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Category Archives: general

Eugene Kleiner PhotoWe know Eugene Kleiner as one of the traitorous 8, the founder of Fairchild Semiconductor, investor in Intel and one of the main founders of top VC firm KPCB. All of which were instrumental in the genesis of silicon valley.

I often come across interesting quotes by him. I stumbled on this set when I was going through the KPCB site, recently. Seemed like a set any entrepreneur would benefit from.

Kleiner’s Laws

* Make sure the dog wants to eat the dog food. No matter how ground-breaking a new technology, how large a potential market, make certain customers actually want it.
* Build one business at a time. Most business plans are overly ambitious. Concentrate on being successful in one endeavor first.
* The time to take the tarts is when they’re being passed. If an environment is right for funding, go for it. Eugene, more than anyone, knew that venture capital goes in cycles.
* The problem with most companies is they don’t know what business they’re in.
* Even turkeys can fly in a high wind. In times of strong economies, even bad companies can look good.
* It’s easier to get a piece of an existing market than to create a new one.
* It’s difficult to see the picture when you’re inside the frame.
* After learning some of the tricks of the trade, some people think they know the trade. This reflected some of Eugene’s own humility; he recognized that many venture capitalists thought they were experts when they had just a bit of knowledge.
* Venture capitalists will stop at nothing to copy success.
* Invest in people, not just products. Eugene always respected founding entrepreneurs. He wanted to build companies with them not just with their ideas.

And, two others – frequently quoted:

* “There is a time when panic is the appropriate response.”
* “What tips me off that a business will be successful is that they have a narrow focus of what they want to do, and they plan a sufficient amount of effort and money to do it. Focus is essential.”

The second is a thread that always runs in the back of my mind, since the time I read it.

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We were recently summing up the last iteration of our product, when one of my co-founders appreciated me for the tough questions I keep asking him and the others. While I was drafting a reply, I felt it may also be worthy of a post.

In any setup, there are times when things start slowing down and people start losing focus. Also, when most of the parties involved are guilty of sloth, it makes it that much more tougher to ask questions. Which inturn can make it tempting to do something like what Warren Buffet warned against in his latest annual letter:

“From the start, Charlie and I have believed in having a rational and unbending standard for measuring what we have – or have not – accomplished. That keeps us from the temptation of seeing where the arrow of performance lands and then painting the bull’s eye around it.”

When you decide that you will be the one asking tough questions, you run the risk of not being loved anymore. You need to make a choice – whether you want to be the loved one in a mediocre performing system or possibly the hated one in a high performing system. But, coming to think of it, if you are really asking the right kind of questions then people will either come around, or they never truely loved you in the first place.

Another significant advantage to asking tough questions, making it more worthy of the risk, is that it forces you to always be on your heels and pushes you to give our best. Like Mahatma Gandhi said – “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

Ofcourse, it does help when you are already a part of an amazing team.

Procrastination

Yesterday, I accidentally wondered into John Perry‘s [American Philosopher] essay collection through some stray links and then got lost in them. I always felt something was wrong with my ways or with the world. His posts on procrastination and horizontal organisation give me a better perspective on things and make me feel less of an outsider.

Essays relevant to procrastination:
1. Structured Procrastination
2. Procrastination and Perfectionism
3. A Plea for the Horizontally Organized

If you are going to be reading just one of Perry’s essays, then I would suggest you read the first one. Structured procrastination is the art of making the bad trait work for you. It involves shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits the trait. Towards the end of the essay Perry makes a point that structured procrastination involves certain amount of self-deception but should be easy for a procrastinator.

Confession: I am using structured procrastination to revive this blog ;^).

The Zen Attitude

I was reading Srikrishna‘s latest article on Hindu Business Line – Zen and the entrepreneur.

We seem to encounter the first two koans mentioned in his article (Persevere, grow) on a daily basis, the third one (listening to customers) is yet to happen to us. It would be a happy moment if we were to get that far.

The Zen koans are meant to tire the logic, giving a student of Zen the opportunity to look beyond from where the intellect ends. But the Koans of entrepreneurship require you to work within the bounds of logic.

One of my favorite koans is the Epimenides Paradox (which I happened to read in Douglas Hofstadter‘s epic book GEB). Epimenides was a Cretan who made one immortal statement: “All Cretans are liars.”

Its been a primal human trait to try making meaning out of the chaos. The fascinating fields of astronomy, philosophy, evolution, number theory, quantum physics, .. have all sprung out of this basic urge; the urge to define the (currently) indefinable. But once meaning has been made things become less interesting, losing their charm. True-blood entrepreneurs look forward to the challenge of not being able to see or define success clearly. They prefer chances of failure over the comfort of a well set path to mediocre success.

All said there is much an entrepreneur can learn from spirituality.

Let the sufi in you follow your heart,
let the zen in you step aside letting life take its course,
let the yogi in you enjoy the path that leads to your destiny.

Sri, thanks for adding to the chaos! 🙂

Little angel

As the borders get blurry between F&Fs, Angels and VCs, Scott Shane tries to make some ground with his post which some what demystifies the angel math.

It also brings up the point that entrepreneurs look at angel investments for reasons more than the funds and contacts it brings in. Angels should ideally be less of businessmen and more of what the name means.

Article Link: The Funny Math of the Angel – Venture Capital Financing Gap