My father, Leib Koyfman, finally escaped the Soviet Union in 1974. He came to the United States without speaking a word of English and with nary a penny in his pocket. What he had, though, was intelligence, education and determination. And so the entrepreneurial path began.
He started to learn the English language and began his career in NYC as a draftsman at a local engineering firm. He slowly worked his way up as he gained more command of English and a feel for how to succeed in his new environment.
By 1980, he was ready to pursue the American dream, the dream that brought him to this country. So he and his partner Robert went out on their own, put out a shingle and launched Robert Derector Associates Consulting Engineers.
More than 30 years later, my father’s entrepreneurial quest is one of the most defining of my own life. As a venture capitalist, I have chosen to spend my career helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. Having taken pride in my father’s courage and accomplishments as an entrepreneur, I cannot help but think that, done correctly, this is a noble task.
Our great country was founded on the backs of great entrepreneurs. And it will only continue to flourish if we champion entrepreneurship moving forward. As we turn from a manufacturing economy to an information economy, with a brief, untimely detour as a financial services economy, we must provide an environment across both the public and private sectors that champions and supports entrepreneurship.
It is only innovation that can propel us to greatness in this 21st century. We are still in the second inning of advancing internet and mobile technologies and services. Energy, education, financial services and health care are massive industries that need to be re-imagined. Entrepreneurs will re-imagine and reinvent these industries. Entrepreneurs will push the bounds of technology innovation. Entrepreneurs are who need to be encouraged, enabled and celebrated, for the good of our country’s future.