Caution: Avoid blinky lights

In our last class, Montse Medina, cofounder of Jetlore, spoke about her experience as an entrepreneur in cloud computing.  Jetlore is a machine learning cloud company that analyzes consumer behavior.  They were just acquired by Paypal. Montse’s perspective resonated with me because her first piece of advice is to start from a business, and then build the technology.  In addition to that insight, she provided these insights for someone considering a new venture:

  1. Choose cofounders carefully
  2. At the begining, it’s okay for skill-set overlaps. In growth, skillsets need to specialize
  3. Choose CEO based on best fit to be the face of the company
  4. Be ready to loose all of your current friends
  5. Find a strong community of entrepreneurs, like StartX

Her advice resonated with me because I’m a builder.  My Dad taught me how to make things: we fixed vehicles instead of taking them to a shop, we built a treehouse from scratch, and when my new younger brother arrived, we didn’t move to a bigger house or hire a contractor – we built his new bedroom.

Fortunately, Dad also taught me how to code, where I found my passion. I pursued software and hardware engineering as a career, and built every type of gadget you can imagine for firms including Disney, Shell, Nike, and even the National Park Service.  Prior to studying at Stanford, I led R&D in Silicon Valley for Accenture.  We researched and built applications of advanced machine learning, 3D, robotics, quantum computing, and AR/VR.

After working with executives from the top Fortune 50 firms, I observed that there are two approaches: Leaders who build a business around advanced technology, and leaders that build a business using advanced technology.  The former eventually turns into a gadgety trend (think Jawbone), and the later solves real problems and survives 20+ years (think Google).  We called the trends, “blinky lights,” because of their shelf life and their utility in the world. I wanted to learn how to do the later, so I enrolled in classes at the Stanford GSB, and am taking this class to learn from some of the great minds in Silicon Valley.

In class, we also discussed that 2018 global cloud market is $27Bn, and by 2021, it’s projected to be $160Bn. Dean Paron from Microsoft spoke in the class, and predicted:

  1. 1 million devices would come online every hour by 2020.
  2. 60% of cloud services would be in the public cloud by 2025.

Reflecting on Montse’s advice and applying it to the class content, one could reason that building a business which leverages cloud technology will be more successful than building new cloud technology and trying to build a business around it.


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