May 17, 2015
Who likes to spend their hard-earned Friday evening in a crowded theater listening to talks from CEOs and chancellors of school districts? Entrepreneurs do! Friday night was Keynote Night, part of the weeklong Challenge Festival hosted by 1776. There were four keynote speakers (two gave talks, two were fireside chat style interviews), and the theme of the evening was
“What Will the World Look Like in 2045.” The predictions made were eye-opening and far from conservative, but I guess that was to be expected from this group of brilliant, creative, and ambitious thinkers, makers, and doers.
Chris Schroeder: Author of Startup Rising
The first speaker was Chris Schroeder, author of Startup Rising. His predictions for the next 30 years were succinct and confident. He spoke of unlikely global markets that will rise to the top in innovation and commerce. For example, he said that with absolute certainty, in the next 20-30 years, Colombia will rise as the “Silicon Valley of South America.” He also praised the young people of Iran and said that that country is one of the next great emerging markets. “I met young people there who are extraordinary.” Probably the least likely prediction he made was that by 2035, the Washington Capitals will have won a Stanley Cup.
Lynette Kucsma: Cofounder of Natural Machines
The next Challenge Festival keynote was Natural Machines Cofounder & CMO Lynette Kucsma. 1776’s Donna Harris admitted that they had some uncertainty as to whether she was the right choice for a keynote, but her passion for healthy eating combined with innovative technology won them over. She talked about her 3D food printer, the benefits of it, and some of the skepticism surrounding it. Her prediction is that everyone will be eating 3D printed food and even have 3D food printers in their kitchens in the next 30 years.
“If you eat anything processed, packaged, from a supermarket, you’re practically eating 3D printed food today. What happens in a food factory? They put food through machinery, they shape it, they package it, you eat it. My prediction is true. You guys have been eating 3D printed food!”
Lynette claims the major difference between factory processed food and 3D printed food, is that you’re in control of what goes into the printer. You can put whole, natural food into the printer and make your own snacks rather than eat pre-packaged stuff that contains all of those chemicals and preservatives.
Kaya Henderson: Chancellor of DC Public Schools
Next up was D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson. She fully admits that the national public school system is slow to change. She believes that things will change, things have to change with how students are taught, but it will take time. Her prediction is that learning will become more global. We already have the aid of technology to connect students all over the globe, but it will become even more commonplace. She gave an example of a recent trip she took to Croatia with several students. They engaged with students from all over Eastern Europe, and she was surprised at how much they had in common, especially when it comes to pop culture.
“The world is so flat. I just came back from Croatia. I took 10 DCPS students to Croatia on an international cultural exchange with a great arts organization in town called Step Afrika. 104 kids from Croatia, the United States, Russia, Slovenia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro, Malta, and probably two other places that I’m not thinking about. These young people are all in the same room, and literally the DJ turns on music and they all go crazy. They all listen to the same music. They all watch the same TV. It was just astonishing”
Jacques Panis: President of Shinola
The final keynote was Jacques Panis, president of Shinola. His prediction is that in the future, the world will actually have less mass-produced low quality products and more products that are high quality, made with care, and by companies who have a story to tell. He gave good advice to entrepreneurs, advising them that hard as it may be, try to maintain a work life balance. He also told them to never lose their transparency and authenticity because that is what is most important to customers. “Purpose over profit. Stay transparent. Be real. The consumer can tell.”
Image Credit: 3D printed cereal by Natural Machines
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