What would I say to a 1000 techies (at MIT)?

October 11, 2009

I was jotting down some thoughts on what would I say if I was speaking to 1000 techies at a place like MIT. Since I am not speaking to them anytime soon, I will share them here :). Obviously there is a lot more to say than the few points below.

  1. Techies should focus on Big ideas. Big problems. Big markets. There are 7 billion customers worldwide for most innovations we can come up with.
  2. Geographies matter less now than ever before in today’s globalized world. Technologies developed in US/Europe are bringing people closer the world over, e.g. Facebook and Twitter are helping people connect as far away as Brazil and Ghana, and are providing momentum to political movements in places like Iran. Similarly, technologies scaled in India and China  are bringing cheap clean power to the West, e.g. Suzlon.
  3. Techies are often worried about sharing their ideas with others in case they are stolen. While there is an important role for intellectual property (IP), and proper IP advice should be taken in order file patents etc in time, in general good ideas become better when shared with others. Techies should find trusted advisors in their professors, experienced entrepreneurs and helpful investors who can guide, advise, and not just show but help form a path to success from the early stages on.
  4. Technology and Engineering design are helping shape peoples’ lives, livelihoods and futures everywhere: from the IPhone use interface innovation to the design of a car for the masses (i.e. Tata Nano). It is often at the intersection of multiple disciplines that the most creative, and valuable solutions are found.
  5. There is no bad time for entrepreneurship and for people to start companies. Entrepreneurs are eternally optimistic, cautiously skeptic, and driven to succeed. The best entrepreneurs have emerged in the most difficult economic times.
  6. Techies should focus on solving real world problems. It is not just rewarding in a financial and moral sense – but it is also intellectually stimulating. I could not be more excited about the opportunity I have at General Catalyst to interact with young, bright, aspiring and inspiring entrepreneurs. In that spirit I want to highlight ENTER – a program I am proud to have founded that is devoted to breaking down the barriers of communication between aspiring student entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and seasoned executives and CEOs. Join the fledgling group on facebook at http://bit.ly/3m8Tx.