‘Money usually follows ideas, not the other way around,’ technology developer tells graduating students


Nicholas Braithwaite

Grenada-born technology developer Nicholas Braithwaite who earned a degree in chemistry from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario  in 1982, returned to the university last week to receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

And  for the graduating students of the De Groote School of Business, Braithwaite, he  had a message.

” The world awaits you but it is not your degree that the world is awaiting.”

Braithwaite who co-founded nCHIP and developed devices such as cell phones and digital cameras, urged graduates to define their success ” not based on money  or fame or fortune  but based on the impact that you can have  on the lives of others .”

“What the world needs is your intellect,  your passion,  your energy  and your desire and ability  to make a difference.”

Noting that the world is filled  with challenges, he told them that  it “needs you to take on and solve  these challenges that include such things as global warming  gender imbalance  sexual harassment and abuse,  human trafficking,  increasingly open racial  and ethnic intolerance,  insensitive political leaders  corruption  poverty,  food and water security issues  the increasing gap between the  rich and the poor  the digital divide.”

” Please do not subscribe  to the thesis that the most important  requirement for solving problems  that exist in our planet today  is financial capital ,” said  Braithwaite,  co-founder  of Riverwood Capital in Menlo Park, California, a private equity firm that invests in high growth  technology.

He noted that although financial capital is necessary, “the ability to make a difference  is not a function of how much money one has.

”  It is more a function of how much  one cares.”

”  As a venture capital investor,  I can say with confidence  that money usually follows ideas  not the other way around .”

“In fact, my own experience  has taught me that in business  as well as in life.  the application of the right  intellectual capital  can often amplify  the value of limited financial  resources,” Braithwaite said.

The PETNA  Foundation, started by himself and his wife,  has been providing “financial resources  and intellectual capital to projects focussed on youth, education  and  community  development” in  developing countries.

In  a telephone interview after receiving his honorary doctorate, Braithwaite noted the importance of university education with respect to  sustainable growth .

“You cannot drive new job  creations which is what you need for economic growth  unless you improve your productivity  and the best way to improve productivity  in my opinion  is to improve  the output of your tertiary  institutions ,” he told  the Caribbean Camera.