The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Vibhor Khanna​ '19 Attends Techcrunch Disrupt Berlin

Vibhor Khanna​ '19 attends Techcrunch Disrupt Berlin during which entrepreneurs and investors in the Robotics and Mobility space candidly talk about their companies and the future of robotics in a "Off the Record" Session.

Vibhor Khanna​ '19 attends Techcrunch Disrupt Berlin during which companies participate in Startup Battlefield, a competition where the most compelling startup gets a $50,000 prize.

Vibhor Khanna​ '19 attends Techcrunch Disrupt Berlin during which MOIA, a fully electric ridesharing startup, unveils its first vehicle and states its goal to get 1 million cars off the road by 2025. 

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At Techcrunch Disrupt Berlin, a conference that brings together revolutionary startups and entrepreneurs, I was able to learn from experts in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomous vehicles, cryptocurrencies, financial technology, and robotics. Such insight taught me more about their respective industries and how these innovative technologies will develop in the future, as well as new applications of these technologies. As an example, I was able to hear from Alexander Zosel, the founder of Volocopter, a prominent German startup creating the first electric air taxis, about his vision for the future of mobility. Hearing directly from the people who are driving change in the world is incredibly inspiring, but was also a reminder of the amount of hard work that goes behind making these startups successful.

I was able to talk with many startup founders and employees, ranging from first-time founders who were my age to seasoned technology executives starting their own businesses. From these entrepreneurs, I learned about challenges startups across Europe and the world are facing, and how they have navigated the challenging path of being a leader of their organization. Challenges surrounding recruiting talent, fundraising, and navigating corporate culture were often cited as the most important, and I began realizing how interconnected they are. One interesting contrast of the European startup ecosystem from that of America was how issues of regulation and starting a business affected startups and innovations in Europe, as there was a stark disparity of startups representing different countries, with Germany, the UK, and France being overrepresented, while other countries with more difficult business environments, such as Italy, vastly underrepresented at the conference. One of my biggest takeaways was grappling with the fact that the vast majority of startups at the conference would fail despite how talented and passionate their founders were and how insightful they seemed about their industry and business model. My experience at this conference drove home how incredibly difficult it is to be a successful entrepreneur, yet it was still encouraging to see that many brilliant people still try their hand at it.

Techcrunch Disrupt Berlin was undoubtedly a valuable experience for me as I came away more knowledgeable about the future of technology, how it may continue to change our society, and I became more passionate about getting involved in entrepreneurship. Additionally, hearing about the challenges startup founders face taught me a lot about leadership, not only in the context of running a business, but also in other frameworks that are applicable to any situation. Learning from their struggles and experience while transitioning from employees or students into leaders will guide me as I make professional career transitions in my life as well. 

-Submitted by Vibhor Khanna​ '19, Rockefeller Center Mini Grant Recipient 

The Rockefeller Center's Mini-Grants program funds registration fees for students attending conferences, as well as the costs of bringing guest speakers to Dartmouth. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Rockefeller Center or constitute an endorsement by the Center.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences