Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Notes 2005-2006

Title: Entrepreneurship Viewed as a Tool and When to Use it in Industry & Science

Date: 2005-05-18

Speaker: Jeff Hawkins (Palm Computing)

Link: Podcast

Entrepreneurship is a tool that should be used sparingly.

A successful entrepreneur is one who designs themselves out of that job.

Entrepreneurship should be a tool of last resort. Used only if there is no other way to accomplish what you want to accomplish.

Everybody should try to find a passion or goal in life.

The more challenging the goal the more obstacles you’re going to cross.

Most companies are started with some sort of passion or belief.

All business is hard (most of the time). You need to have that passion to carry you through.

Don’t try to build an enterprise product in a consumer company and vice versa.

Retailers shouldn’t be building the products that go in their channel.

The neocortex is a memory system that is hierarchical. It builds a model of the world and with that model it makes predictions of the future.

Every business hits the wall sometime.

You have to be an optimist.

All companies go out of business because they run out of money. Very few companies didn’t succeed because they went too slowly. The vast majority of companies didn’t succeed because they went too fast.

The growth rate that is best for your business is likely different that the growth rate than is best for a venture capitalist.

Title: Entrepreneurship Within a Marriage

Date: 2005-05-25

Speaker: Randy Komisar, Debra Dunn (KPCB)

Link: Podcast

Leadership skills is the ability to get people to follow you in a wide variety of directions. Fundamentally the ability to communicate ideas, vision, and direction.

Change management is the ability to come into a situation, find a direction that is significantly different than the current path, and then enroll the team members to go down the new path.

Certain people look for very steep learning curves.

Most of the action is in business. If you want to have an impact then business is the way to do it.

Innovation should solve real problems.

A lot of issues that the non-profit world has currently addressed cannot be effectively tackled without a truly deep collaboration between business and non-profit organizations and in many cases government.

Pursue things that touch your passion.

He made the biggest mistakes in his life when he was trying to plan.

Fundamentally life happens to you. Life is out of your control. If you’re going to live a good life it is because you make the most of it.

Don’t stop learning. Learning is what keeps you vibrant in life.

Fear is a really bad emotion.

Consumers have the opportunity to have a lot of impact.

Consumption is a political act.

Transparency helps fuel competition.

Venture capital is a difficult business.

It takes awhile to get your instincts.

Living with somebody that brings back to the relationship more energy, more enthusiasm, more life rather than taking it really feeds a relationship.

Title: The Microfinance of Entrepreneurship

Date: 2005-10-05

Speaker: Geoff Davis (Unitus)

Link: Podcast

There are three billion people in the world that live on less than $2 a day. Most of them work in the informal economy.

Typical small loans around the world are 10% a day in interest. 10/1 (I give you ten in the morning you give me 10+1 in the evening)

Less than 20% of the people that could benefit from microfinance have access to it. Less than 20% market penetration.

Microfinance has the potential to be a $50 billion market but is currently a $1 billion market.

Microcredit uses business principals to do good in the world.

Worldwide repayment of microfinance is around 97%.

Difficult to come into an industry that is doing incredibly well and saying that this can be done better.

Title: The Technology of Podcasting

Date: 2005-10-12

Speaker: Evan Williams (Odeo)

Link: Podcast

Podcasting started around 2004.

Podcasting is the webification of audio.

Broadband, iPod, and the web (anybody being able to be a creator) are what caused the explosion of the podcast.

It is a very different experience founding a company compared to working in a company.

Start small. Think big.

If you solve a small problem you can build off of that.

Start with something you care about–that you want to exist in the world.

U.S. radio market is $20 billion.

There is going to be a market for premium content.

Same things will happen to video as to audio.

Audio is the most ubiquitous medium as it is the only content you can consume when you’re out and about (in car, walking around).

Entrepreneurship is a combination of some skills and intense desire. The more desire the more your ability to overcome the lack of skills.

Being a good entrepreneur is being a good worker.

Being a good manager can be taught.

Advertising is generally a bad idea for startups.

Not knowing how to do something is no reason not to do it.

Know enough about engineering to hire people that are good.

Title: The Passion and Perseverance Behind a Start-up

Date: 2005-10-19

Speaker: Joe Liemandt (Trilogy)

Link: Podcast

Parents view dropping out of college negatively.

Nobody will support you dropping out.

Entrepreneurship is something you need to do in your career. It is a time that is both the best and worst of your life.

Starting a company when you’re young (in or fresh out of college) is the least risk time.

They funded the company by getting lots of preapproved credit cards and using the cash advance. They got new credit cards and used the cash advance to make payments on the previous cards.

