Startup Culture Venture for America profiles

The Surprising Truth About Young Entrepreneurs – They’re Fewer than Ever

Venture for America helps young people get acclimated to entrepreneurship. (Photo courtesy VfA)

We are bombarded with prominent images of young people starting tech companies, but the facts tell a different story. The proportion of people ages 20 to 34 who started a business in 2013 has dropped to its lowest level in 17 years. There's a crisis in entrepreneurship, and Andrew Yang, who heads Venture for America, explains what his organization is doing about it. VfA hosts its own annual conference in Detroit immediately following Techonomy Detroit, Sept. 15th & 16th.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Global Tech Startup Culture

Lebanon’s Unlikely Hydroponic Farmer Wants to Change Local Agriculture

Pictured from Left to Right: Christian Sakr, Mahmoud Hossari, Ali Makhzoum, Ali Awad, and Celine Sakr.

Ali Makhzoum thinks his hydroponic farming system can increase farmers’ yields, decrease the labor needed to harvest and reduce the water requirements by up to 90 percent. His Life Labs systems, developed in Beirut, are automated, self-contained, and, Makhzoum hopes, “smart”--with the ability to govern themselves.   More

Business Manufacturing Startup Culture

Will Makerspaces Jumpstart a New Industrial Revolution?

Making things at TechShop Palo Alto.

After I first visited TechShop in 2006, I hypothesized that if makers could be given access to the tools of the industrial revolution at a cost they could afford, they could change the world. Nine years later we have innumerable examples of how this access has revolutionized gets to make things, what gets made, and where and how they do it. In other words, it changes the very nature of manufacturing in America.   More

Society Startup Culture Venture for America profiles

Azoti Helps Farmers Sell and Consumers Eat Better

via Shutterstock.com

Azoti helps buyers connect to local food sources. Based in Columbus, the startup works with small farms to supply discounted fresh produce to employees of schools, civic organizations, and major employers like OhioHealth. Dave Ranallo started the company in 2012. He's an Ohio native who grew up eating fresh fruits and vegetables from his grandparents’ garden.   More

Global Tech Startup Culture

Forget Bubble Talk—Beirut Tech Is Accelerating

(Image via Shutterstock)

Recently called "the Silicon Valley of the Middle East" by CNN, and "the Middle East’s Tech Hub" by TechCrunch, Beirut’s tech scene is the darling of international media of late. (Though Techonomy first wrote about it over two years ago.) The tech scene here has turned a corner, going from fledgling to now officially on the map. Among the reasons: the launch of various funds that will bring over $100 million in investments to Lebanon’s startup economy over the next five years, and the ongoing efforts of Lebanon’s Central Bank to decrease the risk of investing in startups. But now three new companies that specifically aim to foster tech startups are setting up. Two of them are accelerators, and one will invest and nurture slightly more mature companies. In a city of 2.2 million, some are wondering, is this a bubble? And if so, when will it burst?   More

Bio & Life Sciences Startup Culture

The New Biohackers: How (and Where) They Work

Larry Melnick, left, and Andy Berks chat over lunch in the common kitchen area of Brooklyn-based community biolab Genspace. (Image via Ellen Jorgensen)

In a laboratory in New York City, molecular biologist Roy Buchanan is finishing up at the bench for the day. It is eight o’clock in the evening, and while late night work is a familiar scenario for most scientists, the presence of Buchanan’s two young sons playing a game in the common area outside the lab is not. “My wife let me work on this project only if I promised to continue sharing the child care responsibilities,” he explains. A computer programmer by day, Buchanan pursues a self-funded genome editing project in his spare time, enabled by the shared facilities and low price point of Genspace, a community biolab in Brooklyn. Buchanan is not alone. The economic downturn has resulted in a surfeit of unemployed and underemployed scientific experts itching to get back into the lab and flex their underused intellectual muscles.   More

