top of page

Henry Ford and the Search for the Entrepreneurial Cap Table

Good afternoon innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.


This newsletter and podcast feature stories about the people – past, present and future – who change the world.  They make decisions and take actions enlivened by what I call The Entrepreneur’s Ethic.  The Entrepreneur’s Ethic infuses people, organizations and places where the future is created, and the world is made a better place.

One of the Entrepreneurs featured in my upcoming book, The Entrepreneur’s Ethic, is Henry Ford. There are seven parts of The Entrepreneur’s Ethic. Ford’s work exemplifies Ethic 2: Solve Hard Problems. This is the priority setting-orientation of entrepreneurship. It tackles the profound question of “what should I work on?"

This week’s podcast is an historic case study from early in Henry Ford’s journey. While set at a time more than one hundred years ago, it deals with an issue very relevant to today, the tension between entrepreneurial talent and risk capital. What proportion of rewards for entrepreneurial success are owed to entrepreneurs and what proportion to investors? Ford  and investors in his early businesses struggled with this in a manner no different from entrepreneurs and investors today.


The case study casts light on the early automobile industry, a chaotic mess of tinkerers, dreamers, hucksters, and entrepreneurs. It turns out that Ford Motor Company wasn’t Henry Ford’s first startup. Or his second.


Good Reads






Three Things I Think (I Think)


Part of Henry Ford’s early struggles with investors arose from monetary disputes, but that was not actually the most significant part of the arguments. Rather, the arguments were about vision.


Think big. Start small. This is a maxim in the entrepreneurship course I teach.


1.     I think it’s always difficult to start something new, so you might as well aim big. It takes tremendous time and effort to start a new business or create any kind of new thing or enterprise. So, if you’re putting in that kind of effort, you might as well work toward something with big potential impact and payoff. Think big.

2.     I think simplifying the start of something new makes it much more likely that it will ultimately be successful. I brought a great inventor to my entrepreneurship class to speak to the students about prototyping. A student was grumpy with me for having an assignment requiring them to develop a prototype in one week. That student asked the guest inventor if it was realistic to be expected to develop a prototype in only one week. “I never have a project with a length of more than one week,” he remarked. Start small.

3.     I think Henry Ford’s Model T is a great example of think big, start small. After 19 years and some 15 million cars, Ford Motor Company ended production of the Model T. Company officials designated this car as the Fifteen Millionth and ceremonial "last" Model T. They gathered at Ford's Highland Park Plant to watch Henry Ford and Edsel Ford drive it off the assembly line on May 26, 1927. There were about 30 million households in the United States in 1927, so about one-half would’ve had a Model T. Think big!

Farm to My Table


When traveling in New England, we enjoy lobster rolls. The exact origin of the lobster roll is debated, but it's believed to have been popularized in the 1920s. One of the earliest recorded versions of the sandwich comes from a restaurant called Perry's in Milford, Connecticut, around 1929. Their version was simple: lobster chunks drenched in melted butter on a toasted roll.


I look forward to shrimp rolls becoming a big thing. With an Iowa origin story. Jackson Kimle harvested Midland Seafood shrimp this week and he made them. Paired with Dry Creek Vineyard Fume Blanc. Fantastic!


bottom of page