Entrepreneurs: Feel Young, No Matter Your Age

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A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.

“People have always tended to segregate themselves by age, teenagers hanging around with teenagers, old people with old people…”

Tom Wolfe, The Pump House Gang

The secret to feeling young is to avoid age segregation and hang out with people both younger and older than yourself.

To this end, I have been partaking in weekly bike rides with three gentlemen, all of whom are a generation older than me. I have written about some of the wisdom I have received from my wise friends in several mentor articles.

When the Weather Channel heard about our riding group, they graciously provided us with matching jerseys to celebrate our multi-generational approach to friendship.

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Social Search – What Entrepreneur Needs To Know

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A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes.

It is no secret that Pinterest and other social commerce sites have begun to dial in the commerce equation. These sites (so far) have managed to balance facilitating product discovery and purchase capabilities with users’ desires to entertain and educate themselves without feeling like they are in a marketplace.

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UCSB Tops Harvard & Wharton In Startup Wars

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A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.

Want to be an entrepreneur? Don’t go to Wharton or Harvard. Instead, grab your surfboard and head to UC Santa Barbara.

According to a recent Forbes article, UC Santa Barbara’s Technology Management Program offers students a superior startup education over the University of Pennsylvania (home of Wharton), as well Harvard, Northwestern and even its acclaimed southern neighbor, the University of Southern California.

In addition, Entrepreneur Magazine recently included UCSB in its Top 50 Schools For VC Backed Entrepreneurs at number 37. A decent showing, but well below a number of larger schools, as the ranking is based on the number of graduates who secured VC funding.

Although UCSB has room to grow with regard to the total number of VC-backed startups it generates, the Santa Barbara region fares well when its relative size is taken into account. As shown below, it was recently ranked as the fifth most active metropolitan area in the US, in terms of venture deals and dollars, on a per capita basis.

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What is most surprising about UCSB’s national entrepreneurial ranking is that it doesn’t even have a business school. Instead of a traditional business school’s case study and textbook approach, UCSB’s Technology Management Program (TMP) emphasizes experiential learning.

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Forget Your Elevator Pitch, What’s Your Personal Pitch?

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A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.

Accomplished entrepreneurs appreciate the importance of crafting a succinct, well rehearsed description of their venture. This concise summary can be comfortably told during the duration of a reasonably brief elevator ride. Hence the term “elevator pitch.”

In contrast, a Personal Pitch differs from the classic elevator pitch, as the focus is on you and not your venture.

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Startups Must Embrace Their Unfair Rookie Advantage

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A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes.

There are a number of disadvantages to being a rookie, irrespective of the profession. Rookies must learn on the job, having few relevant experiences they can draw upon to resolve the daily workplace challenges. However, rookies possess a key advantage: they are unknown, which often leads their opponents to underestimate their abilities. In the case of a startup, this relative anonymity results in a powerful Rookie Advantage.

Late in the 1936 baseball season, a 17-year-old Iowa farm boy struck out fifteen St. Louis Browns’ batters in his first Major League baseball game. Shortly thereafter, he fanned seventeen Philadelphia Athletics’ players: an unprecedented feat for anyone, let alone a teenager with no professional sports experience.

How did this young, inexperienced athlete baffle so many veteran players? The answer is simple: the Browns and the Athletics had the misfortune of facing Bob Feller when he was completely unknown. There were no scouting reports on Mr. Feller because the Cleveland Indians circumvented league rules by drafting him directly from High School.

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Forget Cash: What Will You Really Make At Your Startup?

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A version of this article previously appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

I consistently remind my UC Santa Barbara startup students that for most people, money is not a sustaining motivator. They might start a venture with the money as a primary goal, but money alone generally isn’t an adequate catalyst. For this reason, I encourage my young entrepreneurs to fully understand what they will “make” at their venture, beyond monetary riches.

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Operate Your Startup Like A Grateful Dead Concert

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A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes.

Imagine the creativity and innovation you could unlock if you operated your company like a Grateful Dead concert. It may sound crazy, but it’s possible, once you create a culture in which your employees are: collaborative yet autonomous, inspired and not managed, and motivated by a collective higher purpose.

The factors which led to the formation of the Dead’s culture offer a number of lessons entrepreneurs can apply to their ventures.

One of the primary reasons the Grateful Dead have remained popular for over 40-years is due to the culture they nurtured among their community. Yes, the band also created an entertaining catalog of classic Americana music. However, it was not solely their music upon which they established their legacy.

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Startup Advisors: The Good, The Bad And The Commandos

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A version of this article previously appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

During the early part of the 20th century, New York City’s Tin Pan Alley was the epicenter of American popular music. During its heyday, Tin Pan Alley musicians devised an inexpensive yet effective method to obtain free, expert advice – they played their  songs to elderly doormen.

If the doormen could hum or whistle the tune after hearing it once or twice, then it was deemed suitable for release. Ultimately, this simple assessment became known as the “Old Gray Whistle Test” (OGWT), a reference to the doormen’s preponderance of gray hair.

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