How Physics build the concept of Entrepreneurship: The inside story.


Entrepreneurship, as most of us believe is not a recent phenomena but has a vast history of ideas, inventions and intersections beginning from the early 19th Century world of physics. It all started with a thought when law of classical mechanics and thermodynamics had been already established through various experiments by the likes of Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Bernoulli, Cavendish, Franklin and Lagrange. Just when these ideas of fundamental science of motion flourished, better ideas came through. As the horizontal base of the pyramid was set, vertical growth was imperative and inevitable.

The one idea, which started the era of entrepreneurship, was the invention of electric battery by Alessandro Volta in 1800. This invention led to more discoveries by Ampere and Ohm who further demonstrated the parallel electric currents exerted forces on each other and relationship between voltage, current and resistance respectively, which is the basis of fundamental electrodynamics. Just when Thomas Young demonstrated the wave nature of light, understanding of principle of interference and superposition developed. It all made sense, when Michael Faraday built an electricity powered motor in 1821 and formed the basis of current through magnetism i.e electromagnetic induction. Ideas evolved then on the basis of other ideas. Isn’t that entrepreneurship already in true sense? An idea Faraday proposed regarding electromagnetic forces was rejected by the scientific community, which was later accepted by the rest of the world and still forms the development of electromechanical devices that ruled the 19th Century engineering.

Meanwhile, in the field of thermodynamics Joule and Mayer worked on the connection between heat and mechanical energy. This connection was important for the development of steam engines. Carnot captured these basic ideas to form the dynamics of idealized engines and these ideas hold to formulate the most important idea of First Law of Thermodynamics. This led to the second law of Thermodynamics and so on by Kelvin and Clausius. Just when Maxwell through his ideas carried forward the idea of electricity and magnetism, Hertz experimentally confirmed those theories and discovered the photoelectric effect, which led to the invention of radio and television. These ideas were then carried forward by Nikola Tesla and Jagdishchandra Bose to further develop the ecosystem with different ideas. This is how physics led to application based engineering in the time when technology was not mainstream.

If this culture wasn’t prevailing then, the emergence of the 19th Century’s finest entrepreneurs, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison wouldn’t have been possible. During late 1870’s, Henry Ford started working as a machinist in Detroit, USA dealing with portable steam engines while Edison formed his Edison Electric Light company patenting electric light bulbs. By then, Edison had already invented phonograph and telegraph, which changed the way world communicated. With his creation of the first ever industrial research Lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey, Edison then quoted “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn the candles”. And this still holds true in our time, where candles are expensive than electricity. Edison also invented the motion picture camera. Thank god, he did!

On the other hand, Henry Ford became an engineer at Edison Illuminating Company where he used to work on his personal automobile experiments and his creation of a self-propelled vehicle called Ford Quadricycle. He was then introduced to Edison through a group meeting, where Edison encouraged him to work on his second vehicle. Soon, after his completion of the second project, Ford left Edison’s company to start Detroit Automobile Company with capital from a baron, William Murphy. Ultimately, that company was dissolved and with the invention of 26 horsepower automobile, the backers formed Henry Ford Company with Ford as the chief engineer. The rest, as they say is history. The inventor-entrepreneur philosophy emerged in the beginning of the 20th Century, when a sizable number of physicists were forming companies in the tune to change the world.

As the culture progressed, with the world facing two disastrous wars, one in 1914-18 and the other in 1939-45, these gave the necessity to nations forming different aerial and ground-breaking technologies, primarily to use against each other. They say, necessity gives rise to inventions. And this necessity lead nations to develop what is going to be constructive and in lives of all in the near future. The Second World War held the genesis of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurship, when Americans entered WWII in 1941. This war was literally an electronic war, where nations were battling with each other with different bombing and radar based technologies. Each nation, primarily Germany and USA, built different types of radars, to block and pursue efficient communication with their bases regarding the movements of the opposite camp’s defense. This lead to the formation of Harvard Radio Research Lab in US to understand the signals intelligence and develop electronic warfare. This secret lab was headed by Dr. Fredrick Terman, who was the Dean of Department of Engineering at Stanford University.

The Stanford director, due to the pressure from the government and the culture shift, encouraged students to turn to entrepreneurship and start their own companies. The students included William Hewlett and David Packard, who went on to start HP Computers. Since then scientific research and development in the universities across US begun to flourish and became the precursor to the beginning of 20th Century entrepreneurship. The idea of open-source mentality among the physicists led to the widening developments in science and technology entrepreneurship. After the WWII, Terman’s strategy included the setup of Electronic Research Laboratory (ERL) to promote basic and unclassified research in building radars, power-tubes and jammers. Soon after the setup of Applied Electronics Laboratory (AEL) and the merge of both ERL and AEL became Systems Engineering Laboratory (SRL) at Stanford. It was then, different microwave and systems companies emerged in Silicon Valley to produce equipments for the US defense. And that was the mark of beginning of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurship.

