A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I’m the great-granddaughter of a coal miner, granddaughter of a shoe salesman, and daughter of a career military officer, a living demonstration of the Irish ascent through the story of America. And the mother of two daughters, a red-haired 14-year-old who is stubborn and strong as the day is long, and the mother of an auburn-haired 17-year-hold who just joined a volunteer fire company.

The family stories we repeat shape who we are. Hard work, service, courage, poetry, the battle against the oppressor  – these are themes I recognize in my family’s narrative. This spring, a lost year from the start of the pandemic in the United States, we’re thinking about what’s changed and what hasn’t (here’s a great story by Nina Roberts about how musicians lives may change).

What stories will we keep? What realizations do we act on? The important changes are at the individual level, which add up to collective movements. My great-great-grandparents put feet on a ship to escape British brutality …

The pandemic is sending a surprising number of people home, to small towns and cities that seemed backward before but now seem the perfect backdrop for richer and more meaningful lives. Here’s one story I’ve been following: Jake Becraft, founder of Boston-based biotech Strand Therapeutics, wrote a moving Medium piece about his dad’s role in developing a way to mass-produce penicillin during World War II. How many days and lives were lost in this pandemic because we didn’t pay enough attention to vaccine manufacturing and distribution, including the question of how to build trust?

Now, Jake has launched Peoria Bio-Made. With a grant-funded budget of $100,000 and, he says, city leaders enthusiastic about his idea, he’s looking to hire his first employee to focus on this initiative to turn his hometown into a biomanufacturing hub – so that next time, we’ll be faster.
Sláinte, Jake. When hope and history rhyme, it’s because enough people took change into their own hands to make it so.

Times of Entrepreneurship Stories of the Week

White man staring intently at the camera

Bubble Concerts, Drive-Thru Opera, Variety Shows: Which Of Music’s Pandemic Innovations Will Stick?

Marc Benioff is among those who sees promise in lasting changes, with an investment in Indianapolis-based Mandolin. The hope is more revenue for the artists.

Read the Story »

two black women bent over a quilt with a red pattern

The Hub: The Rockefeller Foundation’s Grants For Black Founders, Textile Production in Alabama And A Shark Tank Veteran’s Bold Move

Meanwhile, accelerators and incubators throw out the welcome mat for social ventures, veteran-owned startups and “connected living” ventures. 

Read the Story »

White woman in a shiny shirt, writing

This University Startup Grew To $1.5 Million in Revenue Riding A Wave of Biodegradable Wet Wipes

Busy Co—maker of what its founder believes it the first zero waste wipe—already has distribution in more than 1,000 U.S. locations.  

Read the Story »

Women basketmakers in Rwanda

10 Social Enterprises Helping Women Navigate the Grey Economy

Flexible views of work and entrepreneurship empower women. The alternative: situations where women  do as much as 10x the unpaid work of men. 

Read the Story »

Best Practices:

 Paul Graham’s advice: Write simply. “My goal when writing might be called saltintesta: the ideas leap into your head and you barely notice the words that got them there,” writes the Y Combinator co-founder. 


 Small-Town Natives Are Moving Back Home. The Wall Street Journal takes a close look at why young Americans are becoming Hometown Fellows for “Lead for America.”


Mutualism: Building the Next Economy from the Ground Up by Sara Horowitz
The visionary founder of the Freelancers Union says the future doesn’t belong to capitalism or socialism but rather “mutualist” organizations—from labor unions and trade organizations to religious organizations—that replace the collapsing social safety net. 

Made in the USA

If you’ve run out of ways to entertain cooped up kids, a classic rubber duck can go a long way.  Celebriducks makes its PVC- and latex-free Good Ducks in the U.S, starting the process in Ohio and finishing it in Michigan. The company also does all of its artwork, sculpting and third-party testing in the U.S. And if you need an off-the-wall gift for a pandemic-weary friend, check out the company’s Pork Chopper, a Made in America original.

art of a microbe

Gut instincts: The microbiome is one of the hottest areas of medical research, and a number of startups rooted in advanced microbiology are hitting the market. There’s a good reason. We live in a universe of microorganisms and many have powerful applications. And we’ve already seen what using an antibiotic for everything can do. Skyler Rossi digs into a trend that is reshaping fields from healthcare to beekeeping. 

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.

A business journalist for 20 years, am the founder of Times of Entrepreneurship and the co-author of The New Builders.