August 28, 2016: All the muddled news of this past week about the health of our presidential nominees suggests a look at career horizons. We talk a lot about investment horizons; many VC partnerships are set up for ten years, on the theory that the money is put to work early and all the portfolio is exited by the tenth year. I can name a few companies in the 16th year of one of these arrangements, with no end in sight. They’re all too stable to fold up and be gone, or they are growing steadily but not fast enough to bring a meaningful outcome into view.
August 21, 2016: Every startup leadership team has periodic arguments. There are always many gray areas in which one person’s guess may be as good as another’s. Monty Python’s sketch on this topic is one of my all-time favorites of theirs. It’s also the only bit of psychological rigor in this essay.
I rarely do lists in this forum, but this subject seems most appropriate for that, don’t you agree?
August 14, 2016: I often describe myself as an expert at “starting the start.” Most of the students and budding entrepreneurs I advise have an idea and want to know literally how to convert that idea into a startup. My recommendations are applicable generically across a broad array of technology sectors, in part because I’ve personally had a wide variety of personal experience and in part because I’ve judged many thousands of entrants in startup competitions.
August 7, 2016: This past week I arranged a listening tour in Georgia related to my biomedical deal there. This was an opportunity for the founding doctor and me to talk with our lead investors, board members, healthcare partners, and others. The goal was to give candid updates about the business and seek counsel on recent modifications to our strategy. This was a successful trip, and it was a reminder of the importance of asking the right questions and being an attentive listener to the answers.
July 31, 2016: The political conventions of the last two weeks seem to have settled the election into a binary choice, unless by some miracle the Libertarian candidates can wedge themselves into the debates and capture a few votes in the Electoral College. Let’s assume for this essay that miracle will not happen.
July 24, 2016: Last week’s essay dealt with the fine art of pricing your startup product or service. Pricing is inextricably tied to your volume projections, so let’s now look into your crystal ball on that topic.
The most common mistake I see is estimating from the top down. You’ve created a must-have product for left-handers, and you know that approximately 10% of the US population is left-handed. So, there are 30M+ customers. Surely you can get 10% of that market and have 3M users, right? Or left? It looks easy.
July 17, 2016: Several meetings this past week about pricing have made that the startup topic for this essay. I recall the Christian poem “The Touch of the Master’s Hand,” which was used often in speeches by John Imlay as a dramatic conclusion. He would bring on stage the prominent Atlanta Symphony violinist Martin Sauser to show the power of a musical instrument in the hands of such a master.
July 10, 2016: Unless you started ultra lean and have managed to claw your way to profitability, there will be times when you have to choose between raising money and running your venture. This is a time-honored dilemma for most aspiring entrepreneurs.
July 1, 2016: My “Keep Calm and Carry On” essay last week was written before the Brexit vote, and I’ve since seen that slogan and flag in all types of media including the Colbert show. As of this writing, it appears the response of Britain’s leadership, including David Cameron and Boris Johnson, has been to let others carry on, and Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn seems in danger of being nudged aside himself. My essay was about seeing your startup through and maintaining a steady helm during difficult periods in the business.
June 26, 2016: My birthday this past week brought the usual reflections along with all the greetings and trappings of the occasion. To me the birthday reminder is one of the nicest features of Facebook, just to refresh our memories of the many people who are part of our lives and with whom we aren’t always in close touch.