If Only I Had an Idea

Fat Canvas by the Author

October 19, 2014: The headline above is a statement that comes up time and again when I meet people who want to become entrepreneurs. They may have the drive, intellect, and requisite instincts, but they’ve not been inspired by a particular mission and often don’t have a team to help them toward that goal. If they force the issue by gathering up some colleagues and entering a class like our Longhorn Startup Lab, they’ll often settle for the next “find me a beer” app that they draw from their current experiences as undergraduates.

Easy to Start, Hard to Finish

Ferrari 250GTO at Le Mans 1962

September 1, 2014:  Bob Metcalfe gave his customary founder’s story about 3Com at our first meeting of the Longhorn Startup class last Thursday. As many times as I have heard that, I always learn something new. Like all entrepreneurial successes of that magnitude, it’s hard to boil down such a complex and interesting story to a one-hour talk aimed at 20ish age undergraduate students.

Fatal Traction

Fair Use for Education, Fatal Attraction Poster

July 6, 2014: Many of you will recall the 1987 hit movie Fatal Attraction starring Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, and Anne Archer. It was a genuine thriller and had the number one world box office ranking that year. Unfortunately, since none of my students were born until some years later, any references I make to that film in the Longhorn Startup classroom draw quizzical looks. It is relevant to my talk on the vagaries of an entrepreneurial career.

Take It Personally

public domain image of rejection note on locker

April 20, 2014: “We really like you guys, but we don’t like your product.” That comment from about 1980 has stuck with me; I got to know very well the two gentlemen running Sears computer stores at that time, and that was their polite way of delivering a rejection. I think Peachtree Software has generated more profits than all of Sears in the intervening decades and is only increasing its lead today, but no one is keeping that score (except me).

Don’t Read this Fast, but Be Fast

Rolex 24 start 2011

January 19, 2014:  After the NFL championship games, the hype machine is focused on the Big One -- that’s right, the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway January 25-26.  Yes there’s some more football after that in New Jersey, but racing provides better analogies for the topic of this post.  The 24 Hours of Daytona brings together multiples classes of prototype and GT cars in an annual endurance race that is the harbinger of the racing s

In the Presence of Genius

Price Gilbert and Crosland library buildings at GA Tech

November 24, 2013:  This Thanksgiving edition of TechDrawl is a collection of observations on higher education.  I wrote recently on the topic of whether entrepreneurship can be taught, and Bob Metcalfe addressed this same question in a more scholarly paper published last week.   He and I reached affirmative conclusions, but we each brought to the question

Every Business Is Chicken and Egg

partyers dressed as chicken and eggs

September 3, 2013:  This post by Chandeet Shoudary on how Paypal and Reddit faked their way to traction is one of several I’ve read on that subject in recent weeks.  This is an obvious issue in P2P ventures where you need to bring along at approximately equal rates both the providers and consumers, or sellers and buyers, or whatever pairs you need to match for your offering to be valuable.

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 Worry?

Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville a few days before his death

August 3, 2013:  Several years ago I met with a young entrepreneur already on his way toward building a glorious business, and he asked me a question I didn’t really expect:  “What should I be worried about?”  I was immediately thinking that if I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t be too worried about anything, but I decided to reply that just his asking the question demonstrated a healthy respect for the vagaries of business.  I recall telling him that he should probably be concerned only if he ever quit worrying.  All of us who have matriculated as entrepreneurs from startup to exit know how m


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