March 10, 2012
August 19, 2010
Following are highlights from Survey and Study by Vivek Wadhwa & others: Anatomy of an Entrepreneur Part II:Making of A Successful Entrepreneur
This research is based on a survey of 549 company founders in a variety of industries, including aerospace and defense, computer and electronics, health care,
Entrepreneurs Obstacles from their past, Time and effort required, capital/financing, and experience in running a business
We asked company founders to rank the challenges they faced in starting their businesses.
• 61 percent said amount of time and effort required was a challenge
• 52 percent said lack of available capital/financing was a challenge
• 52 percent said lack of prior experience in running a business was a challenge
Entrepreneurs Obstacles for others, Lack of willingness to take risks, Time and effort required, Raising capital, Business management skills and Family or financial pressure
• The factor most commonly ranked as important—by 98 percent—was lack of willingness or of ability to take risks, with 50 percent believing this to be an extremely important barrier to entrepreneurship. This clearly indicates that these company founders considered entrepreneurship to be a risky endeavor.
• 93 percent said that the amount of time and effort required was an important barrier.
• 91 percent said that difficulty in raising capital was an important inhibitor.
• 89 percent said business management skills, 84 percent said knowledge of how to start a business, and 83 percent said knowledge about the industry and markets were important issues.
• 73 percent believed that family or financial pressures to keep a traditional, steady job were issues.
Experience, Management, and Luck: The Keys to Success
• 96 percent ranked prior work experience as an important success factor
Professional Networks, Education, Funding, Personal Networks: Important
• 73 percent said professional networks were important to the success of their current businesses.
Location, Investor Advice, Alumni Networks, and Regional Assistance: Not so Important
• Entrepreneurs were almost evenly divided about the importance of the location of their businesses. 50 percent said location was important.
Using Personal Savings is the Norm, Venture Capital Comes to the Experienced, and Friends and Family are Always There
• The most significant source of funding for all businesses was company founders’ personal savings: 70 percent said they had used personal savings as a main source of funding for their first business, more than four times the number chiefly financed by any other type of funding.
Following are highlights from Survey and Study by Vivek Wadhwa & others: Anatomy of an Entrepreneur I: Family Background and Motivation
For this project, we surveyed 549 company founders in a variety of industries, including aerospace and defense, computer and electronics, health care, and
Company founders tend to be middle-aged and well-educated, and did better in high school than in college
• The average and median age of company founders in our sample when they started their current companies was 40.
• 75 percent ranked their academic performance among the top 30 percent of the high school class, with a majority (52.4 percent) ranking their performance among the top 10 percent.
These entrepreneurs tend to come from middle-class or upper-lower-class backgrounds, and were better educated and more entrepreneurial than their parents
• 71.5 percent of respondents came from middle-class backgrounds (34.6 percent upper-middle class and
36.9 percent lower-middle class). Additionally, 21.8 percent said they came from upper-lower-class families (blue-collar workers in some form of
Most entrepreneurs are married and have children
• 69.9 percent of respondents indicated they were married when they launched their first business. An additional 5.2 percent were divorced, separated, or
• 59.7 percent of respondents indicated they had at least one child when they launched their first business, and 43.5 percent had two or more
• 52 percent of respondents had some interest in becoming an entrepreneur when they were in college, but 34.7 percent didn’t even think about it,
and 13.3 percent had little or no interest.
Motivations for becoming entrepreneurs: building wealth, owning a company, startup culture, and capitalizing on a business idea
Most had significant industry experience when starting their companies
• The majority of respondents (75.4 percent) had worked as employees at other companies for more than six years before launching their own companies. Nearly half (47.9 percent) launched their first companies with more than ten years of work experience.
March 10, 2010
Highlights from The Way I Work: Paul English, Co-founder Kayak
- Up everyday at 6:00, Email & then Yoga. Has a meditation room.
- We work really hard for 40 to 45 hours a week, but we believe in people having strong personal lives. Over the past six years, there have been maybe five times I’ve spoken with Steve before 8 a.m., after 5 p.m., or on the weekend.
- Always drives kid to school.
- We have offices in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California. We started with the first two because my co-founder, Steve Hafner, lives in Connecticut, I live in Boston, and neither one of us wanted to move.
- We have an open office environment. our general philosophy is that an open environment facilitates intellectual intensity. Most engineers are introverted. Here, when people overhear a discussion, we encourage them to walk over and say, “There’s another way to do that.”
- The engineers and I handle customer support. If you make the engineers answer e-mails and phone calls from the customers, the second or third time they get the same question, they’ll actually stop what they’re doing and fix the code. Then we don’t have those questions anymore.
- Real time datamining and support information. We have four monitors in the office where you can see real-time streaming information about the site — how many visitors, how many click throughs. It also displays the last customer e-mail that came in and the photo of the employee who answered it. So you’re walking by and you see, “Oh, Dan just answered a question.” We developed our own customer support software. One of the things it does is randomly select an employee response to a customer and send that response out to the entire company and to all of our investors each day. It keeps us on our toes.
- I keep noon to 2 p.m. open, because I like going out to lunch. It’s also a time for me to socialize. We have a very active work force.
- I do all of the firing. At times, I’ve fired maybe one out of every three people I’ve hired. That might make people think I’m bad at hiring, but I think I’m quite good at hiring. The only way 100 people can ever build a larger company than one that has more than 8,000 people — that’s what Expedia has — is by hiring Olympic-quality, unbelievable all stars of technology.
- Every Tuesday night, I have an open dinner at my house. Anywhere between four and 15 of my relatives will show up for dinner. I’m not a great cook, but it’s fun to have people over.
- I read for an hour every night before going to bed. I love reading books by Indian authors. I’ll also read books about global health and Africa, as well as a murder mystery now and then. But I don’t like business books. There are so many things in life that are more interesting than business.
December 29, 2007
Economist has an article on Evan Williams, Founder and Creator of Blogger, Odeo and Twitter: The accidental innovator
Some snippets with minor grammer changes for continuity:
First insight, that genuinely new ideas are, well, accidentally stumbled upon rather than sought out; second, that new ideas are by definition hard to explain to others, because words can express only what is already known;
Mr Williams’s passion is solving new problems. In theory he could have done this at Google with his “20% time” on the side, but in practice he found it tedious to pitch ideas to the Google bureaucracy. Left and right brains clashed in other ways.
One mental trick is to ask “what can we take away to create something new?” When he took Blogger and took away everything except one 140-character line, he had Twitter. Radical constraints, he believes, can lead to breakthroughs in simplicity and entirely new things.
For the same reason, Mr Williams loves frustration. Blogger revealed itself when he was frustrated with something bigger: collaboration software.
November 11, 2007
Jeff Jones wrote in Feature/Function Innovation: Inventing Left-Hand Columns
Real innovation is what I refer to as “inventing left-hand columns.” What I mean by this is that once users hear what is now possible, they not only realize they must have it … they now consider it a requirement.
Buyers use this matrix to evaluate market offerings … thus the more unique features, you offer the more the X’s appear in your in your column … and this is a good thing.
New left-hand columns cause users to start asking everyone else for such capabilities.
In my experience and observation, it almost always is not a good strategy to focus on features. This is specially accurate for startups. Features in search of a product is a case often encountered in the Technology field.
When a startup or team focus on features, the customer anyways buys from their original vendor or the number one vendor, all they do is request your features from them. And a claim of the feature as upcoming, even a year or two from now is enough to halt evaluating the startup’s products.
It has happened many times including Microsoft Active Directory with Administration Delegation (I was with Entevo then)
The key then is to solve an actual customer pain or provide a functionality never available before.