Our unwillingness to champion entrepreneurs, no matter where they come from, is part of a larger attitude problem around entrepreneurship: We don’t celebrate their achievements as much as we should, and our government support of entrepreneurs is weak. The end result is that talent is attracted here to attend our finest educational institutions, but may not be so welcomed if it wants to stick around and start a business.
It wasn’t always this way. Innovators were revered, and schoolchildren learned the names of the great inventors alongside the names of renowned statesmen. Today, people idolize athletes and celebrities — and yes, highly successful and visionary business people like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but not the innovators who perhaps have not seen such high-flying levels of success. Can anyone name the inventors of GPS, which has such a huge impact on our lives today? (For the record, Roger Easton, creator of some of the key technologies that led to GPS, was recently inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.)
Aside from an attitude shift toward the valuable contributions of entrepreneurs and inventors, we need to cultivate more support on a government level. We can learn valuable lessons from Start-Up Chile, an effort funded by the Chilean government that aims to attract early-stage entrepreneurs from all over the world to launch their businesses in that country. The program provides subsidies to teams of entrepreneurs along with access to sources of capital. It’s a great idea, and one that promises to reap benefits for the country’s economy as well as provide a source for jobs.
We need our own American “mobilization” for entrepreneurship and innovators — one that provides both the practical and inspirational support that will attract foreign talent to bring and grow their ideas here, and will help our homegrown talent thrive. Here’s what we need to make this vision happen
Startup America, under the leadership of Scott Case, is out there, but its clear from Jain’s post that there is much more to be done. Any thoughts on how we can bring back America’s spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship? Is America’s entrepreneurial exceptionalism disappearing?
One of the areas that Jain points to is ‘programs for college entrepreneurs” — I couldn’t agree more. This not only gets more students starting new ventures, but educates many more about entrepreneurs and the critical role they play in our society.