I just finished watching the 9th lecture in How to Start a Startup class. The guests today were Marc Andreeseen founder of Andreesen Horowitz, Ron Conway the founder of SV Angels and Parker Conrad the founder of Zenefits. The topic of the lecture was “How to Raise Money”. The ironic part of the Q&A was that none of the speakers really talked about how to raise money, they all talked about what they look for in a founder. I wrote about this, everything starts with the founder on the inside. If the founder is built right, then magically a lot of things fall in place. I believe this is one of the counterintuitive thing about building companies. You have to work on yourself first before you can build something great, obviously it can be done in parallel. Focus on building yourself to be the kind of person others want to work with, follow that through with things you are passionate about solving and the rest follows.
Marc referred to Steve Martin, the comedian (one of my all time favorite) and his book “Born Standing Up“, I have not read that book, yes you guessed it right I am going to get that book. Steve said that the road to success in any venture is to be so good that no one can ignore you. I believe in that model. Not everyone is born with all the talent or qualities or skills, but everyone of us can make the choice to get good at things that matter. I am by no means suggesting that I am good at anything, I am constantly work on things that I feel will help me help an entrepreneur, thats it. It is that simple at least for me. Thats why I started writing this blog, that is why I watch every lecture of the class, thats why I try to read every book, blog, article out there that talks about starting up, building companies or investing. This is the path, I just want to absorb every bit of knowledge out there, I want to be an infovore. I hope every founder that I work with gets this obsession in whatever it is that they are doing, that is what makes success happen.
Here is a small description of the book
Martin illuminates the sacrifice, discipline, and originality that made him an icon and informs his work to this day. To be this good, to perform so frequently, was isolating and lonely. It took Martin decades to reconnect with his parents and sister, and he tells that story with great tenderness. Martin also paints a portrait of his times—the era of free love and protests against the war in Vietnam, the heady irreverence of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the late sixties, and the transformative new voice of Saturday Night Live in the seventies.
Throughout the text, Martin has placed photographs, many never seen before. Born Standing Up is a superb testament to the sheer tenacity, focus, and daring of one of the greatest and most iconoclastic comedians of all time.
I keep seeing these words with those people who have gone to do great things, Sacrifice, Discipline, Originality, Tenacity, Focus and Daring. It behoves us to start asking ourselves how can we build ourselves to have these qualities and traits? I guess if you start working on yourself to become relentlessly resourceful, I have no doubt in my mind that you will achieve whatever goal you set out to achieve. Raising money IMHO should never be the focus of a startup founder, yes, you need to work on it but it can never become this ever consuming task. I see so many founders getting so consumed by this experience. Money is just a means to an end. Focus on building a great product, team and company, be so good at it that no one can ignore you, that is how you raise money.
Marc had a disclaimer that he was going to get pummelled because of this statement he made, Raising money is the easiest thing to do, hiring the 20th engineer, selling to an enterprise, building a great culture those are the hard things.
I can relate to this. Here is the lecture.