On November 4th, the day following the 2020 U.S. Election, with the result still days from being decided, we launched a preview of Expandigo with the World Trade Center New Orleans at Louisiana International Trade Day. Most companies might avoid introducing their first product into such an uncertain environment – characterized not just by the political uncertainty of the day, but also by the global anxiety related to a public health crisis and the state of the economy. But when I think about why we are building Expandigo, I believe November 4th, 2020 was the perfect day to unveil this business expansion platform.
My confidence in the timing of our preview launch was validated by Peter Ricchiuti, the amazingly insightful (and funny) Tulane University finance professor and founder of Burkenroad Reports, who provided the keynote address to kick off the day. Peter’s talk, entitled WOW! WHAT’S UP DOWN HERE: An Inside Look at The Current Economy and Financial Markets was peppered with one-liners that would keep anybody’s attention throughout a talk about the economy. He had me at “Capitalism without bankruptcies is like Catholicism without Hell.”
Peter’s sense of humor aside, it was his assessment of our current socio-economic climate that convinces me that the Business Expansion Platform we are building is needed now more than ever. The themes of Peter’s keynote are completely aligned with core concepts of The Community Economy: specifically – the uneven playing field between small, medium and large enterprises.
Peter very clearly described what he calls a “bifurcated” stock market. The five largest companies (just 1%) of the S&P 500 now control more than 20% of the index. Since WWII, the higher the unemployment rate, the better the stock market has done. In this battle between Main Street and Wall Street, the biggest companies are taking share from small and medium sized enterprises. Though Peter didn’t specifically prescribe a solution to this, we believe he’d agree with the approach we’re taking to build a Community Economy that tries to even the scales for SMEs; which is what Expandigo’s Business Expansion Platform aims to do.
Our existing institutions and norms of capitalism – though inherently set up to eventually recover from downturns, do not inherently ensure the success of SMEs. In fact, they in some ways hasten their decline. With Expandigo, by making it easier for businesses to connect to relevant companies, information and resources, we have an opportunity to establish a new approach that hopefully will address the bifurcation Peter Ricchiuiti so astutely describes. In the process, we might ultimately create a more unified, less bifurcated, economy.