Ended up with 30 credit cards.

Bought an accelerator card on the way to a demo and returned it right after.

With a startup it is better to be lucky than right.

How much money you’re in debt when you go bankrupt is relatively irrelevant.

You can be price insensitive if you’re the only choice for something that somebody really needs.

For their first customers their charge was “What is the biggest number we can think of?”

They went three years from beginning building their product to their first sale.

It is your belief that is going to get you through.

It is never as simple and easy as you want.

If you’re starting a business make sure you’re passionate about it.

Technology can unleash business value but most of the time it doesn’t.

Title: From Harvard to the Facebook

Date: 2005-10-26

Speaker: Mark Zuckerberg, Jim Breyer (Facebook)

Link: Podcast

TheFacebook is an online directory for students.

Had 5.5 billion page views in their 18th month as a company.

When designing they don’t look at what is better for the user experience but what is better for the whole community.

There are a lot of trade offs.

Optimize for what is best for the whole community–the whole user base.

Mark had just turned 21 a couple of months before this interview.

Hire people for their raw intelligence as they can adapt the skills needed.

You need to seed an invite only community.

The very best entrepreneurs are proactive, they deal with tension, are great listeners, and they translate that into interactive learning.

Everybody in the organization should know it is better to experiment, fail, and move on than to not.

Facebook computes the “percentage of realness” that a profile is.

Before Facebook he wrote something that tracked people’s away messages and their times.

Title: From Start-up to Market Dominance in the Field of Surgical Robotics

Date: 2005-11-02

Speaker: Lonnie Smith (Intuitive Surgical)

Link: Podcast

They sell medical systems and instruments.

Their instruments can be used only ten times before needing to be replace. This is their recurring revenue model.

You go to more invasive procedures as necessary. You don’t go there first.

There is no standard to measure the capability of a surgeon.

Those that are benefiting from the status quo don’t want it to change.

They do viral marketing for their procedures.

They have 200+ patents.

Technology always starts out as more expensive and gets cheaper as volume builds.

Title: Twenty Years of Experience in Developing Software in Silicon Valley

Date: 2005-11-09

Speaker: Kim Polese (SpikeSource)

Link: Podcast

It is easy to be early to market. The hard part is making sure all of the infrastructure is ready.

Often time you can be certain about the potential of a technology but it often takes the market time to catch up.

Determined to build something of value to their customers.

Solve a real problem.

When building something there needs to be an enormous opportunity or you need to address a real pain.

They have a subscription based service of certifying all of the open source software in a company’s production environment.

They do automated testing of open source frameworks.

They focus on process automation.

Vendor lock-in is a thing of the past.

Open source isn’t limited to software.

Investors love software-as-a-service as the subscription model of revenue is more steady than the big price up front.

Enterprise software opportunities going forward are going to be solving a business problem and providing that as a service.

Small to medium business market is untapped.

Title: Using Creative Leadership

Date: 2005-11-16

Speaker: Frank Ricks (LRK Architecture)

Link: Podcast

They try to create great spaces where human activity takes place. The space between buildings.

If you don’t have it, make it.

Started selling vegetables door-to-door at eight years old  to start making money.

Architects are one of five professions that you have to be licensed by the state to practice.

They took second mortgages to start their firm.

Make deals so that it is win-win.

Build a strong team and build it thoughtfully.

Every part of their business is open to the entire staff.

Started out as architects and matured into urban designers.

Good design shouldn’t be limited to people that are well off.

You don’t need a mission statement or titles to start a business.

Be clear about what you are in business for.

Goal is to have a spot for everybody to seek their potential.

After you reach twenty people you need to start thinking about how to perpetuate the culture.

Trying to base their compensation on the value that they’re adding. Participate on the backend.

Don’t try to sell A to Z up front if the client only needs A to B.

Help your client be more successful.

Recommends the book Orbiting the Giant Hairball.

A lot of entrepreneurs start by pricing low (with low overhead) and then working hard.

Title: Ten Enduring Success Factors for High Technology Entrepreneurship

Date: 2006-01-18

Speaker: Tom Byers (STVP)

Link: Podcast

There is no opportunity unless there is a big problem.

Entrepreneurs aren’t born, they’re made.

Ready (vision). Aim (strategy). Fire (execution).

Founders have to evolve as people.

There are three kinds of CEOs: retriever, bloodhound, and husky. They have to evolve if they’re going to remain CEO.

Context is everything outside of the control of the entrepreneurs.

How do you turn a problem into an opportunity?

Great companies always get started in recessions.

