A new non-profit organization, the Center for American Entrepreneurship, launched yesterday.
While there are lots of non-profits supporting entrepreneurship, CAE is organized around the idea of engaging and educating policymakers in Washington and at state and local levels across the nation, regarding the critical importance of entrepreneurs and startups to innovation.
I met the John Dearie founder and CEO of CAE, a year ago. He came to Boulder, met with me for lunch, and gave me a copy of his book Where The Jobs Are, which I promptly read and felt was on the money. I knew a number of people on the board of CAE, which was just getting started, and Amy and I made a quick financial contribution to the organization.
I then watched over the past year as John, as a founder, put CAE together. I helped where I could and watched John live the entrepreneurial life as he founded a new organization. Several of our conversations were self-reflective, especially around the challenges of getting investors attention to provide seed financing for a new organization.
Ultimately John was successful and CAE has launched. Instead of a board role, I’ve agreed to be on the Advisory Council, as I’m trying to fit into a role of having an impact by helping the CEOs of the non-profits I’m involved in, rather than having a broad governing role that being a member of the board entails.
If you want to get connected to CAE or are in the DC area and want to engage around the issues of entrepreneurs and innovation, email me and I’ll connect you with John. If you want to support CAE, please consider making a donation.
A few weeks ago I had lunch with John Dearie to discuss a new non-profit he has started called The Center for American Entrepreneurship. Several friends and people I respect a lot are on the board, including Lucy Sanders (NCWIT), Troy Henikoff (Techstars Chicago), Bob Litan (Brookings Institute), Rebecca Lovell (Seattle’s Office of Economic Development), Monisha Merchant (formerly Senator Bennet’s Economic Advisor), Jonathan Ortmans (Global Entrepreneurship Network), Jason Seats (Techstars), Dane Stangler (Kauffman Foundation), and Vivek Wadhwa (Stanford).
When I know, work with, and respect more than 50% of the board of a new non-profit, I pay attention. I’m glad I did – the conversation with John was stimulating. He has a vision and the experience to create a non-partisan organization to engage and educate people, especially policymakers in government, regarding the critical importance of entrepreneurs and startups to innovation, economic growth, and job creation.
While that might sound like a mouthful, I’ve been railing against the limitations of the way our government thinks about entrepreneurship for a decade. I’ve had a number of meetings over the years with the Small Business Administration (SBA) whose name says it all. I’ve often encouraged them to rename themselves the High Growth Entrepreneurship Administration, or even to create a separate organization, or split the SBA in two, or, in a fit of libertarianism, eliminate the SBA altogether. But, I know that none of that is going to happen because of a number of factors, including the fundamental lack of understanding in government about the difference between small business and high growth entrepreneurial businesses. Oh, and inertia.
Over the last few years, I’ve been exploring the idea that we really have two types of small businesses: local businesses and startup businesses. Both are important, but they have very different needs and contribute to the fabric of our economy in very different ways. As John and I were talking, he slid his book, Where The Jobs Are: Entrepreneurship and the Soul of the American Economy, across the table to me. I turned the pages and then over the weekend I read it while laying on the couch after a run.
It’s a great book that every policy maker in government at any level should read. It’s the first book I’ve seen that lays out an effective set of policy recommendations, with substantiation, for the startup society that we are living in. Against the backdrop of total government confusion about economic growth dynamics, combined with endless shallow rhetoric about what to do, I found it to be refreshingly optimistic.
While The Center For American Entrepreneurship website has a series of pages describing the issues and solutions to them, I didn’t find a crisp summary of the book on the web. So I decided to create an outline of the policies and the recommendations. They follow. If you disagree with any, or have any to add, please toss them in the comments as I evolve this as a list of “ways government can help startup communities.”
“Not Enough People with the Skills We Need”
“Our Immigration Policies Are Insane”
“Not All Good Ideas Get Funded Anymore”
“Regulations Are Killing Us”
“Tax Payments Can Be the Difference between Survival and Failure”
“There’s Too Much Uncertainty – and It’s Washington’s Fault