Small Business, Technological Innovation, and the Case for Progress
By Mike Signer | March 3, 2011 | One Comment
NDP recently sat down at the historic McLean Family Restaurant with Pete Erickson, the founder of a speed-of-light innovative technology firm called Disruptathon in Northern Virginia.
In the noisy, old-school diner, over a table spread with oatmeal, pancakes, eggs, and many cups of coffee (Pete drank only decaf), Pete told us his story.
Raised in Seattle, with Microsoft and countless other technology firms nearby, Pete was always fascinated by how new technologies could radically transform old ways of doing things. He launched and sold three businesses.
Business success and personal events brought him to Virginia several years ago, where he had the idea for a new consulting company to marshal the collective innovative energy of hundreds of entrepreneurs, making money from helping companies break boundaries.
But he’s deeply frustrated with the way Richmond is going. His experience running a successful business and working with hundreds of local firms tells him that the extreme right-wing agenda in Richmond is bad for business.
“Business is a progressive issue,” he says. With Disruptathon, Pete’s proudly creating an exciting new brand that shows Virginia on the edge of business innovation. And he’s deeply frustrated by the impression we’re getting from Richmond that Virginia is somehow a backward-looking state.
Pete’s company is about “open innovation.” He strongly believes that, rather than keeping new ideas secret, and walling off competitors, entrepreneurs can prosper by sharing new ideas and growing the pie together. He cites as an example 12-hour group competitions that Disruptathon has sponsored, where dozens of entrepreneurs race against each other to come up with new ideas.
Another example: last May, Pete convened a Disruptathon event for mobile business apps in Mclean. The event convened companies including Zerion Software, Telenav, Mobomo, Dub, BoxTone, ZoomSafer and Ringio to work together on new disruptive technologies.
The attendees provided feedback on specialized iPhones using the Disruptathon™ Innovation Discovery™ platform that Erickson’s team has invented, which allows participants to provide real-time feedback during presentations.
He sees Disruptathon as one way out of our economic slump. “Innovation is a pathway out of the economic situation we are in,” he has said.
Pete is working with Virginia companies on technology areas as diverse as health IT, Apple apps, defense, and energy. And he strongly believes that many in the small business community want Virginia to become more open, inclusive, and innovative.
“A progressive agenda does not threaten me as a small businessman,” he told NDP, as he finished his bowl of oatmeal. “It’s the other way around.”
In Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia, which always has embraced a diversity of opinion, ideas, and speech, we couldn’t have said it any better ourselves.
Learn more about Disruptathon here.
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