This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. Serial entrepreneur Seth Epstein recently gave a keynote address as part of the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Distinguished Lecture Series. During his inspirational talk, Seth shared six hands-on exercises that entrepreneurs can use to harness their fears. Seth began his entrepreneurial career when he dropped out of the University of California, Santa Barbara at 19 years old to start a clothing company, which he eventually built into a national line of denim products featured at Nordstrom, Macy's and Neiman Marcus. Seth was also the Founder and CEO of FUEL, a broadcast design firm that Razorfish acquired for more than $30 million, and is an Emmy Award winner for his work rebranding ESPN's X-Games.
This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. Philo Farnsworth created a technology which underlies one of the 20th Century’s most ubiquitous products, yet he died a man of modest means and is relatively unknown today. Philo was an inventor, not an innovator. He was primarily motivated by the educational potential of his invention, not the wealth it might generate. He freely shared his ideas and technology with others in the hopes that such openness would advance his scientific field of study. Philo’s fellow researchers were not the only people who benefitted from his discoveries. Numerous innovators capitalized upon them as well, creating dozens of multi-billion-dollar enterprises.
This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. According to a January 2012 Forbes article, nearly 16% of the 400 most affluent Americans do not have a college degree. When one considers the 400 richest people on the entire planet, the percentage of non-college graduates doubles. Shocking? Hardly. PayPal Co-founder Peter Thiel has granted 24 people under 21 years old $100,000 each, with plans to allocate additional scholarships in coming years. The primary stipulation is that each Thiel Fellow must drop out of college, for at least two years, and pursue their “entrepreneurial ventures, research and self-education.” For many entrepreneurs, college has little appeal. Academia’s arbitrary, bureaucratic structure, combined with its predominant focus on theoretical issues, causes many entrepreneurs to depart college early. Others, such as Walt Disney and Richard Branson never even enroll.
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” Eleanor Roosevelt - US Diplomat & Wife of President Franklin Roosevelt As an entrepreneur, I helped create companies which achieved two IPOs and two trade sales totaling $385 million. During those same 15-years, I made innumerable mistakes. Entrepreneurship is best learned experientially, both directly and through the experiences of others. Hopefully this article and the accompanying six-minute video will help you avoid learning these mission-critical lessons the hard way.
Because Your Big Break May Start As A Little One This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. Ever heard of the band “Five Cool What?” No? I am not surprised. When opportunity knocked, rather than busting open the door, they first asked, “What do you want?” In 1987 the band was discovered by Ron Fair, a rising executive at Chrysalis Records. Ron brought the band into Chrysalis’ headquarters and introduced them to his staff. According to one of the band members, “They were swooning over us.” Once the tour concluded, the group returned to Ron’s office where he notified them that he would initially sign them to a development deal. He made it clear that this approach would allow the band to re-cut a few of their demos, which he would use to persuade the label to sign the band to a full-fledged recording contract. Without consulting anyone else in the group, one of the members leaned forward and dramatically delivered a line that would haunt each band member for the remainder of their musical careers, “Ron. That deal sounds like a field goal. We’re looking for a touchdown.” Not surprisingly, Five Cool What never spoke with Ron again and failed to score a safety, let alone a touchdown.
“One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not.” Steven Ellis, Professional Pitcher Major League baseball pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than they actually do pitching. The same should be true of an entrepreneur who is attempting to secure money from sophisticated investors. The steps outlined below represent an ideal approach to raising capital from sophisticated investors. Unfortunately, your fundraising efforts will be less linear. You might be at Step 2 with one VC and Step 3 with another. However, the greater degree you can sequentially follow these steps and maintain your discussions with each venture capitalist (VC) at relatively the same stage, the sooner you can spend less time in the company of investors and get back to running your business.
During my tenure at Expertcity (creator of GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting), one of my responsibilities was leading our online marketing, a role I retained until our eventual acquisition by Citrix. When we launched GoToMyPC in 2001, the rules of online marketing were still being written. Along with GoToMyPC, companies like Netflix, Classmates and ZoneLabs were learning from each other. Since then, the craft of advertising online has matured from an art to a science.
This entry originally appeared on Forbes HERE Although it is tempting to overly intellectualize modern-day venture capital, its underlying construct has been part of human society for thousands of years. From the earliest days of seafaring traders, affluent dilettantes have been entrusting their capital to less-affluent, enterprising workers willing to share a portion of the resulting gain with their benefactors. Two early venture capitalists were King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who backed Christopher Columbus. The traits these royal investors sought in Columbus are surprisingly similar to the characteristics modern investors look for when evaluating startup teams.
In his book Enchantment , Guy Kawasaki encourages entrepreneurs to immerse their audience in their “cause”, in order to enchant them. One of the immersion techniques Guy promotes is to offer a hands-on trial, in which the prospective customer can touch, feel and experience your product before purchasing it. If you care to learn more about the enchantment process, you may want to watch my interview with Guy HERE, in which he provides a number of enchanting tips and tricks.
Article first published as Why A Prominent Start-up Executive Wants You to Get Fired and Fail on Technorati. Kim 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.