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Saudi Arabia’s Lateefa Alwaalan, Founder of Yatooq, Named EY Entrepreneur of the Year

Endeavor Entrepreneur Lateefa Alwaalan, founder of Yatooq, was named the 2015 EY Entrepreneur of the Year in Saudi Arabia, recognizing her potential to build a high-impact business and inspire others. Yatooq’s Arabic coffee blends and products are […]

May 27th, 2015 — by admin

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Endeavor Uruguay Spotlights Entrepreneur’s Multiplier Effect, Featured in El País

Endeavor Uruguay recently published a map of Endeavor’s Multiplier Effect in the country, highlighting the local entrepreneurship ecosystem and the contributions of Endeavor Entrepreneurs. Published as part of Uruguay’s 2013 Impact Report, the map focuses on the impact […]

May 28th, 2014 — by admin

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Hernan Kazah & Khaled Ismail speak about entrepreneurship, Endeavor [Video, Transcript]

Endeavor is pleased to make public the following transcript and video from a presentation at the 2011 Endeavor Entrepreneur Summit in San Francisco. The event, which assembled over 450 entrepreneurs and global business leaders, featured dozens of entrepreneurship-related presentations by top CEOs and industry experts.

Overview: Linda Rottenberg interviews two great Endeavor Entrepreneur success stories, Hernan Kazah and Khaled Ismail, respectively.

Khaled Ismail

Full transcript:

On building SySDSoft and getting acquired

First off, I appreciate Endeavor. I was selected as the first Endeavor Entrepreneur selected from Egypt, even before the Endeavor Egypt office opened in 2007 and it was a turning point for us at that time.

Our story started very simply in 2002 with a very small, incubated, four-engineer start-up in Cairo University and grew to a 125-engineer organization in the course of eight years. We became one of the leaders of building the software that transmits wireless communication systems and even some of the chip sets that do that. By wireless I mean WiFi, WiMAX, all kinds of different flavors of wireless technologies.

If anyone asked me when we started if that was my dream I would be lying if I said yes, because there was no clarity about what we would achieve. It was actually impossible for me to dream that big in 2002 that we will create this small entity inside Cairo University and it would become one of these leaders in high tech, globally. But it did happen and I owe it to the Egyptian engineers, some of them extremely young. Ninety-five percent of our engineers we took fresh out of college, without any experience except for what they learned at college, and they managed to sit and compete with people worldwide who had ten years more experience than they had. So that speaks for this team. They freed me to do the business development because I relied on them to do the technicalities and they did very well. (more…)

Entrepreneurs: time to fire your staff

Reprinted from under30ceo.com. See the original post here.

By Brian Reich

There is little denying that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is a genius. He created a site that not only attracts more traffic than any other on the web, but also influences behavior, business, and social norms at an unprecedented level. He is a brilliant software developer. He can sit down and build something that most of us could never even imagine existing with lines of code that almost none of us can understand. But for all that brilliance, I wouldn’t give him the task of solving the education crisis in America. I wouldn’t ask him to do anything that doesn’t relate to his current role. He is not the right fit for the task. But if Facebook were to commit its resources and energy towards tackling the education crisis, Zuckerberg would almost certainly assume a leadership role in that effort because of his existing role as CEO of Facebook.

Thankfully that is a hypothetical situation. But it happens all the time – an existing organizational leader is thrust into a position with another group where they are not a good fit. The person who has been at an organization the longest is seen as the best person to lead because of their depth of understanding and experience. These people are asked to guide an effort, inspire a team, and help an organization transform itself to meet a new set of challenges and it doesn’t work. Worse, we find out too late that they weren’t up for the task.

Seven “hard knock” business lessons our moms never taught us

Reprinted from womenentrepreneursecrets.blogspot.com. See original post here.

By Ali Brown

Our mothers may have taught us to say please and thank you, but when it comes to running a business, some of the other things we learned as a girl could hold us back big time. Read on for 7 business tips that allow you to still be a lady AND take care of business.

1. Don’t think that testosterone rules.

When many women start their own businesses, they fall into the trap of thinking that they need to behave like a man in order to succeed. But truly effective and successful leaders determine their own leadership style. When you are running a company, how you present yourself will change, but it should still be consistent with your own personality. We should celebrate our uniqueness—the very things that distinguish us from men—and let our intuition, emotional intelligence, and true natures shine.

