• Baker Institute Team

The Serendipity Factor


Watching the Golden Gate sunset from the Presidio of San Francisco.

Dean Zimberg '20 | New York, NY Major | IBE: Financial Engineering


I realize, mainly through the words of Tom Gillis, that the success of entrepreneurs is largely attributed to an unknown “serendipity” factor. We’ve heard from entrepreneurs who met their future co-founder by random chance, and we even heard that some venture capitalists correlate their portfolio’s success to mortifying cold calls. As an engineer, and an aspiring entrepreneur, I’ve wondered if it’s possible to quantify this “serendipity” and it’s future impact on business success (large investor exits, becoming a household name brand, etc.). How does one maximize or minimize a random variable? How does one control the uncontrollable, to be in the right place at the right time?


I still don’t have the full answer to this question, but the LehighSiliconValley guests taught me a bunch of ways to start piecing together the answer. I realize that there is no way to specifically control the serendipity factor, but there are ways to be more keen to your surroundings when you’re in a “right place, right time” moment. There are also ways to maximize the chance of serendipity — such as moving to Silicon Valley. Because, in reality, the average Silicon Valley entrepreneur likely just walked by their future co-founder(s) in a non-descript trendy coffee shop, and their first angel investors will probably be their father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate. At the end of the day, the most successful entrepreneurs aren’t “just lucky”, they put in extreme hours of hard work which result in a higher frequency of serendipity moments.

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