GES 2016 Reflections
I just returned from the 2016 Global Entrepreneurial Summit hosted by President Obama at Stanford’s campus in Silcon Valley, CA. I was honored to be selected as a delegate for the United States joined by 400 of my fellow entrepreneurs from 70 other countries all over the world. It was three days of incredibly motivational speeches, networking and hearing from start-up legends such at LinkedIn’s founder -Reid Hoffman (pictured below). Reid discussed how LinkedIn is about people making connections not just a website.
We heard from other start-up heroes such as Uber’s founder Travis Kalanick who talked about how they were not just a revolutionizing transportation app but rather a way for people work on-demand and transform our traditional perceptions of the 9–5 job. Keith Johnson, CEO of Docusign shared with us that it’s the size of the pie that matters not the slice. Brian Chesky, founder of Air BnB told us how he came up with the idea of renting out air mattresses in his studio apartment so he could have enough money to make rent. He said AirBnB is about people meeting other people not just a hotel alternative. He discussed how difficult cash flow was in the early years that he had to move in with his parents. Now AirBnB is is valued over $25 Billion.
All of these legendary entrepreneurs talked about their why, not their what and how. We had a chance to personally hear from Secretary Kerry, President Obama and several good one on one discussions with the White House executives who deal with small business and technology. The highlight of the trip was getting to meet fellow entrepreneurs from over 70 countries. Hearing about how my new friend in the Congo is making affordable solar panels, how another entrepreneur from the Philippines has developed a new strain of rice to help farmers increase yield and how another from Jamaica was developing web content that helped Caribbean kids learn how to read was so exciting. My take away was that everyone in attendance had the same dream; to change the world not by a product but by their passion to help others. It’s amazing now how technology can help entrepreneurs from all over the world break down the economic, cultural and financial barriers and create a business so quickly and easy.
However, my most memorable take away was hearing about the common problem most entrepreneurs have; cash. The problem was addressed on many sessions and speeches. Founders talked about how incredibly difficult it is to start and grow a business. They discussed that in needs to be difficult, it needs to be stressful, it needs to be hard because if it wasn’t, the entrepreneur could never grow. Business only fail when the founder quits, not when the company runs out of cash.