2. Don’t be too nice.

To be effective you must get in the habit of not always worrying about what other people are thinking of you. If you are locked into a dispute with a supplier, don’t take it personally. If you have to bring up a difficult topic such as an employee’s poor performance, be firm and clear about what you want from them and point out how their actions are having a negative effect. When you are finished, allow them the opportunity to have their say. There’s a way to be assertive, not hard-nosed, in a way that maintains your role as the leader.

3. Don’t expect the world to come to you.

Don’t be shy about coming forward—not just to drive sales—but to become a permanent presence in the minds of your customers. There are loads of things you can do to get your business noticed. Blog about your area of expertise, get stories in the media, tell everyone about what you do, reward loyal customers, launch a new product, and promote events. If you don’t toot your own horn, no one else will!

4. Don’t give away the store.

Adding value to your services keeps customers coming back for more, but don’t let fear or insecurity drive your decisions. Discounts and extra bonus products are necessary sometimes, but think of ways of adding extra value that won’t cost a cent. Don’t compare yourself to the competition or try to match their giveaways. If you’re strong and confident in what you do, there’s no need to charge less or to continually look over your shoulder.

5. Don’t disguise statements as questions.

Statements are disguised as questions because women fear they will be seen as assertive, or they’re worried about the risk of sounding foolish. However, questions sound weak—statements are stronger. Get into the habit of making statements and only ask questions when there is a need. Solicit opinions after setting out your proposals. It suggests that you are open to hearing other opinions and gives the impression that you are in control.

6. Do play to WIN.

Are you worried about meeting targets, or whether the business will collapse? If so, you are playing not-to-lose when you should be playing to WIN. The best you can achieve here is not losing. And that mindset will not get you where you want to go. Don’t waste energy devising Plan B if things take a downturn. Ensure that you have the drive and tenacity to pursue your dreams. If you take the attitude of failure not being an option, you’d be surprised how much you’ll achieve.

7. Do value your time.

As a business owner, it’s essential to start thinking of your time as money. Don’t shortchange yourself by giving your time away for free, or wasting time on tedious tasks that don’t generate money for your business. Start thinking of ways you can delegate tasks, from grocery shopping to researching leads, so you can focus on the BIG fish, like landing that top-dollar client, planning your next big product, etc. The good news is you do NOT have to do it all!

Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her free CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com.

Rethinking the “leaders work the hardest” mindset

Reprinted from under30ceo.com. See original post here.

By Daniel Stringer

Many small business owners have adopted the philosophy that “no one will care as much or work as hard as the owner.” While this may be true of individual circumstances, painting the entire entrepreneurial landscape with this broad brush is really far from accurate. Sure, if employees don’t have a stake in the company, they may not carry the same weight or responsibility as those who do, but the reality is someone’s work ethic, character, and commitment are not all motivated by simply the ownership percentage he/she may or may not have. If that were the case, you wouldn’t see any employee going above and beyond; taking the company they work for to the next level through hard work and dedication. You would never see teams come together weathering through tough economic times to regain success and overcome challenge. You would never see a young professional give his/her entire career advancing through the ranks of an organization making an impact in ways too vast to even define.

So why is it that entrepreneurs, leaders, and managers seem to see their teams and employees more as a necessary evil rather than a valued asset? Instead of believing in their team, they are just waiting for them to fail only to reinforce this belief that “no one will care as much or work as hard as the owner”.

We’ve seen a shift in our culture over the last 50 years or more. There is a lack of loyalty between the employees and the companies who employ them. The above saying is common enough but what if the cultural shift we’ve seen also has to do with this idea: “Leaders, Managers, and Owners will always care more and fight to protect their own interests before the consideration of those they employ and lead.” While I don’t think this should be true, I wonder how often it is true…

A leader doesn’t have to say these words to communicate to the team that they are expendable, valued for what they produce over who they are, and protected only when in the best interest of the owner, leader, and/or manager.

Loyalty isn’t something to be demanded from those you lead. It’s something to be inspired by first demonstrating it. Respect is earned before reciprocated. Trust is given once proven.

