Your Startup Idea Should Not Be Charming, It Must Be All Consuming

Kubl KahnUS High School students are taught that Samuel Coleridge conceived one of the most anthologized poems in Western literature, Kubla Kahn, in an epiphany. As Mr. Coleridge described in the poem’s preface, he dozed after smoking opium and reading Samuel Purchas’ The Pilgrimage. He suddenly awoke and manically began documenting the first few stanzas of Kubla Kahn, which he had “dreamed”, fully formed. Unfortunately, he was interrupted by a visitor and the poem evaporated like the dream in which it originated, never to be finished.

Despite the fact that Mr. Coleridge wrote Kubla Kahn over 200-years ago, the epiphany story has endured for good reason. It is romantic and compelling. Unfortunately, it is untrue.

Recent research has uncovered evidence that Mr. Coleridge labored on Kubla Kahn for well over a decade. It was years later, when the poem was first published, that Coleridge created the myth of the epiphany to add to the poem’s enchantment and to explainwhy it remained unfinished.

Wantrepreneurs desperately cling to the myth of the epiphany. It is seductive to believe one can achieve great things by daydreaming, sleeping or even becoming intoxicated. Unfortunately, most accomplishments, especially in the startup world, require a sustained and concerted effort. Overnight success is usually achieved over numerous sleepless nights. Continue reading “Your Startup Idea Should Not Be Charming, It Must Be All Consuming”

Interview: Paige Craig, CEO BetterWorks

Paige CraigMessenger: Paige Craig, CEO BetterWorks, Angel Investor, former Marine

I implore you to listen to the interview below. Paige is a gifted communicator and my summary does not do him justice. He offers a number of worthwhile tips and tricks that I was not able to capture in the textual summary, so the 14-minute audio file is well worth your time. Play it in the background while you otherwise remain productive (or listen to it while you update your FB page, your call).

Click here to listen to the Audio File

What follows is a summary which paraphrases Paige’s responses. For his exact quotes, listen to the interview.

Value Prop Twitter Style: BetterWorks is the better way to manage employee perks

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Startup Children – How To Parent An Entrepreneur (Part III)

Note: This is part III of a five part series. Access the first installment HERE, part II HERE, part IV HERE and part V HERE.

Monopoly Money  Along with Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham and Marcia Brown’s Stone Soup, the seemingly innocuous board game Monopoly has played a pivotal role in the edification of several generations of entrepreneurs.

When you play Monopoly with your children, you can subtly underscore an entrepreneurial mindset in their gameplay which will ultimately help them develop valuable startup skills, as described below. Continue reading “Startup Children – How To Parent An Entrepreneur (Part III)”

When Does Venture Debt Make Sense For Your Startup?

Piggy BankStartup blogger and venture capitalist extraordinaire Fred Wilson recently published a great article on Venture Debt, which I strongly suggest you review HERE. Go ahead, I will wait…

…welcome back. As Fred points out, many entrepreneurs hear the word “debt” and promptly run the other direction. In the past, venture debt was often viewed as a funding vehicle of last resort. When the current investors were tapped out and a bigger fool could not be brought into a venture, all eyes turn towards debt. However, when deployed judiciously, venture debt can mitigate investors’ and founders’ dilution.

At Rincon Venture Partners, we are in the midst of negotiating a term sheet with a cash-positive startup that is growing aggressively. The nature of the company’s business model requires it to fund certain costs before it is paid by its customers. Thus, even though the company is cash flow positive, its growth is constrained by the amount of payables it can fund. Enter venture debt.

By combining our equity investment with a tranche of venture debt, the company has avoided a larger equity round, which would have significantly diluted the Founders’ ownership share. Continue reading “When Does Venture Debt Make Sense For Your Startup?”

Advice For Emerging Entrepreneurs (And Anyone Else With A Boss)

Fat Cat“By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day.”
Robert Frost, American Poet

My entrepreneurial students at the University of California, Santa Barbara, often ask my advice regarding their career choices. However, rather than discussing specific opportunities, I find that I often spend most of my time sharing general tips related to their professional success, irrespective of their particular career paths.

Although my advice is geared to recent college graduates, it is also applicable to anyone with a boss, irrespective of their age and experience level.

Continue reading “Advice For Emerging Entrepreneurs (And Anyone Else With A Boss)”

Startup Children – How To Parent An Entrepreneur (Part II)

Note: This is part II of a five part series. Access the first installment HERE, part III HERE, part IV HERE, and part V HERE.

In part I of this series, I discussed how you can teach your children to make something from nothing by sharing with them Marcia Brown’s Stone Soup. There are a number of other children’s books that also serve as good platforms from which you can impart entrepreneurial values and lessons.

Sam I AmOne such book comes from a surprising source, the notoriously left-leaning Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. He inadvertently drafted the salesman’s manifesto in the form of Green Eggs and Ham, utilizing 50-different words, 48-of which are one syllable. Not only will your children understand it, it is even accessible by the average salesperson.
Continue reading “Startup Children – How To Parent An Entrepreneur (Part II)”

Startup Children – How To Parent An Entrepreneur (Part I)

Note: This is part I of a five part series. Access the second installment HERE, part III HERE, part IV HERE and part V HERE.

Stone SoupI recently answered the question “What are good ways to raise your children to be entrepreneurs?” on Quora. My response was brief and straightforward, which is common of popular Quora answers (as discussed in How To Write An Effective Quora Answer). Although my answer was off-the-cuff, the question caused me to consider the issue of raising entrepreneurial children in greater depth, which led me to write this series.

I am not a parenting expert and I do not profess to have all the answers. I believe that you cannot teach someone to be an entrepreneur, but that you can teach entrepreneurs. Thus, my goal is to highlight a few books, games and other activities parents can share with their children. If your offspring are entrepreneurially inclined, these activities might nudge them in the direction of a lifetime of startups. If your child is not an entrepreneurial Bank Robber, no worries; the world needs ATM Operators too. Continue reading “Startup Children – How To Parent An Entrepreneur (Part I)”

Interview: Jason Lehmbeck, Co-Founder and CEO of DataPop

Jason LehmbeckMessenger: Jason Lehmbeck, Co-Founder and CEO of DataPop, former VP of Emerging Ad Products at Overture Services and Yahoo!

Value Prop Twitter Style: DataPop simplifies the lives of marketers and gives them the tools they need to build ads that people love to click on

You can watch the video below or on YouTube here:

What follows is a summary which paraphrases Jason’s responses. For his exact quotes, watch the video.

Continue reading “Interview: Jason Lehmbeck, Co-Founder and CEO of DataPop”