The Most Probable Entrepreneurial Heroes
By Donna Harris, Managing Director, Startup Regions, @dharrisindc
As I think back to when I was in my early 20’s (ahem, which was only a few short years ago…), I remember the excitement of the challenge of my new job at a big Fortune 500 company - carefree days of collecting what I thought was a great paycheck and spending it on new clothes, happy hours, travel, and fun with my friends.
Today, if I was a young college graduate, odds are I’d be unemployed or wasting my college degree on a menial wage job. Those Fortune 500 jobs have long since dried up, and a staggering 9.4% of young college grads (21-24) are unemployed and another 19.1% are under-employed. If I were an Iraq or Afghanistan veteran in that same age group, I’d be faring even worse.
Our nation is in a crisis and the jobs these young people need are not going to materialize by themselves.
We owe it our young people to set them on a path for their futures rather than letting them waste critical career time searching for jobs that will never materialize. For many of these kids, that path will lead them to become an entrepreneur. Lead them to starting a business and growing it. And lead them to becoming the employers rather than the employees.
Beyond that, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the young men and women who willingly risk their lives to keep us safe in ways most of us can never know or appreciate. We sent 1.5M troop members to Iraq and Afghanistan; and many of these men and women will have limited job prospects as they return to communities plagued by high unemployment. Yet, having been trained to tolerate risk, think on their feet, and actively lead, most of these veterans don't even know that entrepreneurship or working in a startup are options for them.
I personally think that if any group of people can be incredible entrepreneurial heroes, it's our veterans and our young people.
That’s why we joined together with TechStars and Georgetown University last week for Patriot Boot Camp. TechStars, one of the nation’s top-ranked accelerator programs, recognizes that veterans themselves have the skills and experience to find success in the startup community.
It’s also why we conducted a Regional Roundtable together with Brad Cooper, Director of the Joining Forces initiative, to discuss with regional leaders from across the country strategies for further supporting veteran entrepreneurship. And it’s why we’ll continue to help our Startup America Regions with initiatives in this area.
So, here’s where you get involved. Go find a veteran. Go find a young person. Talk to them about startups and about the exciting journey that can be. Find out more about their entrepreneurial dreams. Then, find one thing you can do for them and promise to make it happen. It really is that simple to help a startup, and if we all make a habit of connecting and helping each other, together we can Startup America.
Startup America, for those of you don't know, is the national community dedicated to growing America's Startup Economy. We're founders, investors and executives committed to helping startups acquire customers, recruit teams and attract investors through building relationships, creating opportunities and sharing knowledge. If you haven't joined, you need to. It’s quick, it’s easy, and (perhaps best of all!) it’s free: join now.
Over 8,200 startups have joined the Startup America Partnership to help grow their companies. Become a member today!
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