Tag: Entrepreneurship

Everyday Hero

 

When a young man has a calling to step up and help others, without pressure or financial reward, he should be recognized and lauded. I want to celebrate Rodney Smith. He serves as a model of selflessness by helping others, just because he can.

Rodney’s journey to help others began in the fall of 2015 when he saw a senior citizen struggling to mow his lawn:

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My Job: Not Helping Homeless People

 

I’ve been listening to the Ricochet podcast for a couple years, am a big fan, and have for awhile wanted to lend my voice to this conversation—partly because of the field in which I work, which some may describe as “social justice.”

I joined the site today and want to open with this background.

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This week on Banter, Ed Glaeser explained how entrepreneurship helps America’s cities to thrive as well as options to make housing in these prosperous cities more affordable. Glaeser, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University where he teaches microeconomic theory and urban and public economics. His research focuses on determinants of city growth and the role of cities as centers of idea transmission. Glaeser participated in the sixth annual AEI and CRN conference on housing risk. The link below will take you to the full event video.

Learn More:

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Ricochet – Where Entrepreneurial Teams Are Born

 

I’ve been a Ricochet member since June of 2010 and never really approached the site as a place to connect with other members to pursue business opportunities. But I’d certainly recommend that now to anyone who thinks that Ricochet is only a discussion site to hash out political or cultural issues.

In December of last year, I received a message from the owner of a firm that I had commissioned product design work from over the last couple of decades for some of the high-tech companies where I had worked. The owner conveyed to me that they had a client who was working on developing an interactive, safe gun-training system to be launched on a crowdfunding site and that the inventor/engineer needed some marketing and product launch help and would I be interested? I was, but I knew that I would need the help of someone who was an expert on firearms, knew the gun industry, had marketed firearms products before, understood the various vertical markets within the gun industry, trained people on gun skills and safety and wrote regularly about guns, gun training, the Second Amendment and gun rights. I reached out to Ricochet Contributor, Kevin Creighton (@kevincreighton).

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Uber Shrugged: Company Flees California for Red State to Test New Tech

 
Gov. Doug Ducey welcomes Uber’s self-driving fleet to Arizona, Dec. 22, 2016. (Photo source.)

Silicon Valley is known as the home of tech innovation, so it’s no surprise Uber chose San Francisco as the test site for their ride-sharing app in 2011. But now that Uber’s successful, the once Golden State wants to tangle their future research in red tape.

Uber began testing a fleet of 16 self-driving Volvo SUVs in San Francisco on December 14. A week later, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles revoked all 16 registrations, insisting that a special permit was required and that Uber must publicly report statistics from their R&D program. Not wanting to invest millions in research to benefit their competitors, the company sought a state that celebrates entrepreneurship.

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Meme Killer: A Super-Weapon for the Meme Wars

 

Those memes you see on Facebook sure are annoying. But they are also extremely powerful propaganda tools. More

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Has America Really Lost Its Capitalist Mojo?

 

081116FTstartupsIf you’re worried America is no longer great — excluding US Olympic prowess, of course — the above chart might neatly encapsulate those concerns. Looks like the Startup Nation is in the midst of an entrepreneurial crisis. Since the late 1970s, startups as a share of all firms have fallen by more than half, while the share of workers employed at new firms has fallen by three fourths.

This seems troubling on two levels. First, entrepreneurship of all kinds can provide employment and upward mobility. Second, high-growth or “transformational” startups are big drivers of high-wage job creation, innovation, and competition. As the Financial Times (source of the above chart) recently put it: “The suggestion that the US has a problem in the entrepreneurship department has come as a jolt for a country that prides itself in the red-blooded capitalist spirit that spawned the likes of Henry Ford, Ray Kroc and Steve Jobs.”

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Is the US Really Just the 41st Most Entrepreneurial Nation in the World?

 

twenty20_40983b68-a325-4347-8f9e-c3fb4cfa23ab_business_startup-e1465240993683Let’s say I was trying to cook up a talk about how terrible the US economy is. This could form the basis of a really good — and deceptive — one (via the World Economic Forum): “According to research by the UK-based business-networking group Approved Index, the US ranks 41st in the world for having the most entrepreneurs, who make up 4.3% of the adult population. Meanwhile, Britain ranks 37th with 4.6%.”

41st! Looks like an Entrepreneur Gap!

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From Startups to Jobs, America’s Lopsided Economic Recovery

 

twenty20_0c8ba4f6-db4c-4006-b0f8-ec1a4aa7dc73_startups_office_work-e1464018155556A new report from the Economic Innovation Group, “The New Map of Economic Growth and Recovery,” examines America’s startup scarcity in the 2010s. As the report explains, “New businesses play a disproportionate role in commercializing innovations, stoking competition, and driving productivity growth. They also create the bulk of the nation’s net new jobs and provide the extra demand that is critical to achieving wage-boosting full employment.”

And the numbers are distressing. Looking at other recent recoveries, the EIG report notes the 1990s saw a net increase of nearly 421,000 business establishments, and 405,000 in the 2000s. By contrast, over the first five years of the 2010s recovery, the number of business establishments increased by only 166,500.

