Entrepreneurship

18 posts available


The Technical Founder Strengths and Weaknesses

entrepreneurship general

“We are hugely in favor of the technical founder. We will generally focus on companies started by strong technologists who know exactly what they want to build and how they are going to build it.” – Marc Andreessen

I’ve always prided myself on being a “technical founder.” Basically, it means that if I were hired as a dedicated software engineer I could make a pretty meaningful contribution to a software product, but that my primary role is to guide the growth of the company as CEO. I used to think that being a technical founder was an absolute advantage over non-technical founders since not only could I do the business thing, but I could really understand at a deep technical level how viable something is, and I also know what’s possible, which enables me to come up with product ideas and visions that non-technical founders might not be able to.

But life has this funny thing where our biggest strength can also be our biggest weakness. The trick is being honest with yourself about what they are.

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Lead Like the Great Conductors

entrepreneurship general

This is a beautiful exposition (and metaphor) on the role of a leader. I’ve often wondered if it’s better to set forth clear guidelines so that everyone knows exactly what to do, or better to provide people a framework within which to “tell their own story” (to use the words of Mr. Talgam in the video below).

Ultimately, I’ve found that different people respond to different styles. But if there is a “default style,” I believe the conductor who empowers the musicians to perform the music in their own style while providing subtle yet meaningful guidance on context, feeling, and intent produces the most beautiful music.

Zappos Offers New Hires $3,000 to Quit After 4 Weeks

entrepreneurship zen

This article was posted two years ago, but it’s still a pretty cool concept. Basically, Zappos (the online shoe site that Amazon recently bought) will train new hires for 4 weeks, and then offers them $3,000 to quit. Check it out for yourself.

I feel these kinds of counterintuitive moves have a deeper wisdom in them. Conventional wisdom says “why would ever induce someone who we just spent 4 weeks training to quit?” A more zen approach says “we only want to work with people who really want to work with us, and we believe if they take ‘the offer’ we all saved ourselves the heartache of what would have been inevitable.”

The offer above isn’t perfect and does have its drawbacks, but it’s certainly a concept worth pondering.

A Series of Stresses or A Series of Adventures

entrepreneurship zen

Although I love what I do, one of the more frustrating aspects of running a business is that YOU are always the bottleneck for everything. The reason we don’t produce sites faster is because I, personally, have to review them. The reason sales are at X but not Y is because I personally have not yet hired the right salesperson and because I personally am too busy to proactively follow up with every single lead. The reason we haven’t developed our new products faster is because I personally have to do some user interface designs but have been busy with other things.

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Are Great Businesspeople Also “Clever”?

entrepreneurship

When I was younger, I thought being a mega-successful entrepreneur like Richard Branson or Michael Dell was a matter of cleverness. If you were just clever enough to figure out the right market opportunity, then you could make millions.

How wrong I was.

Take Richard Branson. For his very first entrepreneurial undertaking — when he was still just a teenager — he purchased young Chrismas Trees, planted them during the spring, and then resold them at a profit during Christmas time in the winter. I actually do think that’s pretty clever, especially for a kid. But really that’s as far as “clever” alone will take you.

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Are You Ambitious or Grandiose?

entrepreneurship

One of the things I really love about my life is I’ve met more entrepreneurs than I can count. One of the coolest things about entrepreneurs is that they seem to have zero demographics in common. In other words, I’ve met entrepreneurs…

  • From both wealthy homes and poor homes
  • Of pretty much all ethnic backgrounds
  • From pretty much all educational backgrounds
  • Of pretty much all ages
  • In equal proportion from both sexes
  • Of course, as with any group, there are things in common. I guess “traits of an entrepreneur” is destined for another posting.

This post is about a very important difference I’ve seen in all entrepreneurs, and here’s what it comes down to:

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Why Do Entrepreneurs Become Entrepreneurs?

entrepreneurship

I recently stumbled upon RockStartup.com. It’s basically a documentary, split up into several episodes, that covers the birth of the website PayPerPost.com by following around the CEO/Founder, Ted, and the PR person, Britt.

PayPerPost (”PPP”) is a weird concept — PPP pays bloggers to write content and sources content from Publishers, and then earns money by charging advertisers to put ads on PPP-sponsored blog sites. It’s been controversial because blogging’s rise to fame is due to its unbiased nature, and paying someone to blog, well, I guess it’s hard for them not to be biased.

But the success of PPP is another discussion. I’m more interested in the man behind PPP, Ted. Based on 10 minutes of watching RockStartup, I defnitely saw some “patterns” I’ve seen in other entrepreneurs.

When I was at Wharton as an undergrad, in my Senior year I took an Entrepreneurship course where you had to build some unique software, come up with a business plan, and then pitch it all to VC’s.

Our idea was terrible. We were going to build a system for people running political campaigns to help them get a sense of how people were planning on voting. We had a barcode-scanner-pen that scanned in a person’s survey responses, and then aggregated all the information so that a campaign director could see how people felt about a variety of issues.

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Strange Lessons in Learning How to Sell Well

entrepreneurship

I’ve never really thought of myself as a salesperson.

I remember when I was younger I interned for GE and they had some career fair at the end of the summer where you met people in all the different “early talent identification” programs. When I got to the sales people, they all just seemed so smooth. I didn’t trust them, and I certainly didn’t want to buy anything from them. I just couldn’t picture myself joining that table over some of the others.

Well, fast forward a few years after I started Omedix and reality struck – I had inadvertently positioned myself as the sole salesperson for our company. Either I sold our product or we didn’t do business; it was that simple. And so I had to start learning how to sell.

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