DI Student Spotlight: Yuval Gonczarowski

Yuval Gonczarowski has over 10 years of experience in technology and innovation at the Israel Defence Forces as well as consumer-facing companies like Intel and Apple where he worked in VLSI prototyping. Yuval loves coming up with crazy ideas and outside-the-box solutions for all aspects of life; last year, as part of MIT’s Media Lab, he designed and fabricated an internet-of-things automatic toilet paper dispenser. Yuval holds a BA (magna cum laude) from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology and is an MBA candidate at the Harvard Business School.

How do you define innovation?

In 1943, a young naval engineer by the name of Richard James ran several experiments to find the perfect spring to optimize and stabilize the different parts of the boat in extreme weather conditions. James accidentally dropped one of the springs from the shelf, and he noticed it starting to “walk” around. And that’s how the Slinky was invented.
 Innovation is not only about sitting in a room and thinking of ideas; it’s not about thinking how I can grab the largest market share or calculating Customer Lifetime Value. It’s about seizing an opportunity, thinking outside the box, and making the most of our creativity. There, and only there, is where mankind can never be replaced by machines.

How do you view failure?

The cliche says, “if you don’t fail, you didn’t try”. 
 Most MBA programs use Expected Value calculations so much, we sometimes think that the value we calculated will be the outcome. But in reality, when a coin is flipped, one side succeeds and the other fails. The law of big numbers says that if we flip a coin enough times, overall we will win some and lose some.

Failure is a chance to learn for the next coin toss; it won’t prevent the next one, but it may increase your odds.

Yuval Gonczarowski (HBS ’17) is a member of the Digital Initiative Student Advisory Board. You can follow along as he pursues his next great thing here and here.