Bill Gross of IdeaLab enthralled the audience at last week’s TechZulu’s Spotlight LA Tech Winter Edition which was held at CalTech with a presentation on some of key lessons he’s learned from starting over 100 companies. Here are some of the highlights.
1. Market power rules: Find a rapidly growing market. It’s like running a race with a strong wind at your back.
2. Master the demo: Learning how to sell, to pitch, to explain, to demonstrate is one of the most valuable entrepreneurial skills.
3. Pursue your passion: Work at something you love – every business will face huge challenges that you will have to overcome if you have deep passion for the idea. Walt Disney suffered huge dry spells and was often close to bankruptcy. Passion to persevere is what allows you to succeed. It carries you through the tough times.
4. Focus. Focus. Focus. Focus is essential even if you focus on the wrong idea. Do fewer things extraordinarily well. Have all your chips on one thing which you do extraordinarily well so that they scream and make more noise.
5. Recognize your strengths. Design a structure around them and balance that by hiring complementary skills. You need people opposite you to balance your skills. Through this you learn how to respect other people’s style and give them thoughtful feedback. The number one factor for success in any startup, is that there is a complimentary team at the top. This is more important than the idea itself. It is the single biggest factor for success.
6. Don’t overbuild. The world changes fast. Better to grow slowly than to go out of business because of over capacity.
7. Survive until the market is ready.
8. Test. Test. Test. Find a way to test your core proposition with your customer and manage your resources to adapt learning.
9. Stick with it. When you know you have a great idea stick with it.
10. Find essential partners. If you have world changing idea with huge capital requirements work hard to get partners you need to achieve a vision.
11. Harness your user’s passion. In the new world of media you must create automated ways for your customers to bring you new customers. This is more powerful than advertising since it comes from the customers themselves.