They started businesses and nonprofits that are lifting people out of poverty, changing the way we fly, and much more. Here are 7 lessons we can learn from these amazing entrepreneurs highlighted in this article in Entrepreneur:
Lesson 1: Act like an entrepreneur
While working for the federal government, Michele Weslander Quaid was determined to convince national intelligence agencies to move from outdated software to web tools for collaboration.
“Basically, she treated each agency like a startup to transform the sclerotic federal agencies for which she worked,” Vanessa Richardson wrote in Entrepreneur. It worked. Now, Weslander Quaid is innovation evangelist and CTO for Google’s public-sector division, where she regularly meets with federal agency directors to discuss new technology options.
Lesson 2: Be open to different uses for your technology
The technology for Rana el Kaliouby’s startup, Affectiva, resulted from her research into how facial-coding technologies can ease autism spectrum disorders. But the facial-expression-recognition technology also is valuable to marketers. Affectiva integrates the technology to measure and interpret viewers’ emotional responses to brands, advertising and other digital content.
“I remember thinking, I don’t know if I want to be in business! But what sold me was the vision of our technology becoming ubiquitous. It works in all sorts of contexts,” el Kaliouby told Entrpreneur.
Lesson 3: Find ways to help others become more effective
Nina Nashif believes that entrepreneurial solutions can help health care organizations can become more effective. As founder of Healthbox, a business-accelerator for early-stage healthcare technology startups, Nashif works to help develop entrepreneurial solutions, such as a platform that allows users to take photos of moles on their skin and send them to a dermatologist for remote monitoring and checkups.
“As we move toward different payment models in the industry and the need to provide value and outcomes, and large providers are needing to take risk for the population they’re managing, we need to empower patients to care for themselves … and manage health in a more effective way,” Nashif said.
Lesson 4: Cut out the middleman
Leilah Janah’s nonprofit, Samasource, creates living-wage digital jobs for women and youth in emerging markets.
“I wanted to create a digital work model that disintermediates the middlemen that take up all the margins,” she told Entrepreneur. “I knew there were more people … capable of doing quality work, but connecting poor countries to richer companies historically benefits the elite,” Janah says. “That’s where we had a lot of opportunity to change things.”
Lesson 5: Share your expertise
Michelle Rowley started Code Scouts to change the fact that women accounted for only one-fourth of computer-industry staffing. Only 1.5 percent of open-source code is programmed by women. So Rowley started hosting coding workshops for women.
Lesson 6: Succeed by helping others succeed
Nicole Glaros has launched one successful startup and two “dismal failures.” But she told Entrepreneur that her talents lie in helping others succeed. Glaros is managing director of the Boulder, Colorado, and New York City programs for the Techstars accelerator.
“I don’t have all the answers,” she says. “But I do believe I know someone who does. My job is to find people who can be most helpful to that company.”
Lesson 7: Don’t give up
Caryn Seidman-Becker had her work cut out for her when her investment firm bought Clear, which allows subscribers to fast-track through airport security lines by checking in at special kiosks that can authenticate their identities through fingerprints or iris scans. The company’s previous owner had gone bankrupt and Seidman-Becker had to win back customers. But since relaunching in 2010, the company has opened 30 lanes in nine airports for 250,000-plus members.
“She’s tenacious — she doesn’t give up,” says Brigitte Goersch, former deputy executive director of Orlando International Airport, the first to reinstate the service.