At today’s Destination Innovation event sponsored by #NVTC Northern Virginia Technology Council, entrepreneurship and technology innovation in the Northern Virginia / DC Metro area was rightfully celebrated – there is a lot going on here! The event offered mini-pitches from local innovators well beyond government-focused solutions that tend to be associated with this area. Congratulations to award winners @LynxFit, @homesnap, @LMI_org, and especially @KeyCyberSec who is serving a high value social purpose that also has great growth potential!
There were two keynotes. Carly Fiorina gave a sporting mom-and-apple-pie speech that surprisingly, at least to me, centered around policy. Despite her failed California Senate bid, she clearly still has political ambitions and was positioning accordingly. The second keynote was from local tech hero @Michael Chasen, founder of Blackboard, who nurtured his higher ed start-up service from a garage to a $1.7B selling price. He is now on to a new venture @SocialRadar. His remarks were resonant for the aspirational attendees, many of whom were start-ups dreaming of making it big. His very personalized speech focused on 5 unconventional wisdoms learned from his journey with Blackboard. While I’m not sure how many of them were truly ‘unconventional’ they were spot-on for what it takes to make it in today’s market.
1) Be passionate about what you’re undertaking [and be an expert in your field]
2) Focus on the business – not the office. In other words, don’t worry about the ‘stuff’ – he showed a picture of his original, ergonomically awful desk chair that he claimed to still use
3) Share the vision – and sell the execution
4) Constantly seek advice [and pay attention to it]
5) Realize that disruption changes everything – and then changes everything again
Whether you are a tech company or any other innovative venture, these were great insights, born from direct experience, by which to run your business. Very proud to have had a small hand in this event, and truly impressed with the level of entrepreneurship to be found in this region. Silicon Valley, take note!