Business Keen On Startup Culture

KeenON: SAP’s Bill McDermott Seeks Startup Mentality in the Corner Office

As the CEO of the business software giant SAP, Bill McDermott is self-evidently a winner. But it wasn’t also that way. Born into a humble Long Island family, McDermott is a self-made man whose journey from corner store to corner office is chronicled in his new book "Winners Dream." So is that journey from underdog to top dog still possible in today’s world? Yes, McDermott says.   More

Startup Culture

Idealab’s Bill Gross Taps the Crowd to Create Companies

Crowdsourcing predates the Internet, but Web platforms like Wikipedia supercharged the concept, giving it global currency and making it an increasingly indispensable business strategy. “Using the intelligence and wisdom and ideas from everybody anywhere on the planet—that’s really exciting to me,” says Bill Gross, founder and CEO of Idealab, a tech incubator that bills itself as a “company factory.” Gross sees crowdsourcing as a driving force in competitive new companies, and a powerful tool for established ones. He points to Amazon as a company that harnesses value from the feedback of its millions of users.   More

Startup Culture

Reid Hoffman to Entrepreneurs: Balance Optimism and Caution

Reid Hoffman knows a thing or two about combining entrepreneurial audacity with savvy risk-assessment. He co-founded LinkedIn in 2003, and his venture and angel investments with Greylock Partners include Airbnb, Facebook, Flickr, Mozilla, and Zynga. "One of the key things is maintaining a sense of youthful optimism in terms of the fact that you can make a difference," Hoffman counsels. But he adds that young entrepreneurs also have to "think crisply about how you navigate risk."   More

Keen On Startup Culture

KeenON: Venture Capitalist and Higher Ed Entrepreneur Tim Draper

With his trademark aplomb, the storied venture capitalist Tim Draper is revolutionizing higher education. His new Draper University of Heroes, a Silicon Valley-based startup college, is turning traditional education on its head. Instead of history, students learn the future. Instead of conventional economics, they learn about Bitcoin. And instead of success, they are taught how to fail.   More

Startup Culture

Running Scared? Big Companies Increase Innovation Spending

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VC money is funding aggressive newcomers like Uber and Airbnb, and aims to create the next Teslas, Facebooks and Googles. Insurgent startups seem to be targeting every industry and even inventing new ones. The startups are wielding the weapons of the Internet—cloud, mobile, social, and data analytics—and deftly taking advantage of connectivity and the flattened business environment it enables. As we enter the most disruptive period in business history, established companies with deep pockets—the ones you might call the "disruptees"—are waking up and determined to fight back. Many are refocusing their own efforts to innovate and stay relevant. The result is a stunning range of initiatives.   More

Cities Startup Culture Techonomy Events

Startups, Cities, and Sustaining Innovation

The ideas are flowing fast, as is the money. Young (and old) the world over are increasingly drawn to entrepreneurship, and inventive tech solutions are emerging everywhere. Is “Silicon Valley” a spirit rather than a place? What makes a city attractive for company incubation? Is this energy likely to continue, or will cities like Detroit have trouble sustaining it? Will the successful companies of the future stay put or move elsewhere? In this session from our Sept. 16 Techonomy Detroit conference, angel investor Jill Ford, Josh Linkner of Detroit Venture Partners, VegasTechFund's Andy White, and Venture for America's Andrew Yang join moderator Andrew Keen examine how cities can grow and retain talent and innovative companies.   More

Cities Partner Insights Startup Culture

How Three Idealists Became Ed-Tech Entrepreneurs

Evolve Team Photo

We’ll be the first to admit it: we are an unlikely trio of entrepreneurs. Two of us are black men who grew up in Detroit, left for college, and returned to the city. Two of us are young adults who dropped out of college due to a lack of guidance. Two of us are college advisors devoted to pushing opportunities to high school students and pushing students out of the hood. Together, we are all advocates of urban youth who share a vision and a drive.   More

Cities Startup Culture

Detroit Needs Talented People … and It’s Getting Them

Thanks in part to Venture for America, downtown Detroit has become a hotbed of startup culture. (Image via Shutterstock)

