Consulting Associate Professor, Hasso Plattner Institute for Design at Stanford University
Perry is one of our outsiders. Not a professor by nature, he’s an entrepreneur to the core. He received his master’s from Stanford in the Product Design program in 1991 and has taught there periodically since 1996. Perry left Stanford with his master’s thesis in hand: a single high performance snowshoe. (Yes. Snowshoe.) Perry was hell-bent on starting his own business and left Stanford with the expectation that the world would beat a path to his door to get his modern snowshoe. That didn’t happen, at least not right away. Perry had a new product idea, without an established market, requiring him to build an entire sport around snowshoeing. This experience engaged disciplines well beyond engineering. Perry ultimately turned his thesis project into a business, Atlas Snowshoe Company, which still manufactures and markets the best snowshoes in the category it created. Through this experience he learned two things: you can’t do anything significant on your own–you need a team, and engineering something is not nearly as much fun as marketing what you have engineered.