Diversity Drives Innovation

Samantha Quist, Executive Director at Technovation, spoke at Technoport 2015 about the lessons learned from her entrepreneurial journey.
Samantha Quist at Technoport 2015

Usually when we hear about entrepreneurship, we hear very short quips of extremely successful people. The reality is it’s fairly easy for most of us to look good in a short quip, but what we don’t hear about is the failures, the challenges and the obstacles that entrepreneurs go through on their journey. Data shows at least 90% of technology businesses fail, and many of those 10% just manage to get by."

That's how Samantha Quist, Executive Director of Technovation, set the scene for her talk at Technoport 2015.

She took the audience through a number of lessons learned from her own entrepreneurial journey, including:

Quick decisions are usually better than the right ones

“This was a hard learned lesson for me because i had grown up thinking there is just one best way to do everything and theres no reason not to do things in the the best possible way. but it turns out, thats not necessarily the most successful mentality in the world of entrepreneurship. I used to think that visionaries would start with their vision and on a linear path work to achieve their vision, but that’s very rarely what actually happens."

"When Kevin Systrom founded Instagram he didn’t even know he was building a mobile photos app, he thought he was building a check-in app and a way to meet up with friends. Only after he realised that photos were the most popular feature of the app did it turn into a mobile photos app."

Diversity drives innovation

"It turns out in the US 18% of Computer Science majors are women, but only 7% of technology company founders are women. As I thought about it, I realised diversity drives innovation. It's just common sense that if you have a group of people who are all similar to each other, you’re not going to get such innovative ideas as if you have a more diverse group."

This realisation led Samantha to discover Technovation, a mobile app startup competition for girls.

"It takes the girls through an online curriculum that teaches them to find problems in their community that it might be possible to solve with a mobile app. They go thorough some design thinking training, do some research, build out a mobile app and then make a pitch."

"I started out as a volunteer on the programme and I was so inspired to see teenage girls doing what my peers were not doing, which was starting real businesses to solve real problems. After spending some time with Technovation I joined the programme full time as Executive Director."

Entrepreneurship can start young and gives hope

"The students who finish the program very often don't talk about the skills they gained or particular programming methodologies they learned. Instead they talk about how they started from scratch to develop something that made a difference in the world. That type of feeling sticks with people and is really inspiring as people think about entrepreneurship as a career path."

Our sincere thanks to Samantha for travelling all the way from west coast USA to Trondheim to share her thoughts and experiences with us!


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