Entrepreneurs have always existed. At its core, all people have an entrepreneurial spirit – some more than others.
I have already said this. The social network that came out in 2010 had an impact on this belief that entrepreneurship is the savior of everything. Facebook created massive wealth for many, and the film was an example of competition, male empowerment, intellectual banter, and a winner. People began to believe that teaching others how entrepreneurship can be game-changing has become the norm.
It’s been over ten years since I’ve seen The Social Network and a lot has changed. We now have real data showing that entrepreneurship is not the panacea. When I was Chairman of Hot Bread Kitchen, we ran a program that was given to us by the EDC. It was a food incubator for entrepreneurs. People worked on consumer products, some catering companies, and a lot more. We have helped underserved food startups. It felt really great. It was a great idea.
I know how difficult it is to start a business in this arena and actually pay your rent or find a time to make a life. In the tech world, you can generally raise some money and pay everyone a decent wage, or business never makes it and it is generally a quick death. The food has to be financially supported by friends and families as the money is tiny at this level. Essentially, everyone who went through this program was delighted with the prospect of working on their dreams. Here is the truth; The failure rate of any entrepreneur who tried to build their business that not only taught multiple skills and created a great community after this program failed.
Andrew Yang had a big idea with Venture for America. It’s a two-year post-college colleague studying and working in startups. Hoping that all graduates will become entrepreneurs. It worked for some, but certainly not for all – a lot to learn, just like what we learned at HBK. I, too, believed that entrepreneurship would be the end of everyone.
The data is now clear. We need to find better ways to help this community of underserved entrepreneurs with career programs. I think if an entrepreneur runs through your veins, you will find out. No program is going to help you get there. You are coming there because there is nothing else you can do and how we support these founders needs to be reconsidered. We need to stop pouring capital into a system where few are successful but one where everyone is successful.