From Bill Warner: “The Key Is Backing Founders Who Intend to Change the World”

Bill Warner, a noted entrepreneur, mentor and angel investor recently wrote this to encourage founders of startups who are going after big ideas – who want to change the world. I agree very much. Life is too short, and stakes too high, to nibble at the edges of innovation. Get in there, find big/hard problems to solve, and make it happen.

I believe that the very heart of innovation comes down to founders who intend to change the world, and those who back them and help them achieve the impossible. I’ve been moved recently by the stories in Googled by Ken Auletta. We all know about Google’s meteoric rise, but what wasn’t clear to me before reading the book was what a crucial role people like Bill Campbell (of Intuit) played in helping the founders stay true to their vision and still get the management help that they needed to create the giant company that Google has become.

And then he also goes onto give some practical advice for Boston entrepreneurs. I high encourage you to read his entire blog post and the discussion in the comments section.

Jason – Fair enough. Inspirational messages seldom do list the actions that go with it. Here are some.  For one, I take the action for myself. I plan to find and back founders who intend to change the world. And I’m finding that those people are out there. Then the action items are to help them make it happen.

I don’t believe that entrepreneurship is like basketball or playing the violin. Thousands of hours of practice doesn’t make you good at it. Diving in with your heart and listening, learning, and following your instinct and mixing that with some killer logic is what can make you win. Convincing great people to help you can make you win. Great entrepreneurs rarely have a fantastically practiced “3-pointer”. They have something else. They have the drive, the courage, and the instincts to change the world. Frankly, they often only know a little. What’s really exciting is what they will learn along the way.
Action items:
1. Get more angels.
2. Get more super angels.
3. Get people to think big, and play big.
4. Get people to realize that big ideas can start small and take root.
5. Make more connections between students and local winners
6. post the huge list of action items that came out of session at Nantucket with Diane Hessan, Colin Angle and Michael Greeley
7 Here’s a sample that the group came up with (in a fast shout-out that took only about 5 minutes:)
galvanize angels,
role models to give back,
more risk taking,
stop thinking about small exits,
feeder system for ideas,
more mentors for wannabe entrepreneurs,
more professional seed investors,
connect colleges and talent,
unlock IP at universities (like MIT has done),
invest in consumer companies,
celebrate buying (rather than selling) companies (ie Kayak’s acquisition of CA-based company),
help young women take entrepreneur leap earlier in life,
inspire and galvanize younger generation,
respect (rather than patronize) digital natives (aka young generation),
richer counter culture outside business (ie Fort Point Channel),
fund really big ideas,
affordable housing,
promote successes,
make it cooler to be an entrepreneur in MA,
cooler to join start-ups,
more collaboration amongst start-ups,
less of a “club” and more inclusive of early,
Boston-based “Lunch 2.0”,
business plan contest to connect Media Lab and non-MIT students,
more investing outside 128,
focus on density,
more access to Ray Stata,
aggressive recruiting of talent from outside, diversity —
Boston is close to Europe,
differentiation — what is our identity, work from our own identity,
more engagement with developing world,
why is healthcare underrepresented at this conference?,
more focus on healthcare and biotech,
more invention that crosses technologies,
get universities to collaborate on mentoring program across schools,
“type 2 angels” to focus on getting triples to home runs (Bill Campbell did that for Google),
raise the stakes, more events like this,
returns data suggests that East Coast funds seem to outperform,
better exposure to how we really compare,
recycling talent,
investing for IPO and big company rather than for acquisition and easy exit

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