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Long understood to be the engine of the U.S. economy, the world is embracing entrepreneurship as one of the primary means of building a long-term recovery. Ironically, for this spreading global fervor to make a sustainable impact, the world of entrepreneurship must shrink.
As a father of three, I vividly remember those chilly, early-summer mornings of packing bags, loading up the car, and waving a sad goodbye as my children began their latest adventure at the summer camp of choosing. And there were plenty of those mornings over the course of 18 years. There was volleyball camp, and Science Olympiad clinics, and lacrosse camp.
Chasing an entrepreneurial dream can be an all-consuming effort. Particularly in those crucial early days of a startup, founders seem to eat, sleep and breathe their businesses. But this heads-down mode is not without its drawbacks, one of which is neglecting to stay up on current events—particularly the happenings that can impact the entrepreneurs who are inadvertently paying no attention to them.
Venture capital certainly has its place within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Some of our nation's largest companies (and employers), like Apple, Google and FedEx, have secured this form of funding. But plenty of Kauffman Foundation research tells us that VC funding isn't as mainstream in startups as one would gather based on its common place in startup news. In fact, less than 20 percent of the fastest growing young companies ever take venture capital money.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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