On June 14, I attended a networking event hosted by OPEN Silicon Valley. It was an all day event with an impressive list of keynote speakers and entrepreneurs, including Howard Dean (DNC Chair), Mike Mortiz from Sequoia Capital, (the VC firm that funded Google and many other big name internet brands today), Steve Westly, and many others.
I took some random notes of tips and proven practices form those that are more experienced and those with a track record of success and accomplishments. I took my notes on my Blackberry. From the looks of some people, I felt like my teenage daughter at the dinner table when we ask her to stop text messaging :).
The notes are not very structured but I hope you find them useful as I did and pick one or two golden nuggets that would help you grow at the personal and professional level.
- Mike Moritz said when they look for start-ups and entrepreneurs, they are inclined to invest in companies that require “small” funding initially. Also companies that are about to catch a huge tail wind. They also look for companies that can have a healthy margin, so they can turn cash-flow positive quickly and reinvest in growing the company. He also looks for entrepreneurs that are big on the mission, and want to do great things for their customers.
- There was a discussion about investing in a company where the founders/key players are “young”. One of the characteristics of being young is that you are single-focused on your start-up. Mike Mortiz did acknowledge that fact, but also said they invested in companies (e.g. eHarmony) where the founder was a grandfather, but he still had the fervor and passion to accomplish his goals.
What is Success?
- A panel of successful entrepreneurs addressed this topic. The answers varied: “Having a lot of fun and make some money along the way, and also make a dent”. Others said “Success is about positive relationships”. One speaker said a key element to their success was by “always having a mentor in my life”.
Making it big without VC funding, possible?
- A session was dedicated to this topic. 5 very successful founders of now-established businesses spoke. They echoed the same themes we hear all the time. You have be optimistic and realistic. You have to work hard, long hours.. One panelist said that since he was 16 he has been waking up at 4:30am and working 14 hours/day. He does his spiritual routine, swims 40 laps, then off to the challenges. He is now in his mid 50’s and reaping the benefits of his hard work. Others attributed their success to how they built their companies around taking care of the customer, about strong relationships they have had with their customers for year after year.
I always enjoy attending such events and mingling with bright minds; you share what you know and most importantly learn from others!