Startup America launches, but the concept needs to expand beyond tech

Startup America launches, but the concept needs to expand beyond tech

Summary: The Startup America Partnership has launched with the backing of the White House and big bucks from tech giants such as IBM and Intel, but there's a nagging thought: What about the bulk of the country that isn't high-tech?

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TOPICS: Banking, CXO
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The Startup America Partnership has launched with the backing of the White House and big bucks from tech giants such as IBM and Intel.

Andrew Nusca on Smart Planet has the details. The gist:

  • AOL co-founder and Case Foundation Chairman Steve Case will lead the effort.
  • The partnership is designed to foster collaboration between entrepreneurs, investors, CEOs, non-profits and universities.
  • The goal for this partnership is to build businesses that scale and create millions of jobs.

Sounds great, but I have one nagging thought: What about the rest of the country? Let's face it. The population isn't all high-tech. The bulk of America is going to work for a large company that isn't a tech darling.

This effort may have more reach if it was about startup America for the Rest of Us. What about teaching people trades and giving them skills to start their own businesses? It's not as sexy as creating the next Facebook, but anyone who has tried to find a plumber, electrician or contractor knows the idea could be powerful.

Here's how this program would work:

  • First, this program wouldn't belittle real trades that are in demand (and incidentally aren't outsourced easily).
  • Second, this Startup America for the Rest of Us would be focused more on the skill economy. Knowledge economies are nice, but let's drop the facade that the U.S. can get away with no manufacturing.
  • And finally, let's acknowledge that the college/trade math equation is way off. Instead of pushing everyone to liberal arts colleges and loads of debt, perhaps we should give entrepreneurs the skills to grow contracting, landscaping and plumbing businesses.

The point: Entrepreneurs come in all sizes and fields. We shouldn't be so enamored with tech that we lose sight of the much larger job-producing picture.

Topics: Banking, CXO

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12 comments
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  • Steve Case will lead the effort?

    Doomed to fail.
    james347
  • RE: Startup America launches, but the concept needs to expand beyond tech

    maybe so.. but two points here..

    1) the tech industry is getting a lot of attention and there's room for more growth there..

    2) focusing on too many fields at once is difficult. you've seen how niche businesses trump the big guns. Maybe it's a good idea to start up here in an industry that is showing a positive growth so they can help stabilise it completely.

    Their whole premise is to encourage entrepreneurs to increase the job market. If they take a struggling sector then they need to fix it, fix mentalities (right now techies are going nuts over trying to become startups) and then start supporting it.

    but the way they are speaking it doesn't sound like they are stopping at tech. maybe they'll move on soon enough but let's see. Or they could give birth to similar programs in other verticals. Maybe this is the future of growing the US job market...
    eddyrox1@...
  • RE: Startup America launches, but the concept needs to expand beyond tech

    Agreed there can be an over emphasis on Tech, but service industry's such as plummers, electricians and even contractors don't especially produce global value, so be careful there.<br><br>What we need are things that produce global value: <br>Tech in all of its forms: computers, automobiles, tractors, motocycles, hotrods, etc is basically manufactured items which nearly always produce global value. (first question to ask is it exportable if we have a dominant position) Even medical items like stem cell research and green items like solar are all exportable.<br><br>But don't sell those liberal arts folks short, they are the drivers behind many multimillion dollar industries, all musical, theatrical, fine and film arts for example. To say nothing of game creators.<br><br>Simple: we want to produce global value then produce universal products the global society demands in all its forms.<br><br>Contractors who develop global leadership in sustainable housing produce items that are globally marketable but most trade schools don't produce these, liberal arts colleges do.
    jerware@...
  • LaunchPad joins Startup America: We help ALL entrepreneurs

    This is why The Launch Pad at University of Miami has joined the initiative with the help of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Blackstone has pledged another $5 million to replicate the successful LaunchPad model in 5 more cities across the US. What is LaunchPad? Its an entrepreneur and innovator resource center that helps aspiring entrepreneurs transform untested ideas into vital businesses. Through a $2 million grant from the Blackstone Foundation and in partnership with the University of Miami, Blackstone LaunchPad has already helped to revive the Detroit-area's entrepreneurial spirit and establish Detroit as a city of opportunity with LaunchPad at Wayne State University and Walsh College. Now we are taking the program to 5 new cities to help build companies and non-profits across the country.

    www.thelaunchpad.org
    UMLaunchPad
  • RE: Startup America launches, but the concept needs to expand beyond tech

    I am an entrepreneur harboring $100M and 30 years of some of the most amazing semiconductor technology created in the US/Silicon Valley.

