Business Interviews

Gayleforce: Interview with tech entrepreneur Christopher Schroeder

On Sidewire, I interviewed author and entrepreneurship advocate Christopher Schroeder:

Gayle Trotter, Right in DC
Welcome to GayleForce! I am delighted to be hosting internet/media CEO, venture investor and advisor Christopher Schroeder. Great to be with you, Chris.

Christopher Schroeder, Venture Investor
great to be here!

Gayle Trotter
Chris wrote the startling and inspiring book Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurship Revolution Remaking the Middle East (startuprisingbook.com), traveling extensively in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and meeting thousands of young people.
Friday

Christopher Schroeder
and now around the globe! Just in Africa, SouthEast Asia and Colombia.

Gayle Trotter
You can find him on Facebook here: facebook.com/Schroeder… Twitter here twitter.com/cmschroed LinkedIn here linkedin.com/in/schroe.  As you noted, you frequently travel overseas to places including Nairobi, Saudi Arabia and Colombia. Do you see any similarities among entrepreneurs across the world?

Christopher Schroeder
This is always the biggest surprise for me. wherever you go, with all the cultural, historic, country specific differences, there is one language of entrepreneurship. They problem solve the same way; overcome challenges in the same way; have similar concerns and challenges.

Gayle Trotter
You participated in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford last week. What was the purpose of the summit?

Christopher Schroeder
This was the 7th I think — started by the Obama administration, hosted around the world (though one other in DC, the first.) Goal is to shine light upon and convene the best young startups around the globe. But to offer counsel and connections for follow-up as well.

Gayle Trotter
What was the most exciting moment of the summit for you?

Christopher Schroeder
Great investors from Silicon Valley and the regions were there. By far and away it is always the young entrepreneurs undaunted by ANY challenge in their back yards eager to change things. Amazing impact they are making; nearly everyone has access to tech and are solving problems and connecting with it

Gayle Trotter
You see it as changing the world from the bottom up, instead of top down?

Christopher Schroeder
President Obama also gave a good, brief talk — but it was best that he mostly sat down with Zuckerberg and three young global entrepreneurs (from the Middle East included) and simply asked them what they thought and needed. I wish more politicians would bag the speeches, listen and ask “how can we help you.

Gayle Trotter
What did these young entrepreneurs tell Zuckerberg and President Obama they needed?

Christopher Schroeder
Absolutely bottom up. THIS is the story of our time. Top down institutions like governments are relevant but this phenomena is people with tech not waiting for anyone or anything. They want to be heard; to be taken seriously — not as some little, cute side show; they need laws to get out of their way; they need easier access to capital, mentorship and markets to move their goods and services.

Gayle Trotter
Chris, if you can solve the problem of getting politicians to bag speeches and just listen, you have an award winning solution there!

Christopher Schroeder
They need easy affordable access to tech. I know, I know. They love their key notes. But man this was powerful to see a real discussion really among equals.

Gayle Trotter
Can government provide the easy access to tech? Or is private better for providing it? What was the vibe between Zuckerberg and Obama?

Christopher Schroeder
Government, like it or not, will control spectrum, will have a huge role to play infrastructure. I love that FB is trying to get access everywhere; Google the same through other technology; Elon Musk with still another. That is awesome.

Gayle Trotter
One of the American presidential candidates released a Technology and Innovation policy paper this week. What popped out at you as a worthy idea?

Christopher Schroeder
But all of them hit buzz saws of government, as FB did in India. So its a reality to be taken seriously. Mark and the President are clearly friends. Very happy to be with each other and very easy.

Gayle Trotter
Yes, Facebook in India was a case study, right?

Christopher Schroeder
Secretary Clinton (and you should link to this) offered a detailed plan. Some devil in the details but it is central that a Presidential candidate says 1) this matters; 2) we will not compete well in the world if we don’t embrace it; 3) we can do it in a way to create better jobs and prosperity here and abroad; 4) and there is no going back.

