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All of the great messages from the 0260 Entrepreneurship Conference – your all-access guide in case you missed any of these fantastic speakers.  Solidea thanks all of the sponsors that made this event possible.

DAY 1

Anat LechnerThe Impact of Vision

Check out her presentation – Click here

Big Picture – Anat capably discussed the importance of building a company around a vision and the benefits of ‘swimming in your own river’; a phrase about finding your sweet spot where you are passionate and engaging your external communities with the right perspective – one of abundance.

Key Points:

  • If you look at entrepreneurial leaders – clear commonalities exist, such as the ability to forgive oneself for failure…and do it quickly.  Oh, and you might as well learn from it while it happens
  • It is not ego that makes someone great, but rather a strong sense of self that goes a long way
  • Key point echoed elsewhere at 0260: You must have a vision of success; it should guide you

Why I Loved It:

This is not soft, ethereal stuff and participants were blown away.  Fear is getting in the way of tomorrow’s big ideas.  Abundance is a concept even the most skeptical business consultant should investigate.  Find a source of power and passion and use it to structure a vision.  Incredible start to 0260.

Jeff BussgangMastering the VC Game

Check out his book – Mastering the VC Game

Check out his blog – Seeing Both Sides

Big Picture – Jeff discussed his own entrepreneurial experience and his motivation to write a book to demystify venture capital norms.  Jeff reminisced about the life and business lessons he learned from his dad around the kitchen table.  This was his first talk since releasing the book (call him a reluctant author and book tour guy), but he was quite polished and very interesting.

Key Points:

  • A stark reality for entrepreneurs – 1000 people control most of VC spend, and they all talk and know each other;  it is a small, connected community
  • Dustin Pedroia should replace David Ortiz as poster boy for this Bostonian’s view of clutch and as a proxy for the scrappy entrepreneur (as a Yankee fan, I begrudgingly agree)
  • Past success is not as critical as some other entrepreneurial skills and traits
  • Key point echoed elsewhere at 0260: You should know about the people in the room before you pitch (many do not perform basic research); you can prepare and read his blog to understand more of his investment thesis. You are doing yourself a disservice if you go in cold

Why I Loved It:

Jeff’s passion for building value and why he loves his craft was genuine and really interesting.  He demystified the key components of engaging and pursuing venture capital.  Several of my colleagues and I are reading his book.  He tells his kids that he gives money to inventors and sometimes, if they are good, they pay him back.  He struck me as having a sincere interest in the great value building function of venture capital and is earnestly excited about his role within.

Aaron Cohen supported this discussion; see Day 3 for an overview on his segment

Albert Wenger – How to Avoid Failure

Check out his blog – Continuations

Big Picture – Albert discussed what a company should do once it has funding, and more specifically what mistakes to avoid.  Of course some of the questions took Albert back to principles of getting funded…you can’t stop the entrepreneur, you can only seek to contain him/her.

Key Points:

  • Too much funding can be just as deadly as too little funding; a fine balance must be pursued
  • If you want to know the secret to peaking a VC’s interest – show that you have highly engaged users (VCs prize high levels of user engagement over other things; even having an upfront monetization strategy)
  • Venture money is meant to scale a market validated solution to a need, not to determine the solution itself
  • You need to think about the future funding rounds of a company; many entrepreneurs do damage to their chances based on ‘this round first’ type thinking
  • Key point echoed elsewhere at 0260: The importance of a strong technical team should not be understated; specifically focus on design and the user experience as good design goes a long way

Why I Loved It:

Albert breathed some reality into the room.  So many entrepreneurs are focused on the current raise, and do not think about the situations where the valuation and target of a particular round or the dilution of a subsequent round might actually paint the entrepreneur in a corner.  Solidea calls this process Trajectory Management and Albert provided a clinic on what to watch out for.

George Weiner (Filling in for Nancy Lublin) – Motivating the Troops

Check out his work at the Huffington Post

Big Picture – George shared many of the great stories about how Do Something motivates staff to not just stay in the game, but also to feel personally invested in the success of the team and organization. He shared some anecdotes and direct experience from the company’s and from the employee’s perspective as to programs and activities to keep the team in the game and energized. Secrets to harnessing the energy of Millenials were also shared. Responsibility is like water – without it they aren’t growing with your org. The question of “Why does this (task) matter to whole?” must be answered for this generation.

Key Points:

  • It takes a little care and attention to keep employees on track
  • Bringing in outside and fresh perspectives on a variety of topics helps broaden organizational thinking and supports employee development
  • Consider the implementation of policies that are good for skill development, morale, and are retention drivers (e.g., a sabbatical program at Do Something)
  • Key point echoed elsewhere at 0260: It is important to build a culture that ties to your strategic goals; culture building requires time and attention to instill founder traits in the team

Why I Loved It:

George is a dynamic speaker and clearly passionate about his craft and company.  He is the CTO of Do Something and spoke with credibility and poise about a softer topic.  The audience did inquire about traction and other technical accomplishments given George’s success at Do Something, however George provided some meaningful and tactical suggestions that any company can bake into its people management approach.  George’s passion for the mission and approach for Do Something was palpable so I think we should listen.

DAY 2

Lawrence LenihanReady, Fire!, Aim

Check out his blog – Ready, Fire!, Aim

Check out his presentation – Click Here

Big Picture – Lawrence discussed the rationale for public evolution and putting your company ‘out there’ before all strategic elements are baked into your model.  It is OK to not have all of the answers and ultimately the customers will dictate your fate.  Move the company up and to the right and all things will take care of themselves.  At your core, you better develop value every day and you better be ready to twist and pivot.

Key Points:

  • He and his team do not necessarily read business plans – come in with a powerpoint deck and financials
  • Irrational anecdotes and undue exaggerations at the pitch are momentum and credibility killers
  • Do not build a  7 Minute Abs business (step into my office…your fired)
  • He is not necessary sure that paid content is dead on arrival; with everyone able to add their voices, there is a growing sea of noise out there, and sooner or later there will be a run for honest  and credible content
  • In the span of just a few years the cost to start an online business has fallen by at least “2 magnitude” – stop thinking, just do something
  • Key point echoed elsewhere at 0260: We are looking for home run potential; do not come in with incremental business concepts

Why I Loved It:

Larry used satire and pragmatism to relay why today’s market provides unprecedented opportunities for the people foolhardy enough to embark on this ‘odds against you’ profession.  The audience fired some interesting questions (one person thinking 7 minute abs is a good idea) thus displaying why VCs have such a tough job.

Fred SeibertReinventing Yourself and Staying Relevant

Check out his blog – Fred Seibert’s Blog

Big Picture – Fred discussed the many methods and approaches he has leveraged during his career to succeed.  He relayed some of the anecdotes and legacy of his many successes in Hanna Barbara, MTV, and his current work at Frederator Studios.  He is self deprecating about his own talents while he admits to surrounding himself with people with good ideas and crafting methods (he calls them schemes) to bring those ideas to market.

Key Points:

  • Think creatively about business problems – there may be ways to leverage goodwill or creativity from others to get past a problem
  • A ‘scheme’ is a framework to escalate ideas in a structured way so that it is mutually beneficial; Fred has ideas about ideas…
  • Tumblr CEO (David Karp) – has been around Fred for years showcasing his entrepreneurial talent most recently as a tenant at Fred’s studio; incredible story about how David has always been wired to innovate and how Fred recognized early on that this was someone to ‘follow’; surround yourself with such people
  • When you don’t know what to do, do something, anything. Only action can lead to action
  • Key point echoed elsewhere at 0260: Entrepreneurialism is about immersing oneself in their craft; you always need to be advancing your business and your role within

Why I Loved It:

Fred’s stories about his many successes are insightful and fun.  Fred has innovated in so many ways and shapes, it makes the case that leaders like Fred and David are born, not made.  Fred’s anecdotes and business building insights were thought provoking and powerful.

Ellis Henican, our trusted guide for the tour with Fred, was also amazing – so good at his craft.  He asked insightful questions and helped turn the event into an experience all could benefit from.

Kelly FlatleyHow to Build and Protect your Company’s Brand

Check out her presentation – Click here

Big Picture – Kelly discussed that the most successful companies are those that create a consistent two way interaction between their brands and their consumers.  Know the DNA of your target customers – engage them where they spend time, at work, in the stores.  Provide shirts, giveaways, create “brand ambassadors”.  Engage them across their activities, and demo your product frequently.

Key Points:

  • Grassroots marketing can be extremely effective, but you must ensure you have a clear message / concept that you connect to consumers, and that it resonates with all aspects of the brand (name, logo, packaging, distribution points, etc.)
  • Solicit feedback at every opportunity from your customers – they will let you know the changes they need, the new items they want, and the line extensions that make sense
  • Expand distribution and channels slowly and methodically as the business builds (there are upfront costs to enter certain retail points and expanding too quickly can put a great brand and product out of business)
  • Key point echoed elsewhere at 0260: Successful companies have the ability to align the company culture with its brand.  Culture permeates every day activities, reward systems, hiring decisions, etc. 

Why I Loved It:

Kelly was able to communicate her vision and passion for Bear Naked through her story-telling.  It was clear that she had included marketing and branding in the earliest stages of Bear Naked’s strategy and connected with her user base.  Kelly has an incredible charm and disposition about her that makes you think she is going to have future credits to her name.

DAY 3

Gary Vaynerchuk (Crush It!!) Extending the Reach of Your Personal Brand

Check out his blog: http://garyvaynerchuk.com/

How Gary changed the wine world (WineLibrary TV): http://tv.winelibrary.com/

Gary’s brand equity consulting company: Vayner Media

You can buy his book “Crush It!” on Amazon at: Crush It! on Amazon

Big Picture – Gary spent a minimal amount of time discussing his background with Ellis Henican and chose to focus on talking about what was important to him: learning, family, passion, and hustle.  Ellis asked him how he manages to remain truthful, passionate and a good person despite the media circus that has descended around him.  Gary’s take is straightforward: the easiest way to not be a jerk is to simply not be a jerk.  He is clear that for him it is not about making more money (except enough to buy the NY Jets), or having more followers.  It is about passion, and working your butt off to achieve your goals.  He talked about the future and where he sees opportunity and growth as an entrepreneur.

