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Big Omaha – Erich Broksas: ‘Entrepreneurship is happening all over’

Erich Broksas from the Startup America Partnership discussed his organization’s efforts during Day 1 of Big Omaha 2011. Photo by Malone & Company from Silicon Prairie News on Flickr

The list of firms, foundations and other partners pulling together for the Startup America Partnership is impressive stuff, with Google, American Express, Microsoft, Cisco and others getting involved to help push forward job creation in the United States. The basis for the partnership is to serve as a linkage for start ups, ramp ups and speed ups – as they coin them – with mentors, capital, talent, services, expertise and customers.

The partnership, while created as a directive of the White House, is a private organization run jointly by the Kauffman and Case Foundations. Both firms are committed to direct the partnership for the next three years. Erich Broksas, its lead for partnership development, was at Big Omaha to share the partnership’s mission and how it wants to reach entrepreneurs.

The mission of the Startup America Partnership is fairly simple: job creation. As Broksas said, “All new jobs created between 1995 and 2005 came through startups.” The partnership wants to serve as a connector to entrepreneurs for what Broksas identified as the five components needed for startup success: services, expertise, talent, capital and customers.

The Startup America Partnership will initially be aimed at the top 100,000 or so firms in the U.S. that have the most promise for scalability. They will be defined not by industry, but by growth potential. The plan is that the model used to assist these firms will be applied to smaller startups and the millions of other firms that don’t fit into the initial target of the partnership.

Much of what the partnership will deliver is still in the works as a board of directors is being created and programs are being fleshed out. That said, partner companies have already contributed some $400 million in product and service to deliver to the startups involved.

One way startups will be able to plug in will be through the formal networks that the Startup America Partnership plans to cultivate and organize in regions across the country. Broksas said that the Startup America Partnership “is as important, if not more so, to Omaha as it is to the coasts. Entrepreneurship is happening all over, but it’s not surfaced and made known like the Valley. We need to bring it to the surface in places like Omaha. It’s less obvious here and needs to be drawn out. That is our hope.”

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