Thursday, October 20, 2011

Innovation + Entrepreneurs @ Owen

This post originally appeared on Owen Bloggers. I thought I would share it here as well since I haven't posted anything lately. =)

A few days ago I received a meeting invite from one of my favorite Owen Professors: David Owens. He’s our resident innovation guru and soon to be published author. He had invited a small group of students to meet with two representatives from the Financial Services Forum to discuss innovation and entrepreneurship. Plus, he was offering free lunch; so obviously I went. 

I did a little research prior to the meeting to answer some questions like: What is the Financial Services Forum? What do they do? Why would they be interested in talking to me?
According to their website: “The Financial Services Forum is a non-partisan financial and economic policy organization comprising the CEOs of 20 of the largest and most diversified financial services institutions doing business in the United States. The purpose of the Forum is to pursue policies that encourage savings and investment, promote an open and competitive global marketplace, and ensure the opportunity of people everywhere to participate fully and productively in the 21st-century global economy.”

Basically, they were asking us for our ideas on how public policy can help promote small business creation in the U.S. 

You’re probably wondering why we are such bad-asses to be invited to a meeting of this caliber. Well, at Owen we have more than handful of rock star students with start-up and product development experience. Take Annie Skidmore, a small business owner and one crazy creative lady or Megan Allen who is Co-founder of Georgie Beauty. Then there is Owen Blogger’s very own Blake Knight who, before Owen, made a career of working at start-ups. And as for myself, I am currently participating in an in-school internship with a start-up to develop their Nashville marketing and launch strategy.

Some topics of our discussion:
1.       Reduce the restrictions and regulations of starting a business. Word on the streets is that most start-ups fail. Business Week puts the failure rate at 64.2% over 10 years. Plus, they don’t usually reach a point of profit for several years. This brings up questions of the necessity for regulations and taxes on entities that are already shelling out limited cash on things like patents, prototypes, and attorney fees.
2.       Incentivize talent to take risks with start-ups. As mentioned before, I recently signed on for an unpaid marketing internship at a start-up. Since I’m a student, I could use the money, but instead I’m going to get class credits. However, this is not an option for everyone and start-ups can’t complete with the pay and benefits of a large corporation. The catch is that they still need great talent to make the company successful.
3.       Promote educational institutes to focus more on business. Education is always preparing students for a test or for the next level of education. But what happens when you go through all the levels of education possible and you realize you have no idea how to job interview? Or that you didn’t even know it was an option to start your own business?
4.       Help start-ups entrepreneurs connect with each other. Business is really often all about networking. How much easier would it be to start a business if you had a networking of people who had been there before? People who could answer questions and help avoid pitfalls?
The meeting was a rare opportunity to speak directly with key influencers in Washington and participate in drafting economic policy to spur job growth, and hopefully they walked away with a few ideas to include in their report.

What ideas do you have on promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in the U.S.?

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