Key Points:

  • Anyone that says they have a 5-year plan is an idiot
  • Businesses today have no option other than to react to the pulse of their customers NOW, as in this second. Twitter and social media have created a massive need for real-time data to drive interactions between businesses and customers
  • User experience/user interface designers are the most important team members at a startup
  • Learn from your mistakes. Dissect them until you understand everything and then go do it the right way
  • Never stop learning!

Why I Loved It:

Gary’s passion is simply infectious.  He knows himself well and views the changes to his career and notoriety over the past couple of years as the result of his passion and hustle.  He is very honest, says what he feels, and lives by it.  At the end of his talk he made the time (despite his hectic schedule) to talk with each and every person that waited to speak with him.  Family is the most important thing to him and always comes before business.  This allows him to revel in his life, understand where he is headed, and how to get there.  There could not be a more practical lesson and role model for fellow entrepreneurs than someone that has achieved great success as an entrepreneur and values family first!

Scott GallowayEntrepreneurship: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Big Picture – Scott used his entrepreneurial timeline (i.e., an illustration of his companies over time) to showcase different lessons learned and principles of development.  Each story was put in context to the company in question and the end result was a journey across a myriad of triumphs and challenges.

Key Points:

  • Every company can have that ‘A-HA’ moment when all the careful planning in the world did not prepare the team for what comes next; be ready to admit mistakes and to pivot if necessary
  • If lucky enough to have the opportunity, entrepreneurs  should always take a little bit off the table when the financial mechanics to do so are available
  • Think about the full lifecycle of your customers and prepare for the intersection points with your company
  • Key point echoed elsewhere at 0260: It is an exciting time to be an entrepreneur in NYC

Why I Loved It:

Scott’s points all resonated so clearly in the context of his experience managing people and running companies.  He was able to take the ethereal part of leadership off the table and relay a series of common sense stories that anyone would benefit from.  The intersection of history channel concepts of post industrial US, references to his newfound status as Dad, and his anecdotes on exercise made this an enjoyable and informative discussion.

Aaron Cohen“From Spike Lee to Spinal Tap: How films and startups changed my life”

Check out his company: http://anyclip.com/

Check out his blog: YallaGuy (Yalla = let’s go)

Big Picture – Aaron used film clips to weave a story about his passion for that craft while telling a story about following one’s personal passions.  0260 had many speakers focus on passion and how individuals need to pivot around their own to find their purpose; Aaron brought a visceral feeling to that process through film.  This was the perfect ending to a great conference.

Key Points:

  • You can find out who should be your friends by commonalities and predilection for film (i.e., if they do not like Spinal Tap…we have a problem and need new friends)
  • Entrepreneurs should build their business around a source of passion; it will make the work better and more compelling
  • Every company is going to have its key challenges – you need to be able to think through those and be prepared (e.g., semantics of movie quotes is a challenge to Any Clip)
  • Key point echoed elsewhere at 0260: There is no better time than now to be an entrepreneur, find your niche, build upon a passion and get it done

Why I Loved It:

Aaron reminded everyone of how important it is to do what you love. Not just in work, but in life. It reiterated something I know but often forget: we can only be “productive” when we are in a creative place.  It’s our responsibility to keep this part of us very alive whether it’s at work or elsewhere.

Building businesses in some ways is all too similar to making movies. We gather a group of people who buy into a vision and then pour our blood, sweat, and tears into making it work. Sometimes it’s wildly successful, but most of the time it’s not. Regardless of the outcome, it’s a collective effort to give life to something new.

Aaron concluded the conference with poignant movie clips we grew up with, and the messaging was abundantly clear: films, like business innovation, can change your life, and the lives of those touched, forever.

In Conclusion…

The 0260 Entrepreneurship Conference was a huge success.  We heard from many of our attendees that this conference was indeed different and more meaningful that the usual affair.  We deliberately tried to sequence each day to build on the prior event in the lifecycle of entrepreneurialism; from initial personal inventory / vision through careful execution of your company and brand.  For those that stayed with us for the duration, we hope you enjoyed and learned as much as we did.

We are honored that our speakers shared so much of themselves and their time to help pull this together.  We also thank NYU Stern’s Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies for their gracious support.

Last but not least, we thank all of our attendees for sharing their personal time with us.  We ask that all attendees follow 0260 on twitter. There is so much more to come from our team to help catapult entrepreneurs to the next level.   Solidea is proud to be a member of the entrepreneurial community and we hope to be of future service to our friends, partners, and clients.

Summary written by Doug Locke with some paragraphs and passion borrowed from the entire Solidea Team.

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