I've worked in business journalism for a couple of decades, but Inc. has been by far the job I've loved most. The reason is simple--it gives me the opportunity to tell stories like that of Ambarish Mitra.
You'll find Mitra's uplifting full-length tale, expertly crafted by Inc.'s San Francisco bureau chief Jeff Bercovici, here. But let me hit the highlights. A runaway, young Mitra is living with roommates in a single-room mud-and-cow-dung shack in New Delhi when he enters a business-plan contest. His plan wins and grows into a company that makes him wealthy. A few failed startups later, he and business partner Omar Tayeb hit the jackpot with one in the nascent field of augmented reality. They move to Silicon Valley to find the energy and the labor needed to tackle a new, and monumentally ambitious, goal--to build what amounts to a visual Wikipedia of the world.
Humans are story-processing animals, and we at Inc. hope a story like Mitra's resonates on many levels. For you, an Inc. reader, the affirmation that this kind of success is possible might inspire you to aim high and persist in your own entrepreneurial dreams, even when they seem out of reach. Outside the Inc. family, we hope stories like his remind people how critical risk takers and strivers are to our prosperity and how essential it is for free enterprise to remain open to anyone with an honest dream.
As I write this, a new administration has just taken over in Washington. During his campaign, the new president promised to roughly double the economy's growth rate. While details of his plan are not yet fleshed out, there are, at a fundamental level, only three ways to fulfill that promise--put more people to work, make the work force more productive, or both. That's it.
Which brings us back to Mitra's story--or rather, to the story that inspired him. Mitra and Tayeb set up shop in this country because they thought this was where the most creative talent resided (they employ more than a hundred in the U.S.) and because they believed they would get a fair shot, even though neither was born here and one of them is Muslim. As political risk analyst Ian Bremmer points out, those beliefs are vital to keeping America's distinct place in the world.
So, our unsolicited advice to the administration, in its quest to spur economic growth: Make sure the world's best minds--the most creative risk takers, innovators, and job creators--continue to believe the American story. Reassure them that America offers their best chance to realize their dreams, regardless of where they are from or how they worship. Getting that story believed should be pretty simple. All you have to do is make sure the reality behind it stays true.