Looking back, I realize that I had been pretty much living in a bubble in Budapest but the past four weeks have been an eye-opener, helping me put things in perspective. Experiencing first hand, the trends evolving in the purported financial capital of the world did what no amount of classroom lectures or news articles could do. The life and career stories heard were at times cautionary and at others motivational. With so much of information, experiences and lessons coming packed in such a short period of time, I could relate to Alejandro Crawford’s phrase ‘drinking out of a fire hose’; I drank as much as I could.
Week 4 was kicked off by internationally recognized leader and author Andrew Pek. He talked about innovation, however his definitions were quite different from what we had learnt in class. Innovation was defined as the (strategic and human centered) creation of something desirable to others that is doable and is commercially and socially relevant. This definition helped explain why many ideas, especially those pertaining to sustainability, fail as they do not encompass all the three aspects of innovation. The application of design thinking in innovation was another important concept. Companies such as d-light that overcome the paradox of “cost vs. clean” in their pursuit of sustainability showcase the importance of looking at the tools available from different perspective. The idea seemed like an intersection of the concepts of relative advantage and reverse innovation. In many ways, the entire week 4 was a perfect complement to the courses on sustainability and innovation done in Budapest.
The rooftop garden, Brooklyn Grange, was an absolute delight. Hearing his story, we learnt that critical it is to multitask in a startup; wearing many hats is not a choice but a necessity. Brooklyn Grange also epitomized how ideas evolve into businesses, this dynamic nature is very different from what is planned on paper. It all boils down to finding your niche; again we came across “relative advantage” in our session with Laszlo Karafiath. The session revolved around cultural design, its influences on strategy and how it is an evolutionary process and not a revolutionary change.
The session that followed was about trends in cleantech presented by Monty Graham. Many elements that had to do with climate change were more of a refresher, however there were plenty of food for thought as well. Interesting thoughts got sparked while discussing topics such as anthropogenic climate change, energy management and, energy efficiency. Clean web was something new and interesting for me and possibly offers plenty of entrepreneurial opportunities in the near future. Green Maps System, although an innovative idea that served the social need failed to build a sustainable business model with around 80% of its costs being covered by grants. How could this community centered business be turned sustainable? The week ended with a question adding to a plethora already piled related to business, society, environment and, career among others.