Parenting An Entrepreneur – This Folktale Will Teach Your Children To Create Something From Nothing

A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.

Marcia Brown’s 1947 retelling of the classic French folktale Stone Soup is a de facto playbook for how to start a venture.

In Ms. Brown’s version of this oft-told tale, three soldiers enter a small town during a time of war. Initially, all of the villagers flee to their modest homes and shun the soldiers’ request for food and lodging. However, the villagers do not realize that these travelers are not merely foraging soldiers. They soon learn that they are entrepreneurs who will launch a magical venture that involves a restorative meal, a communal celebration and reassurance that better days are ahead.

Continue reading “Parenting An Entrepreneur – This Folktale Will Teach Your Children To Create Something From Nothing”

If I’d Only Known Then… A Boomer’s Millennial Pep Talk


A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.

Earnest Research Logo 3_17

“Point of view is worth 80 IQ points.”

Alan Curtis Kay, Personal Computer Pioneer

I recently was asked to speak at an all-hands meeting at one of my portfolio companies, Earnest Research. I always enjoy such opportunities, as it allows me to share my point of view as a startup veteran with millennials on the front-end of their careers.

When I was running my startups, I seldom took time away from nailing my daily To Do’s to objectively evaluate my team’s progress. Thus, as a serial offender of entrepreneurial myopia, I appreciate the perspective an experienced outsider can share regarding a venture’s true status.

Continue reading “If I’d Only Known Then… A Boomer’s Millennial Pep Talk”

Which School Generated The Most Startup/Tech Forbes 30 Under 30 Phenoms?

Forbes 30 under 30 1_17

I was pleased and proud when I learned that two of my former UC Santa Barbara students, Sieva Kozinsky, Founder of StudySoup and Eric Posen, Co-founder of Naritiv, made Forbes’ 2017 30 Under 30 list.

This caused me to wonder which schools generated the most awardees. To this end, with the help of Cameron Dennis, (one of my outstanding current students who will likely end up on the 30 Under 30 list someday), we researched the alma maters within Forbes’ startup and tech categories.

Continue reading “Which School Generated The Most Startup/Tech Forbes 30 Under 30 Phenoms?”

This Startup Airline Lets You Fly Everyday / Any Day – For A Flat Fee

Jeff Potter Surf Air 9_16

As noted in Success, Santa Barbara Style, my definition of success includes living where you want to live and making money doing what you love. For many entrepreneurs in Santa Barbara, achieving such success would be much more difficult if it weren’t for the emergence of an innovative airline – Surf Air.

Surf Air flies to 12 locations within California and members can fly as often as they like, paying a flat membership fee. I initially hesitated because I wanted to travel less, not more, and I was concerned that if I signed up to an “all you can fly” program, I would feel compelled to travel more in order to justify the fixed cost.

Continue reading “This Startup Airline Lets You Fly Everyday / Any Day – For A Flat Fee”

Why A Prominent Startup Executive Wants You To Fail, Get Fired And Focus

Article first published as Why A Prominent Start-up Executive Wants You to Get Fired and Fail on Technorati.

FailureKim Kovacs, Founder and CEO OptionEase, recently spoke to a class of emerging entrepreneurs at UC Santa Barbara. With over 700 customers, OptionEase has become the leading enterprise class SaaS solution for stock option and equity compensation tracking and compliance. Kim shocked some of the students by telling them that she hopes they fail.

In this 8-minute video excerpt from her talk, Kim describes why, “failure is my favorite word at my company now.” Kim also discusses the importance of focus and why she does not hesitate to hire people who have previously been fired. Continue reading “Why A Prominent Startup Executive Wants You To Fail, Get Fired And Focus”

Steve Blank Discusses The Origin And Future Of The Lean Startup Movement

Article first published as Steve Blank Discusses Origin And Future Of Lean Startup Movement on Technorati.

The Startup Owner's ManualI recently spoke with Steve Blank, author of the new book The Startup Owner’s Manual. Steve is also a Stanford Professor and noted marketing entrepreneur. He is credited with pioneering the Lean Startup Movement in 2005 via the publication of his bestselling, Four Steps To The Epiphany.

No matter how much you think you know about Steve’s lean startup philosophy, Eric Ries’ contributions to the movement, or the methodologies by which companies have put lean startup tenets into practice, I am confident you will be enlightened and entertained by Steve’s frank and insightful remarks.  Continue reading “Steve Blank Discusses The Origin And Future Of The Lean Startup Movement”

Entrepreneurship Is A Compulsion, Not A Choice

This entry originally appeared at Live Your Legend.

Frame“It is difficult to see the picture when you are inside the frame.”
Eugene Kleiner, Co-founder Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers

A small percentage of people in each free-market society generate the jobs for everyone else. These entrepreneurs do not risk everything, work outrageous hours and put themselves under extreme 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. Continue reading “Entrepreneurship Is A Compulsion, Not A Choice”

Hands-on Techniques To Avoid Hiring Wantrepreneurs

Note: This is Part IV in the Startup Team Building series. Read Part I HERE, Part II HERE and Part III HERE. This article originally appeared at HERE

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

A Wantrepreneur is a well-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 busy emailing their resumes to prospective employers.

The costs of a mis-hire during the early stages of your adVenture are dramatic. As such, deploy unconventional tactics to separate the ATM Operating Wantrepreneurs from the Bank Robbing entrepreneurs. Continue reading “Hands-on Techniques To Avoid Hiring Wantrepreneurs”

More Startup Tips From The Beatles

This part two of a series; you can access part one HERE.

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, Michael Dell and Larry Ellison.

Abbey RoadI recently reviewed Richard Courtney and George Cassidy’s published business book, Come Together – The Business Wisdom of The Beatles in the first entry of this series.

Although the Beatles’ phenomenal career encompasses numerous startup lessons, many of the anecdotes cited in Come Together are trivial, while others are painfully obvious. However, despite the book’s shortcomings, it contains a number of insightful lessons emerging entrepreneurs can apply to their startup careers. Continue reading “More Startup Tips From The Beatles”

7 Tools of Entrepreneurial Awesomeness

Kenny Powers As part of the UC Santa Barbara’s Distinguished Lecture Series, Emmy Award winner Seth Epstein and current Founder and CEO of SocialStay, described seven practical, hands-on techniques entrepreneurs can use to enhance their overall awesomeness.

Seth’s comments were particularly intriguing, as he attended UCSB but departed school before graduating in order to start a successful clothing company. Continue reading “7 Tools of Entrepreneurial Awesomeness”

Follow John’s Startup Oriented Twitter Stream!

Follow John’s Startup Oriented Twitter Stream. He promises to never Tweet about sunsets, kittens or awesome burritos.

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