Startups and Cities

Our latest Review of the Week considers startup businesses and the cities that attract them

Startup cities: why only a few cities dominate the global startup scene and what the rest should do about it

Cohan, Peter S. Apress, 2018
271p index, 9781484233924 $19.99, 9781484233931 $19.99

Why do some cities attract startups while others don’t? Cohan (Babson College) offers an explanation built on a 100-year-old idea by Alfred Marshall. Marshall argued that districts cluster, creating many similar firms, attracting talent and rival firms, and lowering transaction costs. Cohan updates Marshall by applying it to startups. He argues that a city’s successful entrepreneurial ecosystem generates startup clusters. Vibrant ecosystems have “pillars” (startups who have gone public) and universities that invest in other startups in the region. That attracts more startups and more investment. Cohan creates a five-tier typology of city ecosystems and discusses five requirements for growing an ecosystem: universities, good city living, mentors, access to capital, and a founder-friendly environment. He dedicates a chapter to each requirement, and provides in each chapter cases studies for each ecosystem tier (successful and unsuccessful). The case studies are exceptionally insightful on what works (or fails). He concludes with advice for cities on what they can do to improve their ecosystem.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.
Reviewer: J. J. Janney, University of Dayton
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Business, Management & Labor
Choice Issue: Aug 2018