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.
June 19, 2016: This week’s essay is a reprise of a call for technology leaders to become involved in the figurative Public Square. None of us are insulated from today’s governmental actions at the local, state or national levels.
June 12, 2016: This essay is a sequel to last week’s war stories and advice on firing people. Let’s say you’ve pulled the trigger, what can you expect next? There are many potential problems, to wit:
June 5, 2016: Have you ever been fired? I have, a few times. My first was in the retail hardware business that predated my transition to software. The owner by whom I had been engaged to execute a turnaround brought into the business his brother-in-law, much my elder (I was 23 at the time.) who had some relevant experience in paint products, versus my having no experience in anything to speak of. A change in personal circumstances caused the owner not to want to continue to fund this enterprise, and there wasn’t enough cash flow to cover two executives. How did I respond?
May 30, 2016: May we respect the Fallen on this Memorial Day...on now to my essay:
This past weekend I attended a Georgia Tech Research Corporation board meeting in the North Georgia mountains. Our meeting was highlighted by fascinating research presentations on Einstein’s gravitational waves and water on Mars, but more on those in a moment.
May 22, 2016: Enough about TNC’s this week. That issue continues to dominate social media in Austin, but let’s get back to our own businesses. I’ve had a few occasions over the past month to witness startups going through the normal anxieties that accompany each inflection point. There’s no magic cure for those. A leadership team all acting in good faith will have vigorous and honest disagreements about major decisions. Startups are usually bereft of solid data and are forced to “wing it” more often than not. And, it all gets very personal.
May 16, 2016: This past Thursday I was in Atlanta for the annual ATDC Showcase, a crowded event where I ran into many friends. Even though my son was exhibiting a very interesting business there and I’m personally working on a venture to raise the standards of cancer care, the one universal question I got was: “What did Austin do to run off Uber and Lyft?”
May 8, 2016: Office hours in our Innovation Center at UT Austin attracted some inquiring student minds this past week. I engage in frequent mentoring or advising sessions like this as part of my EIR role, and there is always a wide range of questions.
May 1, 2016: Wednesday night I was grateful to be invited to Andrews Kurth in downtown Austin to be a mentor for the McCombs MBA “Venture Fellows.” There were six teams working from a very detailed case presentation provided by the AK lawyers. In my room we had three Fellows playing their assigned roles per the case script and duking out matters of ownership percentages, titles, founder stock vesting, an already messy cap table, and assorted IP landmines.
April 24, 2016: You’re financially viable to commence operations, either by running leanly or by having achieved an adequate level of funding to execute your plan. Congratulations. Now comes the hard part.
Startups are easy, scaling them is hard, and exiting successfully is even more difficult. But, to claim your battle ribbons (See plenty in the photo above.) as an entrepreneur, you need to achieve the full cycle. Finishing the job is what distinguishes you from the countless actors in Startup Theater in every high-tech town.