• Xcelerator

Ihklaq Sidhu welcomes new Xcelerator cohort

Updated: Oct 25, 2019

When William Durant, a horse-wagon manufacturer, saw potential in the combustion engine, he started buying garages in different places as he was confident that should the engine ever take off, he would profit the most. 

A few years later, the collection of marques (or garages) came to be known as General Motors, of which Durant became CEO. However, as luck would have it, much like Steve Jobs, Durant was soon fired from the board, following which, Durant founded Chevrolet, which he transformed into such a large company that he was eventually able to merge it with GM again. Unfortunately, however, the new board of the merged company fired him again, and Durant did not make it into the list of the individuals whom we could credit with creating the automobile industry.

Ikhlaq Sidhu, Chief Scientist, Xcelerator & SCET; IEOR Emerging Area Professor Award

While Durant’s story ends with an anti-climax, Ikhlaq Sidhu, PhD, Chief Scientist and Founding Director of SCET, draws key lessons from Durant’s experiences and talks about his innovation engineering framework while sharing advice on how to succeed in Blockchain. In his initial address at the opening of the Fall 2019 Cohort of the Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator, Ikhlaq shares his key insights.

His first tip: Think of creating a new company like throwing a party. There exists a technical, logical component of the party: the date, location, invitee list, catering, and logistics, but there also exists a social, softer component: the story. If you’re making progress on technical sophistication but without more people joining your mission, failure is inevitable. On the other hand, merely adding more members to your team without technical sophistication is also destined to fail. The balance between social and technical progress is critical.

Next, Ikhlaq mentions that at the Xcelerator, there exists a wide range of expertise; while some startups or individuals are extremely experienced with several ventures and resources, others are only starting off now. However, this should only facilitate more cross-pollination of learning across teams, something that is invaluable to such a network.

He also points out that one should not omit the business side for the technical side of an industry. Thus, while Blockchain is extremely technically sophisticated, one should not ignore the basic, business-related activities that are associated with generating economic value. (Think party again.)

Ikhlaq also introduces the Xcelerator’s wide reach. Housed under the umbrella of SCET, which comprises over 50 investors, 500 executives, and features 20 courses at UC Berkeley itself, the Xcelerator is more than equipped to help take its startups from zero to ‘n.’

Ikhlaq also shares his own experiences. He says that every venture comprises four core parts: the team, the story, the validation phase, and finally, the execution phase. An entrepreneur is the one who creates an entire ecosystem around these four parts, and perseveres through each of the parts. 

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