Eleven Startup Tips From Richard Branson

Article first published as Eleven Business Tips From Richard Branson on Technorati.

Note: This is an installment in the Iconic Advice series. Other installments include: Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs.

Last weekend, a friend gave me and my family a wonderful ride in his plane. Departing from Edwards AFB, we flew over the Mojave Air and Spaceport, home of the world’s largest private manufacturer of spacecraft, The Spaceship Company (TSC).

TSC is building spacecraft for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space fleet. Richard Branson Despite the fact that the specific date of Virgin Galactic’s maiden voyage remains unscheduled, over 450 citizen astronauts have put down a deposit of at least $20,000 on the $200,000 per-person fare.

In October of 2011, the company announced a $4.5 million deal with NASA to use Virgin Galactic spacecraft to conduct experiments, filling the void left by the retirement of America’s shuttle program.

It is undoubtedly impressive that Richard Branson has motivated a government organization and hundreds of intelligent, affluent people to commit millions of dollars to secure a service that does not yet exist. Even more striking is that this super-salesman is a self-taught, high school dropout. Continue reading “Eleven Startup Tips From Richard Branson”

When Hiring Entrepreneurs, Ignore Their Resumes

Note: This is the third installment in the Startup Team Building series. Read Part I HERE and Part II HERE.

No ResumeWhen hiring ATM Operators at a Big Dumb Company (BDC), assessing each candidate’s ability to execute predictable tasks is of paramount importance. As such, the recruitment process revolves around applicants’ resumes, which highlight what they have previously done in their professional careers.

What is important at a BDC, because most duties performed at mature entities are repetitive, structured and involve minimal ambiguity. Thus, evaluating the tasks a candidate has previously performed is a valid methodology when filling job openings in relatively static organizations. Continue reading “When Hiring Entrepreneurs, Ignore Their Resumes”

10 Reasons To Start A Company In An Economic Downturn

Article first published as 10 Reasons To Start A Company In An Economic Downturn on Technorati.

2008 Recession SignThere has recently been a common theme among the entrepreneurs I have interviewed and the conferences I have attended: despite the relatively weak state of the world economy, now is a great time to create a high-tech startup.

As Guy Kawasaki pointed out in our recent conversation, “…it is cheaper than ever to start a company. People are free or cheap because of the recession. Marketing is free or cheap because of social media. You don’t really buy servers anymore…the tools are all open source. Basically, everything is free. If there was ever a time to start a company, this is it.”

Marten Mickos, Founder of MySQL and current CEO of Eucalyptus Systems echoed Guy’s sentiment in this interview by saying, “We who are entrepreneurs say, ‘This is the best time ever to start a company.’ We always say it and I believe it.” Continue reading “10 Reasons To Start A Company In An Economic Downturn”

DoubleClick’s Guerilla Marketing Legacy

Note: This is the fourth installment of an ongoing Guerilla Marketing series. The other installments address:

1)  FUEL’s use of faux Monks dominates the social consciousness of a major media tradeshow
2) TestFlight’s clever distribution of free meals garners Steve Jobs’ attention
3) Social Stay’s failed attempt to utilize parcours to liven up a hospitality tradeshow nearly lands them in jail

Silicon AlleyBefore it became a monolithic, multi-billion dollar organization, DoubleClick was a wily, nimble startup. In those early days, the DoubleClick team used a variety of guerilla marketing tactics to rise above the chaos endemic in the online ad world during the Internet’s nascent evolution.
Continue reading “DoubleClick’s Guerilla Marketing Legacy”

Opening The Cloud: Marten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus Systems

Marten MickosI recently spoke with Marten Mickos, the former CEO of MySQL and current CEO of Eucalyptus Systems, the leader in private cloud platforms. Eucalyptus’ underlying technology was developed at UC Santa Barbara. Since its origin as an academic research project in 2007, Eucalyptus has become the dominant open source cloud solution, boasting over 25,000 clouds formed.

According to Marten, “We enable companies to run, within their own firewall, a cloud that behaves exactly like the public clouds, exactly like Amazon. So there is benefit of a running a cloud in-house, you have your own servers but you get full elasticity and you can shift workloads between your various applications.”

You can watch my interview with Marten below or on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/B7CIUFSbQwU

Continue reading “Opening The Cloud: Marten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus Systems”

Ten Startup Tips From Steve Jobs

Steve JobsNote: This is an installment in the Iconic Advice series. Other installments include: Words of startup wisdom from Jeff Bezos

In the course of my recent interview with Guy Kawasaki, author and former Apple Evangelist, Guy describes Steve Jobs as:

“…the world’s greatest CEO, ever. He did more for Apple’s shareholders, customers and employees than any other CEO has ever done for their shareholders, customers and employees. People should not try to emulate him, because they will be setting themselves up for failure. He is a great example of…building an enchanting company.”

There are numerous reasons for Jobs’ success, not the least of which was his uncompromising pursuit of a delightful customer experience. Continue reading “Ten Startup Tips From Steve Jobs”

Startups Are A Remix

Copy Transform Combine“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

Steve Jobs, Co-Founder Apple, NeXT Computing and Pixar Continue reading “Startups Are A Remix”

An Enchanting Conversation With Guy Kawasaki

Article first published as An Enchanting Conversation With Guy Kawasaki on Technorati.

Guy Kawasaki Quote
Guy’s latest book, Enchantment, was released in March of 2011, to overwhelmingly upbeat reviews. Of the 225 customer reviews currently posted on Amazon, over 90% are highly positive.

I enjoyed the book as well, as evidenced by the review I wrote at the time of its release, which you can read HERE. I even plan to use it in my upcoming UC Santa Barbara Entrepreneurial Selling class.

As Guy notes in the accompanying video interview, his primary goal with Enchantment is to reach a broader audience, beyond the high-tech, startup world. According to Guy, “It has been very satisfying to hear from people who never heard of me before. It wasn’t the Guy fan base. I’d like to expand beyond that. I want this book to be the equal to How To Win Friends And Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.”

To this end, Guy has written a book that can be used by anyone seeking to further their cause; from startups, to non-profits, to public policy issues to getting a job.

You can watch the video interview with Guy below or on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/E-44eylGb2I

Continue reading “An Enchanting Conversation With Guy Kawasaki”