Obama Rallies Dream Team of Entrepreneurs at White House

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and designer Tory Burch were among the handful of entrepreneurs who met with President Obama today as he looks to bolster entrepreneurship throughout the U.S. and abroad.

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By Catherine Clifford

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Online real estate database Zillow, professional networking site LinkedIn, and Chobani yogurt don't have much in common – except that they're all entrepreneurial success stories.

Today, the founders of those companies and a handful of others gathered with President Barack Obama at the White House to kick of a series of initiatives to support entrepreneurs in the U.S. and abroad.

Related: Obama Inks Executive Order to Streamline Import and Export Process for Businesses

Dubbed the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE), President Obama and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker want to tap the ideas and experience of about a dozen well-known entrepreneurs in an effort to strengthen entrepreneurship in the U.S. and abroad. The entrepreneurs invited to the White House today, who represent the first inaugural PAGE group, are as follows:

  • Rich Barton, co-Founder and executive chairman of Zillow (Seattle)
  • Tory Burch, chief executive officer of Tory Burch and founder of the Tory Burch Foundation (New York City)
  • Steve Case, chairman and chief executive officer of Revolution (Washington, D.C.)
  • Helen Greiner, chief executive officer of CyPhyWorks and co-founder of iRobot Corporation (Danvers, Mass.)
  • Reid Hoffman, co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn (Mountain View, Calif.)
  • Quincy Jones, chief executive officer of Quincy Jones Productions (Los Angeles)
  • Salman Khan, founder and executive director of Khan Academy (Mountain View, Calif.)
  • Daphne Koller, co-founder and president of Coursera (Mountain View, Calif.)
  • Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and chief executive officer of Chobani (New York City)
  • Nina Vaca, chief executive officer of Pinnacle Technical Resources (Dallas)
  • Alexa von Tobel, founder and chief executive officer of LearnVest (New York City)

During his State of the Union address at the end of January, Obama said that the U.S. should "do more to help the entrepreneurs and small-business owners who create most new jobs in America." Gathering the PAGE group -- and announcing a half dozen efforts to support entrepreneurs -- were part of his move to follow through with that promise.

"I am honored to be one of the President's Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship. In an increasingly global society, entrepreneurship is a key to creating jobs and strengthening the world economy," said Tory Burch, one of the group's members, in a statement released today.

Related: Entrepreneurs at ZocDoc Say They Can Solve a Major Obamacare Concern

The president also announced several other initiatives today to spur entrepreneurship across the globe. Some will require further rule-making and regulations, but the following three addendums won't require any further approval to be implemented.

1. Help for biomedical entrepreneurs: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are collaborating to create a program to foster biomedical entrepreneurs. The goal is to give academic researchers a crutch in bringing their innovation to market.

2. Support entrepreneurs looking to alleviate poverty: The U.S. Agency for International Development's new U.S. Global Development Lab (The Lab) will work to create new, innovative solutions to global challenges. The goal of The Lab is to implement new technologies in the next five years to help 200 million people.

3. Train women in the basics of business: The U.S. State Department will host TechCamps for women in El Salvador, Colombia, and Argentina this fall. In these camps, hundreds of women from the regions will get lessons in Business 101, from marketing to financing.

Related: Obama to Bypass Congress, Raise Minimum Wage for Federal Contracts on His Own

Catherine Clifford

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC

Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.

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