There is a break between wealth and success.

Recommends the book Crossing the Chasm.

A business plan is a set of questions that need to be answered so that the whole business is in alignment.

Cash flow is very important for a small company.

What you spend money on is very reflective of an entrepreneur.

Pro V.C.: they have lots of money and expertise.

Con V.C.: it is really expensive money.

Rarely does an entrepreneur take the best price (most money vs. least amount of equity given up) from a V.C. It is all of the other stuff that matters the most.

Creativity is a necessary condition to be innovative but it is not sufficient without teamwork.

Selling is a noble profession.

Make it not about financial gain but about changing the world.

Title: Two Brothers Building a Company From Scratch

Date: 2006-01-25

Speaker: Bobby Beaver, Jeff Beaver (Zazzle)

Link: Podcast

A marketplace connects buyers and sellers and the community that binds them together.

Small teams can accomplish a tremendous amount.

Question everything.

Don’t think about a monetary reward.

Entrepreneurship isn’t just about starting a company. You can join a company and add value.

Have confidence.

Don’t accept the status quo.

Adapt or die.

Be a missionary not a mercenary–don’t just be in it for the cash.

Never settle on anything.

Infuse some fun into what you’re doing because it is a long road.

Title: Entrepreneurial Leadership Qualities

Date: 2006-02-01

Speaker: Janice Fraser (Adaptive Path)

Link: Podcast

You have to choose your partners based on who you want to go through the rough times with.

The most important foundation for any business is having a solid partnership.

You’re supported by an ecosystem. It is what makes you successful.

Be conscious of the culture of the company.

Be stingy.

Spend money where it has the most value.

Be stingy with features.

For decision making you need to align responsibility, accountability, and authority.

Every company should be a company designed for human beings.

You job as a leader is to create an environment where people can excel.

Books she recommends:

  • Corporate Lifecycles (has reread the first four chapters)
  • The Art of the Start
  • The New Conceptual Selling
  • The Cluetrain Manifesto

Every manager should be able to manage people that are unlike them.

Dissent is always good as long as it is purposeful.

95% of the time consultative decision making is the way to go.

Title: Strategies in the Biopharmaceutical Industry

Date: 2006-02-08

Speaker: Kim Popovits (Genomic Health)

Link: Podcast

As treatments for diseases grow you need to be able to identify the patients that would benefit.

Diagnostics are a low margin business.

Take a new opportunity if you think it is the next frontier.

How do you commercialize something that is different from anything before it?

You can take really great ideas nowhere if you don’t get really good people to help you do it.

People tell you more things you can’t do than things you can do.

Title: Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy Through the Eyes of an Immigrant

Date: 2006-02-15

Speaker: Chong-Moon Lee (Ambex Venture Group)

Link: Podcast

Wanted to be a librarian to be able to have access to books.

It is important to teach young people to read.

Entrepreneurs must be able to make decisions based on their strategic judgement. Must be able to collect and analyze information on their competitors and markets.

Entrepreneurs must have great communication skills with their customers, investors, and stakeholders.

Optimism is based on your willpower.

You have to have strong conviction to run your own business.

You must pursue technological innovation.

Success and failure are based on your workstyle and your lifestyle.

Title: Lessons Learned in the Life Sciences Industry

Date: 2006-02-22

Speaker: Michael Goldberg (MDV)

Link: Podcast

Have a cofounder as it is a lonely and difficult road.

For-profit boards are very different than not-for-profit boards.

Patents (and claims) have a unique structure in the way they are written.

Follow your passions.

Entrepreneurship is an extreme sport.

A successful entrepreneur does not stop.

There is almost always a way to work around intellectual property rights.

Title: Balancing Work and Life

Date: 2006-03-01

Speaker: Carol Bartz (Autodesk)

Link: Podcast

One product is great but it is not sustaining.

You can fall off of a cliff into irrelevance.

Emerging markets are great potential.

If you’re not an interested person you’re not an interesting person. Be interested in what is going on in the world (not just what is going on around you).

Make sure your learning curve is up and to the right.

Nobody gives a shit about your career but your mom and you.

You learn more from bad bosses than good bosses because you learn what not to do.

Kids are the best thing that ever will happen to you.

You do have to give some things up to be an entrepreneur.

Understand in longer time frames than people usually give themselves.

Title: Life Inside a Law Firm

Date: 2006-03-08

Speaker: John Roos (WSGR)

Link: Podcast

You’ve got to be flexible in life.

Stick with what you’re good at. Stay with your core strengths.

Have a game plan and stick to it.

Build a strong brand.

It is now more difficult to go public.

