In an episode of the popular 1990’s TV sitcom Seinfeld, Kramer, played by Michael Richards, begins “working” at the fictional Brandt - Leland Investment Firm by simply showing up, attending meetings and acting as if he is part of the team. Although the plot was obviously devised for comic effect, it serves to illustrate that non-conventional methods of infiltrating Big Dumb Companies (BDCs) are often effective. The key is to avoid the adverse fate suffered by Kramer at the conclusion of this particular episode.
Question: How do I identify a great adVenture opportunity? Answer: (Passion + Solvable) * Sufficient Reward = Great adVenture Venture Ideas are like hobbies. You do not discover a hobby, hobbies discover you. Hobbies arise from activities that you initially engage in casually and you eventually fall in love with. Thus, adVenture opportunities will generally arise from your proclivities and interests. In the normal course of pursuing areas that naturally interest you, if identify a problem that you are passionate about solving and the resulting reward is sufficient to satisfy your desires, you will eventually realize that you have stumbled upon a great adVenture.
Below is a talk on New Venture Investing from the University of California Santa Barbara's Technology Management Program, by Jim Andelman. In this video Jim Andelman explores venture capital investing and the emergence of capital efficient businesses. Bio: Jim Andelman, co-founder and General Partner of Rincon Venture Partner Jim is a co-founder and General Partner of Rincon Venture Partners. In this capacity, he is responsible for driving the fund’s investment activities, as well as the firm’s operations. Jim has more than fifteen years of experience in venture capital investing, technology investment banking and advisory services and strategic business consulting. Previously, Jim led software investing at Broadview Capital Partners, a $250 million expansion-stage venture capital firm. Jim was responsible for developing investment themes, sourcing investment opportunities, performing company assessments, negotiating and executing transactions, and advising portfolio companies. Jim led the assessment of over 300 investment opportunities, participated in the deployment of $78 million across five portfolio companies, four of which exited via acquisition despite a challenging macroeconomic environment.
Americans are the most generous people on the planet. Arthur Brooks, a public administration Professor at Syracuse University and author of, Who Really Cares: America's Charity Divide, cites the following facts: “Americans per capita individually give about three and a half times more money per year, than the French per capita. Seven times more than the Germans and 14 times more than the Italians. The fact is that Americans give more than the citizens of any other country.” Several factors account for Americans’ generosity, including its citizens’ spirituality and their belief that individuals, not governments should assist those in need. Another significant, yet non-altruistic factor is America’s tax system, which incentivizes charitable giving.
As Founder and CEO of Motown Records, Berry Gordy devised an effective methodology to objectively evaluate and critique the label’s music. Gordy created a unique culture which deemphasized cronyism and encouraged open and honest debate regarding the subjective quality of the company’s creative output. During the 1960’s, Motown’s artistic success was unprecedented. From 1960 through 1971, Motown released 111 singles which entered Billboard’s top-ten ranking, of which 28 rose all the way to #1. Startups consistently identify more ideas and opportunities than they have the time or resources to pursue, such as potential partnerships, new products, entering emerging markets, etc. Motown’s disciplined quality control techniques can be mimicked by startups to objectively evaluate which initiatives should be pursued in the near-term, which should be considered in the future and which should be dismissed entirely.
Noted entrepreneurial blogger and respected Venture Capitalist, Mark Suster, who is also a Partner at GRP Partners, recently published a great post related to influence and persuasion, which is excerpted below: ---------------------------------------------- Mark Suster - Both Sides Of The Table I recently read a book I’d highly recommend to every reader of this blog called “Yes, 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive” by Robert B. Cialdini who is also author of a very well received book called “Influence” (which I plan to read). “Yes” was given to me by one of my favorite angel investor / seed VC’s to work with – John Greathouse of Rincon Venture Partners and author of the blog InfoChachkie that you should check out because it is filled with great info from a guy who has been a very successful operator. Rincon is part of the new breed of Seed Stage VCs and with the leadership of Jim Andelman has charted out the most authentic early-stage investment strategy in Southern California. Any SoCal entrepreneur raising early-stage money should put Rincon on their short list. John gave me the book after I spoke at his entrepreneurship class at UCSB. I was excited to read it because Robert Cialdini had been a speaker at Google when my wife worked there and she told me that many members of the senior management team at Google had been raving about his work. I decided not to be bothered by the cheesy title and to read it anyhow. You should, too. (no, I don’t take affiliate commissions!) ------- If you are not already a subscriber of Mark's Both Sides of the Table blog, you need to be. There is a reason Both Sides of the Table is one of the most well-read startup blogs. I strongly encourage you to check it out.
“Good Lord Boyet, my beauty, though but mean, Needs not the painted flourish of your praise: Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye, Not uttered by base sale of chapmen's tongues” William Shakespeare, British Playwright, from Love's Labour’s Lost, 1598 Intellectual Property (IP) is an ugly thing at a startup. It requires you to expend your two most valuable resources, your time and your money. Yet, it does nothing to help you execute your business model. However, to a Big Dumb Company (BDC), a startup’s IP is a thing of beauty. Although BDCs often act irrationally, in this instance, their perception of beauty is highly rational.
In early December of 1818, Jose de la Guerra devised a brilliant plan to thwart the French pirate Hippolyte de Bouchard who was lurking off the coast of Santa Barbara, contemplating an attack. Even though the Santa Barbara garrison was outmanned nearly six to one, Commandant de la Guerra tricked de Bouchard into believing that his force was formidable by repeatedly marching his small cavalry over a ridge that could be readily seen from the pirate’s ship. Each time the men crossed the hill and descended out of view, they changed clothing, mounted different horses and then paraded again before the pirates. This ruse caused the pirates to assume that each corps of horsemen was a different contingent of soldiers streaming into the Presidio. Believing he was outnumbered, Hippolyte aborted his plan to sack Santa Barbara and proceeded south where he subsequently pillaged San Juan Capistrano. Entrepreneurs can emulate de la Guerra’s strategy and make their adVenture appear far larger than reality and thus increasing its influence and market reach while discouraging competitive threats by creating an industry alliance.
In 1980, following the breakup of the American band The Eagles, Don Henley was asked when the group would reunite. His response, “When hell freezes over.” Surprisingly, hell froze over 14-years later, when The Eagles launched a highly lucrative tour and TV special. According to Guitarist Glenn Frey, "We never broke up, we just took a 14-year vacation." The story is familiar. A young band gets into music for the sex, drugs and fame. They record a few songs, have a couple hits and then hit the road. The rigors of touring, along with the instant notoriety and unending public scrutiny cause the band to disintegrate, often to the point of declaring they will never work together again. In many cases, once the money (and sex and drugs) run out, the band members forget the days of rancor and only recall the “good old days” when creating something from nothing was fun. Eventually one of the band mates swallows their pride, picks up the phone and proposes a reunion tour. A similar phenomenon occurs in the startup world, without the drugs or drama endemic in the music industry.
Below is a talk on Cloud Computing from the University of California Santa Barbara's Technology Management Program, by Michael Crandell. I think you will be surprised by what the CEO of this industry-leading cloud computing has to say about the future of the Cloud. Full Bio: Michael Crandell, CEO and Founder of Right Scale Michael Crandell is the CEO and a founder of RightScale, where he provides the vision and direction for the company as it pioneers innovative ways to bring the power of cloud computing to any organization. Crandell is a frequent speaker at cloud computing industry conferences, and he has played a major role in helping establish and promote openness and transparency in the cloud market. Prior to RightScale, he served as CEO at several Internet Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) companies and as executive vice president at eFax.com. Crandell received his B.A. from Stanford University and completed graduate studies at Harvard University.