Ambassador Adrian Zuckerman at the Innovation Labs Virtual 2020 Demo Day

October 15, 2020, 18:37

President Iohannis, fellow ambassadors, distinguished judges, entrepreneurs and guests. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address this special group: Romanian entrepreneurs. You are the very people who will help Romania become a regional leader, a leader in technology, in economic development, in financial security. Entrepreneurs throughout the ages have been the driving force propelling their countries to greatness. The United States from its early days has supported entrepreneurs from Thomas Edison to Elon Musk. The entrepreneurial spirit has made the United States the economic powerhouse it is today. Romania is now on that same path, with companies that started small, like BitDefender and UiPath. Fifteen years ago UiPath was a small start-up that has grown now to be named the top technology company in the world by the Financial Times.

Today, we live under circumstances no one could have imagined a year ago. The challenges we face now and in the near future, to create a new normalcy and rebuild our economies, are actually opportunities for you and your fellow entrepreneurs.

You have already achieved success as winners in this competition. I encourage you to continue and be even more successful. It won’t always be easy. You have all faced failure at some point as you strove to complete your projects, and you will continue to encounter failure; it is a natural part of the entrepreneur system. But do not get discouraged; overcome the obstacles, as you have in the past. As Thomas Edison once said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

When I was in college, the most popular course was a mechanical engineering course taught by Professor Woody Flowers. The students would break up into small groups and each group was given a cigar box filled with identical items. The mission for each group was to build a device that performed a specific task by the end of the semester. Even though everyone started with the same exact materials, no two devices were the same. Some worked better than others, some did not work at all. But everyone persevered. The creativity and ingenuity of the students was incredible.

Out of this “ can-do” attitude came many inventors and entrepreneurs, some of whom I know personally, such as Colin Angle, founder and chairman of iRobot; Brad Feld, start-up entrepreneur and venture capitalist; Jeet Singh and Joe Chung, the creators of Guitar Hero; Carl Dietrich, one of the first inventors of the flying car; Frank Van Mierlo, a solar power panel developer; and many others.

The one thing they all had in common is they all believed in themselves, in their ideas and their abilities to make their ideas successful – “I can do it!” I want each and every one of you to believe in yourselves and your ideas – “You can do it!” Keep pushing and striving to make your ideas successful; don’t take “no” for an answer! If you can think it, you can do it! Go for it! You are going to be great and you will make Romania and the world great too!

I would like thank Innovation Labs for organizing this event and continuing to promote and support the next generation of Romania’s innovators. We have enjoyed working with you in the past and look forward to continued collaboration in the future.

My sincere thanks, also, to Roxana Vitan and her team at the Romanian-American Foundation. Their support of this program is just one of the many, many ways the Foundation has worked to improve the lives of Romanians, and we are proud to partner with them in many of their endeavors.

Thank you also to the judges, who took time out from their busy schedules to give back to their community and make this evening’s event possible.

And finally, thank you to those of you presenting your work here this evening, for having the courage and perseverance to develop your ideas and creating solutions to the many problems we face. You are our future; we are relying on you!

Good luck with your work, and may God bless you.