Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mark Cuban and Guy Kawasaki on Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneur Mark Cuban discusses the U.S. Economy and starting a business with Trish Regan at the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago on Bloomberg Television's "Street Smart." 
I'm not big on excuses, just do it. It's more about effort and brains, not so much about capital. You better know about your industry, because you're competing. The new normal is 2 - 3% growth, and it's not necessarily we're doing something wrong. Watching something live creates a unique experience.

The UC Berkeley Startup Competition (Bplan) proudly welcomed Guy Kawasaki to the Haas School of Business. Kawasaki, former chief evangelist of Apple and co-founder of Garage Technology Ventures, explained the top ten mistakes that entrepreneurs make. His talk covered all stages of a startup from inception to exit.
Top 10 Mistakes

  1. Multiplying big numbers by 1%.  Getting 1% of any market is not as easy as it sounds.  Yet, no investor will support a business that taps only 1% of any market.
  2. Scaling too soon.  I've never seen a company die, because it didn't scale fast enough.  Instead, scaling too fast risks you being left with big overhead, no money, and your venture doesn't work.
  3. Partnering.  Partnerships don't mean anything.  What entrepreneurs need to focus on is sales.  Meeting your numbers is what investors look for.  
  4. Pitching instead of prototyping.  Marketing is free or cheap via social media, and your team can be virtual.  Show up with a prototype, and thus lend confidence that you can deliver.  
  5. Using too many slides and too small a font.  Present with 10 slides, in 20 minutes, using 30-point font.   
  6. Doing things serially.  The linear sequence doesn't exist in entrepreneurship.  Instead, you're doing several things in a parallel process, moving multiple things down the road.  
  7. Believing 51% equals control.  51% offers merely the illusion of control.  
  8. Believing patents equals defensibility.  It takes five to six years to secure a patent, and even then a major company can still take your idea.  The exception perhaps is a biotech product.
  9. Hiring in your own image.  Many companies like the hire the same kind of people.  Instead, hire people who complement your skills.  You need people who can make it, sell it, and collect it.  
  10. Befriending your venture capitalist.  Venture capitalists aren't in the business to make friends, but to make money.  So make your forecasts.  Under promise and over deliver.
  11. Thinking venture capitalists can add value.  They have a hard time separating causation vs correlation.  Simply seek money, and maybe two to three hours of their time.
That's 11 mistakes, because I believe in over delivering.

Having too much money is worse that not having enough money.  So I love the concept of Lean Startup.  I believe the organic, lean way is the way to go.  You have to start with a prototype.  Just because you have shared space, that is, at incubators and accelerators, it doesn't mean your chances of success are greater.  Again, do what you need to do to create a prototype, something tangible.  There is no hard-and-fast rule about whether it's better to keep going or give up.  Don't sweat it.  

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

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