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.
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.
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).
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
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
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.
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
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
June 27, 2013: Earlier this week my post dealt with how managing your startup is dramatically affected when you actually have paying customers. For most businesses, the commencement of revenues also leads to an increase in headcount. You move beyond the comfort zone of your trusted founding team and must learn to accomplish things through people of varying skill sets and motivations who are mainly interested in a paycheck.
Lean startup methods are all about customer discovery, gathering information to create a product that fulfills the needs you identify in this process, and then actually landing that first customer. That’s when the fun begins, and it’s not all rosy. Here are ten considerations that come into play at that milestone in the life of your startup: