Friday, April 18, 2008

This sucks; I've gotta have it

I've been awol for too many moons; big time remorse and no excuses. In a word, abandoning the blog sucks (though, of course, no one needs to have it). Which leads me to a cool story.

I enjoyed a thoughtful talk at UCD last week by Paul Hudnut, founder and director of Envirofit. Like most talks by accomplished, give-a-shit entrepreneurs, it was insightful and eye-opening. Among many sage observations, Paul opined that not every idea is a good idea, and not every opportunity is worth pursuing. Entrepreneurs who can distinguish an opportunity from a problem -- and, of course, act on it -- are, well, entrepreneurs. Good stuff.

Other meaningful morsels:

  • Make money by making meaning (quoting The Great Kawasaki)
  • Ask yourself: Are my goods good and do my services serve?
  • Create a company that, no matter how much it grows, it will be a good thing.
  • The average age of the founders of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! was 23. Cool.
Paul believes great entrepreneurs are driven by two observations:
  1. This sucks.
  2. What are we going to do about it?
The former sans the latter means little -- it's easy to bemoan what "sucks" without doing anyting. As Paul emphasized, the combinatorial magic is to identify what sucks, and then create a team to act upon it. I agree, but I think a more lucrative combination is the ID of what sucks in concert with an understanding of people -- not artificial, bschool-esque segments -- who convey the magic words: I've gotta have it. When you hear this, bottle it and run. Fast.

Identifying what sucks is the ante to starting a company. Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs either do not act or apathetically sell to a want; many wants are perceived to be needs. The combinatorial trifecta is to figure out what sucks, identify gotta have needs, and then marshal a team to figure out the problem, fill the needs, and monetize the opportunity.

If you balk on one of the three, you're doomed for mediocrity (or a vocational exercise).

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