Hackers, designers, and young entrepreneurs gathered Wednesday in a conference hall usually reserved for dignitaries and diplomats at the United Nations in New York. The occasion? A kick-off for World Entrepreneurship Day, an event conceived of by college junior Lauren Amarante and her mentor Troy Byrd last year when they realized recognized days existed to honor everything from toilets (Nov. 19) to turtles (May 23) to tin cans (Jan. 19), but none existed to celebrate the people who make the U.S. economy tick.
Now that the second Friday of April is officially World Entrepreneurship Day, we thought we'd mark the occasion by sharing some of the take-aways from the speeches and panel discussions by the successful entrepreneurs who gathered at the U.N. for the WED conference.
The panelists ranged from first-time business-owners, such as Lev Ekster, who decided to abandon his legal training to sell cupcakes on the streets of New York, to serial entrepreneurs and investors, such as Esther Dyson and Marc Ecko. They shared fresh ideas, wisdom from their trades, futurist visions and investment dreams. What follows is a few highlights.
"There is a genetic difference that needs to be recognized early on in entrepreneurs, and that is tenacity. That is the key genome… and it is about taking 10 punches to the stomach and getting up for the eleventh."Leonard Brody, best-selling author and business visionary
"In law school, Facebook and Twitter were seen as distractions. I remember minimizing the screen in class when my professor would walk by."Lev Ekster, founder of CupcakeStop, which relies on communicating with clients through tweets and other social- and location-aware media. Ekster began selling cupcakes out of a van after his legal job opportunities seemed bleak.
"I think the skill set has been the same since the beginning of time. It's a quest to bring meaning to my life."Don Moody, founder and CEO of Word World, in response to a question about the changing definition of entrepreneurship.
"I would love to be a 30-year-old in India or Brazil right now. There's so much going on with the economy…there are huge opportunities in energy, transportation, health care…"Beth Comstock, chief marketing officer and SVP of GE, when asked about new arenas ripe for entrepreneurship.
"The mindset hackers have is optimized for discovery. When handed a device, an average person will say, 'what does this do?' A hacker will say ‘what can I make this do?'"Pablos Holman, hacker, futurist, and inventor at Intellectual Ventures Lab
"Mobile is not just liberating, it's empowering. In the developing world, you cannot afford a PC, so the mobile phone serves that role: it's for business correspondence, making payments…"Esther Dyson, entrepreneur, investor and cosmonaut, in discussion with Anjali Joshi, director of product management at Google, about Google's work bringing SMS information-sharing technology to India.