Mr. President, Help Us Bring Back the Spirit of Innovation
Dear Mr. President,
As you know, we are a country of immigrants. The United States of America became the envy of the world because we welcomed the best and brightest minds from anywhere on the planet and gave them the opportunity to succeed. Around the world, our country became known as the “land of opportunity” and we rightfully celebrated the success of the great visionaries and entrepreneurs that made it all possible.
Look around our great country–that’s not the America we see today. Our finest educational institutions are attracting brilliant talent from around the world, but we are not welcoming them to stay. Instead we are turning them away and they are finding great opportunities in India, China, Brazil and many other parts of the world. We are no longer celebrating the success of our most gifted people, but rather diminishing their successes by telling them that they are somehow no longer fit to be part of American society because they are not part of the 99 percent.
I grew up poor in India, and there were days when we struggled to find food and other basic necessities. Our mother worked odds and ends jobs to keep the family together and educate us. I came to the United States in the early ‘80s and was welcomed with open arms and given the opportunity to pursue my dreams. God has been very kind to us. My family and I are fortunate enough to be successful and we feel a tremendous responsibility and obligation to give back to our great country.
I absolutely believe in the power of innovative entrepreneurship on every level. That’s why I am exploring ways to improve our education system by making it as effective as a private tutor and as engaging as video games. It’s also why I hope to bring affordable healthcare to our country and billions around the world by using artificial intelligence software and sensors to diagnose disease and other medical problems.
We have passed the same values of this great obligation to our three children. Our 22-year-old son started Kairos Society when he was 18 years old to help college entrepreneurs from around the world build and scale their businesses. Our 18-year-old daughter founded iCAREweCARE to bring together young people to find the causes they care about and make a difference. Our youngest, who is our 15-year-old son, is starting InnovationGeneration to inspire young people to get interested in science and use innovations to solve grand challenges.
Call To Action
Imagine the change you could help drive, Mr. President, by simply using the power of the podium instead of taxpayer money to bring back the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship to our great country. In partnership with business leaders from around the country, you could issue a nationwide challenge to our young generation, high school students, college students and millions across the country to think innovatively and become an entrepreneur. Under your direction, or even an Entrepreneurship Council, a hundred or so CEOs could mentor, meet and select the top 100 innovative entrepreneurs to be hosted and allowed to showcase their innovations at the White House.
What if the business leaders from Costco, Best Buy and Wal-Mart agreed to create innovation aisles in their stores to showcase these innovations and provide direct access to customers for these ideas? This would also encourage national media outlets like CNN, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today to highlight these entrepreneurs and their innovations. This kind of access to customers and nationwide media exposure is likely to unleash creativity upon millions of Americans. Comforted by this level of guaranteed access to customers and national media exposure, venture capitalists and angel investors are likely to fund many of these innovative ideas.
Additionally, a presidential commitment and call for an innovation generation will give entrepreneurs a reinvigorated opportunity to create billion-dollar companies that solve global problems. By mobilizing the nation and inspiring millions of people to start a company, together we can unleash the creativity and private capital needed to fund the next wave of innovation and create millions of new jobs in the process. Best of all, because so many businesses and investors recognize the importance of celebrating entrepreneurism at every level, we can achieve this with no cost to taxpayers. A presidential introduction to new customers and exposure on national media would be a golden opportunity for these entrepreneurs, and the residual effects will be felt across the country.
Mr. President, your own life experience and path to the presidency reminds all of us that innovation is a foundational element of this great nation. Unfettered, creative and enthusiastic entrepreneurship is one of the hallmarks of American life, and it has allowed us to attract the best and brightest to this country. I am excited to see that understanding shine directly through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s forthcoming “Entrepreneurs in Residence” program. By asking entrepreneurs to turn their creativity to the challenges of immigration itself, I am certain your administration will find a smart and long-term way to keep more foreign-born high-tech entrepreneurs like me in this country for good.
I encourage you to embrace this uniquely American trait at every turn and use your vast influence and power to bring back America’s spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. With your support and unparalleled leadership, we can mobilize an American boom and capitalize on the ideals that truly make this a great nation.
NAVEEN JAIN | Columnist | Founder and CEO of inome
Naveen Jain is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and technology pioneer. He is the founder of World Innovation Institute, Moon Express, inome, and InfoSpace.