Sunday, April 17, 2005

Why don't we have an InnoVenture for Primary Education?

When I started InnoVenture, one of the challenges I saw in South Carolina is that many of the most talented people here work for large companies and do not have an infrastructure on which to spin out and start high-impact companies. Most entrepreneurs here have never met a venture capitalist or even really know what venture capital is. So as InnoVenture gets investors to Greenville, it encourages entrepreneurs to build relationships with those that can help them get new companies off the ground. Over time this should stimulate the number of wealth creating, high-impact companies we have here.

Even before InnoVenture, someone in a large company who has a idea for a new product their company does not want to pursue can leave and start a new company. If the entrepreneur can find customers to buy the new product, then the new company attracts more resources and gets to serve more customers.

Most school teachers work for a large organization too. But an entrepreneurial teacher who has a great idea for serving students not well served by the status quo does not have the same opportunity as someone in business, because the students she is targeting have no way of diverting the resources spent on their behalf to the entrepreneurial teacher.

Usually the school choice debate gets bogged down in funding, and too often it seems like an attack on public school teachers. They are as much as victim of the system as parents and students are. So why don't we turn the debate on its head and make heros out of entrepreneurial teachers with innovative ideas about how to better educate students not well served by the status quo. Let's have an InnoVenture for Primary Education in the fall.

By encouraging entrepreneurial teachers that there are community leaders willing to step up and support them, some of these teachers will be willing to step out just like entrepreneurs in big companies do. Once we identify a deal flow of outstanding education talent and ideas, then we can work on how we get them funded.

Anyone interested in working with me to put together InnoVenture for Primary Education? Contact me if you are.

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