratings of the frequency of failure (i.e. of eating foods not allowed on the diet).

Study 2

Sample: 209 (138 female); average age of 33 years old.

Methods: The second study included only procrastination and control conditions. The procedure resembled that of the first investigation, with a few exceptions. For instance, intention and self-efficacy were also measured.

Baseline self-efficacy was measured with, “I feel in control over minimizing my procrastination behavior” and “I feel confident in my abilities to minimize my procrastination behavior.” Baseline intention was assessed with, “I intend to minimize my procrastination behavior” and “I plan to minimize my procrastination behavior.”

Preventing and Overcoming Setbacks By Preparing for Failure

Before discussing the results, let me reiterate that research suggests a single failure in self-control (e.g., cheating on one’s diet) can increase the likelihood of future self-regulation failures.

This setback effect is more likely when a person believes the negative result was caused by stable, internal factors (e.g., genetics, personality traits, lack of intelligence, low ability) than unstable, external causes (e.g., bad luck). Why? Perhaps because these internal attributions result in reduced self-confidence and self-efficacy.

The two investigations by Broeke and Adriaanse examined whether an intervention targeting how one explains a failure can help prevent the setback effect. Participants were instructed to acknowledge and pay attention to external factors when faced with setbacks. The results were promising:

On average, compared to the control group, those in the experimental groups “failed their diets once less, and… procrastinated 93 to 105 min less over a period of 3 days.” Analysis of data showed this effect was “fueled by an increase in people’s self-efficacy.”

So, the technique of preparing for setbacks appears to work. But why should we not try to prevent setbacks instead? Partly because setbacks are common and cannot always be prevented. For instance, individuals in the control group “failed their diets approximately six times and procrastinated approximately 230 min over a time period of 4 days.”

So, preparing for setbacks may be more helpful than preventing setbacks—particularly for individuals who are perfectionists or have a rigid way of thinking about goal pursuit and are quick to give up after a single failure.


Source: JerzyGorecki/Pixabay


Despite our best attempts to prevent self-regulation failure and stay motivated and focused (e.g., through goal setting or progress monitoring), setbacks can still occur.

While it is healthy and adaptive to take responsibility for a failure and aim to improve performance, blaming oneself—especially internal causes beyond one’s control (e.g., thinking that “I’m weak” or “I have no willpower”)—is dysfunctional and has a negative effect on motivation and self-confidence.

Blaming oneself is also often inaccurate because, in many situations, we underestimate—or are not even aware of—external factors that contributed to the failure. For example, you may not be aware of the effects of a medication, TV commercials, or friends’ eating behavior on your experience of hunger and ability to stick to a diet.

So, the next time you experience a self-control setback, try this approach:

  • Consider external causes.
  • Remind yourself of previous successes and your potential to succeed.
  • Refocus on the goal and try again.

In short, to overcome setbacks and stay motivated, expect the best, but prepare for the worst. That is the key to success.

These local founders share what ‘entrepreneurship’ really means – UPSTATE BUSINESS JOURNAL – Upstate Business Journal

These local founders share what ‘entrepreneurship’ really means – UPSTATE BUSINESS JOURNAL – Upstate Business Journal

At one point in Oliver Stone’s ’80s classic “Wall Street,” the lead character declares he’s not content with his lot in life. He’s thinking bigger. He’s angling to be “an entrepreneur in the Italian 15th century sense of the word — a mover, shaker.”

The entire premise of “Wall Street” is that of a young, smart, hard-charging American businessman looking to get rich, quick.  But these Upstate entrepreneurs tell the Upstate Business Journal the entrepreneurial life is about humility and a whole lot of hard work, most of it while no one’s watching.

‘A humbling road’

Eric Cooperman
Bottle Titan President and Founder Eric Cooperman. Photo provided

Eric Cooperman had been thinking about it for years — a solution that would help eliminate alcohol spoilage wrought by a supply chain that is poorly designed to transport beer and wine across vast distances. In July, 2021, he launched Bottle Titan, a Greenville-based startup that, while getting a lot of positive attention from the Upstate’s startup ecosystem, is still just a startup.

“This is a whole new world to me,” says Cooperman, whose background is in the hospitality industry. “It’s definitely a humbling road to be on.”

Far from the idea of the “self-made, boot-strapping individualist,” Cooperman says entrepreneurship is not for the lone wolf.

“It’s easy to bring out your ego and power through — put your nose to the grindstone — and get things done, but you have to turn outward and relinquish that ego. You have to be vulnerable enough to raise your hand and say the one word a lot of people are afraid of, which is ‘Help.’”

He said even he has to remind himself he’s an entrepreneur from time to time.

“We see the ultra-unicorn entrepreneurs and they have a certain air to them and I don’t feel like I have that swagger, that air. I still feel like a fish out of water. Even now, people say I’m an entrepreneur. I still don’t feel like that’s entirely true and it may take a while to feel that.”

‘Embrace failure’

Eric Weissmann photo
Photo provided by city of Greenville

NEXT Upstate’s Eric Weissmann says a big part of demystifying the idea of entrepreneurship is in telling the stories that quite often aren’t told.

