Should Entrepreneurs Be Required to Work Hard?

Over the last few days I’ve seen a number of blog posts around the concept of how hard entrepreneurs should work and how happy they should be doing it.   Mike Arrington, never one to avoid a fight, suggested that entrepreneurs must be willing to work incredibly hard to succeed.  That resulted in at least one heated blog fight (you gotta love blog fights) suggesting that Arrington was a capitalist tool and VC apologist.  You know, any time folks argue about Marx and venture capital it’s a blog fight worth reading.  Take a look.

Being one of few venture investors who has a graduate degree in Marxist economics (thank you LSE) I can satisfactorily say that asking the question of should entrepreneurs work hard and answering it by answering that the blood sucking investors demand it is not something that Marx was thinking about when he wrote Das Kapital.  However, what Marx did suggest rather strongly (perhaps too strongly for many tastes) is that when you involve people who work with the people who hold the money, their respective interests can diverge.  How is that for an earthshaking insight? Contine reading

Entrepreneurship and Understanding the Value Chain

Earlier this week I had an opportunity to meet with a number of entrepreneurs and hear their funding pitches in quick succession.  Each business idea was different, and all the entrepreneurs were enthusiastic.  But, each of the businesses suffered from a common problem – they did not provide a clear and compelling opportunity to create a large and lasting business.  As I reflected on the seven pitches I heard that day, I thought about this further and realized that each entrepreneur suffered from a common problem: they had not thought through their business’ true competitive positioning, and its ability to create a profitable business.  Moreover, as I thought further about all of the pitches that I see during the course of a year, I realized that this is a consistent problem. Contine reading

Starting a Company is Not Following a Recipe in a Cookbook

Earlier this week I had a chance to talk to a startup entrepreneur who had an interesting problem.  He felt that he had gotten so much advice about the process of starting a company and growing it that he was having a hard time parsing through it.  He was suffering as much as anything from having too much information, and was looking for me to help him filter it. As I thought about the irony of being asked to provide advice on which advice to take, something else more interesting hit me: he was suffering from a larger issue – the way that information is presented to first time entrepreneurs. Contine reading

If The Euro Crisis is Greek to You, Here’s an Explanation

This week the world stock markets, and expectations of growth of the US economy, fluctuated wildly because the Greek government threatened to have a referendum on whether Greece should set off on a path of recession, deflation and lengthy domestic strife.  The mere threat of elections, in a democratic nation, caused markets to lose 5% or more of their value.  And, then, when the threat passed, the markets went up.  How, you might wonder, have we gotten to a world where  investors’ attitudes towards risk capital are affected by a national referendum in a small country with more ruins than well-known international businesses. Contine reading

November is FounderCorps’ Month

FounderCorps is involved in a number of activities over the next few weeks that I thought were worth mentioning.  Please come out and see us at these events, and support our partners.  And, if you have other ideas for how we can continue to help our entrepreneur ecosystem comment on this blog or visit the FounderCorps site.

Social Entrepreneurship Conference

On November 10th, the George Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship is hosting a conference on Social Entrepreneurship in an Age of Austerity.  It’s a full day event that investigates a broad scope of issues around creating avenues for social entrepreneurship.  Senator Warner and Mario Marino are two of the headline speakers at the event.  FounderCorps organized a panel on connecting entrepreneurs and networks.  I’ll be joined on this panel by April Young, one of the founders of Mindshare, Gregory Fairchild, a professor at the Darden School of Business and an expert on promoting entrepreneurship in underserved areas and Michael Chodos, the SBA’s Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development.  The link for the event is here.

DC Week

DC Week is a HUGE entrepreneur networking, education and community development movable feast that’s been organized by Peter Corbett and Frank Gruber and a supporting cast of the who’s who in the region.  These guys continue to lead from the front and coalesce meaningful activities for our entrepreneurs, particularly in social media.  FounderCorps partners with them in various ways, including DC Week.  DC Week kicks off today and goes on all week.  A link for DC Week is here.

Jamie Harvey and Sponto have released a social application designed especially for DC Week. Check it out here.  Jamie was one of the founding members of FounderCorps, and is a great example of an entrepreneur who finds time to give back to the community (check out Geekeasy) while working 80+ hours a week on his startup Sponto.

FounderCorps members are going to be out in force at the Core Conference day of DC Week  — Thursday November 10th – at the Artisphere Theater.  A few of our members will be talking about mentorship and entrepreneurial resources in our community on a panel.  Around 10 of us will also be staffing a booth in the lobby of the Artisphere from 1 to 5pm.  Look for our black FounderCorps shirts for instant mentoring.

DC Entrepreneurship Week

Before the confetti is cleaned up another great entrepreneur event follows DC Week.  DC Entrepreneurship Week coincides with Global Entrepreneurship Week and provides DC entrepreneurs with access to another group of experts and entrepreneur development opportunities.  Peter Stuart has done a great job of organizing resources and putting together a strong menu of events.   A link to DC Entrepreneurship Week is here.

FounderCorps member Kurt Bauman is joining a panel discussion on Exits on November 16th.  If you don’t know Kurt, he is a terrific guy and very tuned into what it means to be an entrepreneur and how to grow companies here and elsewhere.  He says it like it is.  If you want to hear his thoughts the link for the event is here.

Clara Conti, Adam Viener, Jim Condon and I are doing a panel on Tuesday November 15th on Financing a Startup From Angel to VC.  Clara, Adam and Jim have financed business every possible way you can, so I am expecting lots of useful information and advice on how to finance an emerging business.  If the conversation is anything like it is at one of our FounderCorps monthly dinners it will be entertaining.  The link for the event is here.

It’s great to see FounderCorps continue to progress in its mission, and contribute to our growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.  Look out for us in our black FC shirts at these or other events.  We’ll be happy to see you.