Entrepreneurs and leaders can fault the disloyalty and lack of commitment on the part of the working population but will never find a solution to this until their leadership is first analyzed. A leader leads from the front. A committed team responds to a committed leader. A loyal team responds to a loyal leader. A trustworthy team responds to a trustworthy leader. And a team capable of working and caring far more to advance the mission of the organization than even those who have a stake in the equity is possible. But it starts at the top.

We’ve had employees who do not carry forward the vision of our company like we do. And they’ve had to make the transition off the team. But we also have team members who work harder, have greater skill, and just as much passion for what they do than anyone else who could fill their role. Great organizations are not built on the commitment of one person but on the backs of a team who all adopt the vision as their own; advancing it forward with passion, commitment, and determination to see it fulfilled.

Daniel Stringer is a successful entrepreneur and musician and has traveled all over the world. While touring with the Phoenix Boys Choir in 1999, he recorded the world-renown CD, Penderecki’s Credo at the Oregon Bach Festival, which later went on to win a Grammy Award in 2001 for Best Choral Performance. He founded and managed the non-profit organization, Phoenix Rock For Life, and has built 2 successful companies since: Total Care Connections and Stringer Associates. He was ranked as one of the top 35 entrepreneurs under 35 years old for 2010 and his company has been featured on PBS, Phoenix Magazine, AZCentral.com, Arizona Republic, and Inside Business.

Letting go of your inner control freak

Reprinted from under30ceo.com. See original post here.

By Maren Kate

One of the most natural human impulses is the desire to be in control. Usually the more instability a person is dealing with in their life, the more they grasp for control of whatever aspect they can. This is often why we see children with bad home lives picking up an eating disorder (if they can’t control their parents, they can control what goes into their body) or a mid-level manager in a failing company micro-managing the people underneath him with an iron fist.

As a child I was obsessed with controlling my surroundings, down to the point where watching a new movie stressed me out because I didn’t know what was going to happen. As I grew up I was able to shake my extremely controlling ways, in part due to a therapist and long-suffering boyfriend, but when I started Zirtual a year ago I saw the red-eyed control-monster once again rear it’s ugly head.

I wanted to do everything myself but as I started hiring people I realized that it was impossible to keep tabs on it all and be able to focus on the high-level stuff at the same time. My dilema was ironic since Zirtual is a company based around the concept of saving one’s time by delegating tasks to a personal assistant.

I had worked with assistants for several years and they had very much helped force me out of my micro-managing ways because knowing I was paying someone gave me an extra incentive to send off tasks to them and clear my plate. But working with a team and co-founders was a completely new experience.

An important quote I ran across which totally changed my thoughts on micro-managing and delegation within my business was from Richard Branson:

“I am often asked how I manage to keep my finger on the pulse with so many different companies and ideas to think about. This is all about the art of delegation. From a very early time, when we went from one company to two companies, I realized I couldn’t do everything myself. I had to learn the art of delegation and try to find people who are better than me to run the companies – that wasn’t that difficult!”

Luckily for me (and our team) between Branson’s encouraging outlook and a few delegation tricks I learned along the way I was able to let go of my controlling ways and instead focus on growing my business.

3 Ways to Not Get Your Control Freak On

1. Surround yourself with smarter people than, yourself. Never hire someone you think you’re superior to, this is a lesson I realized very early on. Hire people who make you think “wow, they’re a lot better at me in X, Y or Z” and you’ll be less likely to try to micro-manage them.

2. Practice the 80/20 principle. This idea, called “Pareto’s Law” is based around the idea that 20% of the things we do contribute to 80% of the results. So 20% of your work is actually responsible for up to 80% of your success. Instead of focusing on the whole enchilada try to spend your time on that important 20% and let the rest be handled by your team. This is hard for the control freak but luckily, like with all things, delegation gets easier with practice.

3. Start small. The first step I took to freeing myself from my control-freak ways was to hire an assistant. Just somebody who could take small tasks off my plate and free up some of my time. This trained me on the basics of how to manage people, how to delegate properly and how to practice letting go of the majority of my day which I didn’t need to be directly handling. As your business grows you’ll want to eventually have a whole team who you delegate to, but often it’s helpful to start small with just one person like an assistant or intern.

