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Can you guess where the follow startups were founded-- GameStop, Woot, Words with Friends, SOFTLAYER? Probably Silicon Valley, right? No. How about Boston? Wrong again. I'll give you a hint: it's the fourth largest media market in the country, home to 18 Fortune 500 companies and boasts two major airports, serving as headquarters for two major airlines. Sounds like a pretty good place to start a company, right? Dallas, and the surrounding area called the "Metroplex", sure thinks so and it wants you to start thinking so as well. On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the emerging startup scene in Dallas. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found here.
Something extraordinary happened in Kansas City last Thursday. For the second year in a row, some of Kansas City's largest organizations participated in a reverse pitch. KCNext, the host and organizer, brought in a capacity crowd of over 200 entrepreneurs and other Global Entrepreneurship Week event participants. There were 65 events in Kansas City spread across a week and a half. But this event was different. This one was special.
Last night I had the privilege of watching the first ever Get in the Ring Competition in the United States. Though this competition is in its sixth year, this was the first year that the United States had participated. The process began in August with groups of judges sorting through about 300 applications from startups all across the country. After several rounds of judging, the final eight startups were invited to Kansas City to participate in the U.S. version of Get in the Ring, the American Startup Clash.
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.
What if we could take the top talent coming out of colleges and universities today, those that tend to feed into law school, med school, Wall Street and consulting, and put them in startups all over the country? Imagine the job growth possibilities we could create in the country just by giving recent graduates a taste of that entrepreneurial bug. Now, what if I told you there's an organization trying to do just that. Enter--Venture for America.
Last week, we hosted Ice House Facilitator Training here at the Foundation. We had people come from across the country and the international community to be trained in how to facilitate an entrepreneurial mindset to members of their community. I had the chance to sit down with one of the facilitators, Rob Elwood, and learn about his reason for coming to this training, and how he sees it benefiting his community in Annapolis, Md.
If you've been paying attention to our work at Kauffman for a while, it should come as no surprise to you that we're committed to making community colleges a front door to entrepreneurship. In particular, we see tremendous potential in these schools to support innovative, high-growth, technology-based startups in their communities, whether their founders are students, researchers, experienced entrepreneurs or full-time professionals preparing to take their first leap into entrepreneurship.
You don't need to spend countless hours in a classroom, or have an MBA to become a successful entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs often don't have the time or patience to sit through a semester long class or six-week course in order to retrieve the answer to a question they have now--today. They need help quickly and efficiently. And this is where our idea for Founders School started.
Our founder, Ewing Marion Kauffman, once said: "It's your right to be uncommon if you can. You seek opportunity to compete. You desire to take calculated risk, to dream, to build, yes, even to fail, and to succeed". He was talking to entrepreneurs: those people who create new ventures, building visions into reality. Indeed, entrepreneurs are uncommon in many ways. They create something from nothing. They see problems (and solutions) that others might not. They take personal and financial risks.
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