Chris McCann's Personal Blog

Life's too short to not do awesome things

Archive for the ‘startups’ Category

The Entrepreneurial Thought Process in Action – ProjectJobs_

with one comment

will work for tuition

Photo by EducatedNation

In my last two posts here and here I laid out what entrepreneurial (effectual) reasoning is, the process it involves, and the underlying logic & 3 principles behind the entrepreneurial reasoning.

Now I want to show you a real life example of how this thought process works in action, because remember the entrepreneurial thought process is all about action, action, action, without any elaborate planning.

I recently have begun a new project which I’m calling JobShoots for now. As my personal bank account was nearing $0 I started frantically looking for a part time job, contract job, or anything I could find on sites like Monster, Yahoo Jobs, Jobster, etc and I kept running into a major problem. Every time I applied or called in about a job offer someone else had already beat me to it and the position was filled. I couldn’t get the job postings fast enough by going to the individual pages and I didn’t want all that job information to clutter up my RSS reader of Email Inbox.

I had an idea about a month ago that there should be Twitter accounts that inform job seekers about opportunities that come up in their geographic location. Instead of having to check a job site everyday, the available job opportunities would be “pushed” to them in their twitter account, which someone can subscribe to in their specific city. The main benefit to job seekers is they can be better informed about job opening and find a job quicker and easier.

In line with the entrepreneurial process I created the twitter account Jobs_SLO and pulled several RSS feeds from job listing websites into my Twitter stream (If your confused with all the twitter lingo check out the Jobs_SLO page and you can get a better understanding of what I am talking about). I threw up the page really quickly just to test out the concept and to see if this is something people demand and if people would actually use it. There was no cost to me besides my time and a little Yerba Mate Tea.

Good thing was people actually used it. I gained 100+ subscribers in less than two weeks but the bad news was the RSS syndicator I was using was crap. Since Twitter only allows 140 characters in the posts, job descriptions would be cut off, the links would be wrong, and overall the postings were in horrible quality. But despite all this people still came and demanded my content.

I let the project just sit for about a month and I didn’t do anything with it until I came across the SSE Ventures program yesterday. My friend happened to tell me about it since he knew I ran Innovation Quest and the Cal Poly Business Plan Competition, and told me I should check it out. I did and its pretty amazing that Stanford has pulled together student government money to fund entrepreneurial projects started by Stanford students (Wow I wish Cal Poly could do something similar!) and I decided to check out the company’s website that recently got funding from SSE Ventures which is the company DiffBot.

DiffBot makes a product called FeedBeater which specializes in taking dynamic html pages and turning the updates into an RSS feed, exactly what I needed for Jobs_SLO. So I thought to myself what the hell and gave FeedBeater a chance. It took a day for the feed to become functional but to my amazement it creates a very clean 140 character summary of the Job Description, the Industry, and a Link to the job postings I wanted to communicate to my twitter followers.

Now that I am slowly figuring out how to make the content good for job seekers, I thought to myself if this kind of content is demanded in San Luis Obispo County (which is only 200,000+ people strong) why wouldn’t this work in other cities and county’s? With this in mind I created:

To test out if this is really going to work in these other larger cities.

Bit by bit I am just trying stuff out and throwing stuff out there and seeing what happens. I have no idea what is in store for ProjectJobs_ but I am keeping my senses open to unexpected randomness and taking advantage of any opportunities that come my way.

If you have any ideas of what I should do with ProjectJobs_ or who I should talk to please leave it in the comments below or email me directly at chris.r.mccann@gmail.com

Learning From Others – My Conversations With a Serial-CEO, Entrepreneur, Inventor, and Venture Advisor to Kleiner Perkins

with 6 comments

redwood california national park Photo by JennyHuang


“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

I’m not perfect, and sometimes I think I know more than others. This is a highly fallible position to be in, even with all the experiences I have been through it is still limited and I can always learn something for everyone. Depending on what school of philosophy you look to “true knowledge” is never attainable (or at least a very difficult thing to obtain) and given this viewpoint it is an individuals goal to be open to all experiences with no prejudices and biases.

