Category Archives: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

Putting Startup Success in Perspective

Title: Putting Startup Success in Perspective

Date: 2015-02-18

Speaker: John Collison (Stripe)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders


Question the way things work.Startups over time tend to get higher and higher up in how they describe themselves.

A challenge you will face as you go through the early stage with your early customers is figuring out what is core to the product and what is not. What should be part of your vision and what will need to change as you hit obstacles with your customers?

Vision is what you are not willing to change.

There will be things that make sense in the early days that don’t scale later on.

Obvious in hindsight doesn’t really help you.

Be mindful in the day to day life you live.

We live in a world that is completely broken in a lot of small and big ways.

Question the way things work.

Companies that are successful in changing an industry are often not started by insiders.

We are all swimming in opportunity but it is often really, really hard to see it.

Bad ideas take a lot of time and often never achieve escape velocity but good ideas take a really long time to achieve escape velocity too.

It is important to be really clear in your own mind, and as time goes on be good at communicating, about what is unique about what you are doing.

The Internet economy should not be the U.S.–it should be the world–and we need to fight really hard to make that happen.

Product strategy is always going to be really hard.

You have to get good at pretty quickly learning new skills.

A bad mistake when it comes to hiring is so demotivating–it can spread badly to the rest of the company.

The correct way to do hiring is branches of a tree–when you hire someone you are not just bringing them you are bringing their effect on the culture and all of the other people they are going to bring in with them.

It is important as you grow to become more metrics driven.

The quality and tenor of your personal interactions matter a lot.

Figure Out What’s Important

Title: Figure Out What’s Important

Date: 2015-02-11

Speaker: Kathryn Gould (Foundation Capital)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders


Do interesting stuff.Whatever you do make sure you are learning from really smart people.

Do interesting stuff.

Be very careful about who you take on as a client.

Don’t raise so much money that you can’t sell at a modest price and be happy.

It is still about market opportunity.

When you raise venture capital it is really important to get a great venture capitalist on your board.

Be very particular about who your investors are. It is not always about price.

Take a great venture capitalist at a lower price than some person at a ridiculously high price.

Look for a target customer with a compelling reason to buy.

It is very rare that a startup gets beat by a larger company. Mostly they get beat by some other startup down the street who is smarter than they are.

Get somebody else on your board other than an investor. Somebody who can bring an outside experience.

Making Complicated Things Simple

Title: Making Complicated Things Simple

Date: 2015-02-04

Speaker: Alon Cohen (Houzz)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders


Sometimes it is best to jump in and not thing too hard about what is going to happen.(Successful entrepreneurs) take something that is complicated and make it much simpler.

It is not enough to be talented at something. You actually have to work very hard.

Pick the right people.

It is never too late (to start a company).

You can learn on the way if you go and work other places.

At big companies it is difficult to get people to feel empowered.

Try to hire people that are very entrepreneurial.

The first few hires you bring are critical.

A-players bring A-players.

Founders are best at moving walls and getting things done.

Sometimes it is best to jump in and not think too hard about what is going to happen.

At the end of the day it is really about the people.

It is always important that you keep investing in the future. It is what keeps you ahead of the game.

Every startup is different.

On the inside you know things are not always what they look like on the outside.

Find Your Niche, Help the World

Title: Find Your Niche, Help the World

Date: 2015-01-21

Speaker: Shah Selbe (National Geographic Society)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
So often the limits on opportunity are the limits we put on ourselves.We are living in an amazing, remarkable time with opportunity literally being everywhere.

A lot of opportunity is in places you don’t expect it to be.

There is a lot of opportunity now–it is up to you to take it.

Think beyond the Silicon Valley bubble.

Get industry experience.

There are ways to be entrepreneurial when you are at a big company.

Engineers are the ones who build the society we live in.

The feeling that you get–the impact that you get–out of working on something without expecting anything in return has a profound effect on the person you are and what you end up wanting to do with your life.

So often the limits on opportunity are the limits we put on ourselves.

In the forty years we have lost over 50% of the wildlife on the planet.

Find your inspiration.

Put yourself out there. Try and fail. Pick yourself back up. The world needs you.

