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Lately, there's been a lot of talk about these people we call millennials. Namely, the current generation, Generation Y, those "entitled, narcissists who still live with their parents", according to Keith Wagstaff. From complimentary to derisive, countless writers have deemed it their duty to predict exactly what this generation will add or (as most reports warn) detract from our current society. But the truth is, nothing has been said about the "Me, me, me generation" that hasn't been said about every generation before them.
Yesterday, entrepreneurship was given a spotlight panel at the United Nations General Assembly. This was a great sign of the growing belief that entrepreneurship provides a path to economic growth and a decrease in poverty levels around the world. Our VP of Entrepreneurship, Thom Ruhe, was asked to speak on a panel to discuss entrepreneurship education - an exciting opportunity for the Foundation to continue our mission of advancing entrepreneurship on a global scale.
The room was busy, but certainly not crowded. There were enough gaps in between the groups of people that I knew if I stood there in the doorway much longer, people would surely realize I had no one to talk to, that I didn’t know anyone. That fear set in. The paralyzing gut-clench signifying I was in the self-conscious beginnings of an embarrassing moment.
Strategic words are out. Personal search is in. This week, the Kauffman Foundation held a seminar on "Online Branding for Startups" with help from Mark Traphagen of Virante, a SEO marketing firm out of Durham, N.C. I learned a number of things in the hours we discussed branding with entrepreneurs and Kauffman associates, but here are my top four takeaways.
Thriving entrepreneurial hot spots do not just pop up overnight. It takes more than a few growing startups to turn a city intro a hub of entrepreneurial activity. This thought is confirmed by a new Kauffman Foundation white paper entitled “Path-Dependent Startup Hubs – Comparing Metropolitan Performance: High-Tech and ICT Startup Density”.
In the month of September, we remember the birthday of our founder Ewing Marion Kauffman. From humble beginnings, Mr. Kauffman knew the fruits of hard work could change a person's journey through life. He believed the combination of an entrepreneurial ambition and an unconquerable determination could affect the economic welfare of a country—one entrepreneur at a time.
"If you truly believe in the potential of your company to change the world for the better, there’s no excuse for settling for an acquisition."
I was reading through this month's Inc. magazine earlier when this quote caught my eye. My first thought was to challenge the notion. There are specific occasions when an acquisition is exactly what a company needs to move forward or to move on. This is just how things work, but the bold words sparked my interest enough to turn the page. I flipped to Issie Lapowsky’s feature with Vimeo founder Jake Lodwick. Lodwick was fired a year and a half after selling Connected Ventures, the parent company of Vimeo and College Humor, to InterActive Corp, an Internet company that owns the likes of match.com, Urbanspoon, and dictionary.com. After the acquisition, he felt stripped of his creativity. Where innovation once dwelled, process was introduced. Lodwick was fired a week and a half before he planned to quit. This experience backs his words of advice to entrepreneurs who think an acquisition means nothing will change within the mission of an organization. Lodwick bitterly states that "in fact the mission was lost, and everything will change."
Even with the most intuitive educational material, sometimes the most important thing a students needs is the ability to ask questions. For entrepreneurs, who are often lifelong learners, this is essential to the application of the material to their business. While online learning can facilitate opportunities to learn lessons anytime, anywhere that might not otherwise be available, the opportunity to engage directly with experts creates important connections and discussions.
There's been a growing resurgence of working areas of long tables with copious amounts of white boards. They call them co-working spaces. Since the coining of the phrase in early 2000s, they've grown into warehouse size places with cubical conference rooms and modern furniture, becoming a hip thing for entrepreneurial ecosystems and startups across the globe. But recently, I've come to a realization: Co-working spaces are lame.
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