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.
April 17, 2016: Time flies, in English or Latin, but time is also power. The latter is the more relevant notion for a startup.
April 10, 2016: Thanks to all of you who commented on my essay last week about laws and regulations running amuck and running counter to the priorities of our society. Let’s examine this week two unrelated contemporary legal arenas that DO deserve interference by our elected leaders and their operating agencies.
April 3, 2016: This essay is about the counter productive intrusion of legal and political affairs into our personal lives and our businesses.
One of my favorite annual assignments at The University of Texas at Austin has been giving a talk each summer to a class of rising high school seniors, the best and brightest from across the state. It has been part of the Honors Colloquium, designed to show some love and attention to the instate scholars that are being recruited far and wide.