When entrepreneurs are successful, we are enormously interested in what made them become entrepreneurs. It’s as if their main achievement is the decision to say goodbye to the secure and safe life — the sure job, the safe pay, and the good CV. While the choice of taking the plunge is definitely a precondition for success, it is quite far from being the primary achievement. The difficult part is not becoming an entrepreneur but remaining one when things look hopeless and everyone around you has lost faith. We love stories about how two 15-year-old kids in a basement have a good idea, get a breakthrough on the first day, and become a global success a year later. In reality, however, building a business and generating real value takes time. It...
When I’m listening to Naveen Jain describing his plan to create big business on the moon, it’s hard for me to grasp that he was once a poor child in India.
Today, Naveen is a billionaire and a very successful entrepreneur. His own recipe for success is, among other things, not knowing much and not being very good at anything. To me, that sounds like the opposite of what business life normally requires, yet Naveen isn’t joking, and his track record proves that he is not wrong either. After all, the young boy that grew up in poverty in India is today changing the world as we know it and has Sir Richard Branson and Google founder Larry Page as two of his good personal friends.
Jonathan: Naveen, I find it so inspiring that you have used entrepr...
I had the pleasure of talking to Blake about his ideas and experiences as a social entrepreneur. I started by asking him about how TOMS started.
Blake: I started TOMS after a trip I took to Argentina in 2006. I noticed that many of the locals wore shoes that I learned were alpargata. I also noticed that in rural villages there were many children who were without shoes and how that was affecting their daily lives. I had to come up with a way to help and knew that relying on donations alone was not a sustainable solution, so I used my knowledge of business to come up with an idea. The result was a for-profit business model that empowers customers to help children through their purchases. For every pair of shoes purchased, a new pair is given ...
Imagine what would happen if we spent as much time trying to teach kids to become entrepreneurs as we did trying to get them to prepare for the SATs?
Let's remember that a disproportionate amount of our academic focus is around a series of standardized tests designed in an era where homogenizing the workforce was our number one goal (side note: it worked).
Now our goal is the polar opposite: differentiating our workforce. The only way our kids will succeed is if they can stand apart from others and chart their own course.
That's the essence of entrepreneurship, and it's something we can absolutely teach.
Kids are natural entrepreneurs.
They possess the most powerful skill any of us can have...
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: a Founder and a VC walk into an elevator…
In all seriousness, if you’ve spent any time swimming in the startup waters, you’re probably familiar with the idea of the elevator pitch. But in case you missed that day in Founder School, the scenario is this:
Say you got in an elevator, and standing in that elevator was the one person that could make or break your business. You have the length of that elevator ride to convince this person to get on board. And no, the electricity can’t suddenly cut out and leave you with a couple of hours to fill instead of a handful of seconds.
Well — What the @#*! do you say?
We’ll get to that.
There’s a reas...
Sometimes the best way to grow our startups is to spend some time doing stuff that has nothing to do with our startups!
It sounds easy to do and yet so many of us have a huge issue with getting outside our own startup bubble.
But what if we knew that time away was the key to actually making our startup grow faster?
Aside from the obvious challenges around things like burnout, being focused exclusively on our startups prevents us from getting some new perspectives that we would have otherwise missed.
Whether it's that passing thought during meditation, that interesting point another Founder made at dinner, or the inspiration we got when we were sitting on a beach staring at the sun — our time away fro...
The blended workforce is made up of people who work full-time and part-time, as well as temporary workers, freelancers, and contract workers.
The so-called “gig economy,” or the rise of popularity in freelance work, that took root with the recovery from the 2008 recession and expanded with the advent of the Affordable Care Act is making the blended workforce the workforce of the future and the workforce of today. Around 40 percent of today’s labor force is made up of non-traditionally working people, including freelancers (sometimes referred to as agile talent, 1099s, consultants, contractors, etc.), temporary workers, and self-employed workers.
As with any labor force, the blended workforce offers advantages and disadvant...
Seven months after filming an episode for season six of ABC’s hit television show “Shark Tank,” I finally received the email I had been waiting for: my episode had an air date, and it was only 18 days away!
My immediate thoughts were relief and terror, in that order. Relief because it was the end of an almost year-long waiting game since producers had first contacted me with an invitation to appear on the show, and terror because I suddenly realized that I had absolutely no idea what my business—or my life—would be like in 30 days’ time.
Moments after receiving the email, I shared the “Shark Tank” news, along with my feelings of excitement and uncertainty, with a friend, Colin McGuire. After a short congratulations, he said something that r...
Samuel F. Poirier is the first French Canadian to be named a Thiel Fellow. Samuel founded his first company when he was 14, where he would import minerals from several countries to Montreal. At 18, Poirier founded the first debit card for Bitcoin. His most recent venture, Retinad, is an analytics platform for virtual reality that helps VR companies understand how users are interacting with their platform. He currently remains a shareholder of Retinad, but recently left the day to day operations to focus on a new project that he isn’t quite ready to talk about! I took the time to speak to Samuel about his journey as a young entrepreneur and the challenges that he has faced both personally and professionally to get to this point.
It’s no secret that our time in history is unique. Our times are unique in a myriad of ways, but an area of some concern is the state of entrepreneurship in the world of technology.
In recent decades fund-raising has become not only much easier, but also more popular. Even businesses with seemingly little potential to truly become scalable, try to raise money, and they even sometimes succeed. While fund-raising is a decent way to scratch that entrepreneurial itch, it’s not end-game for aspiring entrepreneurial-Napoleons.
In some ways, the entrepreneurial scene hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years. For example, the average age of entrepreneurs today is not significantly younger than 100 years ago.
Steve Blank considers...