Tech Startups Aren’t the Hottest in America Anymore. Here’s What Replaced Them

In a game of word association, the prompt “entrepreneur” might elicit responses like “Silicon Valley,” “venture capital,” and (pick one) “Zuckerberg”/”Musk”/”Jobs.” But, in actuality, the large majority of fast-growth companies are not in tech at all.

That’s according to a new study from the Brookings Institute, which took a deep dive into the Inc. 5000, Inc.‘s ranking of America’s fastest-growing private companies. Brookings characterized the 5000 companies as “vital to the economy” because of their performance: Median annual growth rates of 43 percent for revenues, and 35 percent for employment.

Just 29 percent of fast-growth companies are in traditional high-tech industries, such as IT services, software, and computer hardware, the study found. Of course, 29 percent is nothing to sneeze at, and high-tech businesses are much more likely than those in other industries to be fast-growth. (Across the economy, they account for just 5 percent of firms overall.) Still, more than 70 percent of the most successful entrepreneurial companies are in fields like retail, construction, and government services.

Recognition of the diversity of business types may encourage more people to consider pursuing high-growth, says Ian Hathaway, a non-resident senior fellow at Brookings who wrote the report. “Someone who has a small local business that does something amazing might start to think about bigger markets,” he says. “The idea of becoming a high-growth business becomes accessible to a wider set of business owners.”

If industry variety influences the proliferation of growth companies, the outsize presence of high tech may affect where they launch. Companies in industries like marketing and business services sell into the high-tech sector, “and if I am a supplier it is good to be where my customers are,” says Hathaway. So while entrepreneurs build companies all over the country, they tend to join ecosystems fed by tech.

Ninety-eight percent of fast-growth companies are in metropolitan areas, with the majority in cities of one million or more residents. The top five metropolitan areas for fast-growth density are Boulder, Col., Provo, Utah, Washington D.C., Huntsville, Ala., and Austin, Tex. Some smaller regions also made the list, including Columbia, S.C., Charlottesville, Va., and Fargo, N.C.

The study found four factors positively associated with high-growth company density: a large college-educated workforce, a substantial number of people employed in high-tech, a significant share of the population at the prime age for entrepreneurship (35 to 44), and high business formation rates overall.

Surprisingly, the study also found larger concentrations of fast-growth companies in areas with fewer patents. Hathaway suggests one explanation: Those regions may be dominated by large corporations or universities whose armories of intellectual property are barriers to entry for entrepreneurs.

Because entrepreneurship is primarily a local phenomenon, Hathaway advises city officials to pursue agendas (for example, investments in transportation and education) that are supportive of high-growth businesses and their founders.

Immigrant Entrepreneurs Respond to President Trump’s Crude Remarks

Herby Duverné, 48, runs a $12 million security firm in Boston–but he began his career cleaning bathrooms in Port-au-Prince. While he acknowledges that his native Haiti has its issues, he would never go so far as to characterize the country as a “shithole.”

The U.S. president appears to have just done so.

On Thursday afternoon, Trump alarmed lawmakers when he used vulgar language to describe Haiti and some African nations, reports The Washington Post. During a White House meeting discussing a potential immigration deal, which would include protections for Haitians and Africans, Trump asked his advisors why the U.S. should accept immigrants from such “shithole countries,” according to at least two sources with direct knowledge of the conversation. He further suggested that the U.S. welcome more immigrants from Norway–the northern European nation with an overwhelmingly white population (83 percent), whose president had met with Trump earlier that day.

The remarks, which the President somewhat denied on Twitter, drew the ire of many across social media and beyond. At least one lawmaker of Haitian descent referred to the comments as “unkind, divisive [and] elitist” in a statement. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D.-Conn.,) meanwhile, called them “blatantly racist.”

For many U.S. entrepreneurs from the nations in question, the remarks weren’t entirely surprising. When reached by phone, several expressed sadness, more so than outright anger. “It’s very disappointing that the President would make such a comment about people from specific nations like Haiti,” Duverné says. His company, Windwalker Group (formerly Taino Consulting), provides cybersecurity services for government agencies, as well as commercial clients, landing on Inc.’s list of the fastest-growing-private companies in America at No. 1063 in 2017.

“I came here and have made this country better, by following the rules, paying taxes, and being a contributing member of society. Immigrants [like me] have created jobs, and moved the economy further,” Duverné adds. “Honestly, there’s not much to respond to.”

Joe Duran, the founder of wealth management firm United Capital in Newport Beach, California, feels similarly. Duran is of Spanish descent, but grew up in war-torn Zimbabwe, where he witnessed firsthand the transition from white colonial rule to independence in the early 1980s. Trump’s characterization of Africa, he says, “is really disappointing.”

