On this episode, Dr.G is joined by Christopher Schroeder – a fierce advocate for the role startups can play in helping revolutionize growth in emerging markets around the world. As a serial entrepreneur, venture investor, and former media executive, Chris gives us an up-close perspective of how the media has falsely portrayed the landscape of the Middle East (and other emerging growth markets) and how startups are revolutionizing economies from the ground up.
In this episode, Chris shares with us the unexpected stories of transformational startups he encountered along his frequent journeys to the Middle East, how startups will define and shape world economic progress, what opportunities he sees on the horizon for upcoming entrepreneurs, and how his upbringing shaped his current thinking. All this and more on today’s episode. Now, That’s Unusual.
About Christopher Schroeder
Christopher Schroeder is an entrepreneur, speaker, author and venture investor. He was the co-founder and CEO of HealthCentral.com, one of the leading content and social consumer health and wellness platforms in the United States as well as CEO and publisher of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. Schroeder’s impressive resume also includes a career in finance and a stint in President George HW Bush’s White House.
Schroeder received an invitation to speak at the 2010 Celebration of Entrepreneurship in Dubai, and this opportunity began his journey in writing the best-seller Startup Rising. In 13 subsequent trips to the Middle East, he interviewed over 150 entrepreneurs, investors and global tech leaders. In addition to the book, Schroeder has also written about startups and technology in emerging growth markets for the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Fortune and Harvard Business Review among others.
Key Interview Takeaways
While it is important to understand and acknowledge the conflict taking place in the Middle East, it is a mistake to see that as the only narrative and overlook the thousands of talented young entrepreneurs building enterprises in the region.
We can learn from the United Arab Emirates’ government and business focus on world-class innovation and technology. Their “free zones” attract the best talent because it’s easier to succeed, which in turn spurs innovation and encourages an open exchange of goods, ideas and capital.
Throughout the history of growth markets, the first major successes in the world of software enabled tech startups are models brought in and adapted to local markets. Schroeder cites Souq (often referred to as “the Amazon of the Arab world”) as an example of this successful adaptation.
An estimated 25% of tech startups in the Middle East are run by women. Yes, women in the region wrestle with particular challenges, but Schroeder alludes to the ability to work around challenges as the definition of a great entrepreneur.
We live in an era of co-authorship, where layering innovation in regional and growth markets and taking advantage of shared learning will make for great global enterprises. Schroeder argues that “anything less than that will be a missed opportunity.”
The pervasive unleashing information is empowering because it gives people access to knowledge rather than force-feeding them a particular narrative. (Unfortunately, that access can also confuse and unnerve people, causing them to seek out “what they want to hear,” and those limited narratives are available through technology as well.)
Organizations that are not able to take a hard look at where the world is going and how it may directly affect them face an existential threat. They must adapt or these companies won’t survive.
Learn More About Christopher Schroeder
Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna