Entrepreneur. A word that originally appeared in the French dictionary in 1723 that describes an individual who "organizes and operates a business, taking on a financial risk to do so." In 1975, Harvard professor Howard Stevenson redefined entrepreneurship as "the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled." Yet these basic definitions shortchange the depth and complexity of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are innovators and risk-takers who move ideas to market and shake up the status quo along the way. They are catalysts for change in products, services and business processes. They create the possible out of seemingly impossible situations and develop solutions to seemingly intractable problems. Our 2013 Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs possess all of these qualities, and more—they paint a picture of the ingenuity and passion that is part of the story of American capitalism. While all entrepreneurs create businesses to fill a market need, the 8 entrepreneurs from 5 businesses who join their Yoshiyama peers add the dimension of social benefit to the challenge. They demonstrate that while profit is necessary for business success, it is not the only factor driving success. While all businesses face their own unique set of challenges and difficult decisions, the Yoshiyama Entrepreneurs have one thing in common—their business models are about creating both economic and social value. This dual purpose adds a layer of complexity to managing and growing these enterprises. But for our entrepreneurs, this is the only approach they've ever considered. For them, this is what it means to run a business.
In the ever-shifting and complicated healthcare field, San Francisco-based Vineet Singal of Anjna Patient Education uses mobile technology to revolutionize the relationship between low-income, uninsured, and under- served patients and their healthcare providers. On the opposite coast, Kyle Murdock took advantage of a drop in seafood prices, founding Sea Hag Seafood, an industrial lobster and other seafood processor in rural Maine who hires low-wealth individuals and work release participants from a local correctional facility. Emily Doubilet and Jessica Holsey of Brooklyn, NY have built a business around their passion for the environment, co- founding Susty Party—not only as an alternative to conventional disposable tableware but also as a way to create jobs for the visually impaired. Based in Chicago, IL, Ted Gonder's non-profit Moneythink is creating a movement of ready and willing college volunteers working to restore the economic health of the United States through financial literacy classes and peer-mentorship for low-wealth high school students—attempting to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Finally, brothers Kaben and Shelby Smallwood and family friend Keith Scott founded Symbiotic Aquaponic, LLC, a company using a non-traditional form of agriculture to provide fresh produce and protein year-round at a school in rural Kiowa, OK, where nearly 2/3 of the student population qualifies for free/reduced lunch.
Our 2013 Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs are diverse in geography, sectors, and approaches to running their business. What they share, however, is an authentic commitment to balancing profit and purpose in managing the difficult daily decisions that every business owner faces. They are part of a growing field of entrepreneurs who recognize that these two forces need not create a zero-sum game, but can instead be mutually reinforcing. These 8 entrepreneurs who join 21 others from our Program are proof of this concept—and serve as a counterbalance to American businesses that have yet to discover what is possible at the intersection of people and profits.