Tech Trek East was undoubtedly one of the best experiences I have had at BC so far. Being able to hear from some of the World’s greatest entrepreneurs and executives was truly remarkable. The amount I learned in these three days in New York City surpassed any amount of knowledge that I ever learned from any course at BC. That being said, it is pretty difficult to explain every single important facet I learned on Tech Trek within one blog post. So instead, I am going to write about what I learned from these different founders and executives on this trip when it comes to being a successful innovator and entrepreneur.
Our trip started out with extremely high energy and an amazing speaker in Carlos Dominguez. Although Carlos was never an entrepreneur himself, he was able to convey key facets of entrepreneurship and innovation throughout his career. One of the most impactful phrases that Carlos said was: “Just because someone tells you to do something, doesn’t mean you need to do it their way.” This quote was a fantastic way to set the tone for the trip as we would soon after hear from a variety of entrepreneurs who decided to do something different, break the status quo, and innovate beyond anyone else’s expectations. Carlos’s next extremely informative nugget regarding innovation was when he said, “Be bold, aggressive, but scared at the same time.” I think this statement truly encompasses, on a high level, the the mindset of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs must be daring, willing to take a leap, and try something new, but it is also important to stay grounded and not let the thrill of starting a company cloud their judgement. By being scared, entrepreneurs can ensure they make calculated decisions that is best for themselves and their company.
Carlos’s high level entrepreneurial knowledge translated and flowed extremely well into our next visit at Freshly, where we met with the founder, Michael Wystrach. The key takeaway from this visit regarding entrepreneurship was that it is essential to solve a problem that you are truly passionate about when starting a company. Michael explained that life is short and money really doesn’t matter, so if you can do what you are passionate about, then you will be fulfilled in life. Additionally, in order to pursue through the lowest lows of entrepreneurship, your passion for the problem you are solving will keep you going and inspire you to preserve through these hard times. With that said, I have always had the aspiration of being part of a founding team or starting my own venture, however, the ideas I have pursued did not align with my passions. So, with whatever I get myself involved in the future, I am confident that I will take Michael’s advice and do something that I truly feel strongly about.
Perhaps the most humbling visit with an entrepreneur was at Ceros, where we met with Simon Berg. Simon came into the room full of energy, passion, and a great attitude. From this initial entrance, you would have never thought that he had gone through such difficult times in his life. In his presentation, Simon spoke about his journey as an entrepreneur in relation to his happiness. It was very grounding hearing about how after his beginning spike of happiness, he continued on a downward slope until he experienced the absolute worst time in his life, which he called the “trough of sorrow.” Hearing this story showed me that being an entrepreneur requires great sacrifice and in order to “make it,” you must be willing to preserve through sadness, depression, and even make some nearly impossible decisions like laying off your lifetime friends.
The next lesson from a co-founder and entrepreneur came from our visit at JW Player. Co-founder and CEO, Dave Otten, stressed the importance of having co-founders who have the same vision as you and are people you can relate to. Like Simon, Dave Otten explained that starting a company brings lots of difficult times. Therefore, in order to power through these times, you must have cofounders that you can relate to and rely on.
Another important lesson regarding building or joining a team came from Socure co-founder, Johnny Ayers. Johnny said that in deciding if you are at the right company for you, it is important to look at the senior leadership and ask yourself if you want to be like them and are you like them. Sharing a similar vision and values as the leaders of the company you are at is essential, and if you can build a team of like-minded people, that is when companies are most efficient and successful. Johnny also mentioned that it is vital to know what you don’t know when starting a company. If you are honest with yourself and know what you don’t know, then you can either go out and learn the knowledge you are lacking or hire people who do. Johnny’s advice was invaluable when it comes to building a team.
Although these were only my most impactful lessons regarding entrepreneurship, we also learned countless other facets about business, culture, teams, and innovation. This trip was truly amazing. Thank you so much to Professor Kane, Professor Doyle, Kelsey, Rohan, and Julia for not only preparing us for this trip but also organizing one of the most impactful experiences of my BC career.