Now is the time to start up a billion-dollar company, according to Google vice president of engineering Venkat Panchapakesan, and some Aussies may already be on their way.
Speaking at Australia’s second Google for Entrepreneurs day, Panchapakesan told entrepreneurs that digital businesses are thriving more than ever, and that they could be a part of it.
“I would claim that the last 10 years have been the biggest ramp-up in terms of companies going from an idea to a billion-dollar valuation,” he said, using Airbnb, Pinterest, and Box as examples of startups that have become highly valuable in a very short amount of time.
“You could be doing those things as well, and I’m sure some of you are already on the way to creating billion-dollar companies.”
To get there, he said that there are three major trends at the moment that startups could capitalise on. The first is “everywhere” computing, owing to how more people are connecting to the internet via mobile. About 40 percent of time spent on the internet is through a mobile device, he said, and this is to be further shaped through wearable computing devices, such as smart watches and Google Glass.
The second is “everything” computing, with data no longer being restricted to simple client-server interactions, but instead pulled in from things all around the world. Panchapakesan used the GPS locations of transport, and Philips’ smart light bulb as two such examples of different things that startups should be looking at.
Lastly, Panchapakesan said that “everyone” — the online social aspect — is fast changing how the internet is used.
“No longer do you have to figure out how to market your products by having to do a large marketing spend on television or on different mediums,” he said.
“Word of mouth is becoming one of the most powerful and efficient ways to get the products out in front of people, no matter where they are in the world.”
But Panchapakesan also offered a word of advice that he learned from LinkedIn founder Reif Hoffman.
Panchapakesan had previously asked Hoffman why he tended to pick certain startups to invest in, even when two seem particularly similar. Hoffman’s answer was simple: He looks at the person, not the idea.
With that in mind, Panchapakesan told the audience of entrepreneurs that they should work on something that they are deeply connected with and care about.
“Most successful startups and founders … solve the problems that they want to solve for themselves,” he said.
Google Australia engineering director Alan Noble echoed similar sentiments, but said that entrepreneurs should think on a bigger scale, almost aiming for the impossible. In doing so, he argued that entrepreneurs and those following them will truly share the excitement and belief of doing something previously thought to be unattainable.
While some might feel their technical skills are not up to the par with industry-changing ideas, Noble said that being unqualified is an asset. He considers these people to have a better ability to do things in unconventional ways, challenging what others have already done.
“Don’t be afraid to do something for which you technically feel unqualified. The chances are, you’re not going to succeed at your new venture because you’re more qualified than the next person anyway. You’re going to succeed because you went about it completely differently.”