Maren Kate is the founder of Zirtual, a personal concierge service for busy professionals, and writes about the startup life and unconventional living on her blog Escapingthe9to5.com.

“The money is not important”

Reprinted from growvc.com. See original post here.

By Markus Lampinen

Whenever you talk about startups and building new businesses, there’s often someone that chimes in with the comment “money isn’t important for entrepreneurs.” And over the years in building Grow VC, we too have heard that argument several times. Well, guess what, it is actually quite important.

Often the counter argument is the value of the right mentors. Granted, the value of a good mentor, advisor and role model is vast for a budding entrepreneur to rise to their fullest potential. A great mentor will force entrepreneurs out of their comfort zones, to pick up new abilities and hone their business skills to meet the demands of the market. But at the end of the day, if the entrepreneur has no time to listen and learn, even the greatest mentor will not be able to conjure more time for the entrepreneur.

Time IS Money

It’s a saying we shrug off almost daily and it reverberates in many different contexts. It’s not the golden egg of all proverbs, but it does have a point. Each minute of each day costs someone money. The sooner you learn to accept this, the sooner you will also be able to set yourself in the right mindset, of weighing your options and priorities, and focusing your time on what matters the most to yourself.

If you are spending time bootstrapping your venture and not taking out a salary, then guess what, that time is coming out of your own pocket. You are in effect paying for it. This is in various forms, for example through missed salaries or other opportunities (the alternative cost). It is an investment into the future of your startup venture and your own career. However it remains for you to decide if the investment is worth the sacrifice that you will endure making it.

Oh and one more thing, ask an entrepreneur that’s bootstrapped a venture or two if money is important. I’m sure you’ll get quite a clear answer.

No Such Thing as Free Advice

Entrepreneurs form tight networks in their local regions, but nowadays also increasingly much outside of their local setting. Time spent on networking or pitching in to someone else’s business is also time that has to cost someone. You can again decide that it is an investment into some future outcome, be it a relationship, partnership, a good contact or friend, but at the end of the day, if you are paying for it, make sure you get value out of it.

I’ve seen people ‘helping out’ in others businesses for months, only to end up in frustration and confusion as the ‘helper’ does not get anything out of the relationship. Sure you learn a bunch and so on, but let’s get real. If you are adding value to someone else’s operations, you should get something out of it. Often stringing people along ends up in miscommunication and unclear expectations, something that is good to clear up right at the start. “If I’m going to spend this much time in helping you out, this is what I expect in return..”. You don’t have to be so crude about it, but at the same time fair is fair.

Everything is a Trade Off – Don’t Pretend it isn’t

You are the judge of how you spend your time, but everyones time costs money. Make sure you can always justify your use of time to yourself. “I’m doing this instead of X, Y or Z – is it the best use of my time?”. A tangible example is sitting at a meeting looking at the same PowerPoint you’ve seen a thousand times, versus working on actual work, exercising or even spending time with your kids. Everything is a trade off, don’t pretend it isn’t.

Once you get into the mindset of thinking about time as the most precious commodity, which it most definitely is, you will have a hard time justifying menial and ultimately pointless activities to yourself. And that’s the point. You shouldn’t be doing pointless activities anyway.

Ask yourself, would you pay someone else to do the things that you are spending your time on?

An interview with Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg (The Bridgespan Group)

Interview conducted by The Bridgespan Group and reprinted from Bridgestar.org. You can see the original post here.

Interview by Kathleen Yazbak

This “CEO Perspectives” features a conversation between Bridgespan Executive Search Partner Kathleen Yazbak and Linda Rottenberg, CEO and co-founder of Endeavor Global.

Kathleen Yazbak: You’re an entrepreneur, leading a network of organizations led by entrepreneurs, each supporting entrepreneurs in their countries. How do you define ‘entrepreneur’ and has your definition changed over time?