Gayle Trotter
Do you think the young entrepreneurs were just in awe of the power and influence of these two men, or did they bring their own inimitable confidence of youth and determination?

Gayle Trotter
Here’s the link: hillaryclinton.com/bri…

Christopher Schroeder
I think entrepreneurs — the good ones — have their own share of self confidence. I spoke to one of the startups on stage I know well. She was in awe of being introed by the POTUS and being with Mark. But she was utterly confident w/them

Gayle Trotter
Where did you think her policy was weak?

Christopher Schroeder
There was nothing at its level that worried me — the role of the private sector and what it can be unleashed to do is essential. Often such plans on websites don’t say: “get out of the way” — and that is part of this too. 🙂

Gayle Trotter
One of HRC’s proposals was for a National Commission on Digital Security. Last night, I just finished reading the State Dept OIG report on email records management and cybersecurity. Do you see a contradiction between lofty policy goals and reality?

Christopher Schroeder
Always. 🙂

Gayle Trotter
One HRC tech policy proposal is to defer interest on student loans for three years for graduates who start businesses. Good idea?

Christopher Schroeder
But goals send a signal. When government puts scientists on their currency, they are sending a signal. When a candidate says “these issues are essential” the same.

Gayle Trotter
What role should governments play in plowing the field for startups/innovation in the US? I have to confess, I prefer the “government get out of the way” approach.

Christopher Schroeder
Student loans may be one of the most central issues to the next generation and it should be for all of us — because the levels of debt and cost of schooling weighs down potential for innovation.

Christopher Schroeder
So I think it is a clever idea and again a signal — of course how it is paid for will need to be hashed out. Here is the thing: Job creation comes from entrepreneurship and startups; innovation also.

Christopher Schroeder
We want to send a signal in all things that we take is very seriously.

Gayle Trotter
Entrepreneurship has fallen among young Americans. Why are fewer Americans moving to other states to seek new jobs and opportunities? Why are business deaths exceeding new business creation in the US?

Christopher Schroeder
I think government re thinking laws and regs to fundamentally unleash the free movement of ideas, people, goods/services and capital is a good umbrella check list.

Christopher Schroeder
I do believe firmly opening our visa programs are essential as well, as controversial as that is to say right now.

Gayle Trotter
“Solving almost all America’s problem’s hinges on reestablishing robust economic growth,” Jim Clifton (of Gallup) wrote. He noted the dangers of an out-of-control regulatory state. How does this hurt American start ups?

Gayle Trotter
You and Mark Zuckerberg agree on that.

Christopher Schroeder
Jim Clifton wrote THE essential book on this. In aggregate, especially post crisis there is a decrease of net new business startups. Of course in key cities this is not the case (and not just Silicon Valley). The rush to great urban centers is…

Christopher Schroeder
a huge story of our time — but its more than that. I love Steve Case’s work on the “Rise of the Rest” — he knows and has written a great book on how anywhere there is technology and entrepreneurs there is new opportunity to be built.

Christopher Schroeder
Please put a link to Jim’s book, glad you mentioned it too.

Gayle Trotter
To look overseas on this issue, do you think immense bureaucratic red tape on businesses from Brussels was a compelling reason for Brits to vote last week to pull out of the European Union?

Christopher Schroeder
Gallup are leaders btw with their data driven tests everyone should take — in order to find our best strengths in entrepreneurship and careers generally.

Christopher Schroeder
I just saw an article today about how some members of the EU parliament think they should tax robots eventually….

Christopher Schroeder
For crying out loud…

Gayle Trotter
What’s the name of his book? I will post the link.

Christopher Schroeder
Venture Investor
Brexit is a conversation in and of itself, and the process of it (and call for a referendum) was crazy. Issues of global negotiation and huge economic complexity in one vote, one time on a simple majority? The second largest UK google search that day was “what is the EU?”

