As I wrote about in October, I’ve been continuing to write a lot lately. My free ebook is over halfway done now, and I’m linking all of the posts here for easy access. Here are the fourteen lessons/chapters I’ve written so far:
I’ve been writing a lot lately, just not here on Lucky7. I finally decided to compile and refresh some of my best posts over the years into a free ebook named “The Entrepreneur’s Essentials”. In this article, the Austin Business Journal interviewed me about doing so. It is really fun to reflect on what I wrote years ago and have been applying to data.world for the past three years. If you would like to check it out, head on over to Medium. Here are the four lessons I’ve written so far:
The Entrepreneur’s Essentials #1: How to leverage advisors and investors as your extended team
The Entrepreneur’s Essentials #2: What’s in a name?
The Entrepreneur’s Essentials #3: The five critical ingredients to build a big company
The Entrepreneur’s Essentials #4: Seven lessons learned on the journey from founder to CEO
December 5th marked my second year of blogging personally (I had previously been a corporate blogger for 7 years at Bazaarvoice as our CEO). I began blogging primarily as a service to entrepreneurs - a form of giving back to the community that I believe is the greatest force for change. If you are wondering why my blog is named Lucky7, it is as a tribute to my amazing mother, who passed away two years ago. Myfirst Lucky7 post on December 5, 2012 was a revisit of my manifesto written to the Bootstrap Austin community on March 15, 2005, months prior to starting Bazaarvoice. Much has changed in the nine years since and it wasn't unusual at all for Austin startups to raise seed capital vs. bootstrapping in 2014.
You create the future. Others dream about it, some write about it, many read about it. But the rare few actually create it. You are one of those rare people, and you are to be cherished by humanity for being so brave to define the future for all the rest.
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
You create the jobs. There is no company that anyone goes to work for that didn't have a brave creator at the beginning of it all. Your company can grow beyond you, but no one at your company today would be there if it were not for you giving birth.
You define the soul of the company. It was your unreasonableness, your "craziness", your dream, and, perhaps most importantly, your values that were seeded in its birth. Others can lead and tap into that soul, but if it weren't for you there would have been no soul in the first place.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Melissa Lombard at Gary Hoover's open house for the iSchool (U.T. Austin's Information School, a top-ranked program for it's kind in the nation). Gary is one of my favorite people in Austin, and he is generously serving as Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the iSchool after doing so a few years ago for McCombs (U.T. Austin's Business School). He invited "friends of Gary" to attend and Melissa was there with her husband. Melissa told me about her 5-year project to have coffee with 260 strangers and live this mantra:
Spurred on by my recent Lucky7 post on how capital efficient Bazaarvoice was on its path to IPO, two friends sent me great posts this week on entrepreneurship and risk. And I guess it seems appropriate that I'm writing this post from Edinburgh, Scotland here at TED Global. Edinburgh is, after all, one of the birthplaces of capitalism. Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations, and other prominent figures were born here. And speaking of capitalism, the former Prime Minister of Greece and the poster child for the European economic crisis, George Papandreou's, TED Global talk is already live. I found his talk sobering and, for all the controversy surrounding him, it felt rawly authentic to me.
I'm frequently asked what blogs I follow. The truth is: not many. But if I had a new business I would most certainly be reading Andy Sernovitz's blog, Damn I Wish I'd Thought of That!, every week.
I've been lucky to work with Andy since the beginning of Bazaarvoice and he's been a great Advisory Board member for us over the years. He founded WOMMA, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association a few months before Brant Barton and I founded Bazaarvoice. The founding of WOMMA and reading The Cluetrain Manifesto led me to think of the name "Bazaarvoice", which I explain in this Lucky7 post on naming your company. We gave away his brilliant book, Word of Mouth Marketing, at our first two Bazaarvoice client Summits. You can see our first two Summit t-shirts in this Lucky7 post. Andy helped us educate our clients on word of mouth marketing and was part of the inspiration around our "School of C2C Marketing".
In December of last year, I wrote a Lucky7 post about our capital efficiency at Bazaarvoice on the way to IPO.
Quoting from my post:
As I pointed out in my "Bootstrap or VC?" post, we raised around $24 million and had around $12 million left in the bank when we went public. You can build a better culture if you are capital efficient, and also have a bigger economic ripple effect. I'll write more on that some other time, but for now I'm proud we were able to scale 75% more efficiently, on average, on our own path to IPO.
This week, PandoDaily had an in-depth memo written by Ben Sesser, a serial entrepreneur, and sent to me by a friend and new startup CEO in Silicon Valley. It was written for this year's Y Combinator class and the topic was how hot SaaS (Software as a Service) is right now (therefore attracting more entrepreneurs and capital to fund them) but also how hard it is to execute on. Ben analyzed recent SaaS IPOs, including Bazaarvoice, to make his point. As our co-founder and CEO from inception through IPO, follow-on offering, and two acquisitions (PowerReviews and Longboard Media) and now as our Vice Chairman of the Board, I was proud to see him include the stats on Bazaarvoice compared to other recent SaaS IPOs. Here are three of the charts he included:
We are at the tail-end of RISE week here in beautiful Austin. If I was an aspiring entrepreneur, I would take a vacation during RISE week and attend as many sessions as I could. I was happy to do my part and present on fundraising both Monday at Austin Ventures as well as Tuesday along with panelists from CTAN (the Central Texas Angel Network). And, overall, it has been another great week for Austin, with TechStars announcing their launch, which I wrote about in this Lucky7 post.
Well here we are the week after with more incredibly exciting news. Yesterday, TechStars launched in Austin. They are the leading brand and one of the most recognized accelerators for the brightest technology entrepreneurs. This is a big shot in the arm for the Austin technology market - nearly every tech-centric U.S. city aspires to have TechStars in their community. Their Austin program, which starts in August, will add approximately 10 talented teams annually to our already vibrant tech scene. At Austin Ventures, we have gotten to know the TechStars organization over the years and we are very fortunate to have Jason Seats, a former successful entrepreneur, move to Austin and run the program. Mike Dodd from Austin Ventures especially deserves a lot of credit here. TechStars Austin will be a great compliment to the other flourishing Austin based accelerators, including Capital Factory, where TechStars Austin will actually be located in an alliance between the two. Great companies like SendGrid and Cloudability were propped up by TechStars.