Yesterday I attended the PITME Catalyst Conference in San Francisco, CA. The conference highlighted the work of entrepreneurs in the Middle East as well as provided engaging conversations surrounding entrepreneurship in various areas. As a technologist, the conference excited me because of its entrepreneurial nature and all of the entrepreneurs who participated in the event were leveraging technology to one extend or another. As a global citizen, having lived outside of the US twice, the conference excited me because I know that with the internet, every business with a website, even in far off places in hard to pronounce regions of the world, is an international business.
The conference has me thinking two things this morning. First, the internet is in the hands of more and more people every day, especially in the Middle East. Of course this is not something new to cross my mind; however, I was reminded of it again yesterday. Some people in the region have never owned a computer, let alone heard dial up or even enjoyed browsing at high speed. Yet, they have connected mobile devices and are now connected to the world. These devices are in the hands of everyone, from the upper echelons of society all the way down to the street beggars, who may have to stop begging for a moment to take a call on a smart phone, as Vivek Wadhwa experienced during recent travels.
The second thing I’m thinking about is a similarity between each of the presenters, both in the panels and in the pitch demonstration. There were people from all over the Middle East, men and women with different backgrounds and varying ideas in products, in services, in software yet they all had something in common. They are all working at change. Embedded deep in each entrepreneur, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world, is the desire to see change. These entrepreneurs meet with resistance to change as there are many who see change but do not want to make changes. Yet, with technology, resistance to change is futile. The best entrepreneurs understand how people work, and how to combat the resistance to change. Regardless of industry, entrepreneurs are stepping up to the plate embracing change while championing technology solutions that invite their customers to change.