During the month of October, Town Square Delaware will be hosting a discussion on Jobs & The Economy, featuring written op-ed pieces and Q&As with Delaware’s business, labor and government leaders.
As part of our October Jobs Series, TSD asked local business leaders, entrepreneurs and financial experts the same five questions about growing jobs. Today’s entry is from Acorn Energy CEO John Moore.
TSD: Putting government policy aside, what can business leaders do right now to help get this economy moving again?
JOHN MOORE: Business leaders can invest and think long-term. A business slow down is a great time for businesses to add talent and invest at bargain prices. The entrepreneurial capitalism that has built America has come under assault in recent years. Business leaders have to redouble our efforts to “send the elevator back down”. Acorn Energy just sponsored Start-Up Weekend Delaware. The University of Delaware hosted 100 entrepreneurs and technical people with the challenge to come up with a business idea and launch it over the weekend. Nine businesses were started. It was incredibly inspiring to see the talent assembled in that room. Established businesses like Acorn can learn a lot by helping support small businesses.
TSD: What can government do to help spur investment, innovation and job creation?
JM: They can repeal worthless regulations like Sarbanes Oxley that increase the cost of being a public company. Why do our politicians always believe they have to “do something” or create more laws? We need less laws.
TSD: How has your company managed to grow during this rough climate?
JM: We just sold one of our businesses, CoaLogix for $101 million or a 43% internal rate of return. We are looking to invest aggressively because we have a unique perspective on energy and we believe in the future of America.
TSD: What advice do you have for other would-be entrepreneurs who might be reluctant to start a new business today?
JM: Almost every great business was started during a recession. People lose their jobs and have to improvise to put food on the table. They look for an opportunity instead of a job and often enough create terrific world changing companies. I recently had lunch with the son of the founder of Motorola. His father created the company during the Depression. His advice to his son was “Sometimes you have to be in motion for the sake of motion.” I would advise would-be entrepreneurs to meet with anyone that could help them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Exchange ideas and contacts. Move into a co-working space and start a business. Now is the best time to make something happen while the incumbents are in the fetal position.
TSD: Any other thoughts on how America and Delaware can get back on the front foot and become the land of opportunity again?
JM: America has always been the land of opportunity and will be for the foreseeable future. Everybody has a chance at education and opportunity. Our Founding Fathers made certain we were a meritocracy. Many look to China to lead because they have a centrally planned economy. I believe our bottoms up economy, where consumers and investors make most of the economic decisions beats centrally planned economies over the medium term. All of us are smarter than a few politicians or government bureaucrats. We need to celebrate our successful entrepreneurs and encourage them to give back to the community. Events like First State Innovations and Start-Up Delaware need to be supported and attended more broadly by the business community. These events are a great way to meet important people. I met Wayne Kimmelman a serial entrepreneur and angel investor at Start-Up Delaware and Dean Weber of the U of D Business School. Dean Weber built the London School of Economics Business School from #28 to the #1 Global MBA program. We have a lot to be optimistic about.