New Starts for a New Year – Becoming an Entrepreneur

by Bradley Miller on January 6, 2010

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

WRM January 7, 2010 at 11:03 am

“very little left to chance” turning an initial $1M into $25M?

I have to disagree with your statement that because an individual started a company with help from family interest in the business, that very little was left to chance. Now, I do not know the intimate details of the business, but turning $1M into a business that sold for $25M is no small task. Even with proper guidance, support, and financial contributions there has to be thousands of hours of hard work, intense preparation, and strategic execution to make that type of profit. On top of those element what about the initial ‘big idea’ that started the entire plan in motion.

Being able to double your money let alone multiply your money 25 times in the current economic environment is an extremely daunting task.

I am not sure that I know of one success story where the successful person didn’t ask for help. Even if this success story was an ‘inside job’ from the beginning, the individuals involved where extremely successful in setting up and executing towards their ultimate goal, which I would assume, is profitability.

Bradley Miller January 7, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Thanks WRM – I agree with your comment that turning $1M in to $25M is a great feat, no doubt. What I was trying to say, and maybe this needed more explanation, is that this particular entrepreneur only ever talked about the $200-300k that he raised from seed funders AFTER he already got $500k+ from his partner’s dad – he never mentioned that the first $500k was a slam dunk while presenting himself as someone who started with nothing. For those who’ve started (or tried to start) a business, getting that initial investor (truly starting from scratch without these types of connections) is one of the hardest parts.

Again, turning $1M in to $25M is a great feat. What I was implying in this story/anecdote is that this seed investor put his own money in, took a back seat, and then went to his company and got them to pay $25M for this business – $25M during an up time when money flows more easily (and valuations are higher). Sure, this is smart on the investor’s part, but disingenuous and misleading when presenting itself as a huge, pull yourself up by the bootstraps effort and success story. At least when you’re trying to give advice to up and coming entrepreneurs, which these guys were doing. The fact that it was a 25X deal (vs a 5X or 100X) is irrelevant. The point was that if you’re looking to other success stories, beware that there’s probably a whole lot more going on than what is presented in public.

If you have those connections, by all means use them, ask for that help. I certainly would. All I really meant to rhetorically ask is that what if you don’t have those types of connections? What can you do to begin to get traction without being misled by disingenuous advice? Lots of folks run in to this very issue.

Vinnie January 7, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Brad, really great post, you’re 3 conditions for angels I think hit it on the head, I know a number of people that try to curt that but haven’t had much success.

Really nice job on describing all the creative options available for seed investments and cool working spaces.

Raymond McCauley January 20, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Brad, fantastic round-up of startup resources.

I wanted to add one to your list: BioCurious is an life sciences-focused incubator and shared lab space in Mountain View. They’re similar to Hacker Dojo and SuperHappyDevHouse in being inexpensive and a great space for networking, but they provide actual laboratory equipment, like a TechShop for biotechnology. Eri Gentry, a BioCurious founder, is really interested in bring together a community of entrepreneurs, hobbyists, citizen scientists, biohackers, and practitioners of synthetic biology.

Startup costs have always been a limiting factor for biotechs that do actual lab work. This model looks promising for helping very early stage folks get through that barrier.

BioCurious is sponsoring the upcoming DIYbio meetup on Saturday, 23 January 2010. Good chance to see the space and meet the people.

Nikhil Chopra February 10, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Very good and informative post!


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