Shared Sacrifice and Shared Responsibility Make Entrepreneurship Magical, Schurenberg Says at NJ Tech Meetup

Photo: Eric Schurenberg, president and editor-in-chief of Inc. magazine. Photo Credit: Eric Schurenberg

Eric Schurenberg, president and editor-in-chief of Inc. magazine. | Eric Schurenberg

If you want to find someone who has been observing tech entrepreneurs for years and has something to say about them, that should be Eric Schurenberg, president and editor-in-chief of Inc. magazine.

Schurenberg came to the NJ Tech Meetup in December for a “fireside chat” with organizer Aaron Price and provided some insights about entrepreneurship based on his experience at Inc.

The NJ Tech Meetup takes place monthly on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken. At each event, more than 150 tech entrepreneurs, developers and others interested in the tech startup scene mingle and network against the backdrop of the New York City skyline.

Some of Schurenberg’s observations:

  • I have a problem with the idea that entrepreneurship is easy, and I agree with you [Price] that this notion is taking hold. “I think it’s dangerous because it will make a lot of people unhappy.”
  • “In one sense, entrepreneurship is easier than it has been because the cost of starting a company has plummeted for reasons that everyone here well knows. But the challenges of getting over that hump are daunting, and I, as a nongenetically endowed entrepreneur, admire it greatly.”
  • Entrepreneurship is hot now because it’s an artifact of the financial crisis. From an employee’s point of view, corporate life turned out to be equal parts mismanagement and betrayal. The only true source of financial security was “your own ingenuity, your own work ethic and the ideas you brought to the table.” Entrepreneurship is the embodiment of these three things, and “it didn’t hurt that technology and the scalability of things online created massive fortunes that captivated people’s attention.”
  • Whether you are the world’s best coder, salesman or marketer, if you are an entrepreneur, you eventually become the boss. You become the person that everyone turns to when things get rough in a company. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in. “That’s what unites entrepreneurs and makes entrepreneurship really magical: a sense of shared sacrifice and shared responsibility.”
  • “One of my favorite writers at Inc. said, ‘Entrepreneurship is the only field you can enter where leadership is the entry level position.’ So if you aren’t a leader, it doesn’t matter what field you are in, you won’t succeed for long.”
  • A lot of people start a company because they are the best coder they know or an absolutely irresistible sales person. “But no matter how good you are at any of those fields, you can’t run a company yourself. You are going to need to organize a group of other people to further your vision.
  • If you think of your job as something you “get to do” every day, then you are doing something that has a bigger purpose than just you. “Work becomes easier, and the inevitable setbacks and difficulties you face as an entrepreneur become bearable.”
  • Sometimes companies don’t succeed because they’ve taken on too much. For instance, they take on technology that they don’t have the time or funding to make work. Or maybe it wasn’t viable in the first place: Their vision couldn’t be realized with the technology available today.
  • For example, “one of the companies we wrote about was D-Wave. D-Wave set out to create a quantum computer, and our writer went out there fully hoping to find the first quantum computer from a very appealing entrepreneur.” But the entrepreneur had to concede that it didn’t really work. It wasn’t really quantum and it wasn’t really faster than normal computers. “He was faking it until he made it, trying and telling the world that he did have a quantum computer, while more funding poured in and the engineers kept working on the problems.”

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