The future of our country depends on our constant innovation, our investment in research, education, infrastructure and people. It’s the emphasis on people that I want to call attention to now. I believe strongly in the power of human capital, what we each bring to the table, and how we share that human capital to drive business and the economy.
This was evident at the recent 2013 Empact Showcase at the United Nations; 100 companies and their founders were honored for their entrepreneurial skills and company performance. Hundreds of companies competed for this prestigious recognition. To qualify, entrepreneurs had to be 35 years old or younger, the companies had to have over $100,000 in annual revenue at the close of 2012, and be located in the United States.
As a judge for Empact Showcase, I can tell you that these companies far exceeded the qualifications. The average annual revenue was $4.5 million and the average age of the company was 5 years. They came from literally all sectors: marketing, software, consumer products, media, healthcare and more. The average age of the entrepreneurs is 29 years.
The Empact Showcase, founded by Sheena Lindhal and Michael Simmons in 2011, sprang forth from the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour (EET), also started by Lindhal and Simmons in 2006. The EET tours colleges, universities and various other companies to help spread the entrepreneurial mind-set with the best and brightest young entrepreneurs they could recruit. The Showcase was created to celebrate these young innovators as well as help them connect and network. What is really impressive about the 2013 Empact Showcase entrepreneurs who applied is, collectively, the 308 companies employ 8,857 people and have generated $2.068 billion in total revenue.
I was honored to be asked to address the class of 2012 in Washington DC and the class of 2013 in New York. The energy in the room was filled with entrepreneurs who are giving it their all to move their companies forward, learn new skills and share experiences with each other. The first day of the Showcase was spent hearing keynote speakers and breaking into several discussion groups to learn more about the challenges others face. Part of the exercise is to talk freely about the biggest mistakes made and the biggest victories achieved. Through this process, every person learns that human capital, the experience each brings to the table, is valuable to another. In this way, they learn to draw upon the collective knowledge to advance their businesses.
I also had the privilege of judging the best female entrepreneur awards. This year the award went to Shradha Agarwal, co-founder and president of Context Media, Inc. based in Chicago. Context Media is a model video service sold to physicians that provides updated and condition specific content for their point of care sites. Shown in all 50 states, patients see current and updated information on how to treat specific conditions, diseases, and establish preventive care through lifestyle changes.
One of the most enlightening sessions came at the end of day one, when five of the entrepreneurs spoke about their company’s position in social entrepreneurship. This is something the entire class supported and something I see the Millennial generation more keenly focused on for their entrepreneurial goals. They strive to achieve scale while creating impactful social change. They are looking to do good while doing well.
I applaud Sheena Lindhal and Michael Simmons for their vision and execution in building a community of support for young entrepreneurs. They build on the value of human capital to foster growth among them, 94% of who expect to be serial entrepreneurs. Now that’s a bold statement about their confidence, their optimism and it’s great for our economy.