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What Silicon Valley can learn from Mother Russia

Imperial tax records mined for ingredients of successful start-ups

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1:11pm, June 26, 2012

EVANSTON, Ill. — Venture capitalists deciding whether to fund a new start-up could learn a thing or two from imperialist Russia. A new analysis of relationships among Russian entrepreneurs during the economic boom of the late 1800s and early 1900s reveals that the most successful teams were a mix of outgoing, gregarious networkers and cohesive, insular types.

Those ventures may have been trading in beets, barley and burlap, but they still hold lessons for doing business in the digital era. When investigating a potential start-up, investors should consider the mix of founding members in addition to each individual’s credentials, Brandy Aven, an expert in organizational behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, reported June 20 at the International Conference on Network Science.

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