Success in business is out of reach to those who aren’t already blessed with plentiful advantage, so goes the conventional wisdom. A similar stereotype in sports is that you either have talent or you don’t. But the story of a once-maligned pitcher’s World Series victory upends both of these stereotypes, and has great lessons for entrepreneurs.
A year ago, the Boston Red Sox would have gladly traded John “Popeye’s Chicken and Beer” Lackey for a bucket of dirty baseballs. Certainly, the fans would have. The pitcher delivered a horrific 6.41 earned run average in 2011, missed the entire 2012 season due to injury, and his clubhouse antics suggested a lack of discipline and focus that would hamper him even when he was healthy. Read More »
When Congress passed the Jumpstart Our Business Start-ups Act (“JOBS Act”) last year, the rationale sounded right: some “good ideas” don’t come to market because entrepreneurs often lack the necessary connections to privately raise significant amounts of capital. If they could get such funding, the argument went, jobs would be created. And that’s a good thing.
So part of the JOBS Act now permits private firms, including start-ups, to seek equity investments without registering shares for sale, though only from accredited investors. But if implemented, other provisions of the law would allow entrepreneurs and others to use crowd sourcing or social media to troll for money from virtually any would-be private investor. And that’s not such a good thing.
Entrepreneurs are serious players in today’s innovation economy, leaders who can generate wealth, create jobs, and transform the lives of customers and employees alike. And yet only a few women can be found among the entrepreneurial elite. When you examine the venture-capital money going to fund the Biogens and Akamais of tomorrow, only 7 percent is won by female entrepreneurs. Although it is true that fewer women overall found businesses — and those they create tend to be in industries that don’t appeal to venture capitalists (VCs) — research shows that other factors are at play.
Each time I organize panels for my students at the MIT Sloan School of Management, I listen as VCs list their investment criteria: market size, competitive advantage, customer need. But when pressed about the uncertainties inherent in their evaluation, the VCs inevitably fall back on their assessment of the company’s leaders. “I ask myself: Is this a person I want to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner with,” one man told the class. “Are they the first person I think about when I get up in the morning?” asked another. This approach struck me more like a search for a soul mate than for a financial investment. In this process, female entrepreneurs fair poorly. Read More »
Wow. Imagine being invited to moderate a free-form discussion with the people who lived out the book “Bringing Down the House” and the movie “21.” It doesn’t get any better than this.
At Xconomy’s XSITE conference, I had the honor of moderating a reunion panel of the MIT Blackjack Team with two of the original members (Bill Kaplan and Jon Hirschtick) and two (Neelan Choksi and Semyon Dukach) who reconstituted the team in 1992. The team is known for its sophisticated card-counting techniques that outsmarted many casinos during the 1980s and 1990s.
Forget medical school or law school. These days, record numbers of high-school and college students say they aspire to be entrepreneurs. At Yale University, for example, over 20% of the undergraduates indicate that they are interested in pursuing entrepreneurship as a career. Compare that with 1980, the year I graduated from Harvard. I didn’t know what the word “entrepreneur” meant—and neither did any of my friends.
There is good reason for this trend. Traditional career paths no longer offer the security they once seemed to guarantee, and startups promise young people independence, control and the possibility of making good money.