Chairman Chabot in The Hill: Business accelerators: Entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs


Business accelerators: Entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs

Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) 
The Hill
May 3, 2017

In National Statuary Hall, located in the heart of the U.S. Capitol building, there is a statue of the great American innovator, Thomas Alva Edison. It was placed there by my fellow Ohioans in recognition of the life work of one of our state’s native sons.

The statue depicts Edison holding his most famous invention, which changed the world and illuminates the world to this day: the light bulb.

When someone asked Edison about the varying degrees of success he had in making his light bulb work properly, the inventor had the perfect response.

“I have not failed,” he said. “I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Edison knew that the power of American innovation wasn’t always found in the resulting product. It’s usually found in the process.

The process of innovative entrepreneurship has never been easy.

It is a process defined by trying, building, breaking, failing, learning, improving and adapting.

Every day in America, our entrepreneurs pour their blood, sweat and tears into a process of continual improvement and self-improvement to get their ideas off the ground and keep them off the ground.

At the House Small Business Committee, we like to say that every small business started as an idea.

With over 29 million small businesses in the United States, creating 63 percent of new jobs and employing nearly half the private sector workforces, these ideas are more important than ever.

This week we celebrate National Small Business Week, an opportunity to recognize our innovators – the keepers of the Edison mantle – and rededicate ourselves to doing all we can to help them thrive. 

Entrepreneurs know they must look at every avenue and use every tool at their disposal if they are to be successful. Along the way, the resources available to them, are sometimes as innovative as their ideas. 

As chairman of the Small Business Committee, I believe that Washington must take the same approach if we are to help the new generation of entrepreneurs.  

While the hard work and perseverance of American small businesses and entrepreneurs has helped the economic recovery along these past few years, business accelerators have emerged as an inspiring and effective force for economic good.

Over the last decade, entrepreneurs from across our nation have joined together to start business accelerators as a means of taking their ideas and companies to the next level.

With an end goal of pitching their ideas to a field of investors during a demo day, accelerators put company teams through a fixed-term, cohort-based program that focuses on mentorships. 

Business accelerators work because their model truly is one of small businesses helping small businesses and entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs.

Accelerators represent a true private sector solution to the problems faced by small businesses instead of more new, lumbering government bureaucracies.

While the accelerator model is not entirely new, it has gained prominence over the last few years and spread to every state in our nation. This is precisely why our Committee is holding a hearing this week to see what Washington can learn from business accelerators and the entrepreneurs who use them.

The process the accelerators use to take entrepreneurs through their programs is making a difference. More established businesses can use the benefit of their experience to help entrepreneurs make that crucial first business connection or advance that first seed funding opportunity.

Many of us have heard about the successful high-tech accelerators out of Silicon Valley, but there is so much more to the story.  While they are operating all over the country with an overall goal of accelerating growth, they often times have different focuses.

Some are focused on women’s entrepreneurship. Some are focused on veterans’ entrepreneurship. Some are concentrating on economic development within a geographic area, like my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.

This small business week, I urge all Americans to learn more about the business accelerators in your area and find ways to get involved in this exciting new area of entrepreneurial development. I also urge my colleagues to find ways to help business accelerators and remove barriers to their success.

To read Chairman Chabot's full op-ed on The Hill website, click HERE