I've been reading The Rainforest over the past few weeks. I recently came across a concept called ROI: not return on investment, but return on involvement. Huang and Horowitt, the authors of the book, have observed that "people in rainforests are motivated for reasons that defy traditional economic notions of 'rational' behavior." Learning that the different actors in a booming startup ecosystem, what Huang and Horowitt call a rainforest, behave with motivations that defy rational economic theories of human behavior answered a major problem I've been struggling to answer in my thesis. The underlying problem is a problem about mentor motivations. Since my thesis is about mentors and entrepreneurs identifying each other, a part of the problem is what motivates mentors to provide free advice and even meet with an entrepreneur in the first place?
I think the return on involvement describes the behavior of various actors I've also observed in Philadelphia's startup ecosystem. Huang and Horowitt show that the denizens of a startup ecosystem help startups because they "seek a return on involvement from participating in and contributing to the success of innovative ventures."
As it applies to my thesis, this means that mentors are motivated to provide advice to an entrepreneur for a later return on involvement in the venture.
To learn more about my thesis, check out the Table of Contents.