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  • Writer's pictureDavide Ferrari

No Plan B

In the last few years, I always knew that I wanted to have an entrepreneurial career. I made precise choices to get closer to that goal and I'm still on my way there.

Given the academic and educational journey I had, I always had many different paths to follow and in the computer science domain it is often more difficult to say no than to accept a job offer.

This happened to me recently, when I received an offer to continue my academic career after the PhD with a Post-Doc in a more industrial domain of data science. In general, I like the idea of moving away from theory and tackle more practical and rewarding problems, but I still had to think carefully about the choices I had to make to get as quickly as possible into the business side of things.

I thought that the post-doc would be a particularly good arrangement for several reasons. Firstly, it is a natural continuation of my academic journey so far; secondly, I could continue to do research, publish papers, travel around the world (also because it would have been a big project with international partners). The problem I saw with this solution was evident from the beginning and had to be compared with the pros of the situation.

I believe that everyone can have entrepreneurial ideas, eventually, but so few people are "doers" that start the journey. I had friends proposing ideas but spent years waiting for something to make it start. It's you that must make it start, that's what entrepreneurs do: Make Things Happen.

To make things happen you need a sense of urgency that prevails the comfort of waiting for others to give you something to do. That was my reasoning when I turned down the post-doc offer. I didn't want to get another comfortable position that would have delayed for years my complete dedication to the business I want to make.

I believe that not only this academic position would have pushed me closer to the business career, but the opposite. It is not the right environment to let business start and go because the mentality that I found in academia prefers the academic stability rather than the entrepreneurial uncertainty. This not only what I need, but also what I want. It is what I feel comfortable in.

If I consider the business my Plan A, the academic career would be a perfectly reasonable Plan B. That's the problem! If I have a Plan B, I will never have the pressing urgency of make Plan A work. There is no Plan B for me, there is only the Plan A and that must work.

This is the only mentality that will bring to succeed in this aspiration and this is how I decided to not accept anything less than the opportunity to start my own business.

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