December 1, 2006 by Akira Hirai
If you want to take your entrepreneurial skills to the next level, then learn from the masters. The Stanford Technology Ventures Program website offers countless resources, including video clips, podcasts, presentations, and web links. You will have an opportunity to hear directly from legends such as John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins and Guy Kawasaki of Garage Technology Ventures. You could easily spend weeks exploring this site and absorbing its collective wisdom. Enjoy!
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August 14, 2006 by Akira Hirai
The Business Journal reported some cheerful news for entrepreneurs:
In the second quarter of 2006 alone, fifty venture capital funds raised a total of $11.2 billion — the highest level in five years, Heesen says. Venture capital firms invested $6.3 billion in 856 deals during the past quarter, representing the highest dollar amount invested by VC funds and the most deals signed since the first quarter of 2002.
“The U.S. venture capital industry is in its best period than at any other time in the past 15 years,” Heesen says. “It’s a very stable environment. Funds are not over-investing and there’s not just one hot technology that everyone is running after.”
Perhaps it is true that no single technology is garnering excessive attention. However, “clean-tech,” consisting of businesses in fields like “water purification, solar power, biofuels, materials based on nanotechnology and clean-coal technology,” is starting to break out by raising over a half billion in just one quarter:
Clean-tech businesses received a record $513 million in venture capital in the first quarter, according to the latest figures available from the Cleantech Venture Network. The first quarter saw 67 companies getting financial backing, down from 73 in the fourth quarter of 2005 but up from 49 in the first quarter of 2005.
Furthermore, the National Venture Capital Association reported an increase in seed and early-stage deals, making this a great time for experienced entrepreneurs to get a new venture launched. Let’s see how long this window of opportunity stays open.
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June 8, 2006 by Akira Hirai
From time to time, we will feature answers to entrepreneurs’ questions here on our blog.
Dwayne in New York asks: “Being an entreprneur is all I have ever dreamed of. I have what I believe (and have been told by friends and past business associates) to be good business ideas but no matter how big my dreams, the possibilities seem grim due to my personal financial assets. Is it at all possible to find funding without having capital of my own to invest?”
Thanks for submitting your question to Cayenne Consulting.
Capital comes in many forms other than financial assets. “Sweat equity” is, more often not, the primary type of capital that entrepreneurs invest in their new ventures. Real entrepreneurs “just do it.”
Here’s the typical formula:
- Don’t quit your day job. It will be quite some time before your venture generates either a capital investment or sufficient revenues so you can spend all of your time on it.
- Learn as much as possible about how to start and run a business. There are many good books out there – I recommend “Money Hunt: 27 New Rules for Creating and Growing a Breakaway Business” by Spencer and Ennico, as well as “The Art of the Start” by Kawasaki. These are general books about entrepreneurship. You will also want to read some books on topics you are weakest in, whether sales, marketing, finance, management, etc.
- Recruit good advisors. A good corporate attorney is key. Also, find some seasoned entrepreneurs who are willing to help you. Your local SCORE chapter can also help (find them on Google).
- Create your plan. Inexpensive software like Business Plan Pro is a good place to start.
- Create your product. Be creative, and find a way to develop a prototype inexpensively to prove that it works.
- Show it to potential customers and see what they think. Does it solve a real problem? Will it save them money, make them feel better, or fill some other fundamental need?
- Get the first order from a customer. Convince them to pay you in advance. Make the product, deliver the product, make the customer happy.
Congratulations, you now have a proven product that generates revenues. You now have two choices: to grow slowly using revenues from one customer after another, or to grow quickly using capital raised from an outside source.
Hope this helps. Good luck with your venture!
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March 19, 2006 by Akira Hirai
The world needs big thinkers. More specifically, the world needs entrepreneurs who can figure out how to save the world. As nations like India and China continue to develop, their average living standards — and hence per-capita consumption of resources — will grow apace.
According to the State of the World 2006 report from the Worldwatch Institute, these emerging economies still lag far behind the U.S. in many respects:
- The gross domestic product (GDP) per person is $4,600 in China and $2,500 in India, compared to $40,100 in the U.S.
- Annual per capita petroleum usage is 1.9 barrels in China and 0.9 barrels in India, compared to 25.3 barrels in the U.S.
- Annual per capita grain consumption is 292 kilograms in China and 173 kilograms in India, compared to 918 kilograms in the U.S. (This presumably includes grain fed to livestock and other uses of grain, since I know I don’t eat that much!)
The Worldwatch Institute says: “If China and India were to consume resources and produce pollution at the current U.S. per-capita level, it would require two planet Earths just to sustain their two economies.” Since we only have one planet, the impending global competition for resources can only be resolved through either disastrous conflict or major innovations in alternative energy, agriculture, pollution control, water purification, and other basic elements of our ecology.
I’ll take innovation any day. Are any of you entrepreneurs up to the challenge?
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