Who are some successful, young entrepreneurs who are not involved in a technology business?

This is a video response to a question I answered on Quora: http://www.quora.com/Young-Entrepreneurs/Who-are-some-successful-young-entrepreneurs-who-are-not-involved-in-technology-startups

In case you can’t see the video, here’s the transcription:

“I don’t have the stats on-hand, but my gut says that the vast majority of young, successful entrepreneurs (I guess if we define them by some arbitrary number, say 35 and younger, and “successful” as a profitable product that’s bringing value to the marketplace), are not in the tech ecosystem. 

I’m in NYC and just in my circle of young entrepreneurs, of which there are a couple hundred, operate successful businesses in industries like commercial cleaning, insurance, publishing, plumbing, HVAC, development, real estate, private aviation, etc. And when I mean successful, these businesses have a couple hundred million dollars with good profit margins, executing what I would consider non-technology businesses. 

I think the exciting part of what’s happening here is not the technologists who are putting dents in the world and blowing things up, it’s the traditional businesses that are taking technology that’s being developed and implementing them into their business models and providing “technology-enabled” business services, products, and consumer-facing goods. 

If we look at Fab.com, many people would think it’s a tech business. It’s not a tech business, it’s a standard, everyday, business tackling huge supply chain problems, with lots of people in logistics, design, curation, and service. Most of the problems they are solving are not technology problems. The technology is enabling the service to exist. 10 years ago, they would be doing the same thing – the only thing that has changed is that their potential clients have gone to the Internet. This type of business is not a technology business, and having seen the back-end of these types of businesses, I can assure you they are not. 

So no, it’s not obvious at all – most young entrepreneurs are NOT in a technology business, they’re executing in all types of businesses.”


How can a first-time entrepreneur raise money for a capital intensive business?

This is a video response to a question I answered on Quora: http://www.quora.com/How-can-first-time-entrepreneurs-tackling-a-big-problem-raise-money

In case you can’t see the video, here’s the transcription:

“I love difficult businesses. Many capital intensive businesses are difficult businesses, and I love them because they’re “willpower” businesses, and “execution” businesses.

Being a first time entrepreneur trying to raise money in something that’s both capital intensive and a difficult project to execute is going to call for the investor to really be buying you and your chops as a business person. If you’re young and haven’t had the opportunity to prove yourself in that way, find some way to prove those business chops; prove that you can execute; prove that you can attack a gnarly problem and that you belong in a willpower business.

If you can figure out how to create a minimum viable product, prove the market somehow, study who the buyers of this capital intensive business services or products are going to be, develop a relationship with them, prove you’ve successfully broken down the barriers to entry in that business…

I think you have to get your nails into the wall and prove that you can fight in this type of business environment.

Again, the investor is just buying the entrepreneur.”

Why are some successful entrepreneurs not school smart?

Here’s the question this video is in response to: http://www.quora.com/Startup-Founders-and-Entrepreneurs/Why-are-some-successful-entrepreneurs-not-school-smart

In case you can’t see the video, here’s the transcription:

How could some entrepreneurs NOT be not school smart? Whenever you have demographic of people, you’re going to have outliers of course. What it takes in general to be successful entrepreneur in this day and age (probably in every age) is totally disassociated with what it takes to be “school smart.”

What about non-school smart? What about “raw” intelligence? How many people do you know, that are smarter than you, would be successful business people? I think they’re totally unrelated.

One of the pinch points I have in my businesses is finding the right people to work with. I’ve found that I care very little about secondary or post-secondary education. There’s just no correlation. I think we’re going to see more and more folks succeeding in the entrepreneurial ecosystem that have very little formal education. I, myself, went to school for premedical biology and dropped out after two years. It says very little about the likelihood for my success in business. For me, it means that I lost interest and that I was bored and there were other things that I wanted to do and I have been in business ever since.

If you were trying to make some sort of smart bet as to whether there was a correlation between my success in business in the future and my path in education, you would have been a loser.

I think while a slightly flawed question, it’s a very important one. What it takes to be a successful entrepreneur is not related in any way to the types of behaviors and DNA that it takes to be a great and excelling student in America at this time. 

Are all customers created equal?

I love how high the stakes are for “being the real-thing” in business right now. You can win quickly and lose quickly, BUT if you’re good, the game is rigged. This hit me hard in the last 6 months. Figure out how to open up the communication lines and throw stuff out there. Crazy easy right? Yes, if you’re good. Almost impossible if you’re not.

If you’re good; you’ll know what I mean, figure out how to move resources into storytelling, communicating and sharing. The barrier has never been lower to attack the incumbents.

Do it…