Who Drives the Startup Train?

railroad engineer in Stasburg

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.

Culture Is More than Free Beer

cell cuture

August 16, 2015: Continuing the series on my live case study of the biomedical startup I’m advising, attention is turned this week to the processes of the business. It’s one thing to get a deal funded, but it’s quite a bit more challenging to actually create and operate the company according to plan. We had a very interesting discussion on this topic with one of our potential investors.

Money Follows

Winston Churchill

July 13, 2014: One of Dan Gilbert’s maxims at Quicken Loans is this: “Numbers and money follow, they do not lead.” I came to that conclusion myself early in my career. If you are an entrepreneur, you must do enough calculating up front to ascertain what’s theoretically possible with your idea. Can it make money? How big is the potential market? How much capital will be consumed to reach sustainability? Once you’ve made your best guess as to those answers, you had best set aside your spreadsheets and get busy building your product or service and creating loyal customers.

When Is It Time to Pivot?

HP 75 computer circa 1982

August 25, 2013:  Steve Ballmer has been the story this weekend with the announcement of his pending retirement.  The 7% jump in MSFT shares on that news probably won’t be highlighted in his personal memoirs, but he apparently made some investors happy.  Personally, I’d give him credit for protecting the core franchises of Windows and Office while trying a few radical changes of late.  He wasn’t afraid to start making his own hardware in the Surface line, adding touch to the latest version of Windows, and even emulating Apple’s retail store concept.  The Surface Pro isn’t bad for a Microsof

Why Can’t I Get My Employees to Do Things?

Korean war photo public domain

August 18, 2013: My previous post talked about why it may be hard for you, even though you are a great communicator, to get things done when you must manage upward and outward and depend on the timely responses and actions of others outside your supervision.  As promised, here’s the same list this week but oriented toward achieving desired results from your own employees, particularly when you’ve achieved a bit of scale, say 50 or more.

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