Last week I attended a few of the events put on by Chicago Ideas Week, Brad Keywell’s weeklong series of over 100 presentations by world-renowned speakers with the goal of creating “an ecosystem of innovation, exploration, and intellectual recreation.”
At a time when businesses are increasingly recognizing intellectual property (IP) as an asset class, it is refreshing to witness IP in its raw form – as ideas. It is inspiring to hear from these entrepreneurs, first hand, exactly how they are shaping the knowledge economy. This speaks to me both personally and professionally.
Here are three powerful examples I heard at Chicago Ideas Week:
1. Bo Fishback, founder and CEO of Zaarly, talked about the evolution of the market. He pointed out that thousands of years ago, one might have ridden a camel across the desert to find what he needed to buy. Eventually, someone came up with the idea of bringing merchants and buyers together – a market. This evolved into the shopping mall and then to e-commerce, and finally, mobile, location-based e-commerce (the space where his new company operates). Each level of evolution minimized the transaction costs and grew the economy.
2. Travis Kalanick, co-founder and CEO of Uber, illustrated the power of data in his talk about his firm. Uber provides a novel transportation service: download the app, press a button and a car appears to take you where you need to go. They use data and inferential models to predict the demand at a given time for its car service, allowing them to deliver the service to their clients in a profitable way.
3. Wilson To and Cy Khormaee demonstrated the power of ideas at the highest level: to save lives. They developed a test for malaria using only a Windows smart phone and a special lens, addressing the problem of child mortality due to undiagnosed malaria.
It is indeed inspiring to listen to these stories, and Chicago Ideas Week is a perfect forum for listening and interacting with other professionals who value innovation, ideas, and intellectual capital.