Perspective, Pontification and Propoganda about Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital, brought to you by David Hornik of August Capital.

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Franco Cumpeta

Happy new year, Mr. Hornick; proud to meet you. The first very local internet system is at your feets, and I am the man. Ready to start tomorrow, with outsourced technologies - as always happened in past history, it's stupid to think valuable someone saying "I do all by myself" never happened. Six years in which I starved to keep up with this project "poli", the map, your world. This is all.

Charlie O'Donnell

Here's a question. In your experience, when you meet these people, do they think of themselves as entrepreneurs first or problem solvers first? Is there a continuum between people who just say, "I have a really great idea" on one end and people who say, "I want idea generation to be my life" on the other, or are these two fundamentally two different types of people? Also, are the most successful people those that have stumbled or developed a single great idea or those who have always thought of themselves as entreprenuers and who look for something new to work on constantly?

Matthew Oliphant

David,

Do you find you have more success with people/ideas that just happen to present themselves or at events designed to bring people together to present themselves and their ideas?

I am wondering what hand does synchronicity play and how much is it planning.

Good luck with it. I hope you find great people.

Dee Rambeau

David,

good luck in your quest. Having been a serial entrepreneur for most of my adult life, I know that an attitude like you are expressing is not the norm. More often VCs are not seen as approachable by entrepreneurs, who spend a lot of time and energy trying to get access to them so that they can impress them with their various pitches. Here in Colorado, in our YEO Chapter, of which I serve on the Board, there has been some effort recently to bring these two "opposing" parties together in scheduled, collective presentation sessions.

I can tell you this...if a venture capitalist ever called me up or introduced himself to me and said "tell me more about yourself and your ideas and your company," I'd be more than a little bit surprised.

Matt

I have to cry bullshit! BULLSHIT!

Is Steve Jobs a nice guy? Would you have invested in Bill Gates? Larry Ellison? None of these guys would have been considered great prior to their success.

Mike

David-

Happy New Year to you.

I suggest that you look for BIG new markets that no else sees yet rather than "great" people.

Nobody would have guessed that Pierre and Jeff would have built eBay. Likewise, Larry and Sergei with Google. See Bessemer's Anti-portfolio at (http://www.bvp.com/port/anti.asp).

This idea about great people blah-blah-blah is best debunked in the movie Trading Places with Dan Ackroyd, Eddie Murphy, and of course, the always beautiful Jamie Lee Curtis.

Have a great 2005!

Ho Nam

David,

You bring up a very interesting topic. The debate between betting on great people vs great ideas rages on! There are so many examples and counter-examples. Luck and timing also has to be factored in. A counterpoint to the "bet on the people" approach was made by Warren Buffet a few years ago:

"With few exceptions, when a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains in tact." - 1989 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report

But having said that, Buffet suffers no fools. Warren Buffet is probably one of the most incredible pickers of management talent ever. But his focus is on picking good businesses first.

-Ho

PS: BTW, who remembers the founders of Cisco? I just don't see any VCs lining up to invest in that husband and wife team again.

Justin

What is the definition of a Great Entrepreneur? A charismatic passionate leader or a person who has an absolute will to succeed?

In these days of feel good business books, one is made to believe that really successful people are great leaders first and foremost... but IS it really true? Sure, Steve Jobs is a visionary, but was/is he a good leader? How about Larry Ellison?

I recently heard Halsey Minor gave a talk and he stated that the single most important indicator of an entrepreneur's chances of success is his "will to succeed"... that he has seen a lot of people who succeeded "despite of themselves", all because they just would not give up.

So, David, perhaps you could give us some examples of Great Entrepreneurs (preferable ones you've met) and why they were "great". :)

Mark Boyd

David, I have had two home runs. Looking for the next idea. Love to see if you know someone with that great idea, and I could help pull off win #3.

Mark

mark@markboyd.com

Franco Cumpeta

A great interpreneur is, maybe, who's able to look a step ahead. Till the step isn't footprinted, that person maybe struggle for his personal everyday life, and this may last years and years. But when that step is gotten by everybody as an everyday life's achievement, then that enterpreneur (if still alive) put his feet on the footprint on the steep, and say: this is mine, right? Everybody answers: "right". This is (almost-in this case) all.

Jason Lemkin

IMHO at least, start-ups aren't too much about "invention". Very few ideas are unique, and most venture-funded companies have several venture-funded direct competitors and scores of would-be competitors with similar plans that never got off the ground. I don't even think most entrepreneurs look THAT far ahead or are that visionary in a futuristic sense; if you look more that a few years out, your profits are too far away to make a venture investment viable. In my experience at least, the right team, bringing the right drive & vision to an emerging market, with the right go-to-market strategy, and the necessary relevant experience and maturity, are what differentiate the start-ups that are a success.

Franco Cumpeta

I agree with you, Mr. Lemkin. Childish to think "We're the only one". It's in the air, looks like when Newton and Leibniz got the same result in mathematics, even being they far apart and unaware each of the other. Newton got space maybe youst only because his system was clearer, and maybe more elegant than Leibniz system.

So we are, now, managing not much with the childish question: "who's the winner" but with a more cool question that is: "what's done better, among the (few - you must admit) that makes this?".

Who's finding the right way, can call this way, as usually it's called abroad, "success". Money and history combined, and reward. Who's losing the match, maybe lives in another time and another space, why not, maybe...

lhaase

Here, here. Great entrepreneurs. The problem with these entrepreneurs in many cases is that they get caught up in the glamor of growing their own company...and forget the numbers...the biggest problem we run into is companies wasting big dollars on marketing and advertising with no accountability...ad agencies promoting "cool creative" with no measurement of results. I am proud to say our agency is the only one willing to actually put its fees at-risk against results...a VC-friendly model.

airpath wireless

Great ideas only go so far with mediocre or poor leadership. Sure, this may lead to a quick flip for a VC but to truly build a valuable company a good idea must be managed by good management - at least a team that has vision and heart.

Airpath Wireless is a perfect example of a good idea that has been mis-managed by a team that has mastered the art of telling its investors what they want to hear, burning through its employees and sticking it to their customers. As a side note, anyone looking at them may be wise to do deep deep due diligence (call former employees, former customers, etc.). Buyer beware!

Franco Cumpeta

Another art to fly high is that of not always tell "yes" to investors. Tell yes is art of waiters, very remarkable, but made up over a service. Big projects aren't only a service, they really should be made, with or without the opinions. Nature requires them, if you don't answer, back from the nature's answer you fail. You are kicked off by nature, in other words. The most big failure even.

D Posadas

How about technology entrepreneurs in Asia? Are the Silicon Valley VC's (aside from H&QAP and Walden) now actively pursuing deals in Asia?

by Dennis Posadas

author, Rice Bowl & Chips

How Asian countries are using the Silicon Valley

model to develop technology startups

(ISBN 0-595-34583-2)

http://www.ricebowlandchips.com

Deena Varshavskaya

David Hornik - I'm a big fan. I do realize you wrote this in 2005, but I'm sure it still applies. Seems like you're doing a phenomenal job of reaching out to entrepreneurs.

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