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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.
At the Kauffman Foundation, we recently announced a grant to a group that is trying to map and track where startups are around the world. The project--Startup Genome--is working "to build the most complete and accurate database of the world's startup communities, present it in useful, beautiful ways and provide tools and reports that community builders can use to gain insight into what's happening in their community. And make better decisions about how to grow it."
We're looking for a champion. A courageous entrepreneur with shoulders broad enough to bear the hopes and dreams of the entire country across the Atlantic to represent America at a global contest of pitching pugilism.
Crowdfunding is a hot topic in the entrepreneurship space these days. Many startups are asking about it, and are trying to decide if seeking funding from the crowd is the right for their company. Sensing this demand, we hosted a three hour event on the subject a few days ago which you can view here and here.
As Kauffman Labs helps grow and educate the entrepreneurial community through programs, events and workshops, we came across an aspiring gentleman with an idea. Nodir Abdullayev (Bek) has just recently found out about the entrepreneurial community in Kansas City and has made strides to become engaged since finding his first event through Kauffman Labs. Learn how Bek's first experience made him go from an aspiring entrepreneur to lean entrepreneur.
One of the questions I get asked the most is some version of "what do you think of crowdfunding?" I usually answer with some noncommittal answer about how it is going to be important, but no really knows how it will impact the trajectory and success of startup companies. After all, the notion of banding together through social media to fund the development of a prototype, documentary film or art project has been going on for many years now.
Adam Berk had a vision of creating an online library where neighbors could borrow tools and electronics from one another. Why buy a fancy camera you only needed to use once for a big trip? Why invest the money in physical tools for a home remodeling project if you are never going to need them again? Adam and his best friend Dave spent 5 years creating this utopian community, neighborrow, powered by a new form of currency. Their business model was to eventually white label the product and sell it to large apartment buildings and others who wanted to facilitate a borrowing community. But they never achieved their vision.
Last week we launched a brand new program for startup companies who had previously presented at 1 Million Cups, the Kauffman Foundation's weekly educational program that features two local startups presenting to the community over coffee. This new effort, launched with the folks at Dream Big America, will continue to put a spotlight on startup companies from throughout the country.
"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."
Investments in digital health are on the rise this year, both in terms of the amount of dollars invested and the number of companies getting investment deals. Read more about this trend.
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