Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple and the man who developed the first personal computer, came to Biotech Week Boston and Partnerships in Clinical Trials to talk about innovation and patient centricity.
Woz the Wizard was just as joyful, playful, curious and enthusiastic as ever. His advice for this generation of entrepreneurs:
“You know in your heart what you like doing. Do that.”"Engineers like solving complicated problems, so get them on board in a new company as quickly as possible," he told the audience. "Hire people who have built stuff – started programs and finished them. Engineers don’t necessarily have to have lots of degrees – what they do need is a history of invention."
Apple was lucky in that its first investor, Mike Markkula, was a professional, in Steve’s words, who helped two kids to build a professional company. Core to that professionalism was marketing, which Mike initially led and taught Steve Jobs his first lessons in marketing. Second was business strategy: inventing products that made money and were ideally elegant and simple. Steve Jobs always focused on making products more human, particularly as he didn’t understand the technology.
These days, the engineering genius behind Apple is still playing with technology: he has a Raspberry Pi at home, he’s checking the features on the latest iPhones and androids. To Woz, real innovation must be easy to use.
Regrets? He has none; he’s still happy that he has a good brain and can figure things out. He’s a great believer in giving people time to be curious and room to explore their creativity. Curiosity can lead to random behavior, so let people play a little.
And then he was off to teach the next group about innovation, creativity and permission to do what you love.
Julie Walters is the founder of Raremark, which helps families affected by rare disease. She recently won Best Investment in a High-Growth Women Founder at the UK Business Angels Association. Follow her at @julieannwalters