After the independence in 1947, India was at the forefront of social and political havoc, but the ideology among Indian entrepreneurs despite that did not change and they invested in their own independent nation for a better future. One of those entrepreneurs was Vikram Sarabhai, who after studying natural sciences at Cambridge returned to India to set up a research institution, Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad. He was the founder of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and pursued the government of India to start a space research program, when Russia just launched Sputnik into the space. Moreover, he was also one of the founding members of one of the premier institutes in India, Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad. He was a physicist turned entrepreneur. And India is highly indebted to him for what his vision has given to the country. The idea of Entrepreneurship by then had already established by the pioneers G.D Birla and J.R.D Tata. A new wave of entrepreneurship emerged in India as a consequence of the existing business tradition and culture.

As different electronics companies emerged in the Silicon Valley in the mid 1950s, William Shockley, who was the director of anti-submarine warfare operations group at Columbia in 1942-43 and Solid State Physics group leader, co-invented the first point contact transistor with help with Bell Labs. He was then jointly awarded Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956. By then, Shockley has already founded Shockley semiconductor in 1955, which was the first semiconductor company in California. The traitorous eight which included Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce and Sheldon Roberts who were the youngest employees at the firm demanded to replace Shockley from the management team and eventually left Shockley semiconductor to start Fairchild Semiconductor. Eventually, Moore and Noyce left Fairchild to start Integrated Electronics (Intel) and others started Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Though Shockley maybe a bad manager, but he was a great researcher and someone who laid the foundation of chip companies, which dominated the industry for the next 20 years. The 65 chip companies which were founded came from the first and second generation teams at Shockley Semiconductor. Some entrepreneurs have the tendency to make other entrepreneurs through knowledge transfer and freedom to work on their projects. Knowingly or unknowingly, he made a lot of entrepreneurs under his own belt. In true sense, Shockley was the father of the Silicon Valley, the valley that revolutionized the world of electronics.

Gordon Moore, who was a chemist and physicist and Robert Noyce, who was a physicist and co-inventor of integrated circuits, started Intel after leaving Fairchild Semiconductor with capital investment from Arthur Rock. With Intel breaking the barrier, the world changed with the inbound of microprocessors and micro controllers, the most important components of CPU used in the computers. And we all know what happened after that! (The device on which you are reading this post).

Physicists have been old hands at entrepreneurship. Today, more physicists than ever are involved in different startups all over the world either as founders or employees. Startups are inventing different physics based innovations and products, since Patenting and Intellectual Property law in US are adopted in the culture and has become popular among the early stage startups. One of the Entrepreneur who is considered as the next generation Steve Jobs, is Elon Musk. Elon has studied physics as his second bachelors degree from University of Pennsylvania and is the founder of SpaceX, who’s one of the mission is to find life at Mars by 2020, and is best known as the co-founder of online payment giant, PayPal and electric vehicles manufacturer, Tesla Motors. The interests he developed over rocket technologies and clean technologies were due to his aptitude and love for physics, and he credits the subject for all what he is today.

Today, entrepreneurship is popular among scientists and young PHDs and more people from physics background are starting disruptive technology based startups. Though starting a technology company is a complex operation and takes time to reach the break-even, the success is the idea where solid businesses endure over time, generate steady employment, develop intellectual property and conduct a mix of R&D for game-changing commercial results. To all what we see and experience today is the result of works and theories by thousands of scientists over last two centuries and the ones who implemented those works in building the future. Theories connected with realism of behavior, materials, systems and devices, and technologies erupted like the volcano. The horizontal base of physics and nature of sciences has been creating the way for our vertical future. And Entrepreneurs are the ones adapting it.

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Must read blogs on economics


I read these few blogs in the recent years, as an urge to read about global economy and its shenanigans. Some of these blogs discusses the best commentaries on the global policies, workforce theories, corporate moves, industry tracks, social numbers, sectoral analysis, financial misfits and the linkage between all of them. Do subscribe these blogs to your RSS feed and keep yourself updated for your daily dose of economic times.

1. Project Syndicate: http://www.project-syndicate.org/

2. Freakonomics: http://www.freakonomics.com/blog/

3. Paul Krugman’s Blog: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/

4. Brad De Long’s Blog: http://delong.typepad.com/

5. Economix: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/

6. WSJ: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/

Will keep updating the post if I come across interesting blogs.

 

Startup resources and tools: Updated.


Here’s the list of startup resources and tools, which has been updated over months of tolling over the web.

Go through the link: http://buzzeratbiz.com/startup-resources/

I will keep updating these resources every month.

 

Changing Education Paradigm


Sir Ken Robinson explains how education has revolutionized the world, and the kind of cultural, social and intellectual shift required by educators throughout the world.

We know a lot of online education platforms starting from one man show Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org), to a Stanford based online education startup Coursera (www.coursera.org), a similar Harvard based online education portal EdX (www.Edxonline.org) and a collaborative platform Udemy (www.udemy.com), where anyone can become an educator and take a class of what they are good at or love doing. The shift in education is definitely going much more collaborative, open and filling the wide gap of education in the lives of the ones who can afford to ones who can’t is filled with the platforms like these.

