There is both good news and bad news for small businesses in the U.S. The bad news is that small businesses are dying faster than they are being born, according to Gallup. The good news is that small business owners are the most optimistic they have been since early 2008, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index. Perhaps now is the time to take advantage of this newfound optimism and jump into the world of small businesses and entrepreneurship.
On Saturday, May 2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the Princeton Area Small Business Expo will be held at the Princeton Public Library, featuring speakers, exhibitors, and training seminars over the course of the five-hour event. Seminars will cover topics like “Social Media Marketing”, “How to Develop a Business Plan,” “Promoting a Small Business,” and “Funding Sources for Small Businesses.” For more information, visit https://princeton.score.org/localworkshops
Mung Chiang, a Princeton professor of electrical engineering and the director the Keller Center, the university’s entrepreneurship hub, will kick off the event at 10 a.m. with a keynote address on “Four Myths about Startups,” sharing insights into what does and does not contribute most to startup success.
As a co-founder of two tech startups — DataMi, which focuses on wireless-telecommunications technology, and Zoomi, a learning technology company — and a technical consultant to several startups, Chiang has a wealth of first-hand knowledge about the startup world. “My experience with co-founding tech startups have been both intellectually exciting and practically impactful,” he said.
Chiang, who is originally from Hong Kong, studied electrical engineering and mathematics as an undergraduate at Stanford University, and went on to get a master’s and Ph.D. in electrical engineering there. His parents are a retired artist and a high school teacher, and he joined the Princeton faculty in 2003. “It’s been a productive 12 years for me,” he said. That might be a bit of an understatement: he has risen from an assistant professorship to an endowed position, chairs the Princeton Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee, founded the EDGE lab in 2009, which works to bridge gap between network theory and practical real world applications, won the National Science Foundation’s highest honor for young researchers in 2013 (which comes with a $1 million grant to support further research), and now serves as the fourth director of the Keller Center.
Chiang’s research focuses on communication, social and economic networks. “Research about networks has both a deep intellectual foundation and many visible impact to modern life,” he said. “My research goes from mathematical proofs to engineering prototypes in networks; for example, Smart Data Pricing, Fog Networking and the Internet of Things, and Social Learning Networks.” He also teaches a course, available for free to the public online, titled “Networks: Friends, Money and Bytes,” that answer questions like: How does Google rank webpages? How does Netflix recommend movies? Why is WiFi faster at home than at a hotspot?
And for anyone who is looking to build a startup, Chiang has some words of advice: “Find out who your teammates are, and try to make your team balanced, experienced, and stable.”