A Big Boost for Small Business
An NYSE initiative aims to ignite the startup economy and spark job growth.
“If just one in three small businesses in the country hired one additional employee, there’d be no unemployment in the U.S.”
Gina Harman, president and CEO of Accion, The U.S. Network, makes this assertion to illustrate the remarkable force small businesses can exert on job creation. Accion, along with the Startup America Partnership and the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, or EO, has joined forces with NYSE Euronext to launch the NYSE Big StartUpSM, a nationwide jobs-growth initiative designed to connect high-growth small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs with the larger, more established enterprises that constitute corporate America.
“Part of the answer to creating jobs lies in nurturing the small business community,” says NYSE Euronext CEO Duncan Niederauer. “Business leaders cannot wait for Washington to have all the answers, so our idea encourages bigger companies to help small companies.”
The NYSE Big StartUp calls on the nation’s corporate community to direct its purchasing power to small companies, as well as to participate in new training, mentoring and education programs. In addition, companies can contribute to the Accion NYSE Job Growth Fund, a microfinance program started with a $1.5 million commitment from NYSE Euronext to provide small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs with capital and support to grow. Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP), LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) and Microsoft Corp. were among the first corporations to pledge support. Scores more are expected to sign on as the program gains ground in the U.S. and eventually expands to Europe.
What’s in It for Corporations
In addition to providing learning, mentoring and relationship-building experiences such as conferences, roundtables and Webcasts, the program will leverage the NYSE and Startup America’s Corporate Connections platform, a secure Web portal where companies can seek potential new business and supplier relationships. “We’ve witnessed firsthand the power of startups being able to connect with executives of large companies, and how quickly they can find valuable common ground to advance one another’s business objectives,” says Scott Case, CEO of the Startup America Partnership. “The NYSE Big StartUp enables this to happen with scale.”
The NYSE Big StartUp will also leverage EO’s Accelerator program, through which events and other outreach efforts provide mentoring and training and connect the EO network with corporate supply chains. “Providing a community for companies large and small to learn and grow together will create the next generation of innovation,” notes Kevin Langley, EO’s global board chairman.
Even beyond the business-building opportunities, innovation and employee engagement are among the myriad reasons for NYSE issuers to get engaged. “Being immersed in the startup scene can bring market insight and ideas right to your doorstep,” says Case. “The optimism and creativity startups bring are invigorating for larger companies.”
Courtesy StartUp America
Participation in the NYSE Big StartUp also provides a new outlet for corporate social responsibility. “Many companies support charities, but this is something that can actually grow jobs and impact the bottom line,” points out Gene Lim, head of EO’s global startup alliances.
Accion’s Harman calls the program’s “call to action” its most important element: “It gives listed companies multiple ways to contribute to an issue that everyone in the country is concerned about.”
Validation Yields Confidence
For entrepreneurs, the NYSE Big StartUp is a welcome resource. “When the corporate world takes a stake in what businesses like ours are doing, it’s a validation of what we do and an incredible tool for boosting small business confidence,” says Michael Spadaro, president and founder of Help with a Smile, a New York IT services firm that opened its doors in 2007.
Larry Baker, who co-founded Bolstr Inc. in 2011 to help small businesses gain access to investor capital, agrees: “One of the greatest privileges of being an American is the ability to start your own business and blaze your own path to financial freedom. This amazing privilege has been slipping out of the grasp of many Americans. This program brings the prospect of small business growth back within arm’s length, allowing entrepreneurs to access the capital and resources necessary to maintain and grow their businesses.”For more information on getting involved, to access a calendar of programs and events, and to find out who won the NYSE Big StartUp Competition, click here.