By Cynthia Hua
Inspiration can help sustain a startup, particularly during difficult times for the company, said Krishna Yeshwant at a talk last week hosted by the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute.
At the talk, Yeshwant shared his insight into starting businesses as an entrepreneur and general partner of Google Ventures. Previously, Yeshwant started multiple ventures that were acquired by major businesses including Hewlett-Packard and Symantec. More than 50 people attended the event in Linsly-Chittenden Hall.
“When I was starting as an entrepreneur, I was pretty opportunistic. My first two ventures were really about market opportunities, lucky to be in the right place at the right time,” Yeshwant told the audience.
Yeshwant — who holds a medical degree from Harvard Medical School and a master’s from Harvard Business School — has repeatedly applied his medical education to found startups in the healthcare field. His business plan for Diagnostic for All, a company started in 2007 to pioneer better, cheaper diagnostic technology, won business plan competitions for $100,000 from both Harvard Business School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Two Types of Startups
There are two types of startups, Yeshwant said. The first is the opportunistic company which takes advantage of existing market opportunities and the second is the transformative, disruptive, “big idea” company. Despite what might one might expect, the “big idea” company can be a smarter idea at times, even if it does inherently carry more risk.
“When things go sideways, and things go sideways in every company for some time, what is it that keeps people in that company with you?” Yeshwant asked. “People might start floating off and disappear, but with big, transformative ideas, people are there for something different and they aren’t going to leave until they get there.”
For Yeshwant, one the major ideas for startups on the market today is the buzzword of “big data.” The concept of capitalizing on extremely large quantities of data can be a catchall technique for a lot of the solutions sought by startup companies, he explained. When considering applications involving big data, it helps to start with the problem and move into discussions about solutions from there, he advised.
Innovation in Action
When an audience member asked what company today Yeshwant found particularly innovative, he pointed to Foundation Medicine, a startup which works on cancer sequencing. The crucial item to remember, even when working in areas of big data and deep analysis, he said, is to maintain a connection with the consumer. Foundation Medicine stands out because it connects directly back to the patient.
Yale presents a major opportunity for entrepreneurs in the future, Yeshwant observed in conclusion.
“Some of the things happening on the West Campus, the support and activities you guys have going on… there is a kind of general culture that permeates Yale as an institution,” Yeshwant noted. “Yale is clearly an established institution but people seem to be able to reorganize the institution to go after the opportunities that are available and interesting today.”Read More