Only in Silicon Valley is it rational to chase unicorns. In the go-big-or-go-home culture, pursuing a billion dollar valuation (not revenue or profit, mind you, but valuation), seems to have pushed out the idea of knuckling down to build a business that adds meaningful value to the lives of customers, employees, shareholders. How’s that Twitter investment been working out for the IPO investors since it went public in 2013? (Answer: down 30% - they would have done better to put money into a boring S&P index fund.)
The inspiring thing about educating university researchers on commercialization and entrepreneurship is that their innovations really help people! The University of Minnesota has an amazing pipeline of potential startups, as do other research universities. I’m a whole lot more excited about software to ensure food safety and protein scaffolding to enable medical diagnoses and treatments (both billion dollar+ markets) then I am about the next Uber for this, that or the other marginal benefit.