Monthly Archives: March 2010

Entrepreneurs can change the world

This video from Grasshopper, which was founded by graduates of my alma mater (Babson), is simple yet creative and powerful. Remember when you were a kid and nothing was impossible? Don’t let the world decide for you what’s possible and what’s not. Vinod Khosla once said, “An entrepreneur is someone who dares to dream the dreams and is foolish enough to try to make those dreams come true.” Stay foolish. Stay hungry.

By: Jonathan Lee
Twitter: @hi5at5

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So… young singles who live with their parents make better entrepreneurs?

In order to increase your entrepreneurial success:

  1. Stay single (or get a sugar mama or a sugar daddy)
  2. Don’t contribute to the gene pool
  3. Live on your parents couch to avoid having a mortgage
  4. Stop celebrating your birthdays do you don’t ever turn 30.

I am kidding of course. However, I didn’t fabricate the above list entirely on my own. I just interpreted someone else’s take on entrepreneurial a tad bit differently. This is my first post of a series of posts about the Duke MBA EVCC’s recent Week-in-Cities trip to San Francisco.

Our first stop was at FlightCaster, which is an Internet start-up that uses advanced algorithm to predict the probability of flight delays hours before the airlines can. Jason Freedman, the Founder and CEO, had great insights to share on what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Before I share his views (mixed in with my own thoughts and humor), here’s a brief summary of FlightCaster.

According to Jason, FlightCaster raised $1.3 million in Series A financing back in November 2009. I can assure you, as an ex-consultant who once logged ~150,000 miles in one year while experiencing many frustrating flight delays, FlightCaster’s service is invaluable.

FlightCaster may not make much sense for the casual traveler, but it could save a lot of time for road warriors. Rather than finding out 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure that your flight has been delayed for 2 hours, wouldn’t it be more useful to know several hours in advance? That would give you plenty of time to make alternative travel arrangements and you wouldn’t have to fight with 200 other passengers for that last seen on another flight.

Jason received his MBA from Tuck, but I can forgive him for that since he did his undergrad at Duke.
Here are some traits of an entrepreneur according to Jason (Consider this an entrepreneurial aptitude test for yourself).

An entrepreneur is:

  1. Determined and is willing to fail. Start your first business as soon as possible. Failing could be a good thing if you learn from it so start your first company and fail. Get it out of your system. Then go start your successful venture.
  2. Good at hiring. Jason describes himself as B- person who surrounded himself with A+ people. Check your ego at the door. Find people who are smarter than you and hire them.
  3. Skilled at raising capital for his or her company. Raising money is similar to selling. Build a brand for yourself so you can sell yourself, your team, and your concept. This goes back to #2. You should be able to sell your vision to your team to keep them motivated.

He also offered some practical advice for those who are curious about entrepreneurship or are just starting down the Internet start-up path.

  1. Join the start-up conversation by reading: Hacker News, Tech Crunch, avc.com, Feld Thoughts, techmeme.com, and Both Sides of the Table.
  2. Become known by blogging and tweeting (and try to build a following of 1,000+)

On a more humorous note, he warned against the “drag factors” that can often hinder entrepreneurs (see the connection with my list above?). This is probably more relevant to MBAs than college students.

  1. School loans
  2. Spouse
  3. Kids
  4. Mortgage
  5. Over 30

Jason is not suggesting that one can’t be an entrepreneur if he or she has these so-called drag factors. It will just be more difficult to not give up when you have too many obstacles. I only have 1-2 so I think I am okay. 🙂

By: Jonathan Lee
Twitter: @hi5at5

Duke MBA EVCC Week-in-Cities (San Francisco)

The Duke MBA Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club successfully completed another “Week-in-Cities” trip to San Francisco. Our hosts were fantastic. Here’s what our schedule looked like:

Monday (3/15/10)

FlightCaster, Bizo, Pandora

Tuesday (3/16/10)

Zendesk, Eventbrite, Involver, Allegis Capital

Wednesday (3/17/10)

Khosla Ventures, Bridgescale Partners, Ustream, Pixazza

Thursday (3/18/10)

Zynga, Salesforce.com, First Round Capital

I will write more about some of our hosts over the course of next several days. Come back to read about my thoughts. I will have pictures as well. Adios for now.

By: Jonathan Lee
Twitter: @hi5at5