May 2016

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As I take part in panel discussions on the investor’s perspective on startup financing and growth, it strikes me how formulaic these events tend to be. A group of investors provides insight to a room full of rapt entrepreneur attendees. Sometimes the entrepreneurs get to ask questions, and sometimes they don’t.

The power dynamic is fascinating: We the investors share our knowledge and the audience is there to listen, and, if they are able, to pitch investors on the panel for a brief moment. But, only if we let them.

Investors are in the driver’s seat, and that is the accepted norm. The person with the gold makes the rules, indeed. Yet I see this very same dynamic when entrepreneurs are the experts; they are on panels because they are “successful.” Success generally being defined as someone who has grown a large business and sold it — often for a very high, life-changing amount and using investor capital. Again, those with the most money are respected.

It makes me wonder. How have we ended up with an entrepreneurial ecosystem where the center of the discussions are gatekeepers with the money?

My own experience in the venture industry might…

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The Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland is recognized as one of the top research institutions in the world, but it is also a place where students can learn from some of the best teachers in a highly supportive community.

At the end of each academic year, the school honors its outstanding faculty and staff members with awards of excellence. The awards were presented at the School Assembly on May 6, 2016.

Assembly-06May16-40“It’s a pleasure to work in an environment where there is so much talent and positive energy,” said Alex Triantis, dean of the Smith School.

“I’d like to extend my heartfelt congratulations and thanks to all of the faculty and staff members at Smith who received awards this year for teaching and service excellence.”

Read details at the Robert H. Smith School of Business website.

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According to a recent Harvard University poll, 51 percent of millennials in America don’t support capitalism. The respondents didn’t have a specified alternative such as socialism, communism or otherwise. They just didn’t like capitalism. This struck me as highly revealing.

For years, our nation defined itself by what it was not. We emerged into the world as a counterbalance to monarchy and aristocracy with our democracy. We defined ourselves by our political lives. Over time, democracy became the dominant organizing rule book for much of the world. Democracy won.

Competition between nations became a struggle of capitalism – largely supported by democratic institutions. And the struggle was against collectivism – whether it was fascism, communism or socialism.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and China’s move toward a more capitalistic approach to economics, the world has not provided a competing economic ideology to capitalism. Capitalism won.

Even socialist approaches to organizing economies generally have capitalist aspects to them — especially if they wish to engage in foreign trade and share economic prosperity. The ideological belief that capitalism was the best type of economy became …

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