In junior high school, I had a technology teacher who forced me to memorize the text of an Apple Computer television advertisement titled 'Think Different.' The last line of the ad said: 'The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.' I found this message and its ambassador (my teacher) inspiring. It made me want to start a company to change the world.
But what type of company? I needed a good idea. Around the time I memorized the advertisement, I attended a professional football game in San Francisco. The seats at the stadium were dirty. I wanted to complain about them to the city of San Francisco. When I tried to register my complaint, I discovered that the city had no organized method to handle citizen contacts. In my frustration, I said to myself, 'There's got to be a better way!'
This personal experience led me to start a high- tech company that would solve the problem I had stumbled on. I founded my company, Comcate, in 2001 with the aim of improving local government customer service. I developed software that allows cities to track, manage, and resolve citizen complaints. For example, our local government clients can efficiently track a citizen complaint about a pothole, a broken streetlight, a fallen tree limb, and similar problems. Not only does this lead to more satisfied citizens, but automating the tracking of tasks saves government money. I have spent several years growing this business.
The Typical and the Atypical
In some ways, my entrepreneurial journey has been typical. First, my idea came from a personal experience. Good ideas are almost always informed by first-hand experience more than brainstorming sessions inside an office building. Details...
U.S. Policy and Culture
Fortunately, when pondering my business idea as a kid, I was growing up in the United States, a nation that offers many benefits to entrepreneurs in terms of both official government policies and an overarching culture of entrepreneurship. Details...
No One 'Right' Approach
The countries that promote entrepreneurship tend to be more economically successful. Economist William Baumol has called entrepreneurship the 'indispensable component' of economic growth and prosperity in the United States. With more than 16 million people employed by businesses with fewer than 10 employees, the United States truly does run on small businesses. Details...
The Time Is Now
This fervor to control one's destiny isn't limited to Americans: All over the world, people young and old are realizing the joys of creating a new business. Even if you live in an area that is not traditionally as democratic as the United States, or is not as tolerant of failure or experimentation, or has not yet established mature private capital markets, there has still never been a better time to start. The Internet has made your physical location less important. From Zambia to New Zealand, Canada to Costa Rica, you can log on to the Internet and teach yourself and connect with like-minded souls. In most cases, the entrepreneurial path begins by opening a Web browser.
So join the global entrepreneurial community. Start your own high-technology start-up. Share your lessons and experiences. Share your story. Worst case, you fail. Best case, you change the world, solve someone's problem, maybe make a lot of money. What are you waiting for?
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. government.
By: Ben Casnocha
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