A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. Andrew Fuller (left) and Jonas Bolduan I encourage my UC Santa Barbara entrepreneurial students to err on the side of action and to take chances. To this end, I give them extra credit if they exercise their networking skills by attending off-campus, professional events and practice their Personal Pitch: (i) who they are, (ii) where they are going in their life and, (iii) how they are going to get there. I was recently impressed with the networking skills of one of my international students, Jonas Bolduan, who hails from Germany. Most of my American students, for which English is a first language, networking in their home country, do not exhibit Jonas' courage or confidence.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. Skateboard legend and award-wining filmmaker Stacy Peralta recently shared a compelling insight as part of UC Santa Barbara’s Distinguished Speaker Series. He noted that when he inadvertently created the world’s first action-sports video in 1984, no one anticipated how it would dramatically accelerate the maturity of the sport of skateboarding. The knowledge imparted by the videos allowed mediocre kids to become good and good skaters to become great.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. I recently had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kobie Fuller, current Partner at Upfront Ventures and former All Ivy, Top Ten Nationally Ranked track star at Harvard. I spoke with Kobie as part of UC Santa Barbara’s Distinguished Speaker Series. Kobie made a number of interesting points during our discussion, including the fact that not all sports are created equal. While every sport contributes to the development of each participant’s character, objective sports distinctly hone people for success, because they instill the unambiguous correlation between preparation and results. From this reality, it is not a leap to conclude that people who are drawn to objective sports are also typically better suited to the stark measurement of success and failure in the startup world.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. Last week, LogMeIn completed its merger with the GoTo services previously owned by Citrix (GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, GoToTraining, etc.). Ironically, this merger might never have happened if I had been more persuasive back in 2003.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. There are two macro trends occuring within venture capital (VC) which are combining to have a transformative impact. The VC landscape has morphed into a barbell structure, with lots of small funds on one hand and a handful of large, megafunds on the other end, with few moderate-sized funds in between. As shown in the graph below, the number of funds comprised of less than $100 million more than doubled from 2013 to 2015. Graph via CB Insights
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. Businesses typically use LinkedIn to recruit employees. However, savvy startups can leverage LinkedIn to create a customer acquisition and a churn reduction tool. In particular, one of Rincon Venture Partner’s portfolio companies, SimpleLegal, has had so much success mining LinkedIn for customers that the CEO was initially reluctant for me to name his company in this article, fearing his competitors will mimic their common sense, yet clever approach.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. A friend recently asked me to give his startup-minded daughter some advice to help her vet undergraduate entrepreneurial programs. As I thought about the characteristics that comprise a great program, I identified five criteria that a prospective entrepreneurial student can use to evaluate the efficacy of a collegiate entrepreneur curriculum.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. Novelist and High School Dropout Louis L'Amour knew the importance of seemingly unimportant people (AP Photo) “Growth hacking” is one of today’s most overused terms, yet despite its trendiness, it predates the Internet by centuries. Entrepreneurs have been seeking clever shortcuts to spur their growth and circumvent their competitors since the dawn of commerce. By looking backward, modern entrepreneurs can co-opt the hacks from a pre-digital age that remain relevant today. These clever ideas often come from unusual sources, including an uneducated carnival operator, an author who dropped out of High School at 15, the owner of a laundry company who ran away from home as a teenager and a restaurateur who left school at the age of 13. That’s right, all of the growth hacks described below were created by High School (and Junior High) dropouts.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. Despite his non-existent education and numerous personal demons, James Brown was a gifted entrepreneur who reveled in proving Conventional Wisdom wrong. In the early 1960’s, it was generally believed that soul music needed to be watered down (think Motown) in order to crossover to white consumers. It was also considered gospel that artists should not produce live albums, as such records would reduce concert attendance. James proved the record industry experts wrong, on both counts.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. L-to-R: John Greathouse, unknown woman about to slap John, Reed Shaffner, Jerry Jao & Ara Mahdessian My venture firm, Rincon Venture Partners recently teamed with Jason Lemkin, Founder of SaaStr, to host the first SaaStrX event. I had the honor of moderating a panel of three SaaS CEOs who have collectively raised nearly $40 million of venture capital and are on their way to breakout success: Reed Shaffner of Workpop, Jerry Jao of Retention Science and Ara Mahdessian from ServiceTitan.