This week was different from what I expected, due to the emphasis on technology and incubators as a perspective on entrepreneurship. Interestingly, it almost seems in contrast to the perspective often offered through classes at CEU – often about manufacturing and multinational enterprises. It was a welcome shift in perspective for my part.
One thing that was particularly interesting to me was the insight into the conditions in which entrepreneurship itself can be nurtured, encouraged, and supported. The reason this was of particular interest to me is the business plan I’m currently working on for the NASDAQ competition. It is a social venture aimed at generating sustainable economic development through a tourism center (that could be called a hotel – we’re still working on finding the perfect word for it). In short, it’s interesting for me to consider how, within the walls and operational activities of my own startup, I could actually encourage and support other entrepreneurs within the community to build their own businesses (restaurants, arts and craft shops, music venues, etc.). In fact, my long-term vision is to be a tourism consultant, specializing in city branding, and the understanding of how an incubator works has offered a lot of insight into the ways in which economic development could be approached with a brand associated. I specifically fell in love with WeWork, and found the place just amazing and inspiring and beautiful!
The other thing I really liked about this week was just experiencing the passion and fire with which these entrepreneurs discuss the very act of building a business. Themes have included lots of childbirth metaphors and lots of blood, sweat, and tears talk (the hard work part, not the awesome funk band). Some of my favorite quotes from my favorite speakers include:
“Entrepreneurship is an ability to imagine a different reality, maybe small, maybe big, and, you know, do it…That’s the difference between entrepreneurs and everyone else—everyone else has ideas. Entrepreneurs do stuff. ” – Ziv Navoth
“Dedicate yourself to something. See yourself at that point in the future…because from here to there is not that far.” -Antonio Evans
I also really liked Ziv’s ideas of generating a market and a buzz through things like a single call to action, a landing page, a craigslist ad, and other low-cost avenues, to gauge market response before even beginning to build operations. It has inspired Mark and I to build a survey and put it up on Reddit/travel, which we did this morning.
Finally, I loved learning about General Assembly. Just being there and seeing all the classes they have to offer has inspired me to take a “hacker” approach to supplementing the self-identified holes in my education. Specifically, I’m signing up for an online course that ends with project management certification, I’m learning how to create my own blog (I know, long overdue), and I’m getting back onto Khan Academy to begin learning how to code. So, thanks for the inspiration, GA!
I’d like to leave with perhaps my favorite quote of the week, spoken by one of the founders of Brooklyn Research, in which Bala asks, “Where do you see Brooklyn Research in 5 years?” and he answered, without a pause, “Space.” But in all seriousness, learning how the founders of Brooklyn Research founded their own amazing company, made over $300K in their first year without offering any equity to investors or taking out any debt, and have continued to grow and innovate, was perhaps my favorite story of entrepreneurship. The two founders to which we spoke, quite different from Antonio Evans–quieter, more thoughtful and reflective, perhaps a little nerdier (in the best way)–suit my personality considerably more, and I loved learning about their success.