Business leaders, including the former president of Trader Joe’s grocery chain and the general manager of Reddit, shared their experiences in social entrepreneurship with more than 400 participants at this year's Igniting Innovation Summit on Saturday.
The conference, organized and run entirely by Harvard undergraduates, took place in the Northwest Laboratory building. Attendees, who hailed from both the U.S. and abroad, listened to keynote speeches and participated in panel discussions throughout the day.
One panel, titled “The Future of Food,” featured a sophomore from MIT who founded his own company at the age of 15. Kris Bronner, co-creator of UNREAL candy, said inspiration for innovative ideas often comes from everyday situations.
“Where in life are the things that you ask, why is it this way?” Bronner said. “People are always going to have the same ideas as you, no matter where you are in the world.”
But, he added “it’s those crazy people who are like, ‘I’m going to go do it,’” that overcome their initial fears of failure to implement good ideas.
“The people who have failed the most are the ones who succeed in the end,” he said.
The former president of Trader Joe’s, Doug Rauch, also emphasized the importance of failure in producing success in a keynote address later that afternoon.
“If you’re not willing to fail, and if you’re not willing to take a risk, the odds of you stumbling upon the next really innovative thing are really slim,” Rauch said.
Attendees said that they were impressed with the Summit’s level of organization and the quality of its speeches and seminars.
“I had a really great time thinking of new ideas and new innovations that I hope to implement sometime this year,” said Tim Makalinao ’18, adding that the “event was very well organized.”
Providing entrepreneurs with ideas that they will put into practice in the real world was a priority for event organizers, according to Jane Chung '15, co-director of the Summit.
“In the end [the summit] is about inspiring people to be a part of something that’s beyond themselves, really encouraging them and giving them the strength and community to make [their dreams] happen,” she said.
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