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A venture capitalist shines a light on ‘new builders’ outside the realm of big money

The most exciting financing described in a new book co-authored by venture capitalist Seth Levine amounted to just $37 — in food stamps.

A mother had dropped them off to her daughter who was going through a rough time during the recession in the late 2000s. How that daughter used $37 in food stamps to start a business and quickly create $500 in profits is the magic of entrepreneurship and just as magical as anything that has ever happened in Silicon Valley.

The daughter-turned-business founder is an example of what Levine and his co-author, business journalist Elizabeth MacBride, decided to call a “new builder.” The new builders are a rising generation of entrepreneurs who are far more likely than the business founders of America’s past to be “Black, brown, female and over 40.”

The kind of help they need — financing, advice, maybe just a handful of introductions to good suppliers or customers — isn’t what venture capitalists provide.

In fact it would be a lot healthier if the Silicon Valley model of technology startups — seeking at all costs to get to “scale,” meaning very big — hadn’t sucked up so much attention, financial capital and even entrepreneurial aspiration.

MacBride and Levine’s new book, “The New Builders,” launches next week. It’s a result of a conversation they had a couple of years ago about highlighting the work of successful business owners working a long way from technology clusters like Seattle or Silicon Valley.