Why innovation and start-ups are thriving in USA?22 September, 2014 / Articles
There are two prevailing perceptions about innovation and start-ups: first, they are all tech driven, and second, they originate from just a few regions — chief among them, Silicon Valley. I’ve seen firsthand that innovation can happen anywhere, and that it is accelerating in places that typically don’t grab headlines. And I have met hundreds of entrepreneurs living in cities in “flyover country” that are building great companies and creating jobs in a wide range of industries.
Entrepreneurs in these regions are innovating in ways specific to the economic heritage of their region. While many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs (and investors) have a “hits” mentality — if they don’t strike it rich quickly they often quit and move on to the next thing — the Midwestern work ethic leads to a more patient approach. This approach should bode well in the third wave of the Internet, where patience, perseverance and partnerships will play more of a role. We’ve already seen some huge companies in the heartland built this way: e-mail giant ExactTarget in Indianapolis, social shopping’s Groupon in Chicago, yogurt power Chobani in upstate New York, and fast casual dining king Chipotle in Denver.
In this next wave we will see revolutions in health, education, energy, and food — but they’ll likely happen in evolutionary ways. The African proverb “If you want to go quickly, go alone — but if you want to go far, you must go together” will animate the next phase of innovation, and that will play to the strengths of the “Rise Of The Rest” entrepreneurs.
It’s worth remembering that 250 years ago America itself was a start-up. It was just an idea. Now we have the premiere economy and lead the world. That didn’t happen by accident. It was the work of entrepreneurs who led the agricultural revolution, then the Industrial Revolution, and more recently the technology revolution. In the process, they built America — and built some of America’s greatest cities. Now we’re seeing these “rust belt” cities reemerge as vibrant innovation hubs.