The Highs (and Lows) of Starting Your Own Company

Ayah Bdeir describes how she created littleBits, a toy company that makes electronics accessible to everyone. 

More

Ayah Bdeir was "always a maker, a tinkerer," she explains. "I was also a breaker! I broke a lot of stuff." This creative spirit led her to study computer engineering and sociology in Lebanon before finding her way to the MIT Media Lab, where her work explored the intersection of technology, art, and social commentary. Along the way she discovered a need to make engineering more accessible to nonexperts like artists, designers, and kids. 

Fast forward a few years and the company she created, littleBits, allows anyone to make (and break) electronic circuits with a grab bag of interchangeable, candy-colored components that snap together magnetically. The company now consists of a team of technologists based in SoHo ant the open-source toys have been featured in a TED talk by Bdeir. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art acquired littleBits for their permanent collection.

But getting here wasn't easy, Bdeir says in this interview for Atlantic Video's Advice to a Younger Me series. "There are a lot of challenges with starting a company," she explains. "It eats away at every single second of your day, at every single fiber of your being ... so it has to be something that you are just obsessed with!" Her advice to young entrepreneurs is somewhat counterintuitive, as a result: "naiveté is important" when you're starting a company.

To see what the latest littleBits Exploration Kits look like in action, check out the video below.

 

Jump to comments

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Video

Just In