A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:
The recent tempest in a coffee mug over Dolly Parton’s celebration of the gig economy revealed a problem with the English language today: A worker is no longer a worker.
Today, nearly 60 million people are entrepreneurial in some way. The vast majority inhabit the frontlines of the economy. They are freelancers or the late-night business starters that Parton sang about. And they exist in the world of technology, where a single person at a kitchen table has the same power to bring an innovation to market as giant corporations did four decades ago.
But our economic and government funding debates are framed around the idea of capitalism versus socialism, corporations versus workers. That increasingly divisive conversation has some of the hallmarks of a deliberately engineered division, like the one over climate change and the one over gun rights. Right-wing groups with an interest in freezing the government into inaction figured out how to divide the country into two groups and get them fighting. (Big companies have often been the bedfellows of those right-wing groups, though that might be starting to change.)
Why don’t we have universal health care, parental leave, working infrastructure — all things that would, not incidentally, boost entrepreneurship and small business? We’ve been too busy fighting about a socialist takeover and the evils of capitalism.
The conflict thrives in part because we don’t have the right language to describe what’s happening now, as Victor Hwang, the founder of Right To Start, pointed out to me on a call this week as I was reporting this storyabout game-changing ideas in Washington and statehouses.
“These debates should be viewed as part of a larger discussion,” said Hwang. “We should be striving to encourage highly innovative people and companies. What are the categories we need to develop? How do you classify someone’s role in the economy?”
I think of entrepreneurs as builders. Builder is a nice word with Old English roots in the ideas “to be, exist, grow,” according to the Online Dictionary of Etymology. In a century where change is the lingua franca, builders own the value of their own labor, as mechanism to build independence and eventually, capital.
Times of Entrepreneurship Stories of the Week
How A Savvy Pittsburgh Salesman Grew A Small Manufacturing Empire With Lori Greiner’s Help
Appearing on Shark Tank was “the scariest experience” of Joe Altieri’s life—not to mention “surreal”—but it helped him build a $15M company. Here’s how.
The Hub: A PR Coup For TikTok, $350K Of CleanTech Funding, And A DoorDash Accelerator
The good news: There’s lots of funding flowing to promising startups as the global economy emerges from the pandemic.
Video: Elizabeth MacBride and Skyler Rossi Talk Journalism
We’re at a moment when “journalism is both desperately needed and terribly under assault,” as Times of E Editor Elizabeth MacBride puts it. Join her in a conversation with staff reporter Skyler Rossi about why they’re so committed to telling the stories you read here every week.
Startup Turns 32 Million Chopsticks Into Gorgeous Décor And Furniture
Good News Network reports on ChopValue, which has grown to a 40-person company by keeping 32 million pairs of chopsticks out of landfills. (If you need a break from apocalyptic news, check out the rest of this site).
Believe It: How to Go from Underestimated to Unstoppable
Jamie Kern Lima, founder of IT Cosmetics, sold her business to L’Oreal for $1.2 billion in 2016, becoming the first CEO of a brand in the company’s 100+ years in business. The Columbia University MBA tells how she pulled it off in this new book.
You Can Now Cycle Among The Treetops on This Raised Bike Path In A Belgian Forest
If you’re looking for a reason to start traveling again, thank My Modern Met for its coverage of this eco-friendly infrastructure project. Baked into this attraction is an incentive to preserve the trees. No one will want to bike the path if they get damaged or destroyed, as the design firm behind the project notes.