Posts Tagged ‘mentors’

Startup #7

February 1, 2010 7 comments

I’ve been meaning for a while to setup a blog in order to capture thoughts that are longer than the 140 characters Twitter allows.  As I embark on my next startup journey (this will be startup #7 for me), I thought there is no better time to get started than now.

Those of you who know me know that I’ve been thinking about starting another company for a while now.  After 6 startups full-time (Integrated Systems, S3, Books That Work,, Roku and Presto), and a bunch of others less than full-time, you might wonder why I’d be crazy enough to dive back in again.  The answer comes down to this: “do something you love.”  Startups aren’t just a job for me–they are a way of life.  I think it’s in my blood, as my grandparents came to the U.S. from Italy, and settled in Chicago where they opened a tavern.  That tavern eventually turned into a restaurant that was run by my dad and uncles for over 50 years.  My earliest lessons in entrepreneurship came from hearing stories about the restaurant and eventually working there with my family.

I also worry about the state of the economy right now, and think it’s time for entrepreneurs everywhere to step up, create new companies, and hopefully in the process, create some new jobs as well. I realize that small businesses everywhere have it tough right now, but it’s risk-taking at times like these that can result in great outcomes. In some small way, I feel like I’m doing my part by starting a new small business.

Starting a technology company is a creative process.  There is nothing like taking a blank sheet of paper, and crafting a new product and company out of thin air.  Working on startups, I get to exercise both the analytical and creative halves of my brain.  I get to work with great people and build a team, a product and a company all at once.  In the past, I’ve likened the startup process to building an airplane as it’s already heading down the runway.  You just hope you get enough of it built to get airborne before you run out of runway!  Who says that aerospace engineering degree doesn’t come in handy once in a while 🙂

I’ve had a bunch of great startup experiences, and some failures as well.  In my 20+ years in Silicon Valley, I’ve often gotten to work with great teammates and investors.  These are people who are great at what they do, extremely supportive and I’d go to war with any day.  I’ve also seen the dark side of the startup world–the arrogance and pettiness of ill-informed, holier-than-thou investors who think they know best and end up ruining companies…the greed of those startup executives who take advantage of others.  I learn something new every time I’m involved with a startup, and the game continues to change on an almost daily basis.  It’s this controlled chaos and constant evolution that makes Silicon Valley the place that it is.  I’m lucky to have found my way west many years ago.

One of the things I love most about Silicon Valley is the spirit of giving back and mentorship that I see almost every day.  I was lucky enough to have worked with a number of great leaders and mentors over the years, and have spent countless hours having coffee or chatting by phone with students and young entrepreneurs seeking guidance as they move forward with their dreams.  It’s part of the Silicon Valley fabric to learn from people and then turn around and pass those lessons on to others.  As I embark on my latest adventure, it’s my hope that I’ll be able to chronicle some of the events here that can someday act as a reference for those who come down the same paths in the future.  While we’re going to keep the specifics of the company quiet for now, I suspect we’ll encounter a number of situations and decisions over time that will be worth discussing here.  Time will tell.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback as I navigate my way through my rookie season in the blogosphere.  And as I move forward on this entrepreneurial adventure, the words of the Blues Brothers somehow seem appropriate here:

Elwood: It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.

Jake: Hit it.

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