May 23, 2007 SDF Teen Tech 4: Keynotes

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On Wednesday, May 23, 2007 at the Hewlett-Packard Auditorium in Palo Alto, SDForum presented “Next Generation Tech: Teens Plugged In!” This is part four of a series on teens and technology focusing on the keynote speakers.

Andrew Bolwell of HP’s Strategic Initiatives started the proceedings. He joked he was chosen to do this because he was the youngest member of his team and wore the loudest shirt. Most known as a director in HP’s Mobile E-Services Bazaar, his job is to look for new things that HP can do. Bolwell sees the huge potential of mobile services growing with younger users.

Ben Casnocha graduated from high school last year and is founder and board member of Comcate, Inc., the leading e-government technology firm since 2001. Casnocha talked about his experiences as a writer and entrepreneur in high technology. His journey began at age twelve with a class project. He applied the concept of customer service so citizens could effectively complain to local governments about things like potholes. Technology allows young people to develop their entrepreneurial skills into success earlier. The barriers to entry are lower and the access to markets is greater. The incentive is to go out on your own. Gone are the days where students expect to graduate and work for one company the rest of their lives. Half of today’s college students plan to start their own business. If most job creation is from small business, the rise of young entrepreneurs will drive new economic growth in America.

The growth can be global too. Casnocha hired engineers from Bangladesh, designers from Canada and others from Latin America. There are still some more traditional attitudes out there. The youth in France see what the rest of the world is doing and want to be a part of it. Entrepreneur is a French word, but an American value. He talked with kids in France, who said that if they started their own company, people would say “Couldn’t you get a job at a real company?”

He thinks parent’s concern over children on the Internet is overblown. People need to focus on the millions of young people empowering themselves with technology and not being victims of it.

Daniel Kafie is a Harvard grad that majored in Economics. Growing up in Honduras he started plastics recycling business and then a start-up called that sells arts and crafts but gives a percentage of the profits back to its artists. He went on to work in investment banking, media, and private equity before creating, a Spanish language social networking company similar to Facebook.

Courtney Macavinta is winner of both IPPY and iParenting awards for her book, RESPECT: A Girl’s Guide to Getting Respect and Dealing When Your Line Is Crossed.
She is an expert on teens and women and spoke about the decline of women graduates from college IT programs. She thinks that while the official numbers of women acquiring and using technical skills is declining, the actual numbers of tech savvy women is increasing.

Kevin Wright concluded with Sun Microsystems commitment to encourage innovation among young people.

Copyright 2007 DJ Cline All rights reserved.