Pedram Mokrian has a mantra: “Fall in love with a problem and not a solution”.

Mokrian is Adjunct Professor at Stanford University where he teaches and advises entrepreneurs and global companies about entrepreneurship, business disruption and technology innovation. His appetite for risk and willingness to immerse himself in new experiences has paved his pathway to become one of the world’s leading experts in the global technology market, working with Fortune 50 companies and the World Bank.

Lived experiences are central to informing his knowledge and investment acumen. He’s the kind of guy who seeks to immerse himself in a place and its people, soaking everything up to inform his practice.

A long apprenticeship

Mokrian describes a career in venture capital as a long apprenticeship where he has learned from his proximity to great minds and ideas. A native of Canada, Mokrian began his own apprenticeship as an engineer with an interest in energy markets. From Canada, his world opened to Silicon Valley, Stanford and New York where he became a commodities trader and experienced the global financial crisis firsthand.

Opportunity, proximity and risk

Later, Mokrian worked with global venture capital firm Mayfield and he describes meeting the original founders of Tesla, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, who were there as entrepreneurs in residence. He describes this meeting as formative, enabling him through proximity, to witness great innovation: “Those guys were down to earth and unbelievably intelligent, passionate and charismatic and it was inspiring to hear about what they had done to get to where they were”.

He advises that there is merit in being super opportunistic and working with amazing people and then he found that everything else fell into place: “You end up picking and choosing the things you want to spend more time on because of the proximity to some amazing people around you.”

Future of innovation

In the next 10 -20 years Mokrian predicts that greater interaction between established corporations and startup ecosystems will be what enables new innovations and products. He is keenly interested in the incubation of startups from within corporations and explains that sometimes successful corporations fail, not because they are bad at what they do, but because they can become rigid and fail to recognise when agility is required: “Bringing in an outside ecosystem of innovators will extend product capabilities, help companies change their shape and capitalise on new ideas brought by founders and disrupters”. He cautions that the world is not static and that companies need to keep pace with emerging technology and the changes caused by globalisation, climate and urbanisation.

Pedram Mokrian’s love of problems has led to a successful career full of inspiring people and challenging ideas: “Once you’re into the venture ecosystem it’s amazing! You meet really interesting people who are constantly thinking about how the world evolves. Constant innovation is what you live and breathe on a daily basis”.

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