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Interview with Phillip Krim, Founder of Casper

 

There’s a podcast called Smart People Should Build Things: Venture for America, and a recent episode featured an interview with Phillip Krim, the founder of Casper Mattresses, where he provides the story behind it. More

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Breaking with Routine, and Reflecting on Trust

 

If there’s one thing I’ve neglected in my perpetually nose-to-the-grindstone life, it’s building alliances. It’s meeting and getting to know others outside my present work associations, cultivating relationships over shared interests, and laying the foundations to jointly pursue worthy goals. Isolation is easy, for those of us with a demanding vocation and/or a restless disposition […]

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This Is the Attitude America Needs More of

 

twenty20_e53193ea-55f3-4b01-a34e-ed38b3f4f7fe_idea-e1457386612357Y Combinator’s The Macro blog has an interview with Jacob DeWitte, co-founder and CEO of nuclear technology startup Oklo, which is trying to develop “a new kind of nuclear reactor that’s small, portable, and waste- and carbon-negative.” Here is DeWitte on how he ended up in Silicon Valley:

Well to start, we were curious about what YC would be like, because they hadn’t done any energy projects yet. But it ended up being phenomenal. We didn’t really get to benefit from getting specific advice on technical stuff, like some of our peers did – we’re building a nuclear reactor, after all. But it was so helpful on the vision side, and on how to build a great business.

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Where Are the Startups? Maybe the GOP 2016ers Should Start Talking About this Chart

 

Perhaps the next Republican debate will finally have a lengthy, serious debate on economic policy. Really hasn’t happened yet as far as I am concerned. Let’s see the Final Five — Trump, Kasich, Cruz, Bush, Rubio — compare and contrast tax plans, higher-ed reform, fixing Medicare and Social Security, and how immigration can be made to better serve economic growth and worker incomes. I would also love to ask them all about flattish productivity growth since the Great Recession. Amazingly — given that — there has been little or no talk about this apparent problem, via a handy NBER summary:

The number of start-up firms in the United States has been declining in recent decades. Prior to 2000, the employment effects of this decline were partly offset by the presence of a small number of high-growth young companies. That pattern seems to have changed.skewiness_growth_02112016
In Where Has All the Skewness Gone? The Decline in High-Growth (Young) Firms in the U.S.Ryan A. DeckerJohn HaltiwangerRon S. Jarmin, and Javier Miranda show that the general decline in new firms has been accompanied, since around 2000, by a corresponding decline in the number of high-growth start-ups.

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Why Tech Thrives

 

shutterstock_55125244A friend, an economist at a big-time university, sends along the following materials, asking, impishly, “Is there a pattern here?” First, from the United States, in “Conversations with Tyler”:

TYLER COWEN: Let’s start with some questions about stagnation, Peter. At any point, if you care to add other topics of your own, please do so. You’re well known for arguing, well, “they promised us flying cars and all we got is 140 characters”; “technological progress has slowed down.” How is it you think that we’re most likely to get out of the great stagnation, when that happens?

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Is America’s Welfare State Suffocating US Entrepreneurs?

 

img-manlightbulbinnovationeconomyprosperityshutterstock_152308365121What’s the link between entrepreneurship and the welfare state? Dynamic societies certainly require strong, pro-work, fiscally sustainable safety nets. But is there a trade-off where expanding the welfare states reduces entrepreneurship? Or might it actually encourage entrepreneurship?

Over at The Atlantic, Walter Frick offers economic literature roundup that suggests the latter. A strong safety net encourages startups by making the effort seem less risky, he argues. For instance, a 2014 paper found the expansion of food stamps “in some states in the early 2000s increased the chance that newly eligible households would own an incorporated business by 16 percent.” Another paper by the same author found that “the rate of incorporated business ownership for those eligible households just below the cutoff was 31 percent greater than for similarly situated families that could not rely on CHIP to care for their children if they needed it.”

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The Critical Minority That Makes Us Great

 

shutterstock_94254988After a career in very large business ranging from big industrial work to Silicon Valley madness, I settled down in my second half of life — it used to be called “retirement” — to work with small businesses. After 10 years of advising, coaching, and salvaging many entrepreneurs I’ve come to two conclusions: 1) Starting and keeping a small business healthy is a crucible of pain and challenge to which few are suited; and 2) The large institutions of government, labor, and finance are antithetical to small business existence.

Despite these dire observations, the resilience of America has always been led by the critical few who move outside the established framework and go somewhere new. We once celebrated pioneers —not the famous ones, but the unnamed ones who slogged the Oregon Trail, farmed the plains, or dealt with the Dust Bowl. We saw an untamed, wide-open frontier called the Internet change our everyday lives, driven by thousands of individuals with the drive to try something new.

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16 Ideas from Marc Andreessen For a More Dynamic US Economy

 

In a classic Marc Andreessen “tweetstorm,” the venture capitalist offers 16 “somewhat-less obvious ideas for how to expand the # of “unicorn” great tech startups over time.” (I have added a few links and a chart.)

Taken together, I think, Andreessen’s ideas point toward a more dynamic, competitively intense economy which (a) generates both more entrepreneurs and more creative and innovative workers with deep expertise, (b) provides easy and open access to ideas for entrepreneurs and low barriers to starting and growing their firms, (c) offers a safety net that encourages work and mobility and risk taking. In short, just the opposite of economic calcification. Andreessen:

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If Washington Isn’t Behind the Decline in US Startups, Then What Is?

 

021815startups

My (seemingly) never-ending mission to figure out what’s going on with the decline in American startup ventures — over the past three decades the annual entry rate of new firms fell approximately from 15% to 10% — continues with research from George Mason University’s Nathan Goldschlag and Alex Tabarrok. They investigate whether federal regulations are to blame. Apparently not:

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