10:24 | 20.11.17 | News | exclusive 15412

Tony Fadell. Look inside your heart and find your dream

Founder of Nest Labs, creator of iPod brand, Lebanese-American inventor and business angel Tony Fadell visited Armenia last week to receive Armenian Presidential Award for Global Contribution in IT sphere 2017.

Tony Fadell appeared in the annual list of the 100 Most Influential People of Time magazine in 2014.

In October of 2017 Tony Fadell announced the foundation of Paris-based Future Shape venture company, focused on investments in early stage companies.  

Itel.am attended the meeting of Tony Fadell with representatives of Armenian IT community and wrote down some of his remarkable thoughts.

The importance of failure

I worked in Silicon Valley for more than 25 years, of which 10 were years of business failure. Every failure in my life thought me something new and important. I got stronger, stood up and created new products, making sure I did not make the same mistake twice.  

Most importantly, you need to be endurant. Back in the 90ies many of my friends predicted the development of internet, so they quickly switched to the internet sector, while I continued to pursue my main activity of creating small devices. I was working on my own startup in 2001, when I received an offer from Apple. They asked if I was ready to join Apple team in elaborating iPod.

This was the start of the story, which was preceded by years of failure and hardships. I was occupied with forming my own atmosphere, defining myself, moving my ideas forward, trying to always think outside the box.

The career of business angel

Years of experience brought me to the point, when I decided to invest the money in helping startups.

I invested in more than 200 small companies around the world, most them outside the Silicon Valley. All those startups have one thing in common: they are led by dedicated entrepreneurs, going for their dreams, so I encourage you to look inside your heart and find what is yours.

Working with more than 200 startups is an incredible experience. I see fire in the eyes of those people; I just fuel it and they move forward and reach markets.

I attach special importance to business plan. You need to have a business idea, which can potentially change the world technologically, for example iPhone, iPod. We choose companies with deep technologies. We do not support companies with traditional functions in the market.

Failure in early stage

My first mistake was thinking that we could do anything with the help of people that surround us. This is far from being true. You needed to find your heroes, people outside your circle. I was trying to find solutions from within while they were outside. You should ask advice and support from smart people out there.  

The second mistake is creating something and thinking it is good enough, feeling satisfied. As a business person, you have to address your main message not only to technology and sale experts, entrepreneurs, but to your customers too. You need to make it clear for them why your product is important and which problems it solves.

On leaving Apple

I met my future wife at Apple. We both worked for Steve Jobs. One day, when we already had two kids together (a 6-month baby and a 1.5-year old), we came home from work and our son was very upset, very agitated. Instead of running to me or his mother, he ran straight to the nanny. When you are the parent and your kid seeks comfort from someone else first, that breaks your heart. We could stay at Apple and have huge achievements, but my wife and I realized money can’t bring back the early years of our children. We decided to resign from the company and spend more time with the kids.

On Armenia’s IT sector

I heard about Armenia’s IT a lot in the last 25 years. Wherever I go, including Armenia, I look for and find smart people. I do not set limits in investing. I heard of a company in Armenia that produces energy from waste, and I am interested in that. We will see how it goes.

On success

To all people who want to become entrepreneurs, I recommend finding and working with someone successful after graduation from the university. It should not be a consulting firm or a big company. It can be a small or medium enterprise. Work with someone who succeeded.

My Paris-based company is a part of the world’s largest startup incubator that features over 1000 startups worldwide. Many of these entrepreneurs return to their countries with the ties and experience they got in the incubator. It’s impossible technologically and socially to succeed in vacuum.

On future human-robot relationship

I believe that robots, artificial intelligence and machine learning are the most powerful technologies. Garry Kasparov lost to Deep Blue supercomputer 20 years ago. Everyone said that was the end of chess, no one would play it again, the robots won. Today chess has a high number of followers and people use technologies to practice the game better. Chess is as popular as ever.

There is a down side too. Technologies might push people out of certain industries. That’s why technologies must be a learning tool in schools. People should use technologies to achieve more and at the same time, keep jobs for humans.

Narine Daneghyan wrote down Tony Fadell’s thoughts