The current rate of technological acceleration truly is unprecedented. At no time in human history has life changed so dramatically so frequently. Business is one facet of society that is especially affected by this change. Large corporations are struggling to adapt in such a technologically dynamic world. Whether it is giants like Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy in 2012, or the array of bookstores that have succumbed to Amazon, there is one underlying cause to their failure, an inability to adapt to emerging technologies.
This is why I argue that entrepreneurs are crucial to the survival of existing large corporations. It is now commonly stated that if a company does not disrupt itself, then it will be disrupted by someone else, most notably by entrepreneurs. This phenomenon can be observed in nearly every industry. Whether it is Uber disrupting the taxi industry or IBM’s Watson computer platform disrupting the healthcare industry, the examples are virtually endless. The point I would like to emphasize is that there is not a fundamental reason why large corporations cannot leverage emerging technologies to disrupt themselves prior to being disrupted.
Fortunately for entrepreneurs, large corporations seem to be recognizing the benefits of embracing emerging technologies rather than defending against them. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that entrepreneurial skillsets are becoming increasingly desirable in the corporate world. I experienced this directly during my MBA career search. While pursuing my MBA, I have spent a large amount of time utilizing emerging technologies to develop potential products. I have focused mostly on developing sensor-based devices with an emphasis on Internet of things applications. Through developing these devices, I have learned how to design and 3D print, computer program and electrical engineer. Not bad for someone with an undergraduate degree in economics and no formal academic training in engineering or design. I am discussing this because these skills, which anyone can gain if they have an Internet connection and especially YouTube, are very appealing to large companies.
Throughout my interviews with many companies one trend became apparent. The managers asked little about my formal work experience, my internships or my GPA. Rather, they wanted to discuss my entrepreneurial pursuits. During these interviews, much of the time was used to discuss the devices I had developed, the ways in which I learned how to develop them, and the ways in which I could apply this knowledge to new situations. Ultimately, I received two offers from great Fortune 500 companies primarily because of my entrepreneurial endeavors. I accepted one of the offers and I am very excited to help develop their new technologies.
In retrospect, I realize why managers were far more interested in my entrepreneurial pursuits than my traditional academic and occupational experiences. It is likely because they see the same potential in these technologies as I do. I began developing these devices because I am confident that they have the potential to greatly impact the world in a positive way. Corporations undoubtedly recognize the importance of developing their own competencies with these new technologies because they will be impacted as well.
I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in emerging technologies to learn as much as possible and attempt to start a business utilizing them. Even if you are not successful, the skills and abilities gained doing so are invaluable assets to existing companies. In fact, I will argue that the survival of many large corporations depend on you embracing your entrepreneurial curiosity and not pursuing the status quo internships and academic experiences.