I began publishing my blog in 2007. For the first couple years, I wrote under the pseudonym Uncle Saul. I was hesitant to use my own name, as I did not want my blog to be perceived as a self-promotional vanity project. By early 2010, I found my stylistic voice and identified my audience of emerging entrepreneurs and thus dropped my penname. In addition, my role as Partner at Rincon Venture Partners provided me with a business reason to invest additional time and effort into my humble blog. Last January, I decided to increase the quality and frequency of my blog entries, with the hope that I would generate a corresponding increase in readership. I was not disappointed.
I just got off the phone with someone who wanted my help getting networked into the Santa Barbara business community. Little did I know when the call began, that it would end up being the worst networking call in which I have ever partaken.
Article first published as Unlike You, Mark Zuckerberg And Bill Gates Can Go Both Ways on Technorati. Karch Kiraly (pronounced “cartch kur-ai”) is an anomaly. He is the only person to win Olympic gold medals in both indoor and beach volleyball. Just as Karch is a rarity, so are entrepreneurs who are equally facile at startups and Big Dumb Companies (BDCs). Many of these gifted few are household names, partly because they represent such a rare breed: Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. All of these Founders managed their startups from launch to BDC success.
I recently reviewed Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson’s book Venture Deals, in THIS ENTRY. I concluded that it is an effective tool for leveling the playing field between sophisticated investors and emerging entrepreneurs. I have subsequently recommended the book to number of students as well as emerging entrepreneurs, all of whom expressed positive feedback. Thus, I was excited when Brad agreed to chat with me via Skype to discuss the book’s genesis, along with the reaction of his fellow venture capitalists to the book’s revelation of numerous fundraising “secrets.”
Article first published as Eleven Startup Tips From Mark Cuban on Technorati. Note: This is an installment in the Iconic Advice series. Other installments include: Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson. Mark Cuban is a lifelong serial entrepreneur, launching his startup career with a variety of teenage schemes, including buying and selling collectable stamps to pay for college. In 1983 he founded MicroSolutions, a personal computer software reseller and system integrator, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. He steadily grew MicroSolutions over the next seven years and eventually sold it to CompuServe in 1990.
In Everything (Including Startups) Is A Remix, I discuss the brilliant series of films created by Kirby Ferguson, which focus on the origin of creativity in music, film and business. Kirby’s videos entertainingly illustrate that the building blocks of creativity, irrespective of the creation, are: copying, combining and transforming. In my recent interview with Kirby, he discusses the origin of his videos and how he called upon his entrepreneurial muse to bootstrap their creation. His tenacity and persistence are instructive to emerging entrepreneurs.
Note: This is Part IV in the Startup Team Building series. Read Part I HERE, Part II HERE and Part III HERE. A Fortune 500 CEO once told me that I was a Bank Robber. Initially, I was offended. However, once he explained what he meant, I was flattered. Entrepreneurs are law-abiding Bank Robbers. They enjoy the hours spent plotting and scheming and pulling together a team of skilled specialists to accomplish the heist. The outcome might be jail time (i.e., failure and bankruptcy), or it might be a haul so big that they never have to rob another bank. It is not the actual amount of money in the vault that motivates them. Rather, a bank robber is inspired by the seemingly unlimited challenges associated with each bank job.
Article first published as Len Short (Red)ily Discusses Google, Bono and Steve Jobs on Technorati Len Short is truly an online marketing pioneer, heading up marketing at Charles Schwab, AOL and then (PRODUCT)RED. He is now leading Chug, a car buying search engine, as its Founder and CEO. Before his career moved online, Len worked on major marketing campaigns for credit card companies and rolled out MCI's highly successful "Friends and Family" marketing campaign. I recently caught up with Len outside of George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch. He was kind enough to conduct a video interview from his car. Fortunately, he spoke with me while he was parked and not careening down the highway. Unfortunately, his iPhone flipped his image to landscape mode. Despite this technical glitch, I opted to publish our discussion, given the high-quality content of his comments. If watching the video is too distracting, simply minimize the screen and listen to Len's insights as you would a podcast. You can watch my interview with Len below or on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/ivJhv6g7bA0
Article first published as Why Selling To The Government Can Downgrade Your Startup on Technorati. First Greece, now Spain and Italy. Across Europe, historically solvent sovereign governments are suffering from an acute case of systemic deficits. Now, more than ever, government agencies in the US and abroad are lousy startup customers. I am not a government contracting expert. In fact, during my many years as an operational entrepreneur, I explicitly avoided working with governments, for the reasons described below. However, I am familiar enough with the government procurement process to know that it can result in the down grade of an unwary startup’s credit rating.
“Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.” Lewis Carroll, from Through The Looking Glass Entrepreneurs often must take counter-intuitive, contrarian positions in order to succeed. As noted in Entrepreneurship Is A Compulsion, entrepreneurs often view the world from a slightly different vantage point, rejecting the oxymoronic term Conventional Wisdom.