The Renaissance Entrepreneur


As Cicero said, those we don’t understand the past are condemned to repeat its mistakes—a slogan that entrepreneurs and business leaders take to heart because their mistakes can be so costly. In this workshop, I will show how modern entrepreneurship has important historical roots in the Italian Renaissance, especially in Medici Florence. Through such works as Machiavelli’s Prince and Botticelli’s Venus, we will explore how the Medici family created the first international banking system in Europe, one that was closely connected to their patronage of the arts, and a time when it was actually against the Christian religion to lend money at interest. Our “case study” of the Medici rise to success will consider such key entrepreneurial questions as: How can one be innovative and creative within a restrictive context? How must entrepreneurs understand society and politics as well as their own business model? What are the strategies that entrepreneurs must develop to create a lasting product, and how can they convince the marketplace of the value of this product?