The *ship Crew was invited to judge teams at Summer Launchpad, an 8-week business incubator organized by LUT Entrepreneurship Society in Lappeenranta. That is when we also got to meet Jamie Hyneman, an honorary professor at Lappeenranta University of Technology, more popularly known for his work with MythBusters, science entertainment television program. We asked him a few questions about entrepreneurship, startup life and team-building.

You mentioned earlier that failure is good and by that you can advance, so what has been your biggest failure and what did you gain from it?

In a way failure was going through, trying a bunch of different things, not necessarily failing at them but not having a clear direction. On one hand it was anything but a failure, because it provided a body of experience but on the other hand, it made me realize that after a while people often don’t get methodical of making choices in their lives. I went to school, I had a degree in Russian, I had a pet store, I worked at the UN in Geneva, I did all these different things and finally, I stopped. And then I went to the Caribbean and bought a boat, just out of the blue, and decided that I was gonna do that because it was so beautiful there. I ran a charter business for four years; I had the thought that this is actually really fun, and you know, why would anyone want to do anything but this?

Fours years and some seven thousand tourists later, I was tired of sailing and it wasn’t fun anymore. That caused me to ask what fun really was. So I made a list – and that was before the internet – I went to the library and I was very methodical. I decided I should go into special effects for a living, because it was creative and it was very hands-on and reached a lot of people.

By asking “what is it that I really want?”, “who am I”, “what appeals to me?” and “what would be fun for to for living?” – and realizing that all I have to do is be really clear about that and ask questions and I would know what my career should be and what I should do about it.

Okay, that’s a great answer. Next, I have short one: the startups are all about team-building, so, what are the three most important things for team-building?

Diversity; Rather than picking people that are your friends or people who think like you, maybe you should do the opposite. Diversity of input that you would get as a result is a great asset. It lends perspective to a problem or if you are all thinking the same way, there might as well just be one of you, you know. Pick people that are different than you to give you that different perspective. It will allow you to move through contingencies and problems a lot better. It may be irritating to work with people that are different, but if you respect them, in the long run you will come out ahead.

Secondly, in team-building with people who are like you and have similar ideas – again making the priority of having respect is something that is paramount, [so as to avoid ending] up with a group of people who are willing to compete with you or insist on a thing because it is something that they came up with rather than because it was good idea. So yeah, put the priority on the idea, on the goal, rather than on your ego and find people who are capable of doing that.

Great answer! Thank you, Jamie.


Group photo with Jamie Hyneman

Antti Viitanen, *ship Captain, pitching to Jamie Hyneman