Detroit’s unique challenges have given rise to bold policy prescriptions and created a hotbed of opportunities. In 2012, a dozen smart, enterprising recent college graduates moved to Detroit. They were Venture For America Fellows, assigned to local startups to gain experience and contribute energy to Detroit's revival.   More

Cities Startup Culture

How Detroit Turned Me into a Coder and Entrepreneur

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There are three things happening in my life right now that, frankly, would have shocked the college-aged Kate Catlin: I live in Detroit; I’m being trained as a coder; and I’m starting a tech company. All through college I was a gregarious environmental activist living in Washington State and happily climbing mountains every weekend. I dreamed of traveling abroad and leading political campaigns, or maybe a “social enterprise” like TOMS shoes. It almost gives me whiplash to look around now and ask, “What just happened?”   More

Cities Startup Culture

Hooked on Company-Building and Community in Detroit

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Entering my senior year of college after a summer working at an investment bank, I had decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. As I began thinking about how to become an entrepreneur, however, I was faced with the reality that I didn’t have an idea to launch straight out of college, and even if I did, I had no idea how to go about starting a company. I was an aspiring entrepreneur without experience, mentorship, or an idea. I had a problem. Then I heard about Venture for America, and it was the perfect solution to my problem.   More

Cities Startup Culture

Idea Village: 5 Things We Can Learn from the Folks Bringing Startups to New Orleans

New Orleans Skyline During Sunrise

In the mid-1980s, New Orleans was in a downward spiral, in part because of its longstanding political corruption and failing education system, but also because the once-thriving Louisiana energy industry tanked as soon as oil prices fell to $10 a barrel. Statewide, one out of every eight people was unemployed. Economic hardship drove residents toward opportunities in more prosperous places such as Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, New York, and Boston. The exodus was most prevalent among 23-to-35-year-olds, the very demographic that could have provided the fresh ideas and innovative businesses essential for growing the state’s economy and addressing its pressing social issues.   More

Startup Culture

SwiftKey CTO Debuts Our “Three Questions” Video Series

Techonomy hosted Ben Medlock, CTO and co-founder of Britain's SwiftKey, in our Manhattan offices for a short video interview. It was the first episode of a new online series we call "Three Questions from Techonomy." Medlock talked about his company, the growing importance of AI, and how tech is changing the world. This modest CTO has a company with outscale success—now on about 150 million smartphones globally, including most Samsung phones. His software autocompletes typing on the Android keyboard, and is the state of the art in keyboard technology. The company recently completed a $20 million funding round with venture capital firms Accel and Index Ventures.   More

Cities Startup Culture

Techonomic Top 5: Startup Slowdown, Euro Urban Innovation, Prescribing Addictive Games, and More

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Every week we spotlight techonomic happenings on the Web and beyond, picking people, companies, and trends that exemplify tech’s ever-growing role in business and society. Here’s what’s got our attention. A new report from entrepreneurship advocacy organization the Kauffman Foundation indicates the number high-tech startups—defined as young companies with a high proportion of STEM workers—has been in decline since 2000. The study concludes that the slowdown in tech entrepreneurship “might have disproportionate effects on long-term economic growth,” noting that while tech startups often fail, they help to sustain a vigorous rate of net new job creation.   More

Global Tech Startup Culture

You Don’t Have to Live in Silicon Valley to Start a Company

Berlin has emerged as one of Europe's startup magnets. (Image via Shutterstock)

Just about every city in the world is now teaming with young people (and some older ones) who are starting companies with ambitious and tech-savvy aims. This good essay by a former Facebook European executive underscores how pointless it is for everyone to compare their own region or city with Silicon Valley. Yes that hub will remain potent, but with tech transforming the entire planet there is ample reason for confidence that numerous other places can become vibrant hubs. The bigger challenge for Europe is the continuing prejudice in many countries against entrepreneurship and risk, and labor laws that frequently become punitive.   More