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It is a cliché, right? All it takes is a couple of brilliant tech students, one bright idea, throw in a bunch of after school hours and weekends, and do not forget your parents’ garage. Mix it all together and what do you get? This type of tech startup story has done the rounds since the likes of Google first became household names.
And it is a compelling story. Fueled by the power of imagination and the changeable nature of a sector that has become a byword for innovation, technopreneurship has transitioned not only from the nerdy to the mainstream – but to the very forefront of cool.
Technopreneurs are leveraging technology all around the world to reshape, remodel and reinvent the way that we work, live, play, learn, communicate, manufacture, pay, travel, heal … the list is as open ended as the possibilities themselves. From mobile gaming to 3-D printing, the startups grabbing the headlines are techie.
So what does it take to make it as a Technopreneur?
To Startup or Not to Startup?
Well, it probably helps to define first off what it means to be a technopreneur as opposed to an entrepreneur in general.
Most successful entrepreneurs would probably agree that making it in an increasingly crowded startup scene, wherever you are, boils down to some basic principles common to every business. Firstly it is about having an idea. Then it is about testing that idea. Beyond that, and probably most importantly, it is about maintaining your belief in your project, and being prepared to put in the hours, weeks, months, and years it usually takes to turn a dream into a viable reality. Stubbornness and determination are adjectives you hear attributed to the biggest names in entrepreneurship, time and time again.
Technopreneurship differs from general entrepreneurship in one critical sense—it involves high technology. Regular entrepreneurship is about finding a market opportunity and assembling the solutions, resources, and management processes to convert that opportunity into a business. Technopreneurship adds another dimension of complexity to this, however. Because, above and beyond these basics, the technopreneur works at the level of research and development of the technology itself. To put it simply, the tech startup has to not only monetize the technology they work with, but ensure it works for the end customer.
Do You Have What it Takes?
Entrepreneurs come in many different shapes and sizes, and there a unique blueprint that defines what it means to be a successful entrepreneur. In general though, there are a number of attributes those entrepreneurs, tech and general, do seem to have in common. Beyond creativity, tenacity, and unwavering belief in their project, a majority of entrepreneurs are:
- Not driven by immediate rewards or status
- Question authority and tend not to abide by the rules
- Are not afraid to fail – and even welcome failure as an important part of the learning process
- Are good decision makers
- Are tolerant of risk
- Can put their social and family lives on hold for as long as it takes to realize their project
Entrepreneurship – Is It For You?
Entrepreneurship, if anything, is not about half measures. It is about commitment, a sense of vision, cleaving to your cause, being your own boss and weathering the many storms you are likely to face. Whether you’re motivated by investigation, research, a passion for technology, innovation or a desire to change the world, one thing is for sure. Business might have no guarantees. But the future is yours to write.
Shaping the Future, Globally
The World Economic Forum has launched an initiative uniting entrepreneurship and a desire to effect positive change around the globe. The Global Shapers Community gives talented young leaders a chance to connect to a global network of like-minded peers and WEF groups and it is seeing traction particularly in the Middle East, where many young technology entrepreneurs are hungry for meaningful change.
Some of the interesting stories emerging from the Global Shapers initiative were captured in a recent article published by The Washington Post. North African and Middle Eastern technopreneurs talked about deploying technology to drive social impact rather than revolution – and a hunger for empowerment through connectivity, as well as a chance to shape their own future in uncertain times.
One of the entrepreneurs quoted is Waleed Abd el Rahman, who has built an app to help drivers negotiate Cairo’s rush hour. “Youth in Egypt want change,” he says, “and they’re not going to wait for it.”
Technology is opening up a universe of opportunities, unimaginable before now; to paraphrase Cisco CEO, John Chambers. And there is a growing trend amongst young technopreneurs to deploy technology to level the playing field for everyone.
An exciting number of talented young business people are turning digital to redress imbalances in education, human rights, and healthcare. Some of the most innovative ideas are forming in this space. From open source platforms for increased transparency, to information sharing, to apps that put donating to your favorite charity at your fingertips, social technopreneurship is gaining momentum globally. Being a force for change is as motivating as making money for many of the most successful players in this space.
Causehub is an interesting case in point. Brainchild of a young team of British technopreneurs, this innovative app aims to link users not only to causes via online petitions, but enable them to track the concrete impact their donations make. “It’s a product that will disrupt the way we engage in online decision making” says one of the company’s co-founders.
Digitization and the Technopreneur
If you have gotten this far, and you feel that technopreneurship might be for you, you are in for good news. You will probably be familiar with the Internet of Things. And if you are a regular reader of NetAcad Advantage, you will also know something about the impact digitization is having on our global economy.
Conservative estimates suggest that by 2020 a staggering 30 billion devices will connect to the Internet. From wearable devices to intelligent vehicles, in a future where wireless devices become increasingly common and inexpensive, the enhanced connectivity we will see managing the data generated has become known as the Internet of Everything or IoE. IoE changes the way we will think about connectivity and business.
NetAcad Advantage Reading Note: Each of us has the power to make a difference in the world we live in, best of luck to you as you pursue your passion using your knowledge, creativity, and stamina to be successful. Read about how innovating and building your own business can collide beautifully to do good for the society around you.