Startup America Is A Bad Idea

Georges van Hoegaerden
Georges van Hoegaerden
Founder, Author, and Managing Director of methodEVA.

Startup America deploys more good money after bad. Your money.

Now that I watched the hour-long introduction of the White House announcement, I am even more convinced that Startup America is a terrible and naive idea. The program’s mere existence is evidence of venture capital’s systemic failure, to which this program subsequently deploys even more money.

Misguided focus

The primary reason for Startup America’s impending failure is not the lack of goodwill from those involved but the program’s wrong focus. Instead of focusing on educating entrepreneurs, it should fix the dysfunctional arbitrage formed by an investment club that violates free-market principles and antitrust laws.

Pumping more money into “innovation” without fixing the economic model through which the innovation is supposed to be recognized is the kiss of death to innovation.

Venture Capital is broken, not our capacity to innovate

As Albert Einstein so eloquently stated: “Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed“.

Venture capital, as the financial system, arbitrage, and theorem built on the principles of socialism (including fragmentation of risk, deal staging, syndication, collusion, and price-fixing), has by economic principle a hard time attracting the anarchy promoted by groundbreaking innovation that can produce $1B companies. As a result, venture capital has turned subprime just like real estate, exacerbated by a uniform deployment of deflated risk – the opposite of what this unique sub-sector of private equity requires.

The simple role of government

The purpose of government is not to spur private markets with artificial programs that prolong underperforming economic principles. The role of government is to fix fake markets by merely having all financial systems adhere to free-market principles. And few of our financial systems are free-markets. Venture capital, indeed, is not. Simply put: the power of production can only come to fruition if it is married with the appropriate investor’s merit.

Instead of priming the pump with more money, the government should ensure venture capital adheres to transactional transparency for all marketplace participants. That the definition of private investments does not mean those investments cannot be publicly visible, just not publicly investable (yet). That venture capital investments become competitive rather than syndicate to social mediocrity. Those venture capitalists who deploy risk in innovative and socioeconomically successful companies are recognized and rewarded for taking that risk. And most importantly, that great entrepreneurs, for the first time, can establish the authentic merit of the investor who can no longer hide behind the black box of money, large firms, investment networks, and lobbying organizations.

The government’s role is to establish free-market systems and ensure that all participants have equal transparency in the transactions. New entrants (entrepreneurs) can make wise decisions on which investors can help them realize a dramatic upside.

Too many hooks

Beyond the program’s misguided focus, the smaller hooks this convoluted program deploys to a mix of Small Business, Startup, and University efforts will make its effect even more unmeasurable and unaccountable.

Anyone with any early-stage investment experience will realize that $1B companies contributing to GDP do not come from pumping more money into small businesses, reducing the early-stage risk for venture capital even further, or reliance on University-based innovation.

Small businesses need a more level playing field, startups need free-market investor competition, and universities must align themselves with relevant business requirements. Each requires a program not to grease the skids with dumb money but deploy economic models that enable optimal market access.

Affect effect

We will see a formidable stampede chase the money this program makes available to those who have no problem robbing a bank when the doors are open. But if you really want to affect the United States’ economic outcome, not the money but the effect of Startup America is your concern.

Dear President, I remain at your service.

The sign of an intelligent nation is its willingness and ability to reinvent itself, upstream. Let’s inspire the world with new rigors of excellence we first and successfully apply to ourselves.

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