Linda Rottenberg: Endeavor Global has always been of, by, and for entrepreneurs. Originally, we thought of “entrepreneurs” as those who create jobs and wealth and give back to Endeavor’s work with other entrepreneurs, creating that positive cycle. However, the term “entrepreneur” has become ubiquitous, and I think it has been devalued over time. At Endeavor, we now talk purposefully about ’high-impact entrepreneurs,’ those who drive innovation and growth. Growth potential is now a more rigorous lens than it was. We now think of our entrepreneurs’ success as a multiplier effect and are now far more definitive about growth being the role model.

There have been distinct phases to your work at Endeavor, and thus your role and leadership. How do you categorize those phases?

Rottenberg: If I look at the phases, they’ve all been about the people. Phase one—roughly 1998 to 2003—was about getting top, local business leaders to pick us up. We found the movers and shakers and we told them, ’We have a model, but you have to decide whether you want it, and you have to pay us for it.’ We put the onus on them, and we built local boards and partnerships to find and nurture the best entrepreneurs.

Phase two began in January 2004, when Edgar Bronfman, Jr. [the chairman of Warner Music Group] became our board chair. We went from being a founding board to developing into a board that had a focus on resources and strategy at its core. Edgar wanted to help make Endeavor important and pushed us to take on a goal of 25 countries by 2015. Our growth and expansion led us into South Africa, Turkey, and the Middle East.

Phase three, which occurred roughly three and a half years ago, is when Omidyar Network took a bet on us and gave us a challenge grant to build our leadership team and management and to build in retention, because we were finding that because we are private-sector driven, we were losing smart, young people to business school, as well as to hedge funds and private equity firms.

Phase four is now, with our Endeavor 3.0 strategy. We have an operating plan to double in the next five years what it took us 14 years to do. Part of this phase is about unlocking our long-term sustainability.

Winning the talent war

Reprinted from informationarbitrage.com. See original post here.

By Roger Ehrenberg

Let’s face it: the hardest thing about building a great company is attracting and retaining great people. But once great people are attracted by pursuit of an exciting mission, a complex and interesting engineering problem and, yes, compensation, how to you keep them?

The problem is that truly great people stick out like a sore thumb. Some of them are even members of “The Guild” (the pack of 1000x developers that hang out at places like LinkedIn, Facebook and Google and the top start-ups run by their Guild mates). These people are the targets for cash-rich, rapidly growing “it” companies and command compensation packages in the millions of dollars, heavily skewed toward restricted share and option grants. They also offer rich perks, the best hardware and loads of creature comforts. These people are game changers, and are brought in to build mission critical pieces of the software stack designed to operate at web scale. The salutary impact on their new employer is expected to be orders of magnitude larger than their comp package. From a purely monetary perspective, it is hard for the start-up to compete.

But clearly some start-ups have been successful in recruiting and retaining 1000x engineers, even in the face of sickly flattering offers from the red-hot incumbents with richly-valued shares. There are a handful of tools that successful start-ups use to keep these unicorns in their seats, sometimes alone but often in combination:

Create – and maintain – an engineering culture. Too often developers are viewed as tools for executing a product vision and not as engines of creativity capable of helping shape the vision. The best developers are jazzed by solving wicked hard problems, and in the process gaining tremendous insight into the product, its strengths, limitations and opportunities for development. Celebrate these coding monsters and help push their stuff into production. This only makes them happier. Feed the beast!

Be generous with stock options. Gone are the days when the business founder gets 20x the early technical hires. This is a sure-fire way to create a revolving-door culture where the best are compelled to leave for purely economic reasons. Even developers who are intoxicated by the mission and the problems to be solved have their limits, and top developers know their market value and won’t stand for shabby treatment over time. The equity package for “Guild” members at start-ups has to be massively adjusted. Whether they are “founders” or not, their impact on executing the plan is essential for the plan to come to life. Be generous and work to expand the pie for all shareholders, even if that means taking additional dilution due to a large option pool.

Create larger option pools Day 1. So much time is spent haggling over the size of the option pool in the earliest days. I see founders of seed stage companies routinely wanting to size the post-money option pool at 10%. This is simply way too low. In a Series C company? Perhaps. In a seed or early Series A company, where a significant number of engineers need to be hired? Grossly inadequate. I’d say option pools should almost be double what is common today (10%-15%) in order to provide sufficient flexibility to hire and retain the best people. Option budgets should be re-calibrated to reflect the true value of the 1000x engineer. What is the purpose of spending the time and effort to onboard one of these people, only to be stingy when it comes to ownership? It makes no sense.

