Startup Grind Global Conference
The following post is from Srihari Balasubramanian M’16.
Over the last year and a half at Babson, my definition of ‘Entrepreneurship’ has been reshaped several times by my experiences. Thanks to Graduate Affinity Scholarship, I along with a group of Babson graduates recently attended the ‘Startup Grind Global Conference’ in Redwood City, California and I left with a whole new perspective on entrepreneurship.
Startup Grind, the organization itself in its nascent stages, is educating, inspiring, and connecting over 200,000 founders in around 200 cities. Founded in 2010, Startup Grind has become the largest independent startup community, actively nurturing startup ecosystems through events, media, and partnerships with organizations like Google for Entrepreneurs. The two day global conference, their flagship event was an opportunity for the aspiring future leaders to hear from several Silicon Valley founders, venture capitalists and academics among others.
According to Steve Blank’s The Startup Owner’s Manual, Entrepreneurship is a calling. One shouldn’t be in it if they weren’t called. Entrepreneurs are like artists who are able to see what others are not able to do and they go about doing things when other people may not appreciate. Steve was also clear about what success means for a startup. It wasn’t the several round of funding that the companies raise, rather the customer orders! This is where the differences also occur between venture capitalists and founders. Steve also related a country’s respect for artists to the respect for its startups. This got me thinking about the situation in my home country and the U.S., his reflection couldn’t have been more accurate.
In 2015, $50 billion capital was invested in startus, while in the same year $6.5 trillion was invested worldwide in bonds, which have negative yield. This essentially means people have to pay just to own these bonds. The astonishingly low investment in startups compared to bonds shows that an investor in early stage company needs the vision and the mindset to make the world a better place although it comes with a potential to make billions.
Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures, was a speaker I was very much looking forward to hearing from and he certainly did not disappoint. His staunch belief on founders being CEO especially in technology driven companies was complimented by several other investors and founders who spoke at the Conference. The main reason being the ease of adaptability to change and maintaining founder’s mentality. Vinod is a multi-billionaire, who continues to invest in start-ups and his role as an investor, he believes is to push founders hard and make them think not decide. He also highlighted the importance of recruiting talented people who are right for the organization, irrespective of whether there is a vacancy.
As I heard more from Vinod on Entrepreneurship, I realized how similar it was to what I had learned at Babson, the Timmons Model of Entrepreneurship. And it was not just from Vinod, but the theoretical model concurred with several other entrepreneurs as well who cited the balance between opportunities, resources and the team as one of the critical factors to succeed.