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Meet the Presenters: Sam De Brouwer

With less than six weeks to go before TEDxSanFrancisco, we sit down with each of the presenters to get a glimpse of what we can expect on stage. First up is curator and presenter Sam De Brouwer, a serial entrepreneur who led TEDxBrussels from 2009 to 2014. Most recently, she co-founded Scanadu, a VC backed venture developing a suite of medical grade devices for the consumer market. She designed and implemented the most successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for a medical device, raising $1.6 million, then shipped and kicked off the largest remote clinical study. Sam has seen the inner workings of startups, research labs, global non-profits and more. We dig in with her on the entrepreneurial spirit, changing global dynamics and what it will take to close the gender gap.


When it comes to entrepreneurship, what should we “dare to know”? Entrepreneurs are vehicles of change. We’re problem solvers. We wake up every day to solve problems, so we better like the problems we’re trying to solve, and “dare to know” solutions that others overlook.

We’re starting to see an influx of Chinese investments in American tech companies. What can we expect in the next decade? China will lead the charge for the first half of the 21st century. It’s not only about capital in US companies but also about the ambitions that some of the largest companies have.

Take Alibaba. Very recently Jack Ma shared at his shareholders’ meeting that Alibaba’s mission is to create the new silk road. They want to enable any human being with a smartphone who can sell or buy something to use “their road.” And they’re building it.

Any company with global ambitions not understanding the Chinese mindset will not be able to become “global” by definition. That’s exactly what Michael Zeisser will share with us at TEDxSanFrancisco. He is a VC, but sees himself as bridge builder first.

From Apple’s decline in revenue growth to Yahoo’s acquisition, many believe that large companies will ultimately hit caps on growth. Where do you stand? As a large global company, today you can only have growth in China. You simply can not miss that market. Perhaps it’s a sign for important M&A activity coming up.

There has been increased pressure on leaders and businesses to close the gap between women and men — the hiring gap, the pay gap, and the funding gap. But we have yet to see results. What will it take to create an equal playing field? Sometimes you just have to do it. By that I mean there are many conversations, projects, platforms, and they’re all very useful. At the end of the day, we founders, CEOs, and direct managers MUST just enact change at every single level. We need to have that conversation and make sure our teams know it is part of the DNA of what we’re building. I like what Theresia Gouw and Kara Swisher are doing. They’re role models for me, and they inspire our communities and our kids. They’re just doing it, and we need more of that — in VC, media, and more. I am a founder too. Every time I need to hire, I discuss the topic with my cofounder and my teams, and make sure they know it’s high on my list of priorities.

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