“The remarks show a lack of respect for what made this country [America],” Duran tells Inc. “Immigrants are net contributors to our [U.S.] growth and evolution as a country, and color–or where you come from–should not be a filter.”

Duran, whose business manages north of $20 billion in assets, does agree with one aspect of the underlying message Trump seems to have been making.  “There should be an expectation that when you come to America, you become an American. There’s nothing wrong with having a requirement for a set of standards,” he says.

Still–inasmuch as immigrants very often create jobs, learn the language and contribute to the American economy–Duran emphasizes the unjustness of the President’s remarks. And as an ethnically non-black person himself, the entrepreneur admits that he himself saw things through a color lens as a child. Growing up in what was then-known as Rhodesia, he’s quick to point out another troubling aspect of the Trump controversy.

“The thing that I found most offensive is the fact that he’s O.K. with Norwegians,” Duran continues. “It doesn’t appear to be about anything other than that they happen to be from a Nordic country, and therefore are probably white.”

On Twitter, Trump acknowledged that he used “tough” language during the meeting but that “this”–presumably the vulgar term–“was not the language used.” In a follow-up up tweet, he added that he “never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country.”

These 10 Miami Companies Are Growing Like Crazy

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How This Ghost Writer Got the Idea for a $2.3 Million Company That Allows Aspiring Authors to Write Books in a Castle

Writing books and living in a castle may seem like a literary fanatic’s fairy tale, but for Angela Lauria, this fantasy is her reality. As the CEO of the Author Incubator, Lauria and her team provide aspiring authors with guidance on how to write and publish their own books — whether that’s through self-publishing or through her company. But it wasn’t a straight shot to the throne of this castle (which is actually a 16,000-square-foot mansion in Northern Virginia). Lauria tried several careers and needed to overcome a personal struggle with weight gain before getting there. –As told to Anna Meyer

Ten years ago, I was ghost writing computer and tech manuals, I was dissatisfied with being overweight, and I was stressed about everything happening in my life, right down to what kind of car I drove. Today, I live in the castle of my dreams, run a multimillion-dollar company, and give guidance to aspiring authors (usually, coaches or experts) who write with a purpose to help others improve their lives.

Right after I finished my undergrad degree, I assisted writers with writing books, but I had my ambitions set on someday becoming an investigative reporter. After seven years of hoping that I’d someday meet the right person who would help me become one, I found that crossing my fingers wasn’t enough and I hadn’t landed a job as a reporter yet. So I switched gears and went back to school for philosophy, and I then became a film professor at my alma mater, George Washington University. I soon realized that teaching wasn’t for me and I decided to go back to books as a ghost writer.

Jumping from career to career didn’t help me in finding stability, confidence, or happiness, and I struggled to make peace with my life at the time. I was in an unhappy marriage, I had a colicky baby, and I blamed my weight–over 300 pounds–for a lot of my problems. That’s when I turned to a great source of comfort in my life: books. I read If I’m So Smart, Why Can’t I Lose Weight? by Brooke Castillo and loved it so much that I decided to spend $1,200 to go to a retreat hosted by the author.

At the retreat, we did an exercise where we held interviews with the version of ourselves we saw in 10 years. During this exercise, when asked what I did for my future living, I replied, “I work with life coaches, like Castillo.” I wanted to help change lives, like mine had been, through the power of self-help books and life coaches. After the retreat, I hired Castillo as a personal life coach, and I got started on creating my new business.

I ended up creating the Author Incubator’s business model to resemble the retreat I went on. Here’s how it works: I run Facebook ads that invite coaches and experts to try a free training session on how to write a book that would get clients interested in working with them. After the free training, I invite people to apply for a writing program during which they finish their book in nine weeks. We get about 5,000 applicants a year to write, and we end up inviting about 20 percent of those applicants to work with us. From there, if the writers like the program, they are invited to join our year-long marketing program to learn how to make the most of their book and coaching program.

Our company grew fast, and since starting, we’ve helped our clients reach about $16 million in revenue. As we grew, I bought a castle through a seven-year lease-to-purchase deal. It’s for my family to live in and for writers to use as a creative space to work on their manuscripts. I hired a full-time staff of 24 talented writers, assistants, and the like, and then have about 16 part-time freelancers and designers on top of that.

My life was turned around through the help of a life coach and ultimately the launch of my company. I feel lucky and happy. Although it doesn’t hurt that I live in my own Shakespeare Suite, I really just care that behind every dollar earned, the lives of people are being changed, as mine once was.