November 1, 2012

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Taking the Leadership Reins

Let’s face it—when you create a concept, work to perfect it, f...Read More

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Around Utah
Around Utah

Sabrina Stover: Instilling a Culture of Recognition and Reward

Roger Andrus: Helping Utah Businesses Find Their Niche



Small Ideas Can Lead to Big Change

Sarah Ryther Francom

November 1, 2012

Utah has a strong record of entrepreneurialism. Companies ranging from high-tech enterprises like Novell to manufacturers like Blendtec have found great success here. And in recent weeks, three homegrown companies have announced they’re about to undergo billion-dollar acquisitions—Vivint for $2 billion, for $1.6 billion and Schiff Nutrition for $1.1 billion—further evidence that entrepreneurs can make it big in the Beehive State.

The state’s infrastructure to help grow companies was also recently praised by the Kaufmann Foundation, which partnered with Inc. magazine to discover startup and company growth trends across the nation. Their analysis, which was based on 30 years of Inc. 500 firm data, pointed to Utah as the nation’s No. 2 state for creating high-growth startups, outranked only by Washington D.C. 

In this issue’s Industry Outlook, we hear from a group of serial entrepreneurs and investors who discuss the state’s overall startup environment. Though the group applauded the state’s entrepreneurial spirit, business-friendly policies and accolade-worthy accomplishments, they agreed that there are still many challenges and opportunities for improvement. 

While the group brought up many important challenges, from funding struggles to workforce issues, what caught my attention were the many thoughtful and innovative ideas presented.

Larry Ribgy, co-founder of ZARS Pharma, said tax incentives for angel investors would keep deals flowing. “I have seen it work very well in other states. Angels are always looking for some kind of deal and some kind of bargain, and a state tax credit for angel investing would really help the environment in terms of galvanizing the angels,” he said.

Serial entrepreneur and Sendside Networks Founder and CEO William Borghetti said that there should be a streamlined, formal feedback process between educational institutions and private enterprise. “From my experience, you look at somebody coming out of college—I don’t care what college—they don’t have the right skill. It seems like there’s industry and then there’s education.”

Adam Slovik, founder of Salt Lake City Angels, said that more must be done to attract and keep educated talent in the state. “We should have a program that’s kind of like the GI bill. For example, tuition is free for any computer science or engineering student from outside the state who comes to the U and maintains an A-minus GPA and agrees to work here for at least two years after graduation,” he said. “Once they are here, if they do well and they stay here for a couple of years working, that’s great for the economy. And they will stay.”

It might be easier said than done to implement ideas like the aforementioned—but what’s important is that ideas are being discussed and, hopefully, seriously considered when appropriate. Utah enjoys one of the nation’s best economies, and our growing funding and startup infrastructure will help to ensure that we maintain a vibrant business ecosystem. But it will take innovation and hard discussions along with thoughtful application to make real improvement happen.

From the Editor
Sarah Ryther Francom

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