Start your engines: how startups are revving up and accelerating the economy

Nathan Charles

Today’s economic sector is a conglomerate of multi-billion dollar companies that have hit it big and monopolized whichever service they are producing. Venture capital firms can decide whether a business lives or dies and everyone seems to have their own ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme. This economic boom has precipitated the rise of the startup culture, one where innovation excels. Despite the low success rate, startups are invaluable parts of the economy that can provide major boosts.

Advanced Placement (AP) Economics teacher and former Wall Street employee Paul Ippolito said that despite the low success rate, startups still have a high potential to impact the economy.

“Most startups will fail. We don’t care. There’s probably 10 startups that fail for very one that succeeds, but [that] one becomes Google, Amazon, Facebook or Uber,” Ippolito said.

photo by Nate Charles
One of the biggest companies in Marin, Glassdoor was started in the county.

Junior Eric Maier is certainly a student who knows his way around business. As a freshman, Maier co-founded the Entrepreneurship Club, a club where students discuss how to be a successful entrepreneur through formulating business plans, coming up with ideas and developing ways to attract investors. In addition, Maier studied business abroad in the United Kingdom this past summer. He pointed out that startups are a key part of the economy.

“Startups are really important because that’s how industries grow and that’s how new ideas are formulated,” Maier said. “[They] are usually super intuitive and bring a completely new point of view to the table.” 

As a result of their business ventures, young entrepreneurs have caused a growth in the prevalence of smaller and newer companies in the U.S. economy. On the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, regions like downtown San Francisco and Silicon Valley are synonymous with technological innovation, and startups are at the forefront of that growth. Both Ippolito and Maier commented on how important startups are to the economy and how they can impact it.

Startups are great––they are the key to future growth and the key to innovation,” Ippolito said.

infographic by Julia Merron

Narenda Rocherolle, a cofounder of The Start Project, a Mill Valley-based incubator, and employee at Teck Inc., mentioned similar benefits, also pointing to the flexibility of startups as one of their most attractive qualities.

“I think they’re very important because it’s typically where you see new ideas because people are trying and experimenting and it’s typically easier in a small company than a very large company,” Rocherolle said. “The folks who started Twitter, they were at one point working for Google and they weren’t able to really start Twitter at Google, they were able to do that kind of out on their own as a small company.”

Maier said that the actual business of a startup is not what matters most, it’s the idea behind it. Without startups, Maier said, innovation in the economy would be stifled.

“A lot of people focus on the startup aspect … and starting small, but that’s really not what its about. It’s about getting the idea out there and pushing the envelope as far as innovation,” Maier said.

While Rocherolle said that the supportive environment of an economy certainly provides many of the ingredients required for a business to excel, he singled out the individual as the most important factor in a startup’s success.

“I think Marin is a great place. A lot of folks move from San Francisco to raise families and there’s a lot of great schools … there’s certainly no shortage in the Bay Area of accelerators … [but] the hardest part is really inside of yourself, being ready to take that kind of a leap where you are your own boss,” Rocherolle said. “Usually you end up with someone who has a vision of what something could be and they have the persistence to keep chipping away at that.”

According to Ippolito, with other countries like China rapidly growing their economies, the U.S. needs to keep pace, and startups are a great way to promote innovation and growth.

“We have to out-innovate the world,” Ippolito said. “What we do really well in this country is we innovate, and we need to make sure we’re the leader … and startups are key to that because they’re nimble and think outside the box.”