In 2003, the lead singer of the country music group, The Dixie Chicks, criticized then-current President George Bush during a concert in London. The reaction among the group's American fans, who were largely politically conservative, was visceral and negative. One irate fan sent the group a death threat, which offered them "clemency" if they would, "shut up and sing." Business leaders should not need a death threat to encourage them to follow similar advice, substituting "sell" for "sing."
The following guest post is from some of my former UC Santa Barbara students. I thought this post might be of interest to some of my readers, as it offers a glimpse into my approach to teaching entrepreneurship. Fall quarter of Sr. year proved to be a crucial time for the progression of brightblu – Ben, Sid, and Taylor see this as the period that sparked their entrepreneurial passion. Along with taking Sr. Design together, the course that introduced the idea for brightblu, they were concurrently taking three other classes: Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurial Marketing and Art of the CEO. These courses all proved to be serious influences on turning the dream of starting their own company into a reality. The biggest motivator for starting brightblu was John Greathouse’s Entrepreneurship class. He delivered a message to his students from the very first day that in order to reach your aspirations, you must be able to work hard and take risks. He conveyed his message in various ways, but the most memorable was a piece of literature he had them read called The Mouse Driver Chronicles, a true story about two Wharton MBA roommates who passed on their big salary job offers and followed the dream to launch their own business. After reading this book, Ben, Sid and Taylor realized they could do the same thing and become their own bosses. On the first day of class, Professor Greathouse told his students, “Take a look around the class, these are the people you will most likely start a company with,” and boy was he right. Every aspect of his course was aimed at preparing his students to build, execute and run their own business. Each week he brought in passionate and successful entrepreneurs to speak to his students and give advice about the different facets of creating a startup. Some of these influential speakers included Kevin O’Connor, founder of FindTheBest.com & DoubleClick and Simon Dixon, CEO of Idea Engineering. Along with bringing in a hall of fame cast of serial entrepreneur speakers, Professor Greathouse assigned his students weekly projects where his students would create their own venture and produce an executive summary. At the same time the brightblu team was building their actual company, they were learning and refining necessary business skills by creating made-up ventures. These weekly assignments not only equipped Ben, Sid, and Taylor with a strong foundation and critical knowledge of the most important aspects of creating a business, but also proved to be essential to building their entrepreneurial spirit. Once brightblu began to take off and started developing their product and technology, it was brought to their attention that there was an upcoming business contest called the UCSB New Venture Competition. From that point forward, the team felt a responsibility to not only win the competition but to do so by carrying out the entrepreneurial desire instilled in them by John Greathouse For a video interview between John Greathouse and Kevin O’Connor, check out: Kevin O’Connor Shares The Secrets Of Business Success. Ben, Sid and Taylor started BrightBlu while still students. Recent graduates, they are now pursuing the opportunity full time. Be sure to sign up as a Beta Tester of their innovative home automation solution here.
This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE From a venture capitalist’s point of view, there are no “trick” questions. However, certain questions can be tricky for an entrepreneur to answer. Below are five common questions an entrepreneur will encounter when seeking venture funding. These questions, which manifest themselves in numerous forms, all share a common underlying objective: to divine your motivations, expectations and desires. Handled appropriately, these questions provide investors a window into an entrepreneurs’ soul, which minimizes the chances of a future misalignment.
What American tech company is the coolest? A subjective, yet important question. The rest of the country may be in a recession, but hiring within the tech community remains highly competitive. Talented employees look for a number of tangible and intangible factors when deciding among multiple employment offers, including a company's cool factor. As such, a reputation as a cool company is a competitive advantage to be cultivated and coveted. With that in mind, Forbes readers have an opportunity to help crown America's Coolest Tech Company via a new crowdsource polling widget, created by Ranker, a Rincon Venture Partners' portfolio company.
The following guest post is from Dan Monarko, Online Marketing Manager at The Resumator, a SaaS applicant tracking system and hiring platform trusted by many of the fastest-growing companies in the world, including: Pinterest, Tumblr, Hootsuite, Klout, Posterous, Bitly, Atari and Mashable. I am a Board Member and an investor in The Resumator via Rincon Venture Partners. Your business is off the ground running and months or years of work brought you to this point. You, my lucky friend, are ready to hire your very first employee. This can be a very stressful exercise for many given the success or failure of your company can be directly tied to making the right choice for your first hire. What should you look for in hiring your first employee? Here are some tips to consider while prospecting and interviewing candidates for your first employee:
Business Plans are dead. Most sophisticated investors ignore them, focusing their attention on an entrepreneur's pitch and presentation materials, financial forecast and executive summary. As noted in Entrepreneurs Shouldn't Pitch Their Ideas To Venture Capitalists, most sophisticated investors place their bets on people rather than opportunities. As such, the primary goal of your executive summary is to open the door to an in-person meeting.
The following guest post is from Eric Gaydos, Buzz Marketing Manager at The Resumator, a SaaS applicant tracking system and hiring platform trusted by many of the fastest-growing companies in the world, including: Pinterest, Tumblr, Hootsuite, Klout, Posterous, Bitly, Atari and Mashable. I am a Board Member and an investor in The Resumator via Rincon Venture Partners. Much has changed in just the last 10 years of recruiting. Social recruiting tools are here, and your next resume will probably never actually be on a sheet of paper. You might have even found your current job on social media. Some things about recruiting and hiring are timeless; things us whippersnappers would do well to consider during our next round of hiring. Who better to turn to than someone who’s been in business for six decades? Here are some fantastic recruiting tips from Grandpa:
Note: This is an installment in the Iconic Advice series. Other installments include: Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Dell. Make no mistake, successful entertainers are entrepreneurs. They must compete with tens of thousands of other performers who are all pursuing the same customer dollars. At the outset of their careers, they are forced to market themselves with little to no budget and differentiate their product so that they gain adequate attention without alienating too many potential customers. It is too easy to say that an artist’s success is simply a matter of luck. Although a handful of performers achieve their goals soon after launching their careers, for most, preparation meeting opportunity is what leads to their success. In fact, many of the same precepts which lead to a startup’s success are also precursors to a performer’s stardom. You do not have to enjoy (or even respect) the music, costumes and outlandish behavior of pop-culture divas to learn from their entrepreneurial tenacity and drive.
The following guest post comes from Sean Percival, CEO of Wittlebee, a kids clothing club that sends its customers a new customized box of clothes every month, based on their children's age, color preferences and geographic location. I am an investor in Wittlebee via Rincon Venture Partners. In case you missed it, Pinterest is a new website capable of curing the common cold, solving world peace and doing your taxes. It’s literally that good. Really though, it’s a new bookmarking service that has been all the rage lately. Seeing how it just surpassed 10 million monthly visitors, it’s hard to deny there’s something there. Now that I think about it, I remember when we relaunched Myspace last year and the Pinterest team accused us of basically ripping off their layout. I knew that wasn’t the case so I also remember sarcastically tweeting at them something along the lines of ”Wow, you invented the grid layout? You guys are going to be rich!” I guess I was right.
Rapidly and repeatedly hiring star employees is a competitive advantage. Although this is a core competency that must be honed over time, there is a cadre of SaaS hiring tools that the world’s leading tech companies deploy to their advantage. No matter how rapidly a startup is growing, it can never afford to sacrifice employee quality as a means of achieving its hiring goals. A hiring mistake early in a startup’s life can be expensive, especially when opportunity costs are considered. The loss in productivity involved in transitioning a struggling employee out an organization, coupled with the time required to conduct a subsequent job search, can cripple a small company’s ability to achieve its strategic objectives.