“People tend to think it’s easier than it is because they only see the end product,” he says. “But the end product didn’t just happen. People don’t see all the iterations of that business, all the work going on behind the scenes that made it happen.”

As executive director of NEXT, Weissmann is in a unique position to hear those stories, which, truth be told, involve as much failure as they do success. But it’s the willingness to go through the failures that help successful entrepreneurs thrive.

“Embracing failure is key,” he says. “Which is always a tough thing. But, it’s okay to fail, to have the mindset of ‘let’s see what happens.’ And it’s a very liberating mindset.”

Strong mental game required

Dionne Sandiford

Dionne Sandiford, owner of custom embroidery and screen printing company Corporate Stitch, says entrepreneurs rise and fall based on how well they fight the battle of the mind.

“You’ve got to have thick skin — you can’t get your feelings hurt, go home and lick your wounds,” she warns. “You can’t let mistakes cripple you.”  Instead, she says a founder must be willing to do the homework, do the research, know the competition, and adjust.

Not only that, she says being an entrepreneur is about believing in something bigger than oneself.

“My story is so heavily filtered and layered through my belief in God, it has to be part of my story, because when the bank account looked rough and I wondered why I’d left my corporate job, it was ‘Okay, God, it’s me and you, we gotta make it happen,” she says.

Oh, and money? Not the motivator many think it is.

“You cannot do this for the money, alone,” she says. “There’s not enough money. It doesn’t work that way. In the end, it’s knowing your purpose, what you were put here to do and doing it.”

Refugees as entrepreneurs: what’s behind their success or failure? – London School of Economics

Refugees as entrepreneurs: what’s behind their success or failure? – London School of Economics

From brainwave to fruition, a successful entrepreneurial journey is theoretically determined by social networks and cognitive abilities. But how can entrepreneurial success be explained in the case of refugees, who leave everything (including human ties) behind, and whose skills don’t necessarily apply in their host countries? Yi Dragon Jiang, Caroline Straub, Kim Klyver, and René Mauer explain why some refugees still manage to create businesses and explore the specific ways in which they navigate the entrepreneurial process. 

“Narenj”, or orange in Arabic, is the name Nabil Attar chose for the restaurant he opened in the French town of Orléans in 2018. An engineer by training, Attar fled the war in Syria and eventually made it to France with his family, where they were granted refugee status. Now a successful restaurant owner, he has become a poster-child of refugee-turned-entrepreneur for the UNHCR (the UN’s refugee agency). How did he manage? The answer lies in a mix of factors: his passion for cooking, his networking at the Refugee Food Festival and his will to build a new life for himself. These factors, which can be formalised as knowledge (cooking), motivation (willingness to start over) and social networks, are precisely the ones my co-authors and I explore in a study of refugee entrepreneurs. Why this study? Entrepreneurship may not suit all, but it is definitely a crucial issue for the integration into the labour market of the almost seven million refugees who have made it to Europe over the past few years.

Exploring entrepreneurship after trauma

Entrepreneurial success is often explained through two elements:

  • Cognitive abilities (imagination, knowledge, motivation) which are thought to determine the ability to recognise opportunities and create new businesses.
  • Social networks, through which budding entrepreneurs engage stakeholders.

What the literature assumes is that entrepreneurs’ continuous flow of life and experience allows them to benefit from their accumulated cognitive abilities and social networks in producing opportunities. But individuals may be subject to life events, like the death of a loved one or the threat of violence, that can disrupt their flow of life. As a result of such disruptive events in their home countries, refugees often start their lives in host countries with impaired cognitive abilities and fractured social networks. Unlike ordinary entrepreneurs, refugees start the new venture creation journey without the benefits of local market knowledge and may experience isolation due to limited language skills.

And yet, a number of refugees do thrive in new venture creation. For example, even in an extreme environment like the Zaatari camp in Jordan, refugees in the camp created more than 3,000 informal start-ups, generating $13 million per month. How do they become entrepreneurs with such disruptive backgrounds? That’s what we set off to examine.

For our study, we collected data from 18 Syrian refugees in France, Germany, and Switzerland over four years and tracked 50 ideas and 354 related actions. We used a model of an opportunity-production process that organises entrepreneurial actions into three stages: conceptualisation (considering an idea about a new product or service), objectification (reaching consensus among knowledgeable peers about the viability of the idea) and enacting (engaging in actions to draw in stakeholders and turn the idea into a working venture).

The four patterns of entrepreneurship among refugees

Our analyses identified four patterns, which show the probability of the entrepreneurs’ moving from one stage to the next, the sequence of how they move across the process stages, and the continuity of the process. The patterns are as follow:

1. Stuck in conceptualisation

Some participants dreamed up multiple opportunity ideas but did not take up many follow-up actions to bring them to life. For example, one Syrian imagined creating an automatic translation and check-out chip for supermarket carts but abandoned after failing to find a mentor and investor for the idea.

2. Focus and low iteration

In this second group, participants had a few focused ideas and followed a mostly fixed linear process, from conceptualisation and objectifying to enacting. The participants in this group did not attempt to iterate, i.e., return to a previous stage to improve on the viability of the idea.

3. Jump ahead and iterate backwards

The actions of these participants were unstructured, jumping straight from ideas to enactment before going back to objectifying. One example is a woman who used to run a trade company in Syria and tried to replicate her success in Switzerland by reaching out to her previous contacts in Syria before understanding the local market.

4. Enacting after early iteration

These entrepreneurs moved back and forth between conceptualisation and objectification several times before they finally closed in on a specific idea to enact, and then remained absorbed in the enacting stage until the opportunity was transformed into a product and tested by the market.

The key to success: embeddedness in the host country

Why such differences in patterns? We found that the degree to which the entrepreneurs “embed” in the home country versus the host country influenced the alignment of cognitive abilities and the use of networks. By embeddedness, we mean the extent to which people anchor themselves to a country’s cultural norms, values and learned routines. The concept is strongly related to temporality perceptions.

While navigating through the opportunity-production process, the entrepreneurs who followed patterns number 1 and 3 were mostly embedded in the home country. Although this provided them with quick access to resources and contacts, allowing them to generate ideas quickly, it was insufficient for producing useful opportunities in the host country context. These entrepreneurs were stuck in their past, all too eager to go back to Syria when the situation became stable again.

The entrepreneurs who followed pattern 2 were embedded in both countries, which helped them move forward. However, they were torn between past and present, and the combined information obtained from both home and host countries’ networks eventually confused the decision-making process.

Finally, the entrepreneurs who followed pattern 4 were mostly embedded in the host country, working on opportunity ideas that fitted the new context, and leveraging local contacts – an illustration would be Attar, who tailored his Syrian dishes to French tastes in his restaurant.

In conclusion, our findings are useful for refugees and support programs in the EU. Refugees need to focus on receiving coherent information from host countries so they can build new knowledge about what to do in the new context, and how. For example, training entrepreneurs in social skills and network-broadening strategies would be useful. Last but not least, our contribution around the importance of temporality has implications for non-refugee entrepreneurs in other disruptive situations, such as the Covid-19 crisis.



6 trends in global entrepreneurship | World Economic Forum – World Economic Forum

6 trends in global entrepreneurship | World Economic Forum – World Economic Forum

  • The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2021/22 captures entrepreneurial attitudes and trends, illuminating how entrepreneurs and the ecosystem has coped with the pandemic globally.
  • We highlight six emerging trends in entrepreneurship after COVID-19 based on over 150,000 survey respondents.
  • COVID-19 hit entrepreneurship hard, with fewer people starting new businesses and many established businesses failing. Yet some entrepreneurs are seizing new, emerging opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all walks of life and entrepreneurs are no different. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2021/22 report captures entrepreneurial attitudes and trends in countries, illuminating how entrepreneurs and the ecosystem has been coping with the pandemic globally. We highlight six emerging trends in entrepreneurship after COVID-19 based on over 150,000 survey respondents (at least 2,000 respondents from each of the 47 GEM participating countries).

1. Positive entrepreneurial sentiment on opportunities suggests global recovery

There are clear indications of a global economic recovery reflected in positive entrepreneurial sentiments on finding new opportunities and starting a business. In 15 out of these 47 economies, more than half of those starting or running a new business agreed that the pandemic had led to new business opportunities. In 2020, this had been the case for just nine out of 46 economies. Similarly, in 2021, more than one in two entrepreneurs in 18 of 47 economies agreed that starting a business had become more difficult. In 2020, almost twice as many (33 out of 46 economies) had 50% or more of their would-be entrepreneurs agreeing that this was the case.

2. Entrepreneurial activity rates are still lower in most countries compared to pre-pandemic

GEM tracks entrepreneurial activity rates on an annual basis and a comparison of data across 2019, 2020 and 2021 show that entrepreneurial activity has yet to rebound to pre-pandemic levels in most countries. The decline has been more than a half in Poland, the Slovak Republic and Norway. However, there are exceptions, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands, both of which experienced increases in entrepreneurial activity in each of the past two years. The following chart shows levels of Total early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) in each year for the 34 countries participating in GEM in each of 2019, 2020 and 2021.

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Total early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity

Image: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s 2021/2022 Global Report: Opportunity Amid Disruption

3. There is a rising trend of low-growth entrepreneurial activity

Through its Adult Population Survey (APS), GEM captures both entrepreneurial ambitions and growth expectations. Entrepreneurship is central to supporting job creation post-pandemic and high-growth businesses are crucial to achieving this objective. However, we observe a worrying trend of muted growth expectations among entrepreneurs. In a quarter of the economies studied, over half of those starting or running a new business expects to employ no one but themselves in five years. This may be indicative of high levels of “informal survival” businesses, hinting at new start-ups as a means of survival in the absence of alternate income opportunities owing to the pandemic.

4. There is a paradox between perceiving it as easy to start a business and intending to do so

We observe a tricky paradox in certain countries. While many adults perceive that starting a business in their country is easy, only a very small proportion are intending to start one. For instance, in the UK over 70% of respondents agree that it is easy to start a business in that country, however, less than 1 in 10 intend to start a business in the next three years. Similarly in India, over 80% of respondents agree that it is easy to start a business in that country. However, less than 1 in 5 adults expect to start a business in the next three years. In both these countries, over 50% of those seeing good opportunities to start a business report that fear of failure would prevent them from doing so. This suggests a need for informed policy-making to bring about cultural change to boost entrepreneurial intentions and provide more robust support to early-stage entrepreneurs.

5. Digitalization is rising among low-income countries and new entrepreneurs

Pandemic-induced restrictions and improving digital infrastructure have accelerated and increased the prevalence of digital technology adoption among low-income countries, where one in two new start-ups expect to increase the use of digital technologies to sell their products in the next six months. However new entrepreneurs embrace digital technologies more than established business owners in all but three economies: South Africa, France, and the Republic of Korea. There is a need for more incentives and/or training to invest in digital technologies to avoid established businesses being left behind as markets change.

The COVID Response Alliance to Social Entrepreneurs – soon to continue its work as the Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship – was launched in April 2020 in response to the devastating effects of the pandemic. Co-founded by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship together with Ashoka, Echoing Green, GHR Foundation, Skoll Foundation, and Yunus Social Business.

The Alliance provides a trusted community for the world’s leading corporations, investors, governments, intermediaries, academics, and media who share a commitment to social entrepreneurship and innovation.

Since its inception, it has since grown to become the largest multi-stakeholder coalition in the social enterprise sector: its 90+ members collectively support over 100,000 social entrepreneurs across the world. These entrepreneurs, in turn, have a direct or indirect impact on the lives of an estimated 2 billion people.

Together, they work to (i) mobilize support for social entrepreneurs and their agendas; (ii) take action on urgent global agendas using the power of social entrepreneurship, and (iii) share insights from the sector so that social entrepreneurs can flourish and lead the way in shaping an inclusive, just and sustainable world.

The Alliance works closely together with member organizations Echoing Green and GHR Foundation, as well as the Centre for the New Economy and Society on the roll out of its 2022 roadmap (soon to be announced).

6. Entrepreneurship education in school continues to fail

With its National Experts Survey (NES), GEM captures the view of experts from each participating country on entrepreneurial ecosystem conditions in that country. A very worrying trend here is that experts generally assess entrepreneurial education at school as failing. Of the 13 ecosystem system conditions tracked, Entrepreneurial Education at School was rated last in 39 of the 50 economies participating in the NES in GEM 2021. This could potentially have long-term consequences such as limiting creativity, cultivating a poor understanding of market dynamics, and non-leveraging of new venture creation intentions among adults in the future, in turn hampering economic growth. This ought to be an easy characteristic of the entrepreneurial ecosystem to get right – instead so many seem to be getting it wrong. Let’s make the 2020s the decade when Entrepreneurial Education in School went from being the worst to best rated of the GEM ecosystem conditions.


There is no doubt that the pandemic has hit entrepreneurship hard, with fewer people starting new businesses, and many established businesses failing to survive. Yet there are encouraging signs, as some entrepreneurs seize new and emerging opportunities, including for digital trade. There is much to do to support entrepreneurship, not least in creating role models demonstrating that initial business failure can be the springboard to future success. A good place to start would be in schools, where successive generations have been ill-prepared for a life of entrepreneurial activity.

License and Republishing

4 Ways to Manage Failure | – Inc.

4 Ways to Manage Failure | – Inc.

Rudyard Kipling’s line, “I never made a mistake in my life that I couldn’t explain away afterwards,” rings so true.

Failure is part of the creation process. The important thing is how we manage it. Here are four ways to manage failure.

Acknowledge failure wholeheartedly

Why should we acknowledge failure? What good comes out of it?

  • When we accept our mistake, we grasp the reality around the mistake. False justification blurs this reality and drapes it in harmful make-believe. 
  • When we show our vulnerability, we exhibit our humanness. We immediately become a receptacle they can trust to pour their shortcomings into. In other words, we instantly become more approachable.
  • When we admit a mistake, we prevent the situation from snowballing into something much bigger and less manageable. 

Don’t assign a fixed meaning to failure

Meaning is not written in stone. There may not even be such a thing as “absolute meaning.” It’s just opinions, observations, interpretations, or perspectives. We can all agree that the world is dynamic. If we stop attaching fixed meanings to experiences, we will be able to keep a better tab on our mistakes, failures, and accomplishments.

Perhaps it’s better explained through a parable. There were two patients. Both were diagnosed with respiratory distress and their doctors recommended a thorough examination. The patients were nervous about their fates.

Through a bizarre set of coincidences, their reports were swapped.

The first patient, who had a very minor bronchial inflammation, was informed that he had Stage 1 cancer. The second patient, who actually had cancer, mistakenly learned that he had mild bronchitis.

The guy with cancer, learning incorrectly that he had a mild respiratory problem, started recovering really well. He defeated the disease, at least in his mind, and went back to his merry-making ways (cancer being what it is must have caught up with him, but that’s another story).

The other guy, suffering from nothing but an elementary bronchial infection but thinking he had cancer, became really sad. He started withdrawing into a shell. He lost the battle in his head first, and then via a psychosomatic response of the body, began to exhibit worsening symptoms from inflammation.

This parable shows that we change according to the meaning we assign to situations, irrespective of what the actual truth.

Be creative around failures

One of Massimo Bottura’s employees dropped a dish and stained an expensive carpet. Bottura, owner of Michelin three-star restaurant Osteria Francescana, did not scold him nor cut his pay. Instead, he created a new dish called Oops! I dropped the lemon tart. This is an example of being impossibly creative around failure.

We appreciate a great book, a classic movie, or an intelligent design. What is common to them? They are all finished products. We enjoy watching Finding Nemo without ever imagining that in the draft stage, there were about 125,000 sketches, and most of them sucked.

Only by being creative around failure can we get a Jackson Pollock 360-degree view of it. Pollock was the first guy to paint with his canvas on the floor. This way, he could move around his painting, thereby gaining a 360-degree perspective.

Sometimes, for all we know, success may lie merely one degree beyond our angle of visibility. 

Think of failure as “one more plan that didn’t work”

“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” said Thomas Edison, adding “when I have eliminated all the ways that won’t work, I will find a way that works.” 

Why is WD-40, a handy lubricant and rust protection solvent, named so? It is because the finished product was created after 39 failed attempts.

Why should we believe success owes us anything? Why should we think immediate success is our right? Why can’t we string together our failures positively and use them as a vestibule to reach success?

Failure is just one more plan that didn’t work. And when “one more plan” becomes too many in numbers, something starts clicking. Something beautiful emerges.

5 Ways Future Entrepreneurs Can Turn Vision into Reality – Entrepreneur

5 Ways Future Entrepreneurs Can Turn Vision into Reality – Entrepreneur

May 13, 2021 7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When I was young, I always knew I wanted to be an . Most of my school friends wanted to be doctors, lawyers or firefighters. Not me: I was driven from childhood toward . I sold lollipops from my backpack when I was in grade school; being a serial entrepreneur was a gift from an early age. 

In spite of trying to find a ‘traditional’ field for my future career, I can recall sitting in an Accounting 101 class and tuning out because I imagined that someday, I would just hire an accountant. I wanted to use my vision and strengths to do what I was good at; then I would hire people who were more passionate about those subjects that didn’t interest me.

I’ve spent the past 20 years building multiple SEO businesses, and I still think of myself as more an entrepreneur than SEO strategist. I’ve learned a few things along the way (I’m still learning new things every day), and I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes over the years. So I’d like to encourage future entrepreneurs with I wish someone had shared with me when I was considering this journey of bringing my vision to reality.

1. Educate yourself beyond college courses

I went to college. I have nothing against college. But college is designed to teach you how to learn, not necessarily what to learn, so you can only gain so much. There are many other skills learned in college that help an entrepreneur, such as interpersonal skills, research skills and time management.

Learning is a life skill, and reading is the means to learning. Your interests will lead you to your own research, discovering relevant podcasts, following experts in the field and networking with like-minded individuals. 

One characteristic of successful billionaires (think , , ) is their voracious reading commitments. “Walk into a wealthy person’s home,”  states Rich Siebold in his book,” How Rich People Think, “and one of the first things you’ll see is an extensive library of books they’ve used to educate themselves on how to become more successful.”

To explore new areas of interest, or dig deeper into topics that fascinate you, immerse yourself in podcasts. They allow you to multitask while learning; you can listen while you drive, exercise or relax in the evening. They bring to your awareness and inspire and your entrepreneurial mind. It’s encouraging to hear people sharing about their ideas, successes and failures during a podcast conversation. 

Related: Listen Up! 4 Reasons Why Podcasts are One of the Best Life Hacks Around 

2. Foster your vision

I think everyone has big ideas, but not everyone has a true entrepreneurial spirit. Of all of the big ideas, maybe 95 percent of those ideas never get executed. Probably only 5 percent are the brave ones, the entrepreneurs, who follow their passion and bring their vision into a reality. Of those, I would estimate that only 1 percent actually see it all the way through. Following the entrepreneurial spirit is a risk, for sure, and many folks are more comfortable in the safety of a 9-to-5 job. 

That entrepreneurial spirit inspires vision. Vision to see something lacking in the world and finding a solution to solve that problem. It takes bravery to move beyond what one can see today, and the vision of a new solution for the future. There are obstacles to move beyond: fear, uncertainty, failure, financial means, inexperience. It takes bravery and wisdom to create a plan, seek guidance in areas of weakness and work the plan you’ve created. It comes down to believing in yourself and your vision and moving outside of your comfort zone.

3. Seek advice

Everyone starts at the same place: the beginning. None of us enter the business world having all of the answers. Most of us don’t even know which questions to ask to find the answers! The gifts of entrepreneurship are creative vision and tenacious drive. However, that comes with the challenge of not having the experience to ensure a clear vision and properly directed drive.

Building a team of advisers excels progress. Sir Isaac Newton stated the evergreen truth: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Having those who have experienced the ups and downs of success share their insights with me has been invaluable. I couldn’t be where I am today without them. And, the truth is, we never outgrow our need for advisers and mentors.

Related: You Need a Mentor: Here’s Where to Find One for Free

4. Never be the smartest person in the room

Humility goes a long way. I believe I can always learn something from every person I encounter. I practice asking questions during meetings and not just doling out answers. I hire the smartest people in their areas of expertise. Then I share my vision, empower them to lead and get out of the way.

You’ll know you’ve succeeded when your business is growing without you: When there are people, processes, systems and a community culture in place. It took me a long time to get there, but now I have an amazing team who are doing remarkable things! There’s nothing better than seeing your vision emerge into multiple businesses.

One of my core principles in life is that everyone is treated in the same way. An intern just starting out gets the same respect as a VP. It doesn’t matter where they are on their career journey, how much money they make or how much power they have. I never look at anyone differently. That matters.

5. Fail forward

Denzel Washington’s commencement speech about failure inspired me. He said, “Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”  If we don’t try, we’ll never fail. If we don’t fail, we’ll never move forward. Have courage and try, even if it’s at the risk of failure: I call it failing forward.

Remember there’s a small minority of people who are willing to create their entrepreneurial vision and path. Every single one of them made a ton of mistakes. You’re going to make mistakes too, and that’s okay. You want to fail forward, and that means being 1 percent better each day than you were the day before. These actions create results that bring about momentum toward success.

Related: 4 Ways I Fail Forward on a Daily Basis and Why You Should Do the Same

I appreciate the mistakes I’ve made because I’ve learned from them, and they are now a part of this incredible journey that I have been on. Entrepreneurs have vision, see problems, create solutions and change lives. Learning from other entrepreneurs’ journeys helps facilitate the path of your success and mine.  

once said, “A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” To all the future entrepreneurs out there, just know that your worldview will be vastly different 30 years from now. 

When you experience entrepreneurial success from bringing your vision to life, and look back through the lens of your decisions, mistakes and successes, my hope is that you pass along your encouragement and experience to help future entrepreneurs bring their vision to reality.  

Related: 4 Reasons You Don’t Necessarily Need a College Education to Earn Big

Why Do Startups Fail? – BBN Times

Why Do Startups Fail? – BBN Times

Why Do Startups Fail?

Running the risk of failure is a common concern for most startups.

And it’s not surprising, according to CB Insights, 70% of newly founded tech companies fail. The reasons for breakdowns are different from the inability to satisfy market needs to burnout and budget issues. In 2021 the possibilities that a startup can run out of money faster or never find any fundings have become even more realistic due to the economic recession that started with Covid-19. 

On the bright side, there are startups that emerge and develop successfully even in times of crisis. For example, Cockroach Labs develop commercial database management systems, Funnel that provides SaaS for marketing and advertising, and many others. They managed to tap into their market niche, keeping their businesses afloat during the pandemics and even increasing their revenues.

In this article, we discuss why do most startups fail and find ways to avoid it.

Businesses Failure Statistics

3 Vital Business Setups

Before we dive into statistics, it’s important to realize that the risk of failure goes hand-in-hand with startups. The reason is the startups’ nature. It involves innovation and fast expansion. 

Innovation entails testing the newest technologies, products, and services that have never been tested before. 

Expansion involves quick business scalability due to exponential growth and requires much business flexibility. 

A startup represents a business experiment with great potential. This way, the more experimental and innovative a startup is, the riskier and prone to failure it is. This fact is backed up with statistics.

Startup Genome in its pre-pandemic report claims that 11 out of 12 startups fail. The highest risks of failure have early-stage startups. A large number of them don’t even get registered as a legal entity, being funded by the founders, their friends, or even family. However, if a startup manages to keep afloat in the market, it’s more likely to succeed in the future. The CB Insights discovered that 70% of startup tech companies fail in about 20 months after raising their first financing. 

If a startup failure rate is so high, why do businesses still invest in them? 

The reason can be found in statistics again. Investopedia states that one successful startup can offset the costs of the failed ones. It means that if we take 100 startups, 10 successful companies will cover up the investments on 90 failures. Therefore, startup investors aren’t afraid to lose the money they invest in startups. However, for startups to attract investments they have to present a viable idea, long-term development plan and show ambition and enthusiasm about their product.

Reasons Startups Fail and How to Avoid Them

3 Proven Methods to Get Startup Funding

The reasons for startups’ failure can be divided into three categories related to work with customers, company culture and stakeholders, and lack of investments and resources.

1. Startup/Customer Relationship

According to CB Insights, the main reason why most startups fail is the absence of the market need. It means that startups’ products or services don’t address the pain points of their target audience and, as a result, fail to fit in the market.

Poor product design is another customer-related issue. It often occurs when startups ignore their customers’ feedback. Instead, they build a cool product for themselves, failing to adapt them to their customers’ needs.

To avoid these challenges effectively, startups should spend a sufficient amount of time on careful market validation. They need to investigate the market, decide who is the target audience, and pivot timely. For this, they can develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) prior to the main product release. 

A properly built MVP can help startups discover serious mistakes at the start, allocate budget more accurately and build only the necessary app functionality, shorten the product’s time to market, and better adjust it to end-users.

2. Company Culture and Stakeholder Issues

Apart from marketing problems, startups can encounter inner policy, staff, and operational constraints. For example, when a company collapses as its founding team can’t create a viable MVP due to hiring staff with low or irrelevant qualifications and no clear product development plan.

Other issues can include the lack of communication and coordination in a team, or between the founders and investors. For example, troubles in partnership deals, new product releases, and overall organizational structure. 

Some startups can suffer from losing focus after the first unsuccessful product release, diminishing interest in further business development. 

Another essential element for a successful startup is a properly chosen technology stack. The software development market offers a wide range of tools that startups can use for their apps. Some tools can be more suitable and efficient than others and their choice depends on the industry or technologies embedded in the product. Therefore, they should have a good understanding of which instruments they need to build their apps. 

Startups can easily avoid a vast number of staff and inner operational issues by utilizing IT outstaffing services. This effective approach allows hiring knowledgeable marketing and technical teams who have extensive experience in product development and high organizational skills. This way, you’ll get a team of highly qualified specialists who are ready to solve even the most challenging startup issues.

3. Lack of Investments and Resource Problems

A common startup issue is a lack of investments and wasteful use of resources. Raising funds is always difficult. Startups have to put much effort into getting potential investors interested in their idea. To make it more attractive, startups have to elaborate on their business plan and marketing strategies. The idea has to be clear and simple for investors to believe in it. 

Although some startups manage to find the necessary investments many of them fail due to their irrational use. For example, they can invest in unnecessary product functionality or use wrong development strategies. The strategies can include hiring full-time development teams when the budget is tight or outsourcing too complex functionality to a freelancer who doesn’t have enough qualifications for building it. 

One of the effective ways to solve staff and spending issues in a startup is to develop a detailed resource plan. A resource plan helps companies to hire a sufficient number of employees and allocate their budgets wisely. For this, startups often consider various engagement models for hiring highly skilled specialists from outsourcing companies, or any other strategies. 

Key Takeaways

If a startup successfully tackles business development problems at its launch and first year of survival, it doesn’t mean that later it won’t face serious obstacles. To minimize the possibility of failure startups should:

  • carefully test their business assumptions – usually, startups require 2-3 times longer validate the market than they expect;
  • precisely estimate their value of the intellectual property – they tend to overestimate the idea before it hits the market;
  • make shifts in their business strategy to test their business model or product from a new angle after receiving customer feedback;
  • hire professional teams with relevant experience for effective, well-timed, and affordable development;
  • carefully choose the tech-stack for the built digital solution;
  • precisely elaborate their business plan to avoid inconsistent development.


Business Advice for Startups

Building a startup has always been a risky business no matter if it’s an economic boom or a recession. In hard economic times, there is still a wide range of investors who are ready to put their money in startups. To attract these investments startup businesses have to work carefully on their products and clearly present their ideas in the investment market.

However, if startups manage to raise funds, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their project will work smoothly. Startup businesses will have to solve many other issues, including taking the right product marketing steps, establishing strong and knowledgeable teams, and streamlining inner workflow.

2 Historic Business Flops by Legendary Entrepreneurs Reveal a Poignant Truth About Failure – The Epoch Times

2 Historic Business Flops by Legendary Entrepreneurs Reveal a Poignant Truth About Failure – The Epoch Times

In this essay, I want to tell readers about two of the last century’s big and fascinating business failures. But first, some related insights.

In her 2008 commencement address at Harvard University, “Harry Potter” author J. K. Rowling famously asserted, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”

So many well-known businesspeople failed before they succeeded or failed at something after they succeeded. Learning from failure is a cardinal rule of entrepreneurship. The difference between a bad entrepreneur and a good one is not failure, but rather, allowing failure to sink you or to teach you. The motivational speaker Dennis Waitley said: “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

Risk is unavoidable in an ever-changing and uncertain world. You cannot avoid failure by trying to avoid risk. You will simply fail in the effort and reduce your chances for success.

The entrepreneur assembles factors of production in the present and hopes that his decisions will be validated by the future market conditions he anticipates. But not even the smartest human being knows everything about the tomorrow that has not happened yet. Risk of failure is inherent in any investment in an uncertain future.

Like his father before him, candy maker Milton Hershey flopped multiple times before he prospered. So did cartoonist, filmmaker, and theme park pioneer Walt Disney. Being good entrepreneurs, they didn’t give up. They learned and they persevered.

Reasons for failure include poor planning or poor implementation of a plan, undercapitalization, managing people badly, lousy marketing, innovating too slowly, underestimating the competition, being overwhelmed by the unforeseen, or simply failing to learn from previous failures.

You can fail because you didn’t think big enough. You can fail because you thought too big. And you can fail for any number of reasons and sizes in between.

This excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s April 1910 “Man in the Arena” speech in Paris provides me with the perfect segue to the rest of this essay:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

The two business flops I want readers to know about featured two North American entrepreneurs operating decades apart but in the same South American country—Brazil. The first was Henry Ford, the second was Daniel K. Ludwig. To borrow again from Roosevelt, they dared greatly.

henry ford
henry ford
Inventor and industrialist Henry Ford (1863–1947) sitting at his desk in his office in Highland Park, Mich. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Ford’s name was known everywhere a century ago and likely still is today. When the last Model T rolled off his assembly line in Michigan in 1927 (making way for its successor, the Model A), he had sold 15 million of them for an average of a few hundred dollars apiece. By enriching so many people with the first mass-produced, affordable automobile, Ford became rich himself. But solving problems was always more interesting to him than making money. Dealing with a British rubber monopoly was the problem that gave him a big idea.

Knowing that Brazil’s Amazon region was packed with rubber trees that produced the latex he needed to make automobile tires, Ford set his sights on building his own rubber operation there. He negotiated with the Brazilian government, and in 1927, he finalized an agreement by which he secured 2.5 million acres along the Tapajos River, a hundred miles south of where it flowed into the Amazon at the city of Santarem. In exchange, he would have to give the government a 9 percent share of the profits. The centerpiece of the project would be a new town, which the auto magnate christened “Fordlandia.”

Talk about thinking big! The man from Dearborn envisioned not only a massive rubber-producing operation 4,000 miles from home, but also a utopian village where his Midwest American values would transform a foreign society. It was a Herculean challenge in every way—logistically, environmentally, culturally, and economically.

It took a small fortune and only six years before Fordlandia collapsed. The Brazilian workers disliked American food and cared even less for Ford’s ban on alcohol (even in their own homes). Bugs and diseases did not approve of the rubber trees Ford’s managers planted. Fordlandia closed and Ford moved operations upriver but within a decade, those shut down, too. The invention of synthetic rubber in the 1940s made natural rubber obsolete.

Ford’s grandson Henry II sold everything back to the Brazilian government in 1945 for a loss, in today’s dollars, of nearly $300 million.

Daniel K. Ludwig (1897–1992), also a Michiganian, never gained the notoriety of Henry Ford but that was fine with him. He deliberately shunned the limelight his entire life. His Brazil project in the 1960s and ’70s, though, was just as spectacular as Ford’s.

daniel k ludwig
daniel k ludwig
Entrepreneur Daniel K. Ludwig (1897–1992). (Public domain)

Ludwig’s first entrepreneurial venture took the form of transporting lumber and molasses on freighters plying the Great Lakes. He was just 19 when he started the company. Over the next half century, he built one of the world’s largest fortunes by mastering the businesses of shipping (he practically invented the supertanker), hotels, insurance, orange groves, oil refining, and cattle ranching.

At the age of 70, long after he could have retired to a life of luxury, Ludwig came up with his big Brazil idea. He bought 4 million acres not far from the ruins of Fordlandia and planned to build a pulp paper mill. But first, he would create a model community called Monte Dourado and develop local agriculture to feed the inhabitants he hoped would work in the mill.

A tall order grew much taller when Ludwig decided that rather than construct the mill from scratch on site, it was more feasible to build it in Japan and ship it across the ocean to Brazil. That’s right. He built an entire paper mill in Japan and towed it in two giant pieces all the way to Brazil, and then hundreds of miles up the Amazon.

Perhaps it tells you how unentrepreneurial I am that the thought of such a venture would never have occurred to me, at any age. But I am grateful that there are people in the world who are obviously more courageous and more visionary than me.

Once the plant was assembled in 1979, it began producing 750 tons of cellulose every single day. Nonetheless, the project as a whole yielded losses that forced Ludwig to sell it all to Brazilian investors in 1981. He devoted the remaining decade of his life to financing cancer research, donating hundreds of millions of dollars for that purpose.

What are we to make of gargantuan gambles like Fordlandia and Monte Dourado? The small-minded will be quick to criticize, to be sure. They are probably the same people who dismiss the dreams of present-day entrepreneurs to explore the deepest ocean floor or to colonize Mars. From me, however, you won’t hear anything but an encouraging word when someone thinks big (especially if he does it with his own money).

I am sure that neither Ford nor Ludwig ever tried to fail. It is not a difficult task if you think about it. I am also sure that neither man enjoyed it when it happened. But I am also certain that they did not fear it. Ford himself once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Do not be afraid of failure. Be prepared to learn from it. Do not fail to take a risk because you are afraid the dream might not succeed. If fear of failure were all it took for humans to fail to act, wouldn’t we still be living in caves? When great men like Ford and Ludwig take big chances, it inspires others to take chances too, big and small.

I do not sneer at failures like the two I have written about here. I marvel at them and wish that I had half the courage to try such remarkable ventures. It is indicative of a spirit without which humanity’s existence would be dull and stagnant.

It is no compliment to be among “those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” 

“Milton Hershey Showed that Persistence is the Key to Success” by Lawrence W. Reed

“Failure Made Disney Great” by Lawrence W. Reed

“Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City” by Greg Grandin

“Fordlandia: Henry Ford’s Forgotten Rubber Empire Deep in the Heart of the Amazon” by Morgan Dunn

“The Invisible Billionaire: Daniel Ludwig” by Jerry Shields

“Daniel Ludwig, Billionaire Businessman, Dies at 95” by Eric Pace

Lawrence W. Reed is FEE’s President Emeritus, Humphreys Family Senior Fellow, and Ron Manners Global Ambassador for Liberty, having served for nearly 11 years as FEE’s president (2008-2019). He is the author of the 2020 book, “Was Jesus a Socialist?” as well as “Real Heroes: Incredible True Stories of Courage, Character, and Conviction” and “Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism.” Follow on LinkedIn and Twitter and Like his public figure page on Facebook. His website is

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