When starting a company, it is easy to focus on the destination rather than appreciating the journey. Entrepreneurship is somewhat unique in this way — most teachers, for instance, are content to be teachers. They don’t consider “teaching” something that happens along the way to a greater goal. There’s a certain stability and peace in this. But because the popular lore of entrepreneurship has been built around the huge mega-exit, many founders focus solely on the goal and forget that until then, there’s life.
This is why I advocate entrepreneurship as a career choice as opposed to than the one-off notion of “doing a startup”. The venture business is a long game best played by those with time and patience. As as the canon of entrepreneurship is written by people like Eric Ries, Fred Wilson, Mark Suster, Steve Blank and others, the gulf between the founders who have taken the time to learn entrepreneurship as a vocation — usually by doing it repeatedly and immersing themselves in the community — and those who have not will widen. In the end we’ll judge ourselves not by the destinations we’ve reached, but the journeys we took to get there and the stuff we did along the way.
as a career long entrepreneur, I can really appreciate this ‘journey’ perspective… more good stuff as I continue my blog content crush on @bhargreaves
On the story of the The Winklevosses Vs. Silicon Valley | TechCrunch
“If the Winklevii had spent all their time and energy competing with Facebook in the arena of the marketplace rather than in the confines of the courtroom, we here in Silicon Valley would have had more sympathy and respect regardless of whether they had failed or succeeded. If you want our respect, gear up and enter the arena of entrepreneurship and be willing to die and battle for your idea to win the hearts and minds of those in the stands. The users who vote with their time, money and passion count here- nothing else. No court order or settlement can give you the legitimacy and honor that hundreds of millions of users can. Merit matters more. Always.”
If you follow Lean Startup and Customer Development methodologies, you’re familiar with the term traction. It’s often used as shorthand for the proof of product viability sought by VCs and Angels when evaluating a potential investment. It’s also critical to building successful channels.
Building a company and being a founder is sexy these days. But, under the supposedly sexy veneer is an intensity of experience unlike any other I know. Rapidly building a team of extremely talented people to singly focus on building a great product… all driving the same mission forward ‘in an environment of extreme uncertainty’ is exciting! But it takes a toll.
This was not my first company. But, in April I was in an extremely intense growth cycle as co-founder & CEO of a German cloud technology company when I felt myself ‘disappearing into the fire’, as Jerry Colonna put it in his blog post from last December…
“One of my all time favorite blog posts about entrepreneurship is the Disappearing Into The Fire post written by my former partner Jerry Colonna. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and go read it.
Jerry has been a highly successful VC, then disappeared into the fire himself, and emerged as a fantastic CEO coach who I recommend so much he can’t take any more clients right now. So he’s responding to that problem by cloning himself. Well actually not quite. Jerry is starting to do workshops so he can help more entrepreneurs and CEOs.”
Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures
I learned of Jerry’s General Assembly workshop from Fred’s post and reached out to Jerry. Over the past months, we have been working with Jerry Colonna & Ann Mehl to bring them to Berlin for another installment of the successful General Assembly workshop + several other events for entrepreneurs and investors here in Berlin. We agreed that it makes sense to contribute to the startup ecosystem – to focus on ways we can help us all learn to be better entrepreneurs and build stronger companies.
Our team has spent many hours and engaged many people to make it possible to bring Jerry & Ann here for a few days in September. If you are in or near Berlin and want to build a stronger company AND survive the process intact, come join us.
Are you finding yourself lost in your work? Is your startup requiring you to run at a ‘sprint’ pace for a ‘marathon’ distance? If you are looking to expand your thinking about success, fulfillment and possibility, join us for a one-day workshop which will give you the tools to:
- Reconnect with yourself to define the essence of what you want
- Gain clarity on your goals
- Develop an actionable blueprint
Online Event Registration with amiando
I’m sending the manuscript of Pendulum to the publisher this week. Like the tower, it turned out profoundly better than I had imagined. Here’s what the reader will find on the front page of the book when it hits the bookstores next spring:
“If you will see into the heart of a people, look closely at what they create. Examine the inventions to which they pay attention. Read their bestselling books.
Listen to their popular music.
This is how you will know them.”– Roy H. Williams
Having made my 90-minute presentation on Society’s 40-Year Pendulum to 241 auditoriums full of people in the past 8 years, I began this book by trying to disprove my own 40-year hypothesis.
My friend Dr. Kary Mullis, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, said,
“Roy, there are few, true scientists left in the world. Too often, a scientist will develop a hypothesis and then look for supporting evidence. They identify with their hypothesis and they want it to be correct. This is bad science. When you have a hypothesis, your job is to try to disprove it. No one knows more about your hypothesis than you do. No one else is as qualified to discover its flaws. When you believe a thing to be true, your first responsibility is to do everything you can to disprove it.”
I’ve long been a fan of Roy Williams & Wizard Academy. Years ago I was granted as scholarship to attend Roy’s Magical Worlds Workshop and there I first heard of his ’40 Year Pendulum’ – it changed my perspective on people, culture and business!
As Roy has been writing his new book, as he explains above, he is being forced to re-examine his hypothesis to ensure his science is true and unbiased. This reminds me a great deal of the early stages of building a technology company today.
As a founder of a technology company and as an advisor to several others, it is key to seek to prove our hypothesis – not just assume it is accurate and drive forward writing code. That is what the lean startup, customer development and MVP is all about.
The Sunpop StudioPOD
A StudioPOD is a professionally designed, remotely controlled video studio, with all the power of an in-house video department and none of the headaches.
A StudioPOD takes up about as much room as a large cubicle. Once installed in your extra office space, you can efficiently produce professional video content that grows your business.
The cameras, robotics, microphones, and computers, are accessed and managed remotely through your broadband internet connection. From hundreds, even thousands of miles away, Sunpop’s directors can remotely control your StudioPOD equipment and produce amazing videos with you and your business.
My favorite video production company in the world, from my home of Austin, TX, just released a really cool way to work with them from anywhere! Very cool – nice job guys. Maybe we’ll bring one to Berlin!
If launching a startup is like jumping off a cliff and building a plane on the way down, then lean startup principles are the kiddie parachutes you deploy to buy yourself time before you hit the ground. While they’re no guarantee that you’ll land safely, they do minimize your chances of a spectacular crash and burn.
To the uninitiated, the lean startup movement advocates maximizing learning and minimizing cash burn during your search for a sustainable and scalable business model. If that seems like a mouthful, here’s a summary: put your stuff out there as fast as possible, see how it does, and keep iterating until you succeed. Do both qualitative and quantitative research to figure out whether you’re building a product people actually want and whether it’s possible to acquire customers in a cost-effective way. This usually entails taking a hard but honest look at the assumptions you may have about your product, target users, monetization models, competitive landscape, and distribution channels.