Naveen Jain: Entrepreneurship Isn’t Starting a Company, It’s Experimentation

September 22, 2016

2:54 pm

In August of this year, Moon Express was granted permission to make a private mission to the moon from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the State Department, among many other government bodies. It’s a big deal for the company, whose founder and CEO Naveen Jain grew up in a poor family in India. At Innovate! and Celebrate, Jain joined Tech.Co CEO Frank Gruber to discuss everything from Jain’s views on education and healthcare to details on what’s going on at Moon Express and BlueDot, his latest venture which aims to create businesses providing healthcare and energy solutions.

One of the biggest takeaways from Jain’s talk revolved around his belief in the unlimited potential of human beings and the spirit of entrepreneurship.

Solve the 10-Billion-Dollar Problems

According to Jain, “we’re living in absolutely amazing times in human history [where] innovations in the world are being created by the wonderful people around you.” For him, the world around us has evolved enough that we now have the tools to create products and to start innovative companies that can solve our biggest problems — whether that be our current education or our need for energy resources. It all boils down to human problem-solving and experimentation:

“Entrepreneurship is not about starting a company; entrepreneurship is about experimentation,” said Jain.”If you want to create a billion-dollar company, it is really, really easy…all you have to do is solve a $10 billion problem.”

When it comes down to it, in order to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to target large social issues. For Jain, industries like education, healthcare and energy are $100-billion problems that have a lot of potential. When it comes to education, for example, Jain thinks the issue isn’t that our education system is broken, it’s just that the methods through which we approach education has become obsolete.

“[Education] needs to be adaptive – to adapt to the learner and how [each] person learns.”

As opposed to our current model, he advocates for a video game-type advancement through grades, where a student can only move on to the next grade or the next level one he or she has mastered the current level. The most important factor: set up an education system that doesn’t put students on a strict timeline: students should have as little or as much time mastering a current grade, and to only move forward into the next grade if and when they’re actually ready; to him, it’s all about fixed level, flexible time.

Aim for the Big Issues

Moon Express is an example of a company that aims to solve major social issues. When we look up at the moon, we’re looking at a potential new source of land, water and energy. The company was started as a way to solve issues that our governments could not before because of their strict structures.

“Anything that could have been done by big companies or superpowers can now be done by small groups of people. The power is in our hands and no longer in the power of  governments or large companies.”

Jain advocates the power of human ingenuity — that anything is possible if you think it’s possible. But if and when you decide to solve that $10 billion problem — and if and when you become successful — Jain reminds entrepreneurs to remain humble:

“Have humility; be humble […] Humility is a sign of success. Go out and help someone. If you’re successful, go back down the elevator and bring someone back up.”

To watch the full talk from Moon Express’s Naveen Jain, watch our Facebook video below:

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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