For the past weeks, I’ve been having lunch with top entrepreneurs, investors and executives in Silicon Valley such as Chris Sacca, Travis Kalanick, Chris Redlitz, Eric Ries. Well…they just don’t know it.
Thanks to Jason Calacanis’ “This Week In Startups” podcast, that I’ve been watching on my lunch break, I’ve gained a huge boost in my understanding of this very exciting (and painfully ambiguous) business environment, and learned even more of the lingo, who-is-who and what is happening.
These are the most important lessons I’ve learned.
1. Real entrepreneurs do not consider failure in their math
Top notch guys like Travis Kalanick (Uber), Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX), and Kevin Systrom (Instagram) just don’t consider failing as an option. They realize it will be hard to succeed, but are utterly confident that they can do it. They are “unreasonably fast moving people” in the words of Chris Sacca, from Lowercase Capital, and have a “relentlessness and fearlessness for scalability and speed” according to Jason.
2. Entrepreneurs execute fast towards a bigger vision
They have ambitious plans and execute on them in ways that would frighten most of us. This is where Eric Ries’ lean startup movement comes in handy. It’s fundamental to have a plan to build a product/service that customers will use & love, so getting customer’s feedback early on is key. Otherwise, you risk to “succeed at failing. You have a perfect product that customers don’t want,” said Eric.
3. Not everybody is a founder
It’s easier than ever to create a startup – funding is available, enabling technologies abound. Some people are good are getting stuff done, good at managing, but they are not crazy like entrepreneurs. Real founders have a different gene for risk that normal people don’t have – this is what Jason, Sacca and Dave McClure (500 Startups) agreed upon.
On the other hand, some say Silicon Valley entrepreneurs don’t have that gene for risk, they are just rich kids with a safety net. Ouch…that hurts. I’ve seen both sides (real risk takers, and the ones with safety nets) and I don’t think having a safety net makes one a less valuable entrepreneur.
It’s an insane emotional and physical roller-coaster. I’ve been on the founding team of an early stage startup, went through (crushing) acceleration programs (500 Startups, Plug & Play Startup Camp), and survived a (crushing-er) seed round. It takes a LOT to start a new business from the ground up, safety net or no safety net. I believe some people just have more stomach to take the ride – and they are the ones that get to the end line with a smile on their faces.