When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created Apple computer in a garage in Palo Alto, it heralded the beginning of the PC revolution that ultimately dealt a death-blow to dozens of older companies.
The United States is locked in a new arms race for that most precious resource - the future entrepreneurs upon whom economic growth depends. Substantial research shows that immigrants play a key role in American job creation.
I bet the people who are in the auto industry right now have more than 10,000 good ideas about what might work and what we need to do is not come up with more good ideas. We need to go and test as many of those good ideas as possible.
There was a study done in the early 20th century of all the entrepreneurs who entered the automobile industry around the same time as Henry Ford; there were something like 500 automotive companies that got funded, had the internal combustion engine, had the technology, and had the vision. Sixty percent of them folded within a couple of years.
A lot of entrepreneurs hate big companies. But if you hate them so much, why are you trying to build a new one? The truth is, as soon as a startup has any kind of success whatsoever, it will face big company problems.
There is no greater country on Earth for entrepreneurship than America. In every category, from the high-tech world of Silicon Valley, where I live, to University R&D labs, to countless Main Street small business owners, Americans are taking risks, embracing new ideas and - most importantly - creating jobs.
In my first start-up, I had an initial advertising budget of $5 per day total. That would buy us 100 clicks per day. At $5 per day, marketing people scoffed and said that is too small to matter. But if you think about it, to an engineer, 100 real humans everyday giving your product a try means you can really start improving.
It was 1999, and we were building a way for college kids to create online profiles for the purpose of sharing... with employers. Oops. I vividly remember the moment I realized my company was going to fail. My co-founder and I were at our wits' end. By 2001, the dot-com bubble had burst, and we had spent all our money.
The grim reality is that most start-ups fail. Most new products are not successful. Yet the story of perseverance, creative genius, and hard work persists.
There's nothing wrong with raising venture capital. Many lean startups are ambitious and are able to deploy large amounts of capital. What differentiates them is their disciplined approach to determining when to spend money: after the fundamental elements of the business model have been empirically validated.
The mistake isn't releasing something bad. The mistake is to launch it and get PR people involved. You don't want people to start amping up expectations for an early version of your product. The best entrepreneurship happens in low-stakes environments where no one is paying attention, like Mark Zuckerberg's dorm room at Harvard.
Start-up success is not a consequence of good genes or being in the right place at the right time. Success can be engineered by following the right process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught.
If your goal is to make money, becoming an entrepreneur is a sucker's bet. Sure, some entrepreneurs make a lot of money, but if you calculate the amount of stress-inducing work and time it takes and multiply that by the low likelihood of success and eventual payoff, it is not a great way to get rich.
As an entrepreneur, I knew that if my company failed, I could always try again. So I often felt that the only real risk of true financial ruin came from the possibility of a serious illness that either exceeded my insurance plans lifetime limits, or was not covered due to rescission.
Entrepreneurs can't forecast accurately, because they are trying something fundamentally new. So they will often be laughably behind plan - and on the brink of success.
I actually believed if you work hard enough it was inevitable you'd succeed. Then I lived the 'Social Network' movie, but only the first half. The hardest part is the grueling work of constantly being wrong.
The biggest start-up successes - from Henry Ford to Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg - were pioneered by people from solidly middle-class backgrounds. These founders were not wealthy when they began. They were hungry for success, but knew they had a solid support system to fall back on if they failed.
When it comes to meritocracy and diversity, the symbolic is real. And that means that simple actions that reduce bias, such as blind resume or application screening, are a double win: they reduce implicit bias and they help communicate our commitment to meritocracy.
The attributes for entrepreneurs cut both ways. You need the ability to ignore inconvenient facts and see the world as it should be and not as it is. This inspires people to take huge leaps of faith. But this blindness to facts can be a liability, too. The characteristics that help entrepreneurs succeed can also lead to their failure.
There is much that public policy can do to support American entrepreneurs. Health insurance reform will make it easier for entrepreneurs to take a chance on a new business without putting their family's health at risk. Tort reform will make it easier to take prudent risks on new products in a number of sectors.