Crash Course: Complexity Science for Startups with Sam Arbesman and Zach Nies

Tags: Entrepreneurship

Co-Sponsored by
JPMorgan Chase Foundation

Building a startup is a highly uncertain prospect, with a huge number of factors that can affect its success. But a startup, and the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem, isn’t just complicated, each is a complex system. The field of complexity science—the study of systems with large amounts of interacting parts—has a large amount to say on the topic of startups, and this Crash Course examines how to take insights from this scientific field and make them relevant to the world of entrepreneurship. Essentially, working in the world of startups means being a complexity scientist.

This course will explore numerous topics through the lens of complexity science, including the nature of risk, making decisions under uncertainty, tinkering and incremental change as ways to adapt in a complex system, how complexity science and nonlinearity affect venture capital decisions, why certain types of startups are more suited for success, and more.

Sam ArbesmanSam Arbesman,
Scientist in Residence, Lux Capital

Samuel Arbesman is a complexity scientist, whose work focuses on the nature of scientific and technological change, and is currently a Scientist in Residence at Lux Capital. He is also a Research Fellow at the Long Now Foundation. In addition to his scientific research, his essays about science, mathematics, and technology have appeared in such places as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. Arbesman is the author of the award-winning The Half-Life of Facts (Current/Penguin, 2012), which explores how knowledge changes over time. Previously, Arbesman was a Senior Scholar at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and a Research Fellow in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School. He completed a PhD in computational biology at Cornell University in 2008, and earned a BA in computer science and biology at Brandeis University in 2004.

Zach NiesZach Nies, Managing Director, Techstars

Zach is the Managing Director at Techstars-Boulder. Before Techstars, Zach was CTO of Rally Software, the collaboration platform that allows companies to build great products faster with Agile and Lean practices. Prior to joining Rally, Zach was co-founder of a startup that radically changed how creative professionals managed projects. His company was acquired by publicly-traded Creo, Inc., now a division of Kodak. He also served as Chief Software Architect at Quark, where he provided the technological vision for one of the companies that led the creation of the desktop publishing market. At the age of 13, Zach began commercially publishing software and, at age 16, started a successful consulting business. A Boettcher Scholar, Zach received his BS with distinction in Computer Science Engineering from the University of Colorado. He gives back to the community by volunteering as a mentor to the startup community and at the University of Colorado. He lives near Boulder, Colorado and enjoys playing golf, mountain biking and spending time with his family.

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