Don't let delusions of freewheeling grandeur fool you; the best advice for a young entrepreneur is to establish values and rules, and then live up to them. That's the advice of Bre Pettis, founder of 3D printer company MakerBot. To succeed in business, you first need to succeed in pinning down who you are as a person and a business professional.
The Visionaries series is brought to you by Big Think in collaboration with Founder Collective. In it, we profile remarkable entrepreneurs and the ideas and practices that make them great.
Bre Pettis: So it’s pretty obvious that a 3D printer is super applicable to engineers, industrial designers, and architects. You know, those folks see a MakerBot; they see the price tag; and they just take out their credit card and it’s shipped to them in a couple of days. And it’s just a no brainer.
It gets interesting though when people who aren’t necessarily in a maker culture, an engineering culture, a design culture get it because in many ways they’re free to do anything.
Every single person gets a drug-like rush when they fix something or they make something from scratch. Even if it's like, you know, a mashed potato casserole, you still get a rush when you make it and it's yours. So, in growing a company that had a real connection to a maker spirit, we were tapping into something that humans had set to the side for the last hundred years. And so it allowed us to basically light up those, you know, vestigial parts of our humanity and celebrate them.
And I think frankly that’s our biggest challenge as a culture is how do we empower people to unlock their true potential and explore who they are? Because, you know, I just — I believe that inside each person is the potential to have deep, deep powerful impact on their local community and society at large. So how do we make that happen? How do we unlock that?
As I think about what kind of advice I would give to other entrepreneurs when they start, I would say it’s actually better to box yourself in and create a rule set for yourself, a manifesto, you know. Something that basically says, "We are going to live our lives this way. This is our criteria. This is our sort of limitations. These are the things — this is the sort of challenge we’re going to give ourselves to stay within these parameters." So probably the downside of this is you end up sort of, you’re basically a fanatic. You’re limited by what you — you’ve limited what you can do. You’re sort of living in your own — I am living in my own personal cult at this point, right. And the great thing is that gives you an amazing focus and an amazing ability to make decisions. Because okay, does it meet your criteria? Yes or no. Okay, no? Screw it, we’re not doing that. There’s so many places that are just waiting for innovation. You know I’m in the hospital and I’m like this is garbage here. Like this equipment costs too much. It’s too hard. Here’s a streamlined, has crappy UI, bad user experience, and sure enough like — and people die because of it. So I’m like okay, we can like — so much opportunity in that. And I just look around the world and all I see is opportunity for people to have a deep impact on the world and make it better.