Silicon Valley is built on merit. That is its core strength.

Sometimes not taking a risk is a bigger risk than taking a risk.

The Silicon Valley is global.

Take risks.

Don’t be afraid to take a step back in your career if you think it will help you move forward in the long run.

Surround yourself with good people.

You need to execute the little things or your company will fail.

Integrity matters more than anything you will do in your career.

Title: What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

Date: 2006-04-12

Speaker: Tina Seelig (STVP)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

Every problem is an opportunity for a creative solution.

Attitude is everything and you control your attitude.

The bigger the problem the bigger the opportunity.

There are opportunities in front of you everywhere.

The harder I work the luckier I get.

If you go somewhere and do not meet someone new then at the minimum you lost the opportunity to make a new friend and at a maximum you’ve probably lost a million dollars.

Lucky people turn bad grace into good fortune.

Startups are hard. Startups are risky. They take lots of work and lots of luck.

Find your intersection between your interests, your skills, and the market.

Passions are necessary but certainly not sufficient.

One of the most important things in life is to have hobbies but they don’t necessarily make careers.

Try lots of things and keep what works.

If you’re not failing sometimes then you’re not taking enough risks.

You don’t have to wait to be anointed.

Entrepreneurs are the people that make their own business cards. They are the ones who decide what they can do. They don’t wait for someone else to tell them what they can do.

You do the job and then you get the job.

Entrepreneurs don’t wait for others to empower them–they empower themselves.

It is a very small world–don’t burn bridges.

You are going to bump into the same people again, again, and again.

You can do it all just not at the same time.

Think about how often you reassess your priorities and readjust them if you need to.

There is no such thing as a balanced life.

Your work life is really long and your kids are little for only a short time.

It is the little things that matter most.

Write a thank you note within 24 hours of having an interview. Within 12 hours would be good. Within six hours is even better.

Acknowledge the time people give you.

When you’re on a team the key is to make everybody else successful.

The more you give to others the more you get back.

Never miss an opportunity to be fabulous.

If you’re not going to do your best work now then when are you going to do it?

Title: The Story of Proactiv Solution

Date: 2006-04-19

Speaker: Katie Rodan (Proactiv)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

Everything comes full circle.

Find your passion so it becomes your career rather than your job.

Every problem is an opportunity.

One of the joys of being a professional is being able to help your friends.

You have to do market research to validate your concept.

It is the little things that matter most.

A need sells.

Title: The Fairy Tale of Innovent and How it Came to be

Date: 2006-04-26

Speaker: Stephanie Keller-Bottom (Nokia)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

Companies like to consistently report profits. They don’t like to miss forecasts.

Nokia was originally a rubber boots and paper products company. It is named after a river.

Anybody that produces products ultimately becomes commoditized if they don’t move innovation forward.

There is no kingdom that can grow without acquiring external knowledge and taking that knowledge and integrating it with the core competencies that reside in its own kingdom.

The only way of talking to an entrepreneur is by speaking their language.

There is only prediction and the acceptance of risk. There is no certainty.

You must collaborate.

You must have an ecosystem of players that you share incentives with. Nobody gets 100% of the pie anymore.

Negotiations are not about control–they’re about collaboration.

Don’t be measured by the wrong metrics.

Make sure your partners share your same values and direction.

Don’t replicate competencies.

Bring to the table complementers rather than people that share the same skills.

Get focused.

Assume the capital you get is the last you’re ever going to have.

Be flexible and take coaching.

Nobody has all of the right answers.

Create a market positioning strategy.

Get a market validation study done upfront.

Pricing has one way to go and that is down.

One product does not create a sustainable revenue company.

The original product you produce is never the product that goes out to market. It iterates.

Silicon Valley is what drives the venture economy and is where entrepreneurs need to be.

The best way to learn about the future is to understand the past.

Recommends book: Orbiting the Giant Hairball

Title: Secret to Successful Negotiations

Date: 2006-05-02

Speaker: Joel Peterson, Stan Christensen

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

You have got to this point in your life through negotiation.

Negotiation is how you navigate your way through life. It is a series of conversations.

Negotiation is the whole series of conversations and trade-offs you’ve made to get where you are.

A successful negotiation is to have successful, effective conversations with people to get what you want and to help them get what they want at a price that is acceptable to both.

Price is not necessarily monetized.

You only get crushed if you allow yourself to be crushed. You have to grant them the power to crush you.

In a successful negotiation you should be able to describe the other party’s interests as effectively as they can.

Saying what the other party wants to them helps them relax.

Do not yell in negotiations.

Establish your emotional baseline.