Not just this, in the developing countries organizations like Teach for India, adopted from Teach for America are working to spark the lives of the poor, who cannot afford basic primary education.

The future of any nation lies in education and a paradigm shift from people’s adaptability to attitude of the countrymen is needed to bring that change. Not just this, if we have enough earned through our capabilities and skills or even inherited, we must sponsor a child for his/her education. It’s like giving life to them and their family. 

How to Ideate and Go lean!


As Victor Hugo remarked, There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

The Idea: The idea is an iterative process of the mind, which develops over purpose, utility, imagination and design. Each raw idea goes then to the concept of validity and its feasibility in the marketplace. The idea then goes to the design thinking mind mapping process, where the idea is distributed like algorithmic process and enhances connections between the idea stage to the development stage to the product-market fit stage to customer acquisition stage.

Ideation Platform: One of the finest ideation platform is designed by Silicon valley serial Entrepreneur and founder of Lean Startup movement, Steve Blank. Steve Blank has proposed the LeanLaunchPad (www.leanlaunchpad.com) for educators, researchers and entrepreneurs to track down the complete ideation to customer ready prototype process in the Business Model Canvas platform, which questions the effectiveness of the static business plans that ends up as on-paper forecasting mechanism and fails to move ahead to create real business impact.

Customer Development/Pricing Model: As Mark Tyson said, Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face, it holds true for startups that meet their customers for the first time. So, a set business model till the end without any tweaks and feedbacks will mostly result into a disastrous and not disruptive business model. The customer development process requires start to end iteration over their product launch and from valuable feedbacks from friends, relatives, suppliers, manufacturers, designers to the end customers. The economics of these feedbacks will then result into a better product and holds up the competition between players in the same industry over innovation and tweak-to-ready business models. As we collectively decide the market forces that affect us, the pricing model should also be the result of these feedback amplification process. A right pricing model determines largely the revenues over year per unit/service sold and the first 48-hour launch sales will introduce how the product is positioned in the market and in the social blogosphere. The pricing models should be varied and ranked with the different features the product provides and the value it creates in the end. The human tendency to react to several products with variable features make the product-market fit more predictable. The distribution channels and more affordable customer acquisition strategies are to be tweaked according the responses and interactions directly with the customer.

Lean Development: The ‘going out in the crowd’ approach will help rebuild and re-enhance the product development process using those customer feedbacks and will help in building the distribution channels and more effective and affordable ways to acquire more customers. According to the Lean Startup, the small tweaks in the product are referred as ‘iterations’ and larger, significant tweaks are referred as ‘pivots’. The value proposition of the startup/project has to be defined keeping in mind the larger impact the product is envisioned to make, like the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of any organization. A scalable, repeatable hypothesis of the business models is the foundation of the Lean Startup movement.

Here’s the Lean Launchpad Methodology proposed by Steve Blank for educators and entrepreneurs.

Other articles related to Lean Startup: 

Remembering Vivekananda


English: Higher detail image of Swami_Vivekana...

Today is the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda (1863-2013) and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day in India. He was a spiritual leader, a man of principles and an avid orator in Interfaith Awareness.

I am sharing his speech at Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago in 1893. which I luckily found on the web.

Here’s the full length of the speech, a must read.

Sisters and Brothers of America:

It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.

My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honour of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”

The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.”

Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

The Brick Walls at IIM A and how they inspire me!


English: Harvard Steps

English: Harvard Steps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Build with motivation and passion of its founders, Vikram Sarabhai – A prominent Scientist and Industrialist, KasturBhai Lalbhai– well-known Industrialist and Ravi J Matthai- First Director(1965-72), the institute has progressed through all leaps and bounds and is currently on the frontier of centers for excellence nationally and globally. It’s the most competitive place to get in, and it is that for a reason; infact several reasons. The Institute is leading for its overall development and achievements in fulfilling its core mission of fostering entrepreneurship and promoting innovation. With a great alumni network over almost 48 years, and even better alumnus ranging from CEOs in top multinational companies, to quite a number of successful entrepreneurs, authors, professors and economists, it has a recognition of providing the best to the world. IIM A was collaborated with Harvard University during its early inception and the approach of teaching methodologies has been adapted from the university. Owing to this, the steps to enter the IIM A building is called  ‘Harvard Steps’. Louis Kahn, the legendary architect designed the old campus of IIM A Building imbibing amazing geometrical design with bricks.

So, where does the inspiration come from? It’s all in the air and in the vacuum of these walls. Not just this, the best feeling is when you are sitting in front of Vikram Sarabhai Library (which is 24*7 open), and the gliding waves of air touches you. That’s where the inspiration comes from! The walk in front of those lawns is much more inspiring and full of ideas. If given a chance, this place is worth a visit and even more worthier to study in. There is so much to say but so less time (Use Google for more information). I can sleep with satisfaction now! One is writing after long and one of  praising the place.

And I remember the quote I read few days back,

“Whether we like it or not, we all come from someplace. And at some point in our lives, we have to make peace with that place.” 

I am sure, I have made peace with this place and this is how it inspires me through its walls which talk (It really does!).