Gayle Trotter
I just bought the Gallup book on finding strength! I loved the idea to focus on our strengths rather than fixing our weaknesses.

Christopher Schroeder
This is not to say, however, that the EU’s stunning regs and bureaucracy do not need serious questioning

Gayle Trotter
I haven’t taken the online test yet.

Gayle Trotter
Tax anything that moves, right?

Christopher Schroeder
We focus too much, CNN drives us focus too much, on “is it a good thing or is it a bad thing” on every issue. NOTHING boils down to that simplicity. I have no predictions on Europe, but think it needs less mocking and more sober analysis.

Gayle Trotter
Of course, I also do estate planning law, so governments tax things that don’t move too.

Christopher Schroeder
It’s worth reading anything my friend Steve Hilton of Crowdpac (amazing tech platform revolutionizing people’s engagement in govt) wrote on Brexit. He was Cameron’s closest advisor and is less “the house is burning” on Brexit.

Gayle Trotter
Fun question: huge news about SV giant Peter Thiel secretly funding Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker in payback for previous slights. Should we be concerned about a threat to our “free” press though litigation or is this a tempest in a teapot?

Christopher Schroeder
Makes good arguments, process aside, why EU is not helping growth for any of the countries.

Gayle Trotter
Brits have about two years to negotiate the withdrawal under Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty. Might this just be the necessary shock to the system for serious EU reform?

Christopher Schroeder
I think, again, folks over simplify the Gawker story. Are they “press?” Was their outing him “news?” I like a healthy debate on this, but again, the issues got pushed into “good or bad” thing. It’s more complicated than that.

Christopher Schroeder
On shock to the system, I have no clue. Massive bureacracies have little history in self-reforming it seems to me.

Christopher Schroeder
One of the EU’s first moves was to say “English is no longer the language of the EU.” Really? was THAT the most important lesson/action to be made? Reminded me of our renaming French Fries to Freedom Fries.

Christopher Schroeder
Just not serious.

Gayle Trotter
Do you think the issue with Facebook & conservative content has been satisfactorily resolved, in a related matter? Social media seems to be main way to drive national conversations on controversial topics (I have learned from personal experience).

Christopher Schroeder
Yes you have. I’m not sure yet. This will be a debate repeatedly and I think a worthy one.

Christopher Schroeder
I will add, however, that while I’m wildly optimistic about so much happening today, a human nature thing concerns me.

Christopher Schroeder
It’s not about tech but what we do with it. We have a proclivity to surround ourselves with folks who agree with us. We create our own echo chambers.

Gayle Trotter
Yes, I mentioned the Freedom Fries example to one of my kids earlier this week, and he responded with astonishment given our current relationship with France.

Christopher Schroeder
This has compounded I think some of the unhealthier aspects of dialogue today.

Christopher Schroeder
And keeps us from being better informed. When I ran companies, I wanted to always hear from people who disagreed with conventional wisdom. It is essential and healthy.

Gayle Trotter
We are close to the end of our time. Anything you want to add in our lightening round?

Christopher Schroeder
As Reinhold Niebuhr once said: When we are unsure, we are doubly sure. It is a caution to be comfortable with uncertainty.

Christopher Schroeder
Just thanks to you and SideWire. These are wonderful and important fora for all of us to learn and share.

Christopher Schroeder
Many thanks!

Gayle Trotter
Yes, I would much rather hear from someone I disagree with than I agree with as it enables learning and sharing. Otherwise, I am not stretching.

Gayle Trotter
Thank you Chris, for joining me on Gayle Force today. See you in Cairo.

Christopher Schroeder
enshallah!

About the author

Gayle Trotter

Gayle Trotter is a columnist, political analyst and attorney who regularly appears on TV, such as Fox News Channel, contributes to The Hill, The Daily Caller, Townhall and other well-known political websites, and is a frequent guest on radio shows across the country providing an insider’s view of Washington, DC. Read More

Leave a Comment