“The Mind of the Entrepreneur” is our attempt to explore the world of innovation through those who dream about, create and ultimately bring to market new ideas and concepts that change the world around us. We hope to inspire engineers and others to “take the plunge” as entrepreneurs, to provide ideas and assistance to those who are already in ventures and to reach out to those experts in their field who have great ideas that should be nurtured.
I say “we” because this column is a venture in itself and part of my latest entrepreneurial effort. I say “we” because this venture is a collaboration between Electronic Design and my firm VentureOnLine and contributors from the business world, fellow entrepreneurs and academia. We are happy to be here and are excited about reaching an audience of engineers who create great ideas.
As the founder of TechOnLine in the 1990’s, I was fortunate enough to enjoy success in reaching out to a community of technology creators, scientists, and hardware and software engineers numbering close to 250,000 individuals. The “magnet” attracting those technology creators to the website was education, new product information and product evaluation. Despite a Ph.D. in EE, research, teaching and business experience, I realized that starting a business from scratch was a challenge that required a new set of skills. It was very difficult but also the most rewarding endeavor of my career. I’m eager to reach out to others who want to experience this satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment.
According to a 2007 PricewaterhouseCoopers study, 54% of the recipients of US-based venture capital were companies in the high-tech sector. This is a significant number and the reason why we have partnered with Electronic Design to reach a high-tech audience. The next great ideas are likely to come from high tech, and we want to be there with services that foster growth in high-tech fields. It is the purpose of this ongoing column and the goal of our firm, VentureOnLine.
If you are in technology, I think it’s a good bet that either you or the person in the next office has an idea that you believe will change the world. So you are a would-be entrepreneur with a great idea, what’s next? What good is it if you can’t make it happen?
Granted, not all great ideas will be transformed into successful ventures where all the participants make millions of dollars and attain ultimate career satisfaction. However, there are many ideas that do have a market and can attain at least some commercial success. Either way, it is not an easy process.
Your Great Idea. Maybe it is, maybe it is not. There are many great ideas, not all are commercially viable. There are great ideas that are not ready for prime time. There are great ideas that would have been great several years ago but have since been displaced by technology or another great idea.
You need money to advance Your Great Idea. So you have put some of your own money into your venture and are ready to go the next step: approach a funding source. Who do you approach? When? What do you need before you approach? Keep in mind that most funding sources are looking for reasons not to invest in your venture and have a multitude of other entrepreneurs’ great ideas to evaluate. A key determinant is not Your Great Idea but who else is in the venture. What does your management team look like? Have any of them done this before? Most venture capitalists will tell you that “an A idea with a C+ team does not get funded as quickly as a B idea with an A team. ” In many cases, the team that is assembled will carry more weight with a funding source’s evaluation than Your Great Idea.
Your Great Idea is driving revenue. Ok, that’s a good start. Where do you plant that money to make it grow your enterprise? What does you’re A team look like now? You’re an idea man; do you have the vision and the stamina to run a company now?
Entrepreneurship is a complex endeavor requiring both the logical and creative halves of our brains. In future columns, we anticipate exploring different ideas from both sides. We want to present information and ideas that can help to spur innovation, encourage entrepreneurship, and provide practical advice and support to those who are interested. This mission also coincides with the mission of my venture, which I will refer to when appropriate. The elements of the entrepreneurial ecosystem are spread globally and are hard to identify. Our mission in partnership with Electronic Design is to provide a community and gateway that brings together the disparate elements of a venture and shortens the path to success.
We are working with entrepreneurs, business leaders, venture capitalists, academic researchers, and those who teach entrepreneurship to provide content that we hope you will find relevant. Please respond with your own ideas for content and collaborate with us so that we can work together to provide information that is useful to the entrepreneurs among you.
As a serial entrepreneur, I can tell you that starting a venture that becomes successful is satisfying, vastly rewarding and genuinely exciting. I look forward to at least one more!