Thursday, 13 October 2011

Chicago Ideas Week Day 2

A quick summary of the speakers I heard today and what they had to say.

eric lefkofsky Groupon

The most important thing in a founder is not the desire to win, but the desire to not lose: the passion to see your idea through to adoption.

"I'm worried that we in the midwest don't honor risk-takers. We only honor hard work."
Eric's advice to entrepreneurs: "Mess up in every way possible" _Try_ to fail. Enjoy the taste of learning from failure.

ted leonsis aol and author of "The Business of Happiness"

What Steve Jobs taught us to do, was to see the highest level narrative of what you're trying to achieve, and then focus maniacly on the details until the product matches the vision. Take technology that is already possible and make it palatable to everyone, not just tech geeks. That is the key to a product's success: from aol bringing the internet to people's homes to Apple bringing it to people's phones.

mitch lowe Redbox (movie rentals)

As technology and tools expand, so too does their complexity.  Innovation is realizing the core functionality of a tool and optimizing it to do that one thing really well. Eliminate everything from your product (and even personal life) that you possibly can.  Only then can you focus 100% on what's important.

bo fishback Zaarly

There are five pillars of commerce: location, logistics, information, payment and [I forgot the last one >.<]  Revolutions in how people buy and sell things happen when one of these things becomes easier. Phones and the internet are transforming commerce on each of these pillars. The next billion dollar companies will be the ones that figure out how. HINT: hyper-local, micro-services markets!! Do it right and get rich!
(note worthy quote: "Ben Franklin was the father of, among many other things, sedentary commerce")

* bruce mau massive change network  (* = I really like this guy so I give a longer summary)

Design is the process of mixing creativity, problem-solving, analytical thinking and detailed execution. Design is, in many ways, living itself. We as a society, particularly in education, ignore design. We sillo art and science into separate bins and never let them play together. "My daughter, in her elementary school, is given 38 minutes to do art. That...How... I don't even need to explain to you what's wrong with that. Who ever heard of art taking 38 minutes?"  Businesses are legal, administrative bodies led by legal, administrative people in a way that stifles creativity and doesn't let design happen.  This must, and will, change because now people are starting to realize the importance of wholistic thinking. Samsung used to be a parts maker for Sony, but realized they could design better consumer products themselves.  Apple, a computer company, now has taken over the record labels in music distribution. Design always wins.  Without design, change and progress are evolutionary and random. Designing change allows it to happen consistently and on target. Governments and people everywhere need to learn the tools of design to begin a revolution of driven, targetted improvement to our lives.

gian fulgoni comScore

Lots of statistics. Here's the interesting ones:
The radio took 40 years to reach an audience of 50 million. Google plus took 88 days.
16% of time on the internet is spent on facebook (1% for all other social sites combined)  15% is spent on all video sites combined. (IM comes in third with 14%)
ecommerce for travel expenses (flights, hotels, etc) is $100 billion annually.  All other ecommerce combined is $160 billion.
One in three people shop on their phone while physically in a real store
Takeaway from his talk: use the internet and social media to establish a _real_ dialog with your customers or they will drown you.

tim westergren Pandora

It took two years, 400 pitches to investors and nearly two million dollars of debt before Pandora got the funding it needed to get off the ground.  If you think your idea is good: stick with it.

Lifelens Team

They add a small magnifying lens to a phone's camera, and it can take pics of blood samples with enough magnification and resolution to diagnose infections and disorders like malaria and sickle cell.

travis kalanick uber

"Fear is the disease and hustle is the cure"

Intelligence Squared Debate: Are there too many kids in college?

Arguing "Yes there are too many kids in college" were Peter Thiel, co-founder of paypal, and Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute

Arguing against that notion was Henry Bienen, former president of Northwestern University, and Vivek Wadhwa, a researcher on education and entrepreneurship.

The debate was lively and well informed. All four panelists were excellent speakers (particularly Peter Thiel).  There was a great deal of really solid ideas and arguments, but unfortunately my notes were sparse. The conclusion seemed to be that higher education is generally a good idea, but that there should be some significant reforms in acredation and financing.  Also that America is screwed because China and India are starting to improve their education systems in a big way.

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