Consider pre-emptively marking your top engineers to market. Given the intimacy of the start-up community, it is often pretty well known that a particular start-up engineer is speaking with one of the larger “hot” companies. Further, a totally rocking engineer is well-known by their peers, each of which is a potential threat for making a run at their friend and trying to get them to join their company. When you’ve witnessed the 1000x performance, it is safe to assume that they are being approached regularly by larger firms to join the team. Before these talks gain any traction, estimate the kind of package your engineer would get to leave (A). Then calculate what a reasonable exit scenario for your company is, say, 2-years forward (B). Divide A by B: this will give you the approximate amount of ownership the engineer should have in the company to be economically neutral.

Keep the work varied and challenging. Rock stars like to be stretched. Bad things happen when the exceptional developer’s mind is allowed to wander. Keep it from wandering by being constantly challenged with stimulating and exciting work. And by all means don’t “kick them upstairs” and ask them to manage; this isn’t a promotion, it’s a prison sentence. Get a great VP Eng to manage the release cycle and to keep the team on task. Do not waste the 1000x developer’s skills or psyche on managing people. It’s all about the work – keep it that way.

Show the love. Developers may be low key on the outside but they are pure fire on the inside. They have ego; it just might not be of the in-your-face variety. They are more likely to be thrilled by authoring an open-source project or filing a patent application than getting some public acclaim. What they really want is respect from their peers. To this end, think creatively about ways they can demonstrate their skills and share it with others. Publicly acknowledge the impact they have had and will have on the organization. And just treat them well.

At the end of the day even a generous start-up might not be able to compete with Facebucks or Google’s gazillions, but the range and richness of work coupled with having a massive and observable impact on a smaller company’s business can often tip the scales. But to win against these aggressive and monied competitors, start-ups need to be on their game. Hard.

Roger Ehrenberg is the founder and Managing Partner of IA Ventures. Roger currently sits on the boards of BankSimple, Kinetic Global Markets, Metamarkets, Recorded Future, and The Trade Desk, and is a Board observer of SavingStar. Formerly, he served on the boards of Alphacet, Buddy Media, Global Bay Mobile Technologies, Magnetic, Selerity and Stocktwits. For his complete bio, click here.

Bing Gordon: “CEO 2.0: Lessons from Bezos and Pincus” [Video, Transcript]

Endeavor is pleased to make public the following transcript and video from a presentation at the 2011 Endeavor Entrepreneur Summit in San Francisco. The event, which assembled over 450 entrepreneurs and global business leaders, featured dozens of entrepreneurship-related presentations by top CEOs and industry experts.

Overview: Bing Gordon, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers spoke about why being a web 2.0 CEO is different than being a traditional chief executive. In his presentation, drawing from the experiences of Jeff Bezos, founder, president and CEO of Amazon.com and Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, he articulated how the new kind of CEO must be visionary, customer focused, a coach rather than a dictator, and committed to a fast pace. He also included other tips on the best ways a web 2.0-era CEO can build a support system and adopt specific strategies to be especially effective.

Bio: Bing Gordon joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a partner in 2008. He leads on the sFund, the investment initiative to fund and build applications and services that deliver on the promise of the social web. The sFund, launched in 2010 with strategic partners Amazon.com, Facebook, Zynga, Comcast, Liberty Media and Allen & Co., has made 16 investments to date, including four seeds. Bing serves on the board of directors of sFund companies Klout and Lockerz; sFund strategics Amazon and Zynga; as well as MEVIO and Zazzle. He was also a founding director at Katango (acquired by Google 2011), ngmoco (acquired by DeNA 2010) and Audible (acquired by Amazon in 2008).

Before joining KPCB, Bing had been a long-time executive at Electronic Arts, beginning with EA’s founding in 1982 with initial funding from Kleiner Perkins. He was chief creative officer at EA from 1998 to 2008 and previously headed EA marketing and product development. Bing drove EA’s branding strategy with EA Sports, developed EA’s pricing strategy for package goods and online games, created EA’s studio organization, and contributed to the design and marketing of many EA franchises, including John Madden Football, The Sims, Sim City, Need for Speed, Tiger Woods Golf, Club Pogo and Command and Conquer.

