Entrepreneurial

Do you want to sell sugar water or do you want to change the world?

– Chris Dixon is the co-founder of Hunch and of seed fund Founder Collective. This blog originally appeared here. The views expressed are his own. –

“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?” – Steve Jobs

I sometimes wish that instead of working on Internet and software projects, I worked on cleantech or biotech projects. That way, when I came home at night, I’d know that I had literally spent my day trying to cure cancer or prevent global warming. But information technology is what I know, and it’s probably too late for me to learn a new field from scratch.

That doesn’t mean information technology can’t improve people’s lives. Google’s search engine helps people find information, which, for example, makes cancer and cleantech researchers more productive. Skype (Dixon is an investor) allows companies to collaborate remotely, and connects people with friends and family around the world. In the area of information technology, we create infrastructure and hope that people use it for more good than bad.

That said, the best entrepreneurs seem to follow a path of increasing gravitas. Scott Heiferman started out selling online ads and is now creating new communities. Jack Dorsey created Twitter and is now democratizing payments so sole proprietors can compete on a level playing field with large companies. Elon Musk started with online payments and is now developing electric cars and space programs.

Immigrants: the new, high-tech entrepreneurs

immigrants2

Picture the founders of any big-name tech company in the U.S. and you’ll probably think of Twitter’s Biz Stone, or Apple’s Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates from Microsoft.

In other words: white American men.

But a report released this month reveals that 16 percent of high-tech, “high-impact” companies are founded by immigrants.

The study, commissioned by the self-proclaimed “business watchdog” Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration, is significant for a couple reasons. For one, consider the term “high-impact,” which describes firms with sales that have at least doubled over the most recent 4-year period, with notable employment growth. These aren’t fledgling gadget companies with no hope for survival.

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