Editorial – USA by Andrea Resende
By Andrea Resende
In September 2015, the “International MBA” undertook a pioneer study trip to Silicon Valley and Seattle, focusing on entrepreneurship and innovation, coordinated by prof. James Wright with partners from Vanderbilt University. One of the high points in this new project is the chance to compare these two distinct entrepreneurship ecosystems, as well as their respective business models.
Usually, when we think about entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley comes to mind as the main reference. However, by starting in Seattle and getting to know the important innovative business and technology movements as well as artistic movements, such as the grunge scene, brought an interesting contrast to this vision, where companies were born and florished, such as Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft and Amazon.
In Seattle, our program began with visits to Starbucks and Amazon. The major highlight, synthesizing conversations with both companies, was the total focus on “user experience”. At Starbucks, this is taken so seriously to the point of building a central roaster along the lines of “Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory”, so that consumers and employees can witness in a playful manner the entire coffee production process. At Amazon, another interesting point was the agile way each department gathers to create distinct solutions for customers, although based on a basic internet platform, and how managers defy all with the question “Are you thinking big enough?”.
Starbucks along the lines of “Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory”
On our second day, we visited Microsoft, where we were acquainted with its vision of the future regarding new technologies in a fully connected world. Check out this video:(https://www.dropbox.com/s/iveaqz0ukitd1nd/Microsoft%20Futurist%20Movies.zip?dl=0)
Also in Seattle, we visited the Bezos Innovation Center, focusing on education and stimulating innovation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with a vision of business efficiency oriented towards inspiring projects of high social impact.
For the second part of the trip, in the vibrant Silicon Valley environment, the group enjoyed Innovation lectures with Vanderbilt University Professor, David Owens, who led students to reflect upon the different factors on which great innovation depends. Owens also accompanied students to Stanford University’s D. School and shared his experience of working at IDEO, the most recognized design thinking company in the world.
In Silicon Valley, we had contact with the world of startups during visits to Google and Coursera, witnessing the great effort made to create informal environments that stimulate innovation, as an extension of the university environment. In fact, all companies we visited in Silicon Valley have great relationships with local universities.
Concluding our visits at HP Labs (HP’s development laboratory) and Intel, where we could discuss not only the companies’ business strategies and innovation processes, but also promising areas for the development of new technologies. Additionally, we talked with the Intel investment fund manager, responsible for investments in startups from several countries, including Brazil.
In Silicon Valley, we had an integrated view of the innovation ecosystem, from the sum of different players’ perspectives, such as startups, major technology companies, universities, investors, and even students were able to add to all of these experiences and critical discussions.
In both environments, Seattle and Silicon Valley, we visited companies that excel in their fields and possess a few common denominators: innovation in their DNA, a “maker” culture that encourages the swift validation of new ideas and prototypes, obsession with user experience and valuing errors as a critical part of the learning process, repeating at all turns the mantra “fail fast”!
In conclusion, this pioneer study trip by a Brazilian business school to Silicon Valley consolidates FIA’s position as an innovative school, aligned with global tendencies and providing its students with the opportunity to study and experience highly innovative environments and bring new global outlooks to their professional performance.
Article by Andrea Resende
Assistant Professor at Profuturo-FIA
Translated by Joseph Pavão
Profuturo-FIA International Admissions