I had the opportunity to speak at my alma mater, the University of North Carolina, this week at the CHAT Festival. It is a creative and broad reaching event sponsored by the Institute for Arts and Humanities and includes music performances, views on the growing variety and impact of video games, art installations, the future of digital media, and many opportunities for cross-fertilization of ideas. The topic for the panel in which I was a participant was “Collaboration and Entrepreneurship”.
In preparing for the panel, I realized that every single thing we pursue at Posit Science is made possible by working collaboratively. Our company was born from a collaboration between our founding duo: Dr. Mike Merzenich, world-class neuroscientist, and Jeff Zimman, world-class creative thinker and deal maker. The diversity they brought–distinctive problem solving approaches, a broad set of contacts to recruit talent, access to different sources of capital–was critical to success in multiple areas. Their different experiences and skill sets create an environment for debate that is the only way to reach shared vision.
The collaboration shown by the founding team was just the start, as Posit Science has relied on extensive external and internal collaboration to deliver on our mission. A few internal examples: to make good decisions about how to deliver great experiences, we need an understanding of the end-to-end impact of those decisions on customers. This requires a broad perspective from multiple functions, each of whom needs to bring what they understand to the discussion. Our development team is a mix of game designers, engineers, producers, scientists, product managers, QA engineers, and artists; they work in an open environment and continuously share information and make decisions.
Outside collaborators are equally broad. Most importantly, our customers are constantly giving us feedback. Sometimes we proactively seek feedback, sometimes its reactive… sometimes the feedback is positive, and sometimes its negative. In all cases, it’s essential to making the customer experience better, more engaging and more effective. We work with more than 50 scientists across the globe who suggest new areas to apply our core technology and run experiments on our products and ideas to test their hypotheses. Once the product is built, we need to get it consumers and work with different types of distribution partners including PBS, AAA clubs and the AAA Foundation, and insurance carriers like Allstate, UPMC and Capital Health. And as a start-up we need to rely on a number of outside advisors to get help and expert input. Of course, we also look to find new people and companies to teach us how to get better everyday.
Who do you collaborate with? How important is it to you at work, at home, in your volunteer activities, your hobbies?