Scott Painter: Top 10 things every entrepreneur must know

zag logoScott Painter is a serial entrepreneur, and the founder and moving force behind several well known companies - Zag, an automotive retail site, Cars Direct, 1-800-Dentist, 1-800-car-search, and INFOAccess, a classified marketplace.

Recently, Scott spoke at VentureNet and shared his insights into the traits that entrepreneurs need to be successful.

Top 10 must-dos for entrepreneurs from Scott Painter (Zag, CarsDirect)

1. Be stubborn - believe in what you are doing
2. Be able to sell a vision - articulate a reality that does not yet exist
3. Be able to convince - have a vision that others can see and are moved to follow
4. Be able to solve a problem - that needs a solution
5. Be able to recruit a team - keep tabs on talented people - find those who are smarter and more talented than you
6. Be able to take rejection - as you will be rejected - many times
7. Be able to prioritize a few things and do them really well - you cannot do everything
8. Be able to have “range” - receptivity to other great ideas
9. Be able to speak to investors in a way they want to hear - ie tell them about how much capital you need, the trajectory for the business to get traction, how the exit will happen
10. Be intrepid - believe it can and will happen

And most of all - be able to speak in “Future Hopeful Tense”.

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Do Entrepreneurs have ADD?

Finely honed instincts, the ability to make split second decisions, and the agility to change directions in an instant - these characteristics are all the hallmarks of a great entrepreneur. But these are also the attributes of the classic “hunter” profile of a person with ADD.

egyptian hunterThe Hunter Vs. Farmer hypothesis was proposed by Thom Hartmann in an attempt to explaining possible origins of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The classic “hunter” profile describes a nomad, who is always on the lookout for the next big kill. For the hunter, the excitement lies in planning the hunt, and executing the strategy. After the thrill of success, it is time to move on to the next hunt. A nomad at heart, the hunter is rarely satisfied with resting on his or her laurels for very long.

egyptian farmerIn contrast, the “farmer” profile portrays a person whose life is centered around a predictable life of sowing and gathering. Risk is mitigated through meticulous long term planning.

Over the centuries, farming populations have generally enjoyed more prosperity and stability over nomadic tribes. On average, farmers have more wealth, whereas the distribution of wealth among hunters is highly variable. While hunters move between feast and famine, there are, indeed, the small numbers of super-hunters who will make the big kill, and reach the pinnacle of success.

It is indeed the lure of the big prize, that motivates and drives most entrepreneurs, and makes them strive towards reaching greater heights. At the basis of the hunter-farmer theory is the feature of “hyperfocus” that successful entrepreneurs seem to universally posses. Hyperfocus is a form of mental concentration that is a benefit of ADD, and enables a person to accomplish very specific goals.

While hyperfocus is actually a gift, it can give a person a bad reputation as being absentminded because of ignoring events around them that do not pertain to reaching the goal, or for kids with ADD to be considered as “disrespectful of authority”.

egyptian farmerThe hunter-gatherer hypothesis seems to find parallels in the field of entrepreneurism. There is the prevalent feeling that an entrepreneur who starts a company might not indeed be the right person to continue to lead it once the organization has grown to a certain level. While a VC attempting to remove a founder from a company, and bringing in the “right kind of CEO” to lead it, is looked down in general by entrepreneurs, there might, in some cases, be a good reason for doing this. The “hunter” personality - the visionary - who initially leads the company, might one day need to hand the reigns over to the “farmer” - someone who excels at building teams, rules by consensus, and believes in meticulously planning where the company will be in a few years.

The lifecycle of many companies might indeed demand that it be driven by a hunter in the early part of its cycle and transition on to being led by a farmer as it matures - such as Ebay chairman Pierre Omidyar handing over the reigns to Meg Whitman, when the company got to a certain size. However, there have been as many examples of entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates, who lead Microsoft from a garage (dorm room) startup to a monolithic company. Yet again, there are examples of visionaries such as Steve Jobs and Michael Dell who left their companies (Apple, Dell) and then returned to re-innovate and re-invigorate their respective enterprises.

So while starting a company might indeed require the hunter mentality, the growth and future success of the company might call for the initial pioneer to either transition into a more “farming” mind set as the company grows, or find someone with the right skill set to take the company to the next level.

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TiECon Southwest: Andy Bird and the magic of Disney

Anatomy of a Conference: Day D-2

andy bird president disney international tiecon southwest 2007Magic has many languages, and Andy Bird, President of Disney International is spreading the message of the Disney story to countries far and wide. From Europe and Japan, to China, Russia and India, Disney is bringing its unique brand of entertainment to the far reaches of the world.

Andy Bird will present the second Keynote at the upcoming TiECon Southwest 2007, on September 15th at Anaheim.

We expect Andy will present his vision of where he sees the future of entertainment going, and how he sees Disney fitting into the global picture.

On a personal note, Andy Bird was gracious enough to accommodate a last minute change in the TiECon conference schedule. An icon and a super guy, how often does that happen?

The first keynote of the TiECon will be delivered by Sean “Facebook” Parker in a chat with Raj “Selectica” Jaswa.

Plus the day is crammed with several exciting panels on Media and Entertainment, Doing business in India, Venture Capital, Entrepreneurship 101, Future Technology and Life Sciences.

disney club penguin

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TiECon Southwest 2007: Uber entrepreneur Raj Jaswa

Anatomy of a Conference: Day D-3

A surprise guest (spoiler alert!) at this year’s TiECon Southwest will be Raj Jaswa . Raj (on the ski slopes with his sons in pic below) has co-founded two successful companies that he took public.

Raj JaswaRaj Jaswa’s first company OPTi produced chips, built upon the Intel 486 microprocessors, for enhancing multimedia for personal PCs. Raj joined the early founding team in 1988. The company had a meteoric growth until 1996, when Intel switched to the Pentium. OPTi went public in 1993, and had a peak market cap of $350 million.

After OPTi, Raj Jaswa went on to co-found Selectica , an enterprise software company, which raised its initial $1M funding from Draper International in 1997. Selectica has been named to most every list imaginable - the Forbes 500, Deloitte & Touche
Technology Fast 500, Software 500, Inc 500, and Interactive Week 500. Selectica reached a peak market value of $5 billion and became one of the ten most successful IPOs in 2000.

Raj was named to Forbes’ list of “Top CEOs: Corporate America’s Most Powerful People�? in 2000.

Raj Jaswa has led the Silicon Valley chapter of TiE as President, since 2003.

Raj Jaswa will be conducting a fireside chat with Sean Parker at TiECon Southwest 2007, on September 15th.

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