A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. Want to be an entrepreneur? Don't go to Wharton or Harvard. Instead, grab your surfboard and head to UC Santa Barbara. According to a recent Forbes article, UC Santa Barbara's Technology Management Program offers students a superior startup education over the University of Pennsylvania (home of Wharton), as well Harvard, Northwestern and even its acclaimed southern neighbor, the University of Southern California. In addition, Entrepreneur Magazine recently included UCSB in its Top 50 Schools For VC Backed Entrepreneurs at number 37. A decent showing, but well below a number of larger schools, as the ranking is based on the number of graduates who secured VC funding. Although UCSB has room to grow with regard to the total number of VC-backed startups it generates, the Santa Barbara region fares well when its relative size is taken into account. As shown below, it was recently ranked as the fifth most active metropolitan area in the US, in terms of venture deals and dollars, on a per capita basis. What is most surprising about UCSB's national entrepreneurial ranking is that it doesn't even have a business school. Instead of a traditional business school's case study and textbook approach, UCSB's Technology Management Program (TMP) emphasizes experiential learning.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. Accomplished entrepreneurs appreciate the importance of crafting a succinct, well rehearsed description of their venture. This concise summary can be comfortably told during the duration of a reasonably brief elevator ride. Hence the term "elevator pitch." In contrast, a Personal Pitch differs from the classic elevator pitch, as the focus is on you and not your venture.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. There are a number of disadvantages to being a rookie, irrespective of the profession. Rookies must learn on the job, having few relevant experiences they can draw upon to resolve the daily workplace challenges. However, rookies possess a key advantage: they are unknown, which often leads their opponents to underestimate their abilities. In the case of a startup, this relative anonymity results in a powerful Rookie Advantage. Late in the 1936 baseball season, a 17-year-old Iowa farm boy struck out fifteen St. Louis Browns’ batters in his first Major League baseball game. Shortly thereafter, he fanned seventeen Philadelphia Athletics’ players: an unprecedented feat for anyone, let alone a teenager with no professional sports experience. How did this young, inexperienced athlete baffle so many veteran players? The answer is simple: the Browns and the Athletics had the misfortune of facing Bob Feller when he was completely unknown. There were no scouting reports on Mr. Feller because the Cleveland Indians circumvented league rules by drafting him directly from High School.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. My article 5 Time-Tested Success Tips From Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos was so well received, I am sharing five more pearls of wisdom from Mr. Bezos.
A version of this article previously appeared in the Wall Street Journal. I consistently remind my UC Santa Barbara startup students that for most people, money is not a sustaining motivator. They might start a venture with the money as a primary goal, but money alone generally isn't an adequate catalyst. For this reason, I encourage my young entrepreneurs to fully understand what they will "make" at their venture, beyond monetary riches.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Imagine the creativity and innovation you could unlock if you operated your company like a Grateful Dead concert. It may sound crazy, but it's possible, once you create a culture in which your employees are: collaborative yet autonomous, inspired and not managed, and motivated by a collective higher purpose. The factors which led to the formation of the Dead's culture offer a number of lessons entrepreneurs can apply to their ventures. One of the primary reasons the Grateful Dead have remained popular for over 40-years is due to the culture they nurtured among their community. Yes, the band also created an entertaining catalog of classic Americana music. However, it was not solely their music upon which they established their legacy.
A version of this article previously appeared in The Wall Street Journal. During the early part of the 20th century, New York City’s Tin Pan Alley was the epicenter of American popular music. During its heyday, Tin Pan Alley musicians devised an inexpensive yet effective method to obtain free, expert advice – they played their songs to elderly doormen. If the doormen could hum or whistle the tune after hearing it once or twice, then it was deemed suitable for release. Ultimately, this simple assessment became known as the “Old Gray Whistle Test” (OGWT), a reference to the doormen's preponderance of gray hair.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Amazon's Founder, Jeff Bezos has had an incredible entrepreneurial career. He has gone from simply selling books online to offering consumers tens of thousands of products. Not satisfied with conquering the online retail world, Amazon then productized access to its infrastructure, ushering in the era of the public cloud. This innovation has eliminated billions of dollars of annual costs previously associated with creating and maintaining web-based businesses. 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of Amazon's founding. During the intervening 20-years, Jeff has offered business executives numerous valuable tips, including the following:
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Bill Grundfest, Founder of the Comedy Cellar, Golden Globe winner and three time Emmy nominee, recently spoke to an audience of entrepreneurial students as part of UC Santa Barbara's Distinguished Lecture Series. Mr. Grundfest has a nose for comedic talent, discovering and the launching the career of many notable comedians, including Steven Wright, Bill Maher, Ray Romano and Jon Stewart. He was also instrumental in Richard Pryor's comeback campaign.
A version of this article previously appeared in The Wall Street Journal. Balance is one of the most important aspects of skiing. A solid foundation formed by two strong legs is key, especially at a competative level. Balance is also an extremely important factor among a founding startup team. Although it is difficult, balance can be achieved on one leg. Just ask Paralympic Champion Michael Milton, who has hurled himself down mountains at 133 miles per hour on a single ski. His time compares favorably with the two-legged world speed record of 157 miles per hour. Just like starting a company as a sole founder, it is possible to excel without a partner, it's just a lot harder.