Big Idea CONNECTpreneur Winter Forum: Fireside Chat with Steve Case

15 Dec Big Idea CONNECTpreneur Winter Forum: Fireside Chat with Steve Case

Yesterday I attended one of the best networking events in the DC area, Big Idea CONNECTpreneur Forum hosted by the inimitable Tien Wong, Tech 2000 and Lore Systems, Inc. The Big Idea CONNECTpreneur Forum is a community of more than 5,000 CEOs, entrepreneurs, VCs and angel investors, CXOs, and other business leaders in the Mid-Atlantic Region. While it is always a sell out crowd, this forum was the biggest one yet, with more than 500 attendees.

Each event starts with a fireside chat featuring an entrepreneur that has been a change agent in the DC region. CONNECTpreneur is one of the few events that I don’t mind waking up at the break of dawn for, especially when Steve Case is the fireside chat guest.

For those of you who don’t know Steve Case, he is the co-founder and former CEO and chairman of AOL. Since his retirement as AOL chairman in 2003, he has invested in early and growth-stage startups through his DC-based venture capital firm, Revolution LLC. He also launched an initiative called Rise of the Rest, which is a nationwide effort that works closely with entrepreneurs in emerging startup ecosystems. Case has always been a man with drive. He had six businesses in college and before entering the tech world he held a position at a Pizza Hut as the “Director of New Pizza Development.”


As you can imagine, with Case’s impressive background – this fireside chat was one of the best ones to date. Case shared his experience and the path to how he got to where he is today. Throughout the whole conversation and hearing about Case’s road to success, the only thing I could think of was #LifeGoals.

A few key takeaways from the chat:

The Three Waves of the Internet – Case recently published a book called The Third Wave (it’s a must read), which provides a compelling roadmap of the future of technology and the Internet. He gave us a sneak peak into his book and discussed what he calls the three waves of the Internet:

  • First Wave: The first wave was the start of the Internet. It was all about being connected & building its core technologies, such as those that powered AOL. During this wave, the focus was showing people the benefits of being on the Internet.
  • Second Wave: The second wave’s focus was building apps and services on top of the Internet – for example Google and Facebook.
  • Third Wave: The third wave is the wave we are in now. It will define the future of technology. Case defines the third wave as one in which “entrepreneurs will vastly transform major real world sectors like health, education, transportation, energy and food — and in the process change the way we live our daily lives.” This will consist of integrating the Internet into seamless and invisible ways into our lives.


The Three P’s – Case also shared the “3 P’s” that he has learned throughout his journey as an entrepreneur: Partnership, Policy & Perseverance

  • Partnership – In order to be successful you need strong connections and partnerships. As Tien Wong says, “your network is your net worth.” Strong partnerships go hand in hand with the ability to work well with people, which is another large factor of success. Case also noted that it is important to always “be nice to everybody.”
  • Policy – Understand that there are always going to be regulations. It is important to pay attention to and understand the evolving laws and regulations that make up the landscape that you are operating in.
  • Perseverance – These days there are fewer dorm room successes like Facebook or Snapchat. Therefore, at rate at which technology is advancing, it is more important than ever before to constantly think of new ideas and ways to solve problems. Perseverance will be key in the third wave.


Notable tweets from the fireside chat:

Stay tuned for CONNECTpreneur Part 2 with details on the rest of the event, and check out the Facebook Live videos from yesterday’s event here.

Jennifer R. Sherman
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