Muschamp Rd

Brad Feld on Entrepreneurship

April 23rd, 2009
Brad Feld Twitter Pic

Entrepreneurship was my specialization during my MBA and I sub-specialized in International Business, so the recent feature in the Economist on Entrepreneurism took me back. It was also relevant to my day job as it talked about clusters and what is needed to stimulate entrepreneurial activity in Vancouver’s inner-city.

The two most popular (with entrepreneurs) posts I’ve written are generally this 10 point list  and this spreadsheet.

First the event put on by Bootup Labs was really good, Brad was a great speaker, the turnout was good, not enough free food down front though. The entire thing should be available online (here or here sometime) and it was streamed live. They had a hashtag too, but I let the twits Twitter, I sat and tried to pay attention. I even got the speaker’s attention twice with my glibness.

Once someone asked about which books an entrepreneur should read, people were a bit surprised by his answer. His second recommendation was a long novel which he thought showed commitment, so I immediately asked about “Infinite Jest” which he knew and agreed would adequately replace “Atlas Shrugged“. I once famously described “Infinite Jest” as a foot stool of a novel. I literally stood on it to change a light bulb while in Japan.

The second time I spoke up was for admitting that I created an Excel spreadsheet which proved a business model was fundamentally flawed, even though the business didn’t actually exist. No one got much use from that spreadsheet, I’ll have to post it online someday. I already have plenty of Excel spreadsheets people from the event can steal.

This incident reminded me of a Mark Twain quip, about people who can read, having no advantage over people who can’t if they don’t read good books. If you want to read a good book, that is well written but also extremely thick, I recommend “The Brothers Karamazov“. If you can’t be over-educated, at least be well read.

So back to the event, it was attended by a lot of entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs as well as a VC from every firm in town if you were looking to press the flesh or give an elevator pitch. There will likely be a lot of comments about it online, I’m too tired to find them all tonight. A lot of my previous posts on what VCs look for, how enterprises are valued, the importance of the ‘ecosystem‘ were all mention by Brad and other VCs in the room. Some of the questioners could have prepared better, I mean they should have read “Infinite Jest” or better still “Under the Volcano“.

I still haven’t posted many of the links I’ve collected or saved over the last few days, hours, months. Here are some more things to read, which may even be related to entrepreneurialism, Brad Feld, and Bootup Labs:

Video is now online (May 6th 2009)

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance gets more press

For a book no one wanted to publish in the 1970s, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” still gets trotted out as a ‘must read classic’. A Must Read Classic is an euphemism for a book people talk about reading but don’t actually bother to read, instead they just peruse the Wikipedia page. As alluded to in this post from 2009 (it’s now 2012) Brad Feld has been recommending it to would be entrepreneurs for a while. Now Forbes is writing about how Quality is actually important in tech products. This goes against ‘first mover advantage’ and ‘monetizing eyeballs’ gospel from the dot.com boom/bust. Who knew Quality actually mattered when creating a product?

I actually took Brad’s advice and read the book. I even wrote about the importance of Quality in writing, but really in any form of creation from startups, to art, to motorcycle maintenance, you differentiate based on Quality even if you can not quantify or measure Quality. I recently spent a lot of time cleaning my grandfather’s shop and there is something about hand tools…  If you’ve never built something from scratch with just your bare hands and some simple tools, are you really evolved?

Thomas Carlyle

Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.


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