Bill Gross of Idealab speaks at CMC
Last Friday was my adventure in entrepreneurship. First I attended a lecture by the brilliant Bill Gross, creator of Idealab, an incubator in Pasadena. 4 hours later, I had the luck to speak with the President of Idealab, Marcia Goodstein. The first time I saw Bill Gross was at the Innovation Summit in October, where I unfortunately missed the beginning of his speech (which luckily made up the bulk of his presentation at CMC). He talked about the 10 most important parts of successful startups:
- Pursue your passion
- The more disruptive the better
- Don’t spend ahead of success/traction
- Timing matters
- Execution really matters
- Survive until the market’s ready
- Recognize your strengths
- Teamwork Matters
- Listen and Iterate – Turn on ideas
- Harness your user’s passion
Other important points he made:
- Give out lots of equity to encourage people to join the start-up team.
- The only way you can win against big companies is by outmaneuvering them with your small size. Keep your ear to the ground, listen to your customers, and adapt quickly.
- Find the things that don’t work.
And finally, all truths pass through three phases, so sometimes you just need to push through:
- Violently opposed
- Self evident
After his presentation, we were allowed to ask questions. Some of the most interesting were:
Q: What are the positions necessary in a start-up?
- Entrepreneurial – Dream
- Producer – Get things done
- Administrative – Coordinate/Infrastructure
- Integrator – Bring different people and parts together
Q: How important is company culture?
A: Success breeds culture, culture does not breed success.
Q: What’s important in a company?
A: Mutual trust, respect, openness, and transparency. Transparency is extra effort in that you need to train your coworkers to know what to do with the information they learn about the company.
Q: Is working in start-up environments like Silicon Valley or Silicon Beach important?
A: It’s helpful to see people going through the same hardships, and share resources.
It was wonderful to hear advice from such an experienced individual in the start-up field, and I hope I get the chance to put his words to good use. My next blog post will be about my talk with Marcia Goodstein, I hope you look forward to it!