Baker Institute Team
“Great people make great products and great products make great companies."
Rebecca Bone '21 | Arts Entrepreneurship Major | Product Design Minor | Engineering Hometown | Mercer Island, WA
Today we were led through our day by our gracious host Tom Gillis, General Manager at VMware, who introduced us to three other entrepreneurs, all at different stages in the start-up cycle. With Tom’s direction and my fellow classmates questions, we had the opportunity to explore how these entrepreneurs got their start and the various challenges and obstacles in their way and how they overcame them. However, there was one thing that really resonated with me. Early into the discussion, Tom said “Great people make great products and great products make great companies." I think this quote summarizes the theme of today’s session, while drawing our attention to the people and the relationships that help to build new companies.
As the guests shared their stories with us, I made sure to make a note of how each person used their connections with others to help push their ideas. Some of them worked with friends right out of school or people from previous jobs to help them execute ideas. I think Tom had a great comment that throughout his changes in companies the people we worked with often stayed constant. Everyone also pushed that in entrepreneurship, there is an emphasis on the necessity of “finding your people," a group that you can work with, utilizing different skill sets, to solve problems. I think it is important to recognize that while the actual technology entrepreneurs are creating in their companies are important, the company you keep is equally as important. The relationship you make can help you in the future, and you should always strive to make more connections. Jordana Stein, the founder of Enrich, a beginning company directed at connecting senior leaders to gain perspective on problems, relies heavily on this idea of networking. She also said something, which I thought was insightful not only for startups in Silicon Valley but also in any small industry that “life is long, the valley is small, never burn your bridges."Both Tom and Jordana emphasized the human aspect to entrepreneurship, and networking required to create a good product as well as a good company.
I hope to apply this idea placing an emphasis on the relationships that I make both during my college career and beyond. By building on my connections, I plan to capitalize on any opportunity that comes my way, while extending my network. I look forward to bringing this mindset with me throughout the rest of this program and onward.