It's the Best Time to Be an Entrepreneur: Groupon's Leonsis

From a start-up that offers MBAs for hourly hire (Hourly Nerd) to a news aggregation app (Summly) that was created by a teenager and recently bought by Yahoo, innovation is in full swing.

"I don't think there's ever been a better time to be an entrepreneur," said Ted Leonsis, a longtime tech executive, on CNBC Thursday. "Part of the reason is that big companies, they're not innovating. They're trying to protect what they have. They're not spending their cash. They're not making the appropriate investments."

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Leonsis recently was appointed co-chief executive of online deal site Groupon, after its former CEO, Andrew Mason, was booted. Leonsis has returned to his dot-com roots. He was the former president of AOL, which merged with Time Warner in 2001.

Leonsis is also a partner in Revolution Growth, a $450 million fund that's investing in upstarts.

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Leonsis added companies willing to make investments now are poised to take advantage of gaps in the marketplace. "That leaves a big window for niches, for little companies to get started," Leonsis said.

Tech advances, including cloud computing, have also reduced the cost of opening shop. "There's these light-touch businesses that you get up and running very, very quickly," he said.

Innovation happening now isn't exclusive to technology. New ideas are transforming other sectors, such as retail. Hip eyeglass maker Warby Parker is merging its online presence with its first brick-and-mortar store in Soho.

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By CNBC's Heesun Wee; Follow her on Twitter @heesunwee