Where Have All The Ideas Gone?

“Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope of further developments.”
Julius Sextus Frontinus, 10 A.D., Roman Engineer

It happens to every generation – the feeling that there are no new frontiers. The inevitable gloom that comes knowing that everything worth doing has been done. It even happens to people who should know better, such as David Packard who stated in The HP Way:
“During my sophomore year at Stanford…I remember lamenting that I had been born one hundred years too late, that all the frontiers had been conquered and that my generation would be deprived of the pioneering opportunities offered to our forebears. But in fact, we went on to make breathtaking advances in the twentieth century.”

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Entrepreneurial Enterviewing

enterviewing.JPGThey smile, they laugh on cue and they have a pat response for every conventional interview question. They profess to be entrepreneurs, but are they actually Wantrepreneurs?

A Wantrepreneur is a good intentioned person who wants to be an entrepreneur, but does not have the skills, personality and or risk profile to be successful. When the going gets tough (as it always does at any startup) the Wantrepreneurs get going.

The costs of hiring a Wantrepreneur during the early stages of your adVenture are dramatic. As such, sometimes you must deploy unconventional tactics to separate the ATM Operating Wantrepreneurs from the Bank Robbing entrepreneurs.

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Do They Believe?

Each generation, a few magnetic personalities emerge and generate a mania of public interest. Before Elvis, there was Sinatra. Before Sinatra, there was Bing. Before Bing, there was Caruso and before Caruso, there was Blondin.

Jean Francois Gravelot, who wisely abandoned his given name and dubbed himself The Great Blondin, was a true rock star of the 19th Century. On June 30, 1859, at the height of his fame, he stood before a crowd of 100,000 people at Niagara Falls.

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What If?

what if?
Did I ever tell you about the young Zoad
Who came to two sides in the fork in the road?
He looked one way then the other way, too.
So the Zoad had to make up his mind what to do.

If I go to place one, that place may be hot.
So how will I know if I like it or not?
On the other hand though, I’ll feel such a fool,
If I go to place two and find it’s too cool.

Play safe, cried the Zoad, I’m no dunce.
I’ll simply start off to both places at once.
And that’s how the Zoad who would not take a chance
Got no place at all with the split in his pants.

Dr Seuss – Excerpts from the poem The Zoad in the Road

Don’t Be a Zoad

Many would-be entrepreneurs struggle with the first step of the startup journey. In the hopes of mitigating their risk, they attempt to take multiple paths at the outset of their startup’s life. Starting off for two places at once is not playing it safe. Rather, this decision to not make a decision is a recipe for split pants and a failed venture.
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The Fringe

FringeEugene Kleiner, Co-founder of the VC firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, once said, “It is difficult to see the picture when you are inside the frame.”

A small percentage of people in each free-market society generate the jobs for everyone else. The people who create these jobs are solidly on The Fringe. They do not risk everything, work outrageous hours and put themselves under untold pressure because they want to. They certainly do not do it for the promise of riches. They do it because they have to, because they are driven to create something from nothing.

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Private Means Private or How To Avoid Dropping Trou

Private means PrivateOne of the few advantages you have as a small company is that you can keep your cards close to your vest. A major disadvantage of a public Big Dumb Company (“BDC”), as well as one that works closely with governmental agencies, is the degree to which they are forced to publicly disclose otherwise confidential information.

I hope that you are not thinking, “But J., you have told us that one of the most important aspect of a startup is the ability to effectively sell (see “Be Like Sam”). How can I sell if I cannot share information?”

If this question is in your head, please do all of us a favor, close this page and head over to Craig’s List. I am sure there are lots of good jobs available at Big Dumb Companies…

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The MBA Education And Other Oxymorons


Once early stage entrepreneurs learn that I earned an MBA from Wharton, they usually ask, “Should I pursue an MBA as well?” My initial response is, “If you want to be an entrepreneur, why would you possibly want an MBA?”

In certain instances, an MBA may make sense. However, for most entrepreneurs, the time and money required to earn an MBA is better spent launching your adVenture and learning on the job.

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Pattern Matching


Gestalt – an organized whole in experience which explains psychological phenomena by their relationships to total forms rather than their parts.


A Venture Capitalist friend of mine once told me that, “Venture Capital is really a game of pattern matching.” He noted that whenever he met an entrepreneur in search of funding, he did his best to match the person (and his team, as appropriate) to a ‘pattern’ he had seen before.

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Founderitis – A Ten Step Recovery Program

CavemanEveryone around you knows that you have it, but you are in denial. You say things like, “I am open to giving control to the right person at the right time”. However, the reality is that the “right person” does not exist and the “right time” never arrives.

Founderitis, Founder’s Disease, Founder’s Syndrome; by any name, this my way or the highway approach to running a business is the same affliction. When Founderitis strikes, the Founder’s drive, energy and vision, characteristics crucial to the startup’s initial success, become a hindrance to the company’s maturation into a self-sustaining entity.

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