Ethical Tech Startups: Principles For Success

Dr. Ronald Michael Baecker
Emeritus Professor of Computer Science and
Bell Chair in Human-Computer Interaction Founder, Technologies for Aging Gracefully Lab and
Knowledge Media Design institute Co-founder, Dynamic Graphics Project,
University of Toronto

On Thursday, November 10th, 2022 Virtually via Zoom FROM 1:00-2:00 PM.
Meeting ID: 586 526 2264 and Passcode: SIAM2022
The talk is on
“Ethical Tech Startups: Principles For Success”

As of 2020, 14 of the world’s 50 wealthiest billionaires made their money in technology. Microsoft alone has created over 10,000 millionaires. Unicorns are privately held startup companies worth over $1 billion. Approximately 2000 unicorns have emerged since 2015. Of the 50 with the greatest valuation, at least 39 are digital tech firms or companies leveraging software.

Although many digital tech products now cause much evil, you can create ethical tech startups — both “ethical tech” startups and ethical “tech startups”. Based on my experience creating 5 software startups and 36 years of learning and teaching technical entrepreneurship, I will explain the two senses of the phrase “ethical tech startup” and  outline 7 principles for success:

  1. Seek solutions that solve important problems or that leverage opportunities created by new technologies.
  2. Develop competitive advantage through proprietary technology and distinctive competence.
  3. Validate your strategy and products by user experience design at every stage from idea to shipping product.
  4. Think about your strengths; leverage them in creating an identity and communicate this to customers.
  5. Design your business model and go-to-market strategy; devote significant resources to digital marketing.
  6. Plan and project your finances carefully with a forecasting model; raise funds expeditiously but vigorously.
  7. Hire only the best; motivate and guide them with inspirational leadership by a capable management team.

I shall illustrate these principles using examples of successful ethical tech ventures. I will highlight examples of ethical and unethical behavior throughout the presentation.

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