    Today, I sent my proposal on this site on-line, and contacted the media contacts, since they were the only names provided to us !

    My proposal has the potential to create 50,000 US jobs, $50B in US trade balance, save an annual $32B in loss of US productivity, lower the cost of hearing health care by reducing device costs by 50X from $3000/u to $60/u and help end a tragic 99% unmet need of the 600M global hearing disabled !

    Do you think this would get any attention from Mr. Casey or our President Obama or any of the other key leaders of this forum who are going to help start-up America ?

    I will let you know ! I certainly hope this is a real program and not another exercise in futility.

    Best to all,

    sss4u@yahoo.com
    sss4u@...
  • We need to get away from scarcity thinking and into abundance thinking

    There is one concern with this initiative is that it will help a few who will be well advertised, as the VCs know how to do. But incubators, business plans competitions and the likes are a winner-take-all process that do not help the vast majority of startups that are not the next hot things but do provide decent jobs to many.<br>Entrepreneur Commons promotes abundance thinking, welcoming all entrepreneurs interested in helping each others, and allowing them to grow to the best they can be.<br>The good news is that from all the corporations involved in Startup America partnership at least HP understands abundance thinking, which is why they sponsored the Incubate 2.0 conference in November (www.incubate2.com), and StartupCause.<br>While not all is perfect, help is on the way and there are reasons to be optimistic.
    mdangear
  • RE: Startup America launches, but the concept needs to expand beyond tech

    I understand the comments re moving beyond techs. I hope any small business knows that the network of Small Business Development Centers across the nation are ready and able to help in any way we can--and the counseling is free!

    jfye@southbendbcg.com
    jfye
  • RE: Startup America launches, but the concept needs to expand beyond tech

    There are so many small businesses (under 25 employees) in American today who have been in business for years and yet are struggling today to no real fault of their own. They are struggling because big business has been laying people off or their market is besieged with foreclosures due to incompetent real estate, mortgage and banking practices. Many of these entities ARE service businesses.
    The focus (government for sure) seems to have been on helping the large mega industrial players or to help new ?startup? businesses. But, who has employed the largest percentage of the American workforce over the past 50 years? Small businesses ? that?s who! Many of these folks have been successful for years and are ready and willing to take the chance and expand their business by hiring more people. But, again, they have been blocked every step of the way. They do not qualify for loans (in the current lending environment) although these same people are the ones who have continued to pay their business loans and home mortgages without getting any concessions like ?modifications? and ?debt forgiveness.?
    It seems to me that the government wants to work at building an iceberg on either or both ends where it is thinnest and more likely to break ? than to build from the middle where it is the strongest and most likely to survive.
    hvac chick
  • RE: Startup America launches, but the concept needs to expand beyond tech

    Not just carpenters, plumbers, and contractors as mentioned in your visions of Start-Up America For The Rest of Us but daycare, bakeries, language instruction, and physical fitness. Both trades and services other than technology must be included in small business development programs. And they are, at least in New York City. As a facilitator for the Kauffman Foundation?s FastTrac program, I know that all of these small businesses can be <a href="http://www.ventureneer.com/vblog/expanding-entrepreneurs-network-fires-her-business">sustained and revitalized by training and networking</a> . I whole heartedly agree that small business development programs should not be tech-centric. It?s the neighborhood businesses that create local jobs and local communities. We need to support them, not just the Next Big Thing.
    Geri_Stengel
    • RE: Startup America launches, but the concept needs to expand beyond tech

      @Geri_Stengel You are absolutely right. Nobody' can predict which new area of business will create tomorrow's jobs. High tech is the mountain top, the no tech, low tech and middle tech are the mountain! As P.Drucker taught. Ernesto Sirolli
      ernesto sirolli
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