A Talk With Vivek Wadhwa

If you google TIME Magazine’s “40 Most Influential Minds In the Tech Industry, ” you’ll find Vivek Wadhwa. If you read the weekly EI emails, you’ll know that Vivek recently visited us at the Garage and sat down with students to discuss their entrepreneurial endeavors and the future of advanced technology. Vivek knows how to immediately catch your attention while speaking. Initially, I felt a little uncomfortable as Wadhwa started the talk off by criticizing the attending students’ ideas but in hindsight, it was a refreshing turn of events.

For those of you who couldn’t make it to Vivek’s talk, I’ve compiled a highlight reel of interesting points that were brought up.

Getting a PhD? Don’t wait.

A student mentioned that he was working on getting his doctorate here at NC State and was planning on getting involved in entrepreneurship once he received his degree. Unless you’re seriously booked during your graduate school career, you shouldn’t put off entrepreneurship until you’re handed your degree. School and entrepreneurship can coexist.

Don’t think linearly.

A lot of the predictions you read about – such as us running out of clean water by year xxxx – are linear, that means that those predictions are modeled based on previous patterns. Free your mind of such constraints because technology grows rapidly and often erratically – the future is unpredictable. For example, we will not know how artificial intelligence will shape our future until we are done shaping the future of artificial intelligence.

Scott Moody, cofounder of the company that created the fingerprint scanner used in all iPhones, faced a lot of criticism for investing so much in fingerprint scanning technology in the 90s. That’s back when cell phones didn’t even have colored screens. However, he wasn’t thinking linearly and he wasn’t worried about his technology being too futuristic or infeasible. Needless to say, it all worked out pretty well for Moody.

Don’t invent parts, reinvent how they’re used.

This piece of advice is very pertinent to college student entrepreneurs. Rather than trying to invent a piece of technology from scratch (such as a LIDAR sensor), look for different ways that you can use that technology to ease a pain or problem. Entrepreneurship is all about connecting the seemingly unrelated and turning those connections into a profitable venture. If you want to take it a step further, start looking for interesting research that is being performed here at NC State. A lot of the research performed in universities is tucked away and forgotten, never to be monetized.

Much like Vivek’s talk, this blog post was a bit sporadic and disorganized – however, I think that spontaneous thoughts are what lead to innovation. Pursue Vivek’s points and feel free to make life changing decisions based on all that you’ve learned from this article.

Moaad Benkaraache is an EI marketing assistant and NC State industrial engineering student. He enjoys prototyping, eating protein-packed meals and prototyping while eating protein-packed meals.