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Wayne Chang on Entrepreneurship

How do entrepreneurs do it? Our delegates will find out at Harvest Summit and hear from transformative entrepreneurs and one wildly successful entrepreneur in particular who has done it over and over. Wayne Chang’s last company, Crashlytics, was acquired by Twitter in its largest acquisition at the time. He has been involved in notable startups such as JetSmarter, Dropbox, Napster, and others, now valued at over $10 billion.  If anyone understands the entrepreneurial mindset it’s Wayne. He’s a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. We sat down with Wayne to see what he’s up to next and how he uses mentorship to see the future.  

Join Wayne at Harvest Summit on October 20, apply to attend here.  Follow Wayne’s latest adventures on Twitter @Wayne.

As an investor is there a common trait you seek in startups that resonates with you?

Besides an inherent defensible IP — the secret sauce to the product — the best founders think about distribution. They ask themselves, “now that I’ve built this amazing thing, how do I get everyone to use it?” The ones that think beyond just delegating it as a marketing or a sales task, but truly think about virality, natural distribution, etc, are the ones worth backing.

You recently launched a film production company Wicked Magic with Paul English, how do you see your tech experience applied in the film world?

Paul and I just started out in the film industry. I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in a few films that have been well received, but truthfully our goal here is to apply what we know in tech with our childhood passion — movies. We see companies that we know in our industry — Netflix, Amazon, and now Apple — getting into the movies and content business. It’s tremendously powerful to own both the distribution channel and the content as well. Paul and I are still learning and trying to make as few mistakes as possible while figuring out where we can be most impactful.

Does the Boston area tech scene operate in a different way than Silicon Valley?

The Boston scene is very much a close knit family. In my opinion, it seems to be less cutthroat, or put in a different way, more cooperative. Being bicoastal, when I go back to Boston, I get a familial feeling that I don’t feel on the west coast. And I like that — and it was a tremendous advantage for my last company that I co-founded in Boston since the people there seemed to be more loyal to the company, and not looking to startup-hop.

You are a mentor for a number of groups, how does this special relationship foster innovation?

With innovation, the startups and the founders get all the credit. I love being a small part of so many different journeys through each of their companies. Through my own entrepreneurial experience, I hope to be able to help guide the startups to avoid mistakes or to supercharge thinking in some problem area, whether it’s product design, hiring, customer development or fundraising.

The open secret about mentoring, angel investing, and venture capital is that you get a glimpse of the future through all the companies and founders you meet. For entrepreneurs like me, this lets me see the upcoming gaps which helps me think and build my own next startup.

You support 2 charities one in the humanities the other in arts (St. Baldrick’s Foundation and Boston Ballet), is philanthropy critical to the future of the tech industry?  And if so why?

Everyone has their own views on giving back. My giving back has less to do with the tech industry and more my own personal thanks to humanity. Not having the greatest childhood — growing up poor, unwanted, rejected — my choices have reflected helping other kids or arts that I was exposed to that gave me a break from reality (The Nutcracker by Boston Ballet is a tremendously great show that everyone must watch).

The true philanthropy as it relates to tech is my mentorship, advisorship, angel investing, and being part of any efforts that help the next generation of entrepreneurs. The more this engine keeps going, the faster we’ll bring the future closer to the present.

What’s the next industry to see game changing disruption?

If you look at humanity’s time scale at a very high level, and on one end you have the very first day of humans, and on the other end you have the very last day of humans, I believe we are closer to the first day than we are to the last day.

And on that time scale, I believe that with the speed and pace of innovation, information, and technology, most of what the world calls “work” or “jobs” today will be obviated.

If that’s true, then we should enter a new period of humanity. Perhaps, at that point of time, the greatest contribution a person makes might not be technological or scientific, but cultural. For example, if driving a car is going to be obsolete in the next decade or so, and every single person who used to drive a car suddenly has extra mental space, all that mental space, collectively, needs to be focused elsewhere. If we continue down this line where we continue to free up mental space, where will all that be focused on?

As for the next industry to see game changing disruption, from humanity time scale perspective above, any industry that technology, information, and automation can touch will be disrupted. Whether that is in transportation of all kinds, entertainment of all kinds, or any other industry. The safe bet is to bet on change and consolidation with automation.

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing when you started your first company what would it be?

I was 11 when I started my first company, so I would tell myself: Enjoy the journey. Don’t be so rushed to get to the end goal. Your youth is slipping away day by day. There’s plenty of time to play in the fun world of business and technology. You’ll miss these days.  It is more precious and valuable than anything you’ll ever do because it is irreplaceable.

Benefit from insights from advisors and investors who’ve worked with and funded some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs in this working session. After sharing their perspectives on the characteristics of success they will move to coaching and advising. Bring your problems, obstacles and challenges to get real time feedback on how to overcome and become an entrepreneur within your company, break out on your own or level up where you’re at.

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