I’m excited to introduce you to Steve Kukla – By day, Steve is a project manager for eBay, and by night Steve is an entrepreneur and composer for film and concert music. I have brought him on as technical director for my thesis project – specifically to make my vision for the business plan algorithm work. Steve and I met in 2007 and, coincidentally, Steve taught me a lot of what I know about business. Over the years we have brainstormed countless of business ideas, and his entrepreneurial spirit is strong. I prepared a series of questions for Steve below.
What is your relationship with entrepreneurship?
I’d say that, as an artist, I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship, but I’ve always called it something else or looked at it in a different guise. At first, I considered entrepreneurship to be something “business people” did. It was about having big meetings in board rooms, pouring over numbers, making more money. I avoided it, because I really didn’t give it the time of day; I wanted to do my thing, to write music, to hear people’s reactions, and then to write more. In high-school and college, I began to realize that entrepreneurship is really just another word for creation. It’s about making stuff, expressing something you love, getting that thing to as many people as possible, and then making it better.
We’ve obviously brainstormed about 1,000 business ideas together over the past 5 years or so… what do you think makes an idea great? Where do ideas come from?
For me, a great idea is something that I can identify with and get excited about. It’s something that makes my life easier and more rewarding. A great idea is one for which the “what” is clear, even though the “how” isn’t. It’s something that makes somebody say “Okay, that’s awesome. I have no idea how to accomplish yet, but I’m willing to do everything to make it happen.”
As far as where ideas come from… I think that at the heart of every idea is a root “problem” or challenge that somebody has recognized at some point in their lives. The “what if?” question comes about when somebody wants to do something but can’t. Ideas come from personal inspiration, too — somebody hears a piece of music or sees a piece of art that moves them. Finally, I believe that inspiration for great ideas often come from enthusiastic collaboration. I really enjoy working with a group of people who can come together to work on something larger than themselves.
My thesis is speculating a time in which entrepreneurial practice comes to a halt as humans lack the capability to perceive problems. What’s your take on this scenario?
In terms of your thesis, I think the question isn’t so much whether or not humans will lack the ability to perceive problems, but rather, it will be whether or not humans have enough interest in finding solutions for them. Too often, I think people are more concerned with saving time and money then they are about finding the best solution to the real problem. Nobody wants to “re-invent the wheel” because it’s there already and it works; why should they? The idea of creativity and art as it relates to problem solving is extremely important; the more creativity and art is fostered in schools, in the home, in the workplace, the more people will be able and willing to think outside the box to come up with really great ideas.