Travelling to Technoport 2015 all the way from the heart of Silicon Valley is serial entrepreneur Pascal Finette, whose CV makes impressive reading. He’s founded a couple of technology startups, led eBay’s Platform Solutions Group in Europe, launched a consulting firm helping entrepreneurs with their strategy & operations, invested into early-stage tech startups, led Mozilla Labs, created Mozilla’s accelerator program WebFWD, headed up Mozilla’s Office of the Chair and invested into social impact organisations around the globe at Google.org. Phew!
He’ll speak at the Peace, Love & Entrepreneurship session, apt given his experience in creating the non-profit organizations Mentor for Good, POWERUP and The Coaching Fellowship (yes, he’s managed to cram all that into his career, too!)
Right now, he heads up the Startup Lab at Singularity University, which has a mission to “educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges” – now that’s a mission statement we at Technoport Towers can identify with!
Pascal was kind enough to talk to Technoport about his experience and what we can expect from him at Technoport 2015:
“Singularity University is fairly young, only six years old. The vast majority of our work is educational, and about two years ago we saw more startups that leveraged exponential technology so we set up a support system, to combine ongoing education with access to our community and network. Today we are three parts: a startup part, a corporate part where Fortune 500 companies reinvent themselves, then an impact partner part. The latter group have boots on the ground so they let us know what it’s really like out there. We are in Silicon Valley but it’s completely different to be out on the ground in Africa.”
“Our philosophy is simple: we bring people together to create transformative change. Our startup program brings together 80 people who all know each other and have a drive to change the world. It’s a ten-week project over the summer when we support them, bring in mentors, and other program elements that foster them and their confidence. A good chunk of the projects turn into companies. Of course, they are very early stage often with no market validation, so we may then bring them into our new accelerator.”
All this begs an obvious question that ties into the theme of Technoport 2015. Is the mindset of a social entrepreneur different from a “regular” entrepreneur, and if so, can people learn the qualities needed?
“I dislike the term social entrepreneur because it sounds like it’s different from entrepreneurship. It’s not. These people are entrepreneurs but they choose to solve a pressing social need. The skills required to solve problems are exactly the same, in fact it’s maybe a little harder because of funding sources.”
“When you look at what makes a social entrepreneur do what they do, it’s always that drive for impact, a sense for wanting to create something bigger than themselves, and a deep connection to the issue at hand, be it human trafficking, autism, whatever it is. Every human being has the capacity for that.”
“There’s an interesting trend with the new generation of “millennials”. Instead of the Wall Street boom or Dot Com boom, where the urge was to create as much money as they could, this generation seems to want to create a better planet. Perhaps it’s the hyper awareness due to today’s media, but whatever it is, I am hopeful we will see a lot more social entrepreneurs in their 20s.”
It should be obvious by now that Pascal is a subscriber to the “pay it forward” philosophy and as such, shares his thoughts on entrepreneurship with the thousands of subscribers to his daily email newsletter, The Heretic.
“A few years ago I had an urge to share my thoughts with the world. It began on Twitter but 140 characters was too limiting, and I couldn’t use my existing blog because it was syndicated through Planet Mozilla, so I wanted to create another place. something that is safer place. It’s turned into a really interesting experiment for me. Can I actually write something on a daily basis? I use it to reflect on something I read or heard during the day, so it’s become a wonderful way for me to reflect, sharpen my own thinking, perhaps reiterate a point I made to someone else and even expand on it.”
Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset at Technoport 2015.