Nobody ever creates anything without failing before.

Make Government Work Better for All

Title: Make Government Work Better for All

Date: 2015-01-14

Speaker: Jennifer Pahlka (Code for America)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders


The government can work but only if we make it so.It is really hard to understand the really difficult problems we face as a country if you do not experience those things yourself.

If you want to recruit some of the best technologists in the country give them something to work on that really matters and they will succeed.

We need to redefine participation in government.

It is not just about having a voice or an issue.

We are at the verge of being able to say there is no excuse for complaining.

Solutions can come from anywhere.

Government needs to work for the people but it is only going to work if it is also by the people.

Government can work for actual real people and by actual real people.

You can no longer run a country properly if the elites don’t understand technology in the way that they grasp economics, or ideology, or propaganda.

The government can work but only if we make it so.

Nailing the Hard Things

Title: Nailing the Hard Things

Date: 2014-11-19

Speaker: Ben Horowitz (Andreessen Horowitz)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders


If you can't build a great product it doesn't matter if you can build a great company.People skills tend to be highly underestimated.

If you try to build a company with zero management skill and no network–that is hard.

In peacetime you’re much more focused on the development of the people and the development of the organization over the long term.

If you’re running out of cash you have got to get to a very accurate decision extremely quickly.

Sometimes at wartime you do things that undermine the organization.

Book: Only the Paranoid Survive

In the real business world most of it ends up being wartime.

Startups get really hard when the product gets into market.

If you can’t build a great product it doesn’t matter if you can build a great company.

Management is a learned skill. Nobody was born a great manager.

As a manager you have to evaluate people’s performance. You have to correct them. You have to make sure they are on task.

It is easier to teach the innovator how to be a CEO than to teach a CEO how to be an innovator.

It is just as much work and just as traumatic to build a company that is trivial and nobody cares about as it is to build a significant and important thing so you might as well try to do something important.

A big thing in venture capital is size.

The whole point of an executive is to get (the company) leverage.

With Bitcoin it is the first time there is a ledger that everybody could use and nobody owns.

Silicon Valley is still by far the easiest place to build a really important technology company.

Consumers and Brands in the Digital Age

Title: Consumers and Brands in the Digital Age

Date: 2014-11-12

Speaker: Tina Wells (Buzz Marketing Group)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders


You can always make more money. You can never make more time.Build businesses while you are in school.

If you are an entrepreneur you have to be fascinated by your work and passionate about it.

Consumers have the power. They can dictate things to brands.

Trends come from all over the place.

Airports are going to become a more interesting hub for shopping.

It is important to understand what is going on in life for the average millennial.

It is the small innovations that can sometimes have the biggest impact.

The thing people don’t tell you about entrepreneurship is that sometimes it really, really sucks.

There is always competition. Consumers can choose to do nothing.

You can always make more money. You can never make more time.

Seeking the Full Potential of Education

Title: Seeking the Full Potential of Education

Date: 2014-11-05

Speaker: Jennifer Carolan (New Schools Venture Fund)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders


Human potential is everywhere.Prioritize impact.

There is no silver bullet for education.

There are four million U.S. teachers. 40% are under the age of 30.

Entrepreneurs are a great pipeline for referrals to companies.

Look closely at the cap table.

The time is now to be building edtech companies.

Opportunity is so important for people.

Human potential is everywhere.

Life is Too Short for Bad Software

Title: Life is Too Short for Bad Software

Date: 2014-10-29

Speaker: Lewis Cirne (New Relic)

Link: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders


Every business is a software business. They all need their software to work.You have dreams but you also have doubts.

The very best engineers have an instinct for what people want.

Every business is a software business. They all need their software to work.

The people who build software are really the people who are changing the world in many ways.

Data is fundamental to every business decision.

Life is too short for bad software.

Your most precious asset is your time.

Make a product so easy to use that the customer can see the value without the help of a salesperson.

It is hard for a company to come out with a second act–an idea that is totally new, disruptive, and goes beyond the first idea.

When you are a solo founder it is very lonely.

Work with people that are going to bring out the best in you.

Keep recruiting your people after they come in. Check on them after three months.

You want people to feel valued.