Entrepreneurs built our state, and our nation. People of courage and convictions, who were willing to start something new because they knew they could build something better. For centuries, our economy has been a global power because of the innovation, ingenuity and resilience of the entrepreneurs who were born here, or came here to start their business. As we continue our work to put the Great Recession firmly behind us, we need inspired entrepreneurs now more than ever.
Last weekend, national leaders in digital media and commerce converged at Delaware Tech for PodCamp East, a conference that made clear how dramatically technology has lowered the costs of launching a business and reaching a new audience. Delivering customers incredible service now matters much more than the size of your marketing budget, because customer feedback is both immediately available and far more compelling than traditional commercials.
At the EMPACT Summit a few days before, entrepreneurs learned how to cut their costs even further, by leveraging emergent ideas like crowdfunding – which some Delaware companies are now doing – and co-working, which places like Delaware’s COINLoft now offer. Entrepreneurs shared their secrets to success, from Kay Koplovitz who built multi-billion dollar businesses like USA Network and the Syfy Channel to Catherine Cook, who launched a company called MyYearbook with her brother when she was 15 and then sold it for $100M six years later, where it’s now part of MeetMe.com.
Awesome stories, about how a compelling idea, convincingly executed can change your life forever.
Just this week, I attended another inspiring event – a partnership of the local Small Business Association, our local AARP and Delaware community and business leaders. You see, with stories as inspiring at Catherine’s, it’s easy to see why so much of the focus around entrepreneurism is on companies with lab coats or laptops – businesses that focus on writing computer code or researching genetic code. And entrepreneurism can get pigeonholed in the popular imagination as something you do early in life – when you have decades ahead of you to try and make it work. But when partnerships like the SBA and AARP make clear is that most businesses – most entrepreneurs – are in the business of providing goods and services, leveraging their personal experience to improve upon the customer experience currently available in the marketplace.
The other truth is that more and more great small businesses are being launched – not by people who think they have forever ahead of them, but by people with decades of great work and experience behind them to build on from the first minute of a company’s launch. People who’ve decided that it’s time in life to be their own boss and are choosing to make their next career a start-up success. We need to be there to help at any stage of an entrepreneurs life – so they can put people to work. What groups like Podcamp, EMPACT and the SBA are making clear is that there are places to turn and friends to help entrepreneurs of any age as they work to build their business and we work together to keep Delaware, and our nation, moving forward.