Bing was awarded the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, and he held the game industry’s first endowed chair in game design at The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. He earned an M.B.A. from Stanford University and his B.A. degree from Yale University, where he serves on the President’s Council. Bing’s favorite games of all time are World of Warcraft, the Sims, Diablo, Pogo, Civilization, Columns, Freecell, Farmville and Cityville.

Full transcript:

I want to talk to you today and share what I’ve learned about how to be a CEO in the era of consumer Internet. I’m on the boards of Zynga and Amazon and there are two great CEOs.

I’ve done lecturing for universities and what I’ve learned for motivated students and what I’ve learned from game designers (I’ve been making video games since 1982—video games) is no matter how long I spend with them, they can only take away one and a half actionable ideas unless they take notes. So if your ambition is to have more than one and a half ideas out of the next 20 minutes, take notes [Editor’s note: done!] or have a really smart friend next to you. (more…)

What makes an entrepreneur successful?

Reprinted from growvc.com. See original post here.

By Isaac Bullen

Growing up in Austin, Texas, I have encountered numerous brilliant minded businessmen who have gone on to create successful companies on their own. Michael Dell is the most notorious; he founded one of the largest computer manufacturing companies in the world. One of my contemporary college graduates went on to form Hey Cupcake, which started as nothing more than a food trailer, and has since grown to several locations. So, the question is, what makes these businesses successful?

Here are a few things I’ve learned from talking to other entrepreneurs, developing my own business ideas and listening to guest lectures:

1) The most important thing behind any successful entrepreneurial idea is a good concept. However broad that term may be, what is known is that the idea must feasible and money needs to be accounted for; pardon the pun. Know how much everything will cost to set up, use accurate figures to estimate returns and search for investors that will likely give the amount of money you need to begin. Keep this in mind before you start your actual business.

2) Often times, many guest lecturers are extremely vague in their wording. This just happens to be the nature of the business; again, no pun intended. Whether they are trying to protect their idea or they have nothing to say but broad generalizations, many lecturers tend to speak in ways that really do not contribute anything when speaking to a large audience. I find the best thing to do when attending a guest lecture with very vague information is to ask for specifics at the end. Make sure your question demands thought and could not be answered by just anyone, rather, specifically requires the knowledge of the person talking. They should be lecturing because they are experts; make them show their expertise.

3) Practice before you begin your business. I took an entrepreneur class in which we came up with the idea for a double sided peanut butter jar that would allow for access to either side of the container. The project took a lot of work without requiring the investment of any money. I was faced with challenges I could not have conceived of before I started actually doing the work.

Specifically, the question came down to would it be viable to charge extra money for a container with two lids. The cost of the extra lid would have to justify allowing access to all the contents of the jar. This question involved calling peanut butter manufactures as well as jar producers. Much of the information we hoped to get was classified as confidential, but by the end, we were able to conclude that it was not a viable concept.

4) As demonstrated with the previous point, your practice concept does not have to be a good idea. In fact, the idea really does not matter because this is just a test to fine tune your skills. Where you start to learn is how you go about collecting information, mitigating potential problems and estimating how much capital is required from investors in your idea. The key point here is entrepreneurial endeavors requires more work than initially meets the eye, and properly preparing for things that can happen will save you both money and time.

5) One of the most sobering pieces of advice I ever received was the fact of the matter is that most businesses fail. All the preparation in the world combined with a great concept does not guarantee success. Entrepreneurial endeavors are risky by nature. If, at the end of the day, your business fails, do not lie to yourself and pretend that there are feasible options when there clearly are not. Be honest with yourself and know when to cut your losses.

Keep in mind that good preparation, getting the most out of guest lectures by asking hard questions and developing a unique concept are some of the best ways to prepare for a life as an entrepreneur. It’s risky business, but the potential reward certainly can justify the required leap of faith.

Isaac resides in the UK and works in search marketing for companies like AON Hewitt, specialists in Auto Enrolment, fiduciary management and human capital consulting.

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