Base your price on analysis.

Say what you mean.

Think about the reputation you want to have.

Negotiations are all serial. They are not episodic. Your reputation follows you around.

A lot of commercial negotiations do not have trust but have mutual mistrust. Recognize that.

Trust is the lubricant for successful business transactions, for managing a career, and for managing relationships.

There is power in trust.

Trust is a function of character, competence, and empowerment.

Move to where you are trusted and where you can trust others.

If you have to refer to legal agreements then you’ve made your life shallower and you’ve made litigation more likely.

Attorneys are necessary. They are important.

A lot of attorneys have big egos. That can defeat what you’re trying to do. Find one whose ego is subordinate to the objective.

For your career all the things you think are important now (in college) are the things that aren’t.

The most important thing you do (for your career) is to choose a mentor.

Think about career–not job.

Getting somebody to lose is not a win for you.

Look at how you can help the other party win (at a price that works for you too).

You can both win by letting the other party have their victory.

With family members you can do win/lose rather than win/win.

Whenever you have a really long term relationship (such as with family) you want to make sure the other party wins.

Think beyond what people are asking to what they really want.

You’re not trying hard enough if you don’t have some failures in business.

Sleep on things.

Some things you only learn with experience–with failure.

Make clear where you stand.

Real estate contracts aren’t valid unless they’re in writing.

There are not very many people at the top of any industry. One mistake will undo your reputation.

People pick up non-verbal cues.

Mentors are obvious.

Make deposits (be nice to them, help them out) when you don’t have to negotiate. That will help you when you negotiate later.

Try to set the price early on (one you think is fair). Setting a price is an anchoring move. It can be difficult if the other party sets it.

It is VERY difficult to rebuild trust.

Everybody has something to teach you.

Title: The Ins and Outs of a successful Biotechnology Company

Date: 2006-05-10

Speaker: Pam Marrone (AgraQuest)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

Global pesticide market is $30 billion.

Hire hungry dogs (sales people).

The EPA is very susceptible to political influences.

The single largest cost of organic food production is weed control.

Get a really good lawyer.

Start thinking strategically very early.

You’re not in a very good negotiating position when you’re short on cash and worried about making payroll.

Employees that have lots of information are more productive employees.

Title: Nine Lessons Learned about Creativity at Google

Date: 2006-05-17

Speaker: Marissa Mayer (Google)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

The idea for Google Maps came from an acquisition.

Ideas come from all kinds of inspirations.

Share everything you can.

Book: The Art of Innovation

Take really smart people and give them really good tools and they build amazing things.

Iteration is key.

Launch an innovation and then make it better.

If you iterate quickly people forget about the mistakes.

Data is apolitical.

Creativity loves constraint.

When you constrain your thoughts that is when you see a lot of innovation happen.

Money follows consumers.

Don’t kill projects. Morph them.

Always surround yourself with really smart people.

Serif fonts are more readable. Sans-serif fonts are more legible.

The rising tide floats all boats.

Title: Groundbreaking Healthcare Initiatives and the Entrepreneurial Minds Behind Them

Date: 2006-05-31

Speaker: Ryan Phelan (DNA Direct)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

The Whole Earth catalog was the web before the web.

Start by doing one thing well.

Testing for preexisting conditions is largest area of growth in genetics.

Genetic testing needs to be informative to be actionable.

Treating patients like customers isn’t only good medicine–it is good business.

Title: The Contrasts of a Big Company and a Small Start-Up

Date: 2006-06-07

Speaker: Gil Penchina (Wikia)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

Beanie Babies was number one item at eBay.

eBay originally didn’t want to be in the payments business.

Sometimes new people change what the business is.

A marketplace needs to have both large numbers of buyers and sellers. That is the network effect.

Go to school abroad if you can (for a semester or year).

Trading is universal.

Big company skills don’t necessarily translate to small companies. You have to unlearn some skills.

Find areas outside of what you’re doing where you can learn skills that will take you where you want to go.

There are always ways to learn the skills you want if people don’t give it to you at your day job.

In startups there is a lot of stuff that doesn’t get done because nobody gets to it.

Be able to push things forward by force of will.

Failures are more helpful going forward than successes.

It is a really small world. You’ll run into the same people over and over again.

It is better to do a few things well than a lot of things poorly.

Never cross your legs in an interview. You don’t want your leg to fall asleep.

Everyone wants to be an expert about something.

The more time you spend doing something the better you get at it, the bigger your network gets, and the more skills you gain.

Luck is a combination of good timing and some preparation.

Have a 10-year plan.

Pay it forward.

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