In this episode Michael Dealoia: “Tech Czar”, Columnist, and Entrepreneur shares How to Improve the NEO Tech Community in 3 Easy Steps.
After the tip, we go backstage and learn about Michael’s, Term as Cleveland Tech Czar, Charlie Brown Moment, Audacious Grandfathers, and more!
My name is Michael DeAloia. I’m the Tech Columnist for The Plain Dealer. Today we’re going to be chatting about how to improve the northeast Ohio tech community in three easy steps.
So, the first easy step to improve the northeast Ohio tech community would be capital. We have a dearth of Series A capital right now. Northeast Ohio’s been just phenomenal in creating the startup environment. So there’s a lot of entrepreneurs right now creating their own little companies, and getting funded, funding for that. However, as they grow to a certain point, there’s no capital to help them, and so what we need is a concerted effort in northeast Ohio, is to create the next generation of Series A capital and venture capital funds for the entrepreneurs.
It would be great to see some of the banking companies create a program for the emerging growth or startup company in northeast Ohio. Just like you would for a credit card as a college student. You get the credit card. You earn a little bit of credit. The same for a startup company. They need to earn their credit, but the banks also have to give it.
Scale is the two-sided coin, right? It’s Janus, the two-faced god in Roman history. For example, in Silicon Valley, scale is an easy proposition. You take two people out of Apple, put them in a room with five million dollars, and in three years they’ll have a 100 million dollar company. Scale is revenue generation, and in northeast Ohio, we’ve had a bit of a problem scaling our companies up to a size, where they can, one, take on additional capital, hire a number of individuals.
There’s a second side to scale as well, and that is do you have enough people in northeast Ohio to help the company scale? In this case, I think we don’t have enough human capital to scale the companies that we have. There are, however, really interesting platforms to make that happen. Tech elevator being one, where you train for 8 to 12 weeks to learn a technology trade, and then jump on into the tech company. But also, I think immigration could be a great solution to solving this problem in northeast Ohio.
Talking about does northeast Ohio have the appropriate culture to succeed, in the 10 years that I’ve been in the tech community in northeast Ohio, you’ve seen a dramatic change, that there is an acceptance of technology as an industry of entrepreneurship. The appropriate culture that we should be looking at in northeast Ohio should be married upon the Silicon Valley method, which is target young, intellectually curious individuals, ply them with good capital to grow a company. It doesn’t even have to be a great idea, just a good idea, that they can experiment. They can also fail.
The venture capital model in Silicon Valley is we know that these individuals are going to fail with this money. That’s okay, because we got more to give them for the next big thing that they may have. You don’t see that quite yet in northeast Ohio, but we’re getting there. It’s only been 10 years, and Silicon Valley’s been around for 40 or 50 years, so there’s still time in the game.
So, in summary, the three things that we’ve talked about today, capital, scale and culture, are in a really unique place in northeast Ohio, and I’m putting out the clarion call for those who are already engaged in the tech community, and for the non-profit entities, the foundations and all the other interested parties in northeast Ohio, to get together and form a policy to solve these issues today.
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About the Grow Your Business Cleveland video series:
GYB CLE is an original web video series featuring real CLE business experts sharing their own nuggets of tips, tricks, and approaches to succeeding in careers, becoming more profitable, and living better lives. Co-producing and appearing in the GYB CLE series are NEO Interns who get hands-on experience and earn much needed credentials that will provide an early boost in their careers. Videos will be distributed via multiple GYB CLE channels, contributors channels, and on-line audience sharing.