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I shared my views on business growth during a talk with entrepreneurs in Hawaii last week. Far away from Washington, D.C., I learned from my audience several very important things about our region’s place in entrepreneurship and innovation.

The first thing that struck me was how our capital region has a powerful influence on many of the innovators I met. Forever Oceans , a company offering high-tech ways to curb overfishing and foster sustainability, was seeded by significant federal funding. It uses technology spun out of Lockheed Martin, one of the largest government contractors in our region.

Etaphase is a material sciences start-up developing new materials that could dramatically change data transmission and the energy consumption of existing communications equipment. Again, the company was seeded by federal dollars and because the technology has national security benefits, the company has a growing nexus to our region.

The W.M. Keck Observatory atop Hawaii’s dormant Mauna Kea volcano is leading the charge on planet discovery and other major discoveries of the nature of our universe. As recently as last week it was in the news illuminating the nature of galactic expansion. NASA is a partner.

There I was, 4,772 miles from home, yet I kept seeing evidence of just how pervasive Washington’s influence is on technology innovation.

Beyond technology, Hawaiians use another technique entrepreneurs in the greater Washington region have harnessed…

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The Kauffman Foundation, the widely followed nonprofit focused on entrepreneurship, has provided another important validation that the greater Washington region is a business-forming hotspot.

According to the foundation, the greater Washington region is the number one entrepreneurial location in the United States. And, Virginia and Maryland are the number one and number two most entrepreneurial states. Nationally, the areas of entrepreneurship with the most growth are industries where our region has an established ecosystem of growing companies: IT, advertising and marketing, business products and services, healthcare and software.

Given those findings, it is important for us to ask why. Why are we such profitable entrepreneurs here? Which factors make us a success and how do we foster those factors to drive us to heightened success?

It’s not enough for us to…

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Last week I wrote of our region’s need for a Switzerland to allow our various resources and jurisdictions to be freer to compete to serve entrepreneurial innovation. By allowing those promoting entrepreneurial activities to pursue their specific self-interests, entrepreneurs would enjoy greater transparency. They would fully comprehend the motivations of those helping them and the overall level of resources available to entrepreneurs would be raised by the crucible of competition.

This argument has clearly hit a chord because the reactions from our community over the last week has been varied and strong.

Some have asked me whether I am suggesting there is no place for regional cooperation in the District, Maryland and Virginia. I am not. Cooperation among the three jurisdictions that make up the capital region is essential for our economy to grow — particularly in areas where our collective interests are served.

Examples of how regional cooperation is a must…

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Like it or not, the greater Washington region is all about relationships. Our strength as a business community is our interconnections, and our ability to manage the complex interplay between business and policy. Our entrepreneurial community grows businesses through the exchange of information between those two worlds.

In other words, we need to network.

When we do the networking dance well, transactions occur as a result. Once a relationship is established, there is a very good chance it will bear fruit. It might be years from now, or it might be next week, but knowing how to connect with the right people — and be willing to enter into a win-win relationship — inevitably reaps rewards.

Successful networking relies on transparency. Think about how many times you have formed relationships understanding where a person is coming from. We better connect with those who are transparent with us, and who share both their strengths and needs in a candid, open way

You can call this trust. I believe it’s larger than that. I describe it as acknowledgment. By being transparent, you are treating others as respected co-venturers and clearly stating that you value their time. If they choose to engage with you, they know exactly why.

However, here in the greater Washington region, there’s a blurry area where common interests and unspoken goals intersect. Entrepreneurs often sense a conflict as they begin to…

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The greater Washington business community is suffering from the story it is telling about itself, that it is in an old-fashioned government town, dependent on federal contracts, and lacking innovation and fresh ideas.

The reality is very different. Over the past six months, I worked with a multidisciplinary team of data scientists, economists and entrepreneurs to critically and objectively describe the state of technology entrepreneurship here for the 2030 Group, a civic and business organization working to plot a new path forward for the region’s economy.

Our findings suggest much more possibility. Since 2004, this area has created more new businesses than have parts of the United States commonly considered entrepreneurial hotbeds. Over the past 20 years, our region has had the largest number of companies on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing businesses.

This is a place where entrepreneurs, employees and investors are generously rewarded for growing successful businesses. Over the past 20 years, 6,000 businesses have been sold in the region, including 105 deals with sales prices exceeding $1 billion. Business sales create significant wealth in our region for subsequent investment.

This good news is mitigated by the reality that…

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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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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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A local “overnight success” (17 years in the making!) is being acquired for $1.65 billion by a leading private equity investor and its story is chock full of lessons for business in this region.

The best time to sell a business is when you are not looking to sell, and that was definitely the case for Cvent. The price per share offered in this deal — a 69 percent premium on the trading price immediately prior to the deal announcement — demonstrates just how much the buyer wanted Cvent. First lesson for entrepreneurs to remember: The best time to sell a business is not when you say it is, but when the market says it is.

Cvent is also a story of individual entrepreneurial success. The company was born during the Internet wave of the late 90s and managed to survive the subsequent downturn in the venture capital markets and engage in a long-term strategic growth plan. This is a lesson in the power of sticking to a plan and grinding it out as an entrepreneur.

Chief executive Reggie Aggarwal is a terrific example of how the entrepreneurial characteristics of commitment, optimism and failing upward combined to help him lead his business to this point. Aggarwal was resourceful, irrepressible and willing to be accountable — and he still talks candidly today about devastating failures that…

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There’s a general consensus that in the future, our region’s jobs will largely mirror today’s. However, my work with tech innovation has convinced me that the future is going to be very different from what we imagine.

Education and infrastructure needs will be challenged in significant new ways and even entrepreneurs will have their worlds rocked.

Advances in robotics and software are already eliminating human jobs. Banks are phasing out tellers in favor of kiosks that use intelligent software. In Europe, a convoy of autonomous trucks recently completed a cross-European trip without human intervention. Amy Ingram is all the rage; she is an artificial intelligence-enabled app who organizes meetings for a growing number of small businesses.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are developing business models that center around using DNA to build new life forms, or as a medium for data storage to replace magnetic hard disks. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson compete to create new businesses to transport tourists to space, while Boeing and Lockheed Martin develop tourist habitats for spacefarers. Facebook and others will unleash virtual reality later this year and, closer to home, Inova in Fairfax is making strides in cancer treatment on a personal genetic level.

All of these technology trends, and many others, are well under way and have taken root. Quite arguably, our society will…

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The greater Washington region has an accelerator problem and we have to fix it if we want to grow the next generation of technology businesses.

A business accelerator is a term used to describe a broad range of business models that share characteristics: assisting a founder form a new businesses through mentorship, partnership connections, access to related expertise (for example, how to set up a limited liability company or a sales team) and access to investors.

Many accelerators get equity ownership, licensing revenue, rental fees or membership dues from the fledgling businesses. Accelerators tend to be of more use to inexperienced start-up founders since experienced entrepreneurs often already have the skills and networks to cultivate a smart idea.

Steve Case, one of the region’s most forward-thinking innovators made headlines last month by teaming up with others to invest $7.2 million in start-up incubator 1776. Accelerators help businesses scale while incubators often focus on innovation. Both are life-lines for many brilliant young local companies, and we should be doing more to follow Steve Case’s lead.

Because accelerators and incubators serve…

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