Getting grads to build more start-ups

Employees of start-up companies work at their designated spaces at the offices of 1776 business incubator in Washington DC, February 11, 2014. 1776 hosts about 185 start-ups in its offices. The incubator gives members a chance to take notes from high-profile entrepreneurs during what are known as lunch and learns. 1776 runs like a campus, with workshops, a communal kitchen and 24-hour access for members.

Andrew Yang has a problem: There are not enough smart people becoming entrepreneurs.

"I realized there was a profound issue with the flow of talent in the U.S., where we have tons of very smart people heading to professional services -- that is finance, consulting, law  -- and not enough talent heading into the businesses and industries that employ those firms. [They] also are going to end up determining the direction of our economy over the long haul," says Yang, founder and CEO of Venture for America. The non-profit places top graduates into start-up companies across the country.

Yang, whose book "Smart People Should Build Things," explains that it's a missed opportunity for future job creation and entrepreneurship.

"Right now we don't have enough smart people building things. We're training our smart people to become facilitators and advisors as opposed to builders," says Yang.

So what should they be building? 

Yang says there's a misconception that start-ups only need coders and engineers.

"Early stage companies need talented salespeople, customer support, management, operations, marketing, administration. They need talented people at every part of the organization, in a variety of roles," Yang says.

About the author

Lizzie O'Leary is the new host of Marketplace Weekend.


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