By Allan Tear
Volunteer Chair, 2017 IEEE Entrepreneurship Steering Committee
We tend to think of the history of the IEEE as one of invention – the light bulb, telephone, telegraph, radio, oscillator and semiconductors were landmark inventions associated with our history. But the story of these inventions is also one of entrepreneurship. Their famous inventors were also startup founders. Bell, Edison, Thomson and Hewlett had to launch their own startups to bring their innovations to the market and push past the status quo of the day.
Fast forward to now. Entrepreneurship is the hot topic across the globe. Startups that we didn’t know about 10 years ago – Uber, Facebook, WeChat, AirBnB – have fast become multi-billion dollar household names. As an startup investor, I’ve spent the past decade investing in companies like these, ones that rely primarily upon insight and innovation in how consumers think and act, to win.
However, I’m an engineer by training. I love engineering innovation, especially when startups bring it to market to disrupt the status quo. I’m excited to see a new wave of startups driven by emerging technologies like the Internet of Things, Autonomous Vehicles and Drones, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Robotics, Space Systems, Synthetic Biology and more.
We are entering a time when new breakthrough technologies are once again brought to the world by engineering-driven startups. This is an incredible window of opportunity for the IEEE community. We can help engineers bridge knowledge from the lab to a commercial product. Move beyond an interesting engineering product to a viable company. And, find the knowledge and support to scale those companies to positively impact the world.
How? IEEE brings world-class resources to the table. Our community of over 400 thousand engineers spans the globe, connecting academia, research, small business, corporations, and government. As the leading non-profit publisher of technical publications and standards, IEEE drives knowledge sharing and collaboration across the engineering community. And, as the largest convener of technologists around the world, the IEEE brings together students, researchers, and practitioners to interact in thousands of events every year.
Through the IEEE Entrepreneurship Initiative, we are bringing the strengths of IEEE, Connect-Collaborate-Convene, to engineering-driven entrepreneurship around the globe.
IEEE Entrepreneurship plans to be there to support these startups, to speed learning and collaboration, and to recognize and celebrate their success in changing the world, for the benefit of humanity.
Allan is co-founder and managing partner of Betaspring. Through Betaspring, Allan has worked with 89 high-growth startups and managed a portfolio of companies that has raised more than $50M+ in follow-on funding. As a technology entrepreneur, Allan has founded three venture-funded startups. Allan is an active angel investor in early stage technology companies and advises national, state, and local government on nurturing high-growth startup ecosystems.