A version of this article previously appeared on Inc. The words "failure" and "the Beatles" seldom appear in the same sentence. However, the Beatles' early career was a series of failures, culminating in their unsuccessful audition with the leading record company of their era, Decca Records. This particular failure nearly caused the band to breakup. At the time of Decca's rebuff, the Beatles had been performing under various monikers for nearly five years. Most groups would have returned to Liverpool and continued to play occasional gigs while beginning their working class careers. Fortunately, the Beatles were not "most groups."
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. In order to extract value beyond your Angel investors' cash, you must first assess three important parameters: (i) the relative strength of their personal brand, (ii) their ability to add operational value, and (iii) the amount of care and feeding they will demand from you. Angel investors are often the sole source of funding for startups at the critical pre-launch stage. Ideally, such early-stage investors should have the experiences and motivation to help their ventures establish a sustainable business model, rather than simply writing a check before moving on to their next investment.
Photo Courtesy of Beth Sipula - all rights reserved A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. In his latest film Argo, Ben Affleck simultaneously tackles the roles of producer, director, writer and leading actor. These varied responsibilities are analogous to those of a startup CEO, as movie production crews are essentially temporary ventures. Just like a high-tech startup CEO, Ben was tasked with: identifying a great idea, raising money, recruiting the team, building a commercial product, positioning marketing and distributing the product and eventually exiting the venture.
A version of this article previously appeared on Inc. Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon album (DSOTM) only reached #1 on the US charts for a single week. However, it remained in the Top 200 for an astounding 14 years and 3 months. Despite being released in 1973, a remastered version of the album sold 800,000 copies in 2003. By 2012, total sales exceeded 50 million copies and founding band member Roger Waters was cited by Forbes as the second highest paid musician of the year, pulling in $88 million. Entrepreneurs can learn a great deal from the manner in which Pink Floyd created DSOTM. Their deep understanding of their customers, an uncompromising drive to create a quality product and the courage to ignore the music industry's formulaic approach to producing hits resulted in the creation one of the top selling non-compilation albums of all time.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Someone on Quora recently asked me to answer the following question: Why Do Digital Entrepreneurs Hate MBAs? As I stated in my Quora answer, "hate" is the wrong word. Tech entrepreneurs' consternation with MBAs does not rise to the level of loathing. Rather, entrepreneurs' frustrations are often due to an incongruence between an MBA's expectations versus the value they can deliver to a startup.
A version of this article previously appeared on Inc. Someone on Quora recently asked me to answer the following question: How can I avoid repeating the big job disappointments of my past? This caused me to ponder some of my career choices. As I thought about my past career missteps, I had to admit to myself that in each case there were clear warning signs that I chose to either discount or ignore entirely.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Because of the rapid pace with which Venture Capitalists review investment opportunities, they must employ pattern matching techniques which include identifying common fundraising deal breakers. Fortunately, most deal breakers can be avoided, with a bit of pro-active thought and deft execution.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Venture Capital is a game of pattern matching. Whenever a VC assesses a potential investment opportunity, they attempt to match the entrepreneur(s), their solution, and intended markets with a pattern they have previously encountered.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. It just happened again. A well-intentioned colleague introduced me to a stranger via email, without first confirming with me that the intro was welcomed. Such "blind"matchmaking is more often than not a waste of everyone’s time: the person making the introduction, the person being introduced and me. Don’t get me wrong. Despite my occasional ranting, (see The Worst Networking Call Ever), I like people and I enjoy making new connections. When I am not complaining, I strive to be a mensch and I pride myself in helping as many people as my time and talents allow. As such, it is especially frustrating when I have to spend my limited time apologizing to a stranger as to why I am unable to offer them meaningful assistance after they were introduced to me without my consent.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. As part, of UC Santa Barbara’s Distinguished Lecture Series, Eucalyptus Systems' CEO, Marten Mickos shared his insights and advice regarding what it takes to be a serially successful entrepreneur. Marten has enjoyed a celebrated entrepreneurial career. As an early executive at MySQL, he helped build the company into the world's most used open source database. MySQL was eventually acquired by Sun Microsystems for $1 billion.