Who: Ian & Chip
At first glance, Chip Ransler and Ian Ayers look relatively tame – maybe even harmless. But look closer, and you’ll see two dynamic Wahoos, saturated with an awesomely creative entrepreneurialism.
While pursuing independent ventures, Chip and Ian also collectively focus on spreading a new theory of entrepreneurial thinking called effectuation. Ever wonder what distinguishes an average entrepreneur from a really, truly, great entrepreneur (like all of you OpenSpacers)? Well, a Darden professor named Sarasvathy conducted research and determined the answer for us.
“[Master entrepreneurs] constantly assess how to use their personal strengths and whatever resources they have at hand to develop goals on the fly, while creatively reacting to contingencies.” –Inc. Magazine
Inc. Magazine featured these results last February in an article called, “How Great Entrepreneurs Think.”
Chip and Ian have since taken action to translate Sarasvathy’s findings into teachings. They did so by participating in the Society for Effectual Action, a common meeting ground for people working to “change the way entrepreneurship is taught and learned.” They’re making great waves in the business world, advancing effectuation over causal reasoning, one entrepreneur at a time. Pretty bold!
Who: Ian AyeRs
Not surprisingly, Ian’s latest business venture, Configment, further represents his interest in effectuation. Configment is loosely described as a ‘pre-startup workshop company’ that prototypes businesses in their earliest startup phase. Recognizing that ideas move forward best through a process of rapid co-creation, Ian ‘configures’ solutions for any startup problem based on existing means, preferring to assemble self-selecting partners and do the doable.
Before jumping on the effectuation wave, Ian developed a background in tech-related ventures. He had founded and sold an ISP before finishing high school and eventually, as a systems engineer, found himself tinkering with the latest Internet protocols on projects for the NSA and CIA at L-3. Next, after running a business incubator in Sweden, he started an innovative talent recruiting company called Nova Global, where he assumed the role of CTO.
Who: Chip Ransler
Before enrolling in business school, Chip had a software (digital publishing) company for five years. Then he started a nonprofit called The Second Road, a supportive online community for people suffering from addiction. While in business school, Chip founded a power company in Rural India called Husk Power Systems. Though he’s no longer involved on a daily basis, Chip describes the experience as being pretty significant and life-altering. Check them out here in Fast Company Magazine — it’s an awesome read!
Most recently, Chip collaborated with the Navy to change the way people interact with technology on submarines. He spent a whirlwind 2 days creating 12 concept designs in hopes of updating a nuclear sub control room. Then Chip studied potential real time challenges, and the ways people would interact with the room to overcome them. This 2-day challenge turned into something pretty remarkable: it is now run throughout the year as a totally new way to design ships.
Ian and Chip agree that OpenSpace offers them freedom from the “mental stuckness” of working at home. They can break away from the “mental prison” and escape to a place that’s organized, open, dependable, smells nice, and is distracting at the right times. The serendipitous meetings they have had here have been an added perk.
Chip notes that, “truly, there are connections that happened at OpenSpace that otherwise, I never would have made.” He and Ian see OpenSpace as providing a beneficial “creative ecosystem.” People elsewhere strive to create something like it, but only at OpenSpace does it become a reality. We think that’s pretty great!
And for their final words? On working at OpenSpace: “From an economic standpoint, it easily makes sense. For the amount of water, nuts & internet I consume, I’m actually making money by being here.” Hmm.
What You Might Not Know About Ian
He was a professional cyclist for 3 years. And, remember those rickshaws that used to shuttle UVA students around grounds and downtown? Well, you can thank Ian. The Happy Rickshaw Company was his business.
What You Might Not Know About Chip
He played in a college band. That band was so good, in fact, that they placed second in the 1998 College Band Search… and landed a spot on Conan O’Brien. Nice! Chip was also a moderately early adapter of OpenSpace. He once carved out an area in our pantry to store his Kashi breakfast cereal.
One final note …
Always full of ideas that they’re not afraid to share, both Ian and Chip are “sick” drummers. They want to bring in dueling drum sets and battle it out at OpenSpace. Anybody game?