How Attending MIT’s Tech Summit Changed My Entrepreneurial Mindset
How I managed to learn about emerging technologies from experts with 500 IQ
Do you know those driverless cars that are taking over the media and tech industry? Imagine meeting the tech lead on the forefront of the driverless car space. Now multiply this loose concept, but with 100 of such people.
From meeting flourishing entrepreneurs to talented CEOs, this conference was unlike any other (to say the least). The speakers did an unbelievable job of displaying their knowledge-power and how we all can create long-term, meaningful change (big and small!). The perspicacity that the speakers accentuated was mesmerizing, and what better way to share my experience and wholly takeaways than in an article! Without further ado, here are my top upshots and appreciation for the speakers who took their time to educate attendees on topics such as:
- The role of government and policy in fostering entrepreneurship and innovation for public benefit.
- Recent work and trends in quantum computing and robotics
- Tips and tricks of destroying the competition and mastering the art of entrepreneurship!
Intro to the Tech Summit: Round 1
The conference began with the lovely Mariana Mazzucato, a professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value. She was named “3 most important thinkers in innovation” and has a strong political sense. Furthermore, she has written books endearing the business and innovation aspect! Mazzucato’s talk had many portions directed to the government aspect (public and private sectors). Naturally, I found myself curious about industries, so I decided to do a little more in-depth research. Who knows, I might be in the middle of writing an article about that…
During the talk, I retained many valuable takeaways, which were:
- Internet- the most valuable outcome for problem-solving. The Internet is basically free education, even at college-levels. Personally, it’s where I learned how to program, learn software designing, and design web apps!
- Believe and empower problem-solving. This is something many startups and businesses struggle with. Trying to either find a loophole out of an obstacle or bluff your way through never works out.
- Building back better- an approach to post-disaster recovery aimed at increasing communities' resilience to future shocks and disturbances. Especially during these unprecedented times, to be resilient is to…
- Bounce back! We all face hurdles, and what do you do in that situation? Well, what do you with a hurdle? As they get taller and taller, you manage to jump over it, no matter what.
After this enthralling talk, I had the intriguing chance to meet Tom Kalil. He is the CIO of Schmidt Futures, a company that advances societies using modern technology and science. He invests in and makes grants for non-profit organizations to support the most talented people and promising technology ideas. He has also spoken on the essence of philanthropy and moonshots. Indefinitely phenomenal. Takeaways that will stick with me for life:
- Ambitious thinking is crucial. Something impossible five years ago is now possible! An ambitious review is the main drive to stand out amongst the average.
- When creating innovation, think about your consumer’s status. Kalil gives a real-world example, where he said to negotiate a tail price for vaccines in order to make them readily available in developing countries.
- Always be an optimist. I have personally struggled with this, as it can be hard at times to keep your head up during tough encounters. Keeping this in mind, I have realized that giving up is never a tangible solution.
Intro to the Tech Summit: Round 2
After, we then looped around Mazzucato and Kalil’s talks for a second round. At this point, my adrenaline rush was through the roof. I want to briefly note that I wasn’t taking too many notes. My goal was to be assertive during the fireside chat and discussions so I wouldn't miss any crucial information.
Mazzucato goes more in-depth about more worldwide problems as well as advice to really drive her speech home, especially those concerning investment policies. My takeaways:
- Empower change. After all, the only constant in life is change.
- Common good>public good. This ties back to Kalil’s talk, where he depicted several situations in which the common good matters much more.
- Mazzucato’s philosophy for entrepreneurs: pick a broad purpose, and narrow it down until it's small enough (but still big enough) to solve. All problems require a solution.
- Procurement policy- an overarching principle used to set direction and influence decisions. This policy is a fundamental way of starting off your business and marketing it. P.S., Mazzucato is a huge advocate for this.
Being completely honest, I thoroughly admired and pondered Mazzucato’s perception of the world’s economy. Her talk was so efficacious that it even altered my stance on some topics.
Moving on, Kalil sensed the spotlight and gave me some more notions to ponder on.
- Technology and innovation will drive the world to advancement and success. Preach!
- For instance, solving actual hardcore problems like social statuses would absolutely reform nations.
- Believe in solving real-life problems affecting big groups (the more people the problem correlates to, the merrier). You should be able to see a loose pattern about Kalil’s passions. P.S., he vindicates problem-solving!
- Scientists should be given the freedom to explore unknown fields. The government should provide funding in these foreign territories.
- Technology should be everywhere! Underrated subject areas include manufacturing and regenerative materials. Implementing technology will exponentially increase the success and development of subject areas like manufacturing.
Track C: Advanced Systems
Fast forwarding from these intuitive talks with Mazzucato and Kalil (which I couldn't be more grateful for!). I wanted to explore my interest by virtually attending the Advanced Systems track, hosted by Laura Major, CTO of Motional, and the exceptional Alán Aspuru-Guzik. Without further ado, here were my top takeaways:
- When working on a problem of any sort, show proof that the problem exists. Give data, statistics, anything that helps the audience know that this problem is, well, a concrete problem.
- Use root-cause analysis. Its purpose is identifying “root causes” of problems or events and an approach for responding to them. In fact, you might even be implementing root-cause analysis into your solutions! I have done it many times as I debug my coding programs without even realizing it.
- When dealing with investors, answer:
- How would you deal with payoff? How will your solution and technology create an influence? How are you going to align business aspects with technical aspects?
- Work on several different models. Have a variety of versions.
- Be extremely time-effective. Take advantage of your extra time during the day, and be obsessive about what you’re working on.
- Expose the biggest problem with your solution/idea/model/etc.
- For example, Major concluded that the most general problem with driverless cars is the sense of comfortable communication and interaction between humans and robots.
- Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes. What is the average amount of knowledge that your consumer knows about the problem you are trying to solve? A near-term solution for this would be to get some form of your idea out to the public, so they have some sense of what the main motive of your solution/company/organization/etc is.
After a quick break post discussion, I was then joined by a fireside chat featuring Matt Rogers, in conversation with Ilan Gur, about Matt’s entrepreneurial journey, including his current work as CEO of Incite.org.
Have you wondered who the co-founder of your thermostat system is? The circular ring that sits on a wall with easy access for temperature changes? I’ll be more specific: Nest. It was the one and only — Matt. Rogers.
It was an incredibly knowledge-packed discussion, a sanguine way to end the fulfilled day! His talk was mainly about jumpstarting your entrepreneurial journey, as well as tips to achieve the victory stage! Gratifying takeaways:
- The assured difficulty for companies to start from ground zero: requires a lot of perseverance, ambition, commitment, and dedication. You have to be ready to overcome anything that holds you back.
- Adding on to the previous bullet, staying optimistic at all times is a necessary feat.
- Explore. Know what you’re good at. From there, work on that.
- Plan long-term progress for a long-term goal. But, fabricate short-term steps to reach short-term triumph.
- Finding the appropriate ecosystem and team is ideal to surmount a lack of experience, especially if you’re a novice.
- Secure and win it! Be proud of what you put out. Make sure to engage everyone (your team and consumers) in whatever “fight” you are trying to gain a victory from. And by fight, I am referring to an impediment/conflict that your team of talented individuals faces.
- Start to rebuild and build the role of a positive vision and future despite 2020’s catastrophes.
- Be hopeful! Anyone can kick themselves up and push themselves to create disruptive innovations.
- Never go down without a fight. And make sure that “fight” is worth fighting for. Never take no for an answer during whatever “fight”. You got this, and we are all cheering you on.
And… that concludes the speaker and track series! There was so much to learn from top CEOs who have been through so many inner and outer battles with hindrances and defeated them with no sweat. Not only did I personally connect with all the intellectual speakers, but I found myself even more curious about emerging technologies such as quantum computing and robotics. All in all, the conversations and fireside chats were very interactive and engaging, an inevitable win-win.
This wondrous conference was the highlight of my year. Speakers from all around the world with various talented backgrounds shared their foreknowledge on the world’s biggest problems, as well as cutting-edge technologies that will single-handedly revolutionize our planet. However, I am unable to finish this article without expressing gratitude. Thank you to all the speakers for making the conference astoundingly memorable, completed with packed ideas and stances. Thank you to Alex for giving TKS a fulfilled opportunity for high-schoolers all around the world fascinated about uprising tech gadgets (like me!). Thank you to Michael for setting this conference up and giving me the golden ticket to this chocolate-rich factory! Till next time, and I am looking forward to next year’s MIT Tough Tech Summit!
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