Monday, 29 October 2012 00:00

Is limited techno-knowledge a barrier to entrepreneurship?

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We are entrepreneurs, they say. This is the time for entrepreneurs, they cry. And we listen. And we like.

Look at it a bit closer, however, and this cry for entrepreneurship is more often than not interpreted as a cry for more tech companies, a cry for more programmers, a cry for more and more codes that will give the world the next Instagram, to be sold for billions and be part of the glamorous entrepreneurial landscape that has been flourishing for the past decade. This is excusable, and expectable. We are the generation of Facebook, of LinkedIn, of Twitter, and entrepreneurship has hit us, in its most successful and most popular form, in the guise of tech-start-ups-turned-billion-making-giants. In our minds, ‘Entrepreneurship’ as an idea has been yoked to technological innovation.

And that is more than fine. You see, I love the apps, the programs and the software, and I acknowledge their power – I feel it every day. But I know nothing about them, and keeping on wishing that I had chosen Computer Science as a course at university is not exactly the best use of my time in my path towards entrepreneurial success.

 I have a degree in English Literature and a diploma in Law. I spent most of my free time at university rehearsing for theatrical productions. What does that have to do with entrepreneurship, some may ask. What can you do, what can you produce? The only languages I know are Greek and English and Spanish and French, not Java or Html. I can’t ‘write’ an app; I can’t program software. But I can write a book, a story, I can criticize, and of course, I can do many more things unrelated to my degree.

Does my tech-ignorance then exclude me from the bulging entrepreneurial movement that is going viral around the globe?

I think not. And it should not.

Let’s break it down.

The urge to flee the entrepreneurial sector due to a lack of techno-knowledge is hard to fight.

Even I myself am sometimes swayed to consider my academic background a disability. But this is where a great part of the problem lies.

Entrepreneurship is all about INNOVATION. Nowhere in the word is there inherent a monopoly of technology. While there is an obvious propensity towards technology, this propensity should propel an entrepreneur towards a certain positive direction, not intimidate him away from entrepreneurship all together.

As the CEO of NACUE, Husphreet Daliwal, so aptly told the Cypriot Enterprise Link (CEL), technology is one of many platforms for entrepreneurship. It is not an isolated, and should not be an isolating, medium for budding entrepreneurs. Nor should the creatives, the techies, the designers and the activists burrow in their separate holes, enforcing the boundaries between these different skill sets as if their life depended on it. Or as if their work would be somehow eroded, if they let in a non-techy, non-creative, non-designer or non-activist in on their work and team.

As the entrepreneurial heat wave hits Cyprus, I want to take a stand from the very beginning and focus on the importance of collaboration and acceptance that is inherent in entrepreneurship. Our team at CEL reflects the diverse backgrounds out of which entrepreneurship may be born, and the way these different backgrounds can come together to form a powerful team that thinks laterally, outside the box and along many mediums by virtue of the variety of skill sets present within it. When an accountant meets a business graduate who meets a physics graduate then meets a literature graduate and a politics graduate along with a bunch of talented software engineers, you’re guaranteed to get a team model that is diverse and never, ever lacks relevance or runs out of ideas.

This has made me realize that my background, far from being a disability, actually adds to my ability as an entrepreneur, and can be a great selling point, particularly with the people that matter and with whom I’d like to work with. I might not be able to give technological flesh to my idea entirely on my own, but I might have a great idea and a great vision, a particular business model that a programmer would not have thought of, but on which he’d like to work on, and add on, for both our sakes.

By merging the disciplines, and opening myself up to collaboration, I can guarantee that my team is strong in every aspect – technologically, socially, conceptually. It also means that different niche areas can be developed into entrepreneurial endeavors: from fashion to philanthropy, civil engineering and anthropology – there is potential in every subject, no matter how allegedly ‘obscure’ it is.

Do not underestimate the power of niche products, and most importantly do not underestimate the demand for your particular area of interest or expertise, and your particular talent.

Entrepreneurship has a place in every industry. All it takes is a willingness to connect and collaborate with like-minded yet different people, in order to create the best product out there.

Read 17025 times Last modified on Sunday, 17 March 2013 11:08