Achieving the American Dream in Our Modern World

Achieving the American Dream in Our Modern World

The “American Dream” is deeply rooted in the founding ideals of the United States. When the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, it proclaimed the inherent rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that Americans shared, laying the groundwork for the concept of the American Dream. At the time, this dream was synonymous with land ownership and self-sufficiency, but it later shifted toward home ownership, better jobs, education, equality, and social mobility.

By the late 20th century, the American Dream had grown to reflect the belief that hard work and talent should enable anyone to succeed.

In the 21st century, the American Dream continues to evolve, embracing a more inclusive vision that encompasses the freedom to pursue new ideas. Technology and entrepreneurship have opened new avenues for success and wealth-building, while many newer interpretations of this dream are defined by meaningful purpose and impact.

The American Dream, as we now know it, reflects the ambitions of individuals and the collective ethos of the United States. Bolstered by capitalism, entrepreneurship, and investing, the ability to achieve the American Dream is possible for all.

At Florida Funders, we witness the modern American Dream in action every day as we empower hopeful tech entrepreneurs and investors to pursue their unique version of it.

The Value of Capitalism and Wealth-Building

Capitalism and the ability to build personal and societal wealth have both contributed to making the American Dream attainable. Free-market capitalism allows for economic freedom and personal growth. It fosters innovation and healthy competition, allowing the best businesses to rise to the top.

Without the nearly five million new companies started each year in the U.S., our economy would be nowhere near where it is today. The SBA estimates that small businesses, including startups, account for 44% of U.S. economic activity and are credited with creating two-thirds of new jobs here. When looking at the value that global startups create, it’s comparable to the GDP of a G7 economy.

New businesses don’t happen without entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs often rely on investments to transform their ideas into thriving businesses. Independence has always been a cornerstone of the American Dream and has taken many shapes over the years. A desire for land ownership morphed into homeownership, and now, we see this articulated as a drive toward business ownership. When founders find success, they can build wealth for themselves and their companies, which feeds the American economy and society as a whole.

For those who may not have the entrepreneurial bug, investing provides an alternative large-scale way to support groundbreaking ideas and companies while building personal wealth.

Following the COVID pandemic, there was a significant surge in entrepreneurship and investment activity, especially in technology and healthcare sectors. The number of new business applications skyrocketed in 2020, increasing by 25.7% from 2019. This trend continued in subsequent years, reaching a record-breaking 5.5 million new business applications filed in the U.S. in 2023.

As more businesses emerged, venture capital investment also saw major growth. VC funding in the U.S. nearly doubled from 2020 to 2021, hitting a record high of $330 billion. This surge was mainly driven by increased funding to solve the ongoing health crisis.

This reinvigoration of innovation and funding turned more people into founders and investors. Many people who may not have thought the American Dream possible for them discovered new avenues to pursue it through the sudden and drastic changes in the way we lived, worked, and operated as a country.

The American Dream Lived Out

The American Dream is within reach for everyone today, as demonstrated by the personal stories of several Florida Funders portfolio company founders. These founders may have started in the U.S. or traveled a long way to get here, with different journeys along the way. Still, through hard work, innovative ideas, execution, and finding people who believed in their businesses, they were able to turn their dreams into a reality.

 

Joe Bayen, Founder and CEO of Grow Credit

 

Joe Bayen, Founder and CEO of Grow Credit

Joe Bayen, born in Cameroon and raised in France, was initially drawn to the United States because he saw it as a land of opportunity.

“We’re in a land where if you have the will, the passion, and the patience, it is achievable. There are absolutely no limits as long as you persevere. It’s a limitless country in terms of bringing ideas into reality,” Bayen says.

In Bayen’s perspective, the American dream has two layers: to do well for yourself and do good for others. After achieving financial success through his first venture, Free App a Day, he realized that the accumulated wealth didn’t mean much on its own. This led him to the second layer of the American Dream, driven by purpose.

“At first, it was a more self-centered process. But that’s what you need. The ego needs to drive the dream. It was an ego-driven desire that has transformed into a selfless push toward that second wave of the American Dream, which is happiness and impact,” says Bayen.

Bayen now views his success through the lens of helping others by serving his customers, partners, team, and everyone involved. He’s inspired to share more of his story and lead with vulnerability and authenticity. He believes that vulnerability ignites creativity and benefits society as a whole.

Bayen has thought a lot about the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs chasing the American Dream – so much so that he even created a roadmap for founders. He hopes this can guide others toward achieving their version of the American Dream, whatever that may be.

 

Mohannad Arbaji, Founder and CEO of ChalkTalk

 

Mohannad Arbaji, Founder and CEO of ChalkTalk

Mohannad Arbaji disagrees with people who think the American Dream was only possible in our storied past. It’s not dead, he says; it’s more alive here than in any other country in the world. As someone who grew up in Jordan and came to the U.S. for high school and college, Arbaji’s story has a unique perspective on the opportunities available in the U.S. that are hard to come by elsewhere, regardless of talent or skill.

“This is one of the few places left in the world where, if you are the best at what you do – whatever it is – you will be rewarded,” Arbaji says. “When you work your ass off and make an impact, you can see that impact scale and leave a large footprint.”

The best way to make an impact? Arbaji believes it’s taking small, rapid, iterative steps to achieve innovation rather than grasping for something that feels out of reach. When he first launched the educational project that eventually evolved into ChalkTalk, he started by outlining a grand vision—building the new infrastructure of human learning on the web. Once that vision was incredibly clear, he intentionally put it further away from him, making it “blurry.” In that newfound space, he put the actionable next steps for creating the program’s first iteration, making them appear as “high definition” in his mind. By keeping the closer steps in focus and iterating over time, he ultimately reached those bigger steps that initially felt far away or unattainable.

To Arbaji, the American Dream doesn’t have a finish line. It’s a continuous bias to action, always creating things that are impactful and rewarding. He relates this interpretation back to psychotherapist Phil Stutz’s three laws of reality—according to Stutz, constant work, along with pain and uncertainty, are the only three things that don’t go away in life. So, if you set a finish line for yourself to avoid life’s “constant work,” you will inevitably fail because such an expectation is as unfeasible as it is mundane. Instead, Arbaji suggests focusing your “constant work” on something impactful that you’re good at, helps you grow, and makes you feel alive. With no finish line for his ambition in sight, Arbaji strives to continue expanding his impact through his work in education with ChalkTalk.

Florida Funders Supporting the American Dream

Florida Funders is not your average VC. As a relationship-driven, founder-focused firm, our mission to find, fund, and build the next generation of groundbreaking tech startups supports the modern American Dream. Our team is comprised of highly skilled industry experts who have started and successfully exited thriving companies – entrepreneurs and founders from the start themselves. We know what it means to achieve the American Dream personally and professionally, and we’re driven to help other out-of-the-box thinkers and doers achieve it, too.

We are committed to innovation and new ideas, paving the way for progress by partnering with founders like the ones highlighted above, who are changing their lives – and the world around them.

Let’s continue pursuing the American Dream together.

Investors can learn more about investing in our current fund or alongside our investments through our network here.

Related Stories

Insights

Subscribe to the Florida Funders Newsletter to stay close to what we're building.