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Young entrepreneurs struggle, succeed in 'Generation Startup'




Labib Rahman attends a meeting at his startup Mason in the film,
Labib Rahman attends a meeting at his startup Mason in the film, "Generation Startup."
Generation Startup

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We hear all the time about new companies springing up to disrupt the economy, and so on the surface, it may seem like entrepreneurship is at an all-time high.

But that isn't the case.

The creation of new businesses in the U.S. is at a nearly 40-year low, according to the Census. 

One of the reasons is that starting your own business is really, really hard.

In the new documentary, "Generation Startup," co-director Cheryl Miller Houser followed six young entrepreneurs to uncover their challenging lives.

Alex Cohen welcomed Miller Houser as well as Dextina Booker, a fellow Venture for America, a program that places recent college grads with jobs in startups and early-stage companies.

"Generation Startup" premieres in Los Angeles September 30th at the Laemmle Monica.

Interview highlights

Cheryl, you and fellow director Cynthia Wade spent nearly a year and a half following these young entrepreneurs. Of all the things to make a documentary about, why young entrepreneurship? 

The project originated because my son was a Venture for America fellow, too, and I saw the experience he was having. He had graduated with a degree in English, joined a start-up and was made head of marketing. He really had no idea what he was doing, but was growing so much from the experience. ... I was so inspired by these kids. When you're coming out of college – 22, 23, 24 years old, which is already such a difficult time in life – the fact that they were willing to take these risks that it took me three decades to get up the courage to do, I found them so inspiring.

Dextina Booker rides her bike to work in Detroit in
Dextina Booker rides her bike to work in Detroit in "Generation Startup."
Generation Startup

Dextina, you graduated from MIT. A lot of other students you went to school with, they moved to Detroit like you did and took on lucrative and more stable jobs at car companies. You decided to go the entrepreneurial route. Why?

It's a little scary but it's also exciting because there's a fire under the seat of my pants, and I just didn't want to have my path laid out for me by someone else for the next 20 to 30 years.

Especially for young people, you're just barely out of college where you're studying, but you're also going out to parties and enjoying your youth. Dextina, can you relate the idea that starting a business is just too much?

Sometimes I do feel like that. I feel like I came out here and had this really lofty goal of creating jobs, and there's those days where you don't see those results and you're not going to see those results immediately. ... But somedays I just need to be surrounded by friends, and most of my friends live elsewhere, all of my family lives elsewhere. So there are a ton times where I just want to be a young person. ... But it always comes back to reminding myself why I'm here and I really do think that I can create opportunities for myself and others.