The importance of an Always Be Learning life

Happy New Year's, everyone!  I wish you much prosperity and love in 2018.

As you may have seen me tweet earlier this week, my New Year's Resolution is to write more.  I truly love writing - to write is to serve, to write is to learn, to write is to meditate.  I'm going to take a different tact this year, though - I'm going to write more frequently and hopefully much shorter.  I like writing longer posts but I'm spending over 70 hours per week on data.world and then some time on our startup investments - and of course I very much care about spending time with my wife and children.  So, in short there just isn't much room for more.  As a matter of fact, in 2017 I resigned from two non-profit Boards (Conscious Capitalism and Entrepreneurs Foundation) that I really love just to create more time for data.world.  Both were painful decisions for me but a startup really needs that type of focus, and I'm truly having a blast working alongside an incredible team at data.world on a very important mission.

I've already got a running list of seven more topics (and growing quickly) that I plan to write about as soon as I can but for now - for my first post in a long time - I want to talk about the importance of having an Always Be Learning mindset and practice. 

Compare Metrics raises Series A, and I've joined as Chairman of the Board

Today, Compare Metrics announced their Series A funding from Austin Ventures. You can read about it in the Austin American-Statesman article or the Compare Metricspress release. The company is still largely in stealth mode, as you can see from their website. This is something we talked about since I backed the company as an angel investor and Garrett Eastham, co-founder and CEO, read my Lucky7 post on whether to be stealthy or not and took it to heart.

I'm very proud of the team in reaching this major milestone, and I look forward to continuing to serve as the independent Chairman of the Board. If you read aboutGarrett's background, you'll see that he was meant to found this company. Whenever I'm investing, I always value whether or not the founders are destined for their business background wise. Garrett is one of those guys, and I hope you get the chance to meet him soon and experience his passion first-hand. His leadership team is also stellar and I've had the pleasure of working with Chris Richter (VP of Sales), Lisa Roberts (VP of Marketing), and Joel Knight (VP of Client Services) as leaders in the early years at Bazaarvoice. Garrett also worked at Bazaarvoice and was one of our best.

50% of startup exits in 2012 exited for less than $50 million in 2012, and the founder mindset

As this article and the chart below from Business Insider points out, 50% of startup exits in 2012 exited for less than $50 million in value. Personally, I would only sell a business if it didn't have a great future ahead of it. This is the founder mindset needed to go long. At Bazaarvoice, we created over 1,000 jobs and a valuation of around $550 million today. But Brant and I could have sold Bazaarvoice for around $25 million when it was around a year old. As I point out in my Lucky7 post about the five critical ingredients to build a big company, the founder mindset matters for ultimately what ripple effects will be created.

Are you going to create 10 jobs or 1,000 jobs? Are you going to create less than $50 million of value or greater than $500 million? It all depends on your potential or TAM (Total Available Market), execution, and your mindset. Some entrepreneurs are only in it for the quick flip, and they do it over and over again. They feel more comfortable in that groove and they haven't pushed themselves to go beyond it - perhaps because it is so hard to do so.

If you are looking to join a startup, avoid these entrepreneurs unless you know that is the game and they are open enough to call it like it is. Make sure this is what you want to do - and you get a large percentage of the equity. There is a big difference in who makes money with a $50 million versus $500 million valuation, and that also means a big difference in the company's benefit to the community (jobs, future philanthrophy, etc). It is also really fun - but really hard - to go from a $50 million to a $500 million valuation. But I've never had more fun in my career than that ride at Bazaarvoice, even when factoring in all of the challenges and learning along the way. And I know many early Bazaarvoice employees feel the same way.

The five critical ingredients to build a big company

I'm going to greatly expand on this topic, so I'll keep this post as short as possible. I could write a book on this post alone. For now, I want to quickly get down my thoughts on the five most critical ingredients to build a big company - one that changes the world and creates a lot of jobs and economic impact. Here are the ingredients: