This time, I recalled how I was once fortunate to take a few entrepreneurial beatings from Reed Hastings, the Founder and CEO of Netflix. Though he never actually hit me, he did ask me some of the toughest, most wonderful questions—questions that challenged me, my business plan, and ultimately, provided invaluable fuel for my mission. Precisely the kind of questions that we WonderLab Mentor Guides aspire to ask of our WonderLab Learners.
On this trip, I reflected on a question of Reed’s that continues to capture my attention and imagination—now more than ever: Why be an entrepreneur? As was often the case with our meetings, I was caught off guard and managed to come up with something that was both vague and verbose. To his credit, he didn’t dismiss my response, but offered one of his own: “I think the real opportunity for an entrepreneur,” he explained, “is to not just predict the future, but to project the future.”
I would argue that few entrepreneurs have predicted and projected the future as effectively as Reed. in the late 90’s, when potential Netflix investors told him that streaming content online was the future—a future that would arrive any day—Reed thoughtfully agreed and disagreed. He agreed that streaming was the future, but predicted it would take roughly a decade for streaming entire movies to be technologically feasible. In that time, he would build an army of subscribers with its movie-by-mail disruption, then move them over to streaming when the technology was truly ready. And after all, in keeping with this focus on said prediction/projection, the company wasn’t called “Movies by Mail,” but Netflix.
To build on my previous blogpost, WonderLab is not only an attempt to predict where learning is going, it’s an opportunity to project where it should be going.
And where might that be, you might ask?
It’s a place where more and more families are neither completely outsourcing learning to a school, nor taking it all on themselves by homeschooling, but “roamschooling”— where school remains critical, but part of one’s larger, personalized learning mosaic. A place where the focus isn’t on big school buildings and faculties, but learning labs like WonderLab that function as hives that kids buzz in and around while utilizing the various learning assets in their communities (museums, businesses, conferences, etc.). It’s a place where technology is not a gimmick in the classroom of yesteryear but a powerful tool in a learning lab like ours to do what, when done right it does best: lowers transaction costs and makes the job of learning more efficient and effective. In other words, it’s a place where technology frees up the humans to be more human with one another.
It was my great pleasure on this trip to the Bay Area to spend time with five phenomenal, fellow education entrepreneurs, with whom we hope to work to project this future.
And who might they be, you might ask?
I’ll save that for my next blog, but I’ll give you a hint: one is already a household name, and if you join us in projecting this future of learning, the other four soon will be.
As usual, I’ll leave you with a question (or two): Why not let your kids start predicting and projecting their futures? Why not email me and enlist WonderLab to project this future for your family?
Thanks in advance for your projection!