Given this, one of the toughest personal traits to develop is humility and the ability to put one’s ego aside and learn from other individuals. It’s a very easy thing to say out loud that you are humble but its a very hard thing to internally convince yourself you are truly equal to everyone and to take the time to actually learn from all people.

Without getting to philosophical I had a very humbling experience this week after having lunch with Russell Bik who has by far one of the most impressive and experienced backgrounds of anyone I’ve met before. Russell Bik, is a Cal Poly grad, serial entrepreneurial (was on the early teams of Intel and Sun Microsystems), CEO of multiple Kleiner Perkin’s portfolio companies, and a venture adviser to the Kleiner Perkin’s fund.

During lunch I forced myself to put all preconceived biases aside and attempted to suck in every bit of knowledge he shared with me. We talked about a whole range of topics such as the startup vs. corporate lifestyle, best practices of teams, advisors, negotiation, and courage.

Here are a few of the lessons I took away that I want to share with everyone:

Startup vs. Corporate Life and Career Decisions (Which I’ve wrote about before here)

  • You don’t want your only work experience to be a string of failed startups
  • It’s good to have corporate experience with a growing company
  • Of course there are always exceptions to the rule (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc)
  • The reality is most startups fail
  • You don’t want to have just corporate experience though, you need a blending of entrepreneurship and corporate
  • The downside to corporate experience is you feel like you need to play in the proper channels/bureaucracy vs. in a startup culture you get things done no matter what

Working in Teams

  • Companies are all about the right mix of team members
  • Each discipline of the team (engineering, production, business) is all equal in taking the company to realization and need to be compensated as such.

Value of MBA’s

  • There are 2 main benefits to a MBA
  • You experience what is possible and you become not afraid to attain that reality
  • Develop relationships with other Alums from that school

Grades and School

  • Grades tend to fall once you experience the real world and understand the skills needed to compete in this environment

Advisors

  • Listen to people who have been there and done it before, only the ones who have actually experienced that particular situation

Negotiation

Comparing Life Paths – The Corporate Life vs. The Entrepreneurial & Startup Life

with 3 comments

what path direction do I take? Corporation vs. startup enrepreneurship

Photo by HaMeD!caL

With June around the corner students around the globe will be graduating from college and making a major decision in their lives: Do I get a corporate job? Or do I choose the path of entrepreneurship and create my own career path?

With my graduation date set for June 14th I have been contemplating the same questions over and over again, and I’ve heard a ton of advice from a ton of different people. I wanted to share some of the best I’ve heard and share the story of what I am planning on doing.
 

Perspective #1

Ben Casnocha who I’ve written about previously paints the two major life philosophies in a very to understand concept. There are 2 life paths one can take:

  1. The textbook path to life
  2. The throw out and write your own textbook path to life

Path #1 - The textbook path to life is a very familiar path, this is the path where you go to college, strive to get good grades, work a few internships, interview with a lot of companies, pick a good stable corporation, continue working the corporate ladder, have a successful life, and be happy.

This is definitely the path of least resistance. The positives are you can work your 9-5 and then after work completely forget about everything related to work and peruse your own interests whether they are partying with friends, traveling to cool places, a hobby, keeping up to date with sports, etc. You work hard during “work time” but your work and life outside of work are kept separate. Life is somewhat predictable, your emotions are easily controllable, and your mind is clear and free of all the worries of work and its much easier to enjoy.

Path #2 - The throw out and write your own textbook path to life is the scary path to life. This is the path where your family and close friends ask what are you doing with your life?! This is the path that has no set rules, no set boundaries, and it is very unique to each person.

This is definitely the path of most resistance. The positives are you can do what you love and express your values & beliefs through the career path you choose. You have the opportunity to make a huge difference and impact to the world but this potential comes at a cost. In this path life unpredictable, your emotions become much harder to control and much more volatile, and the line between work and life can easily become blurry if not cross over completely.

 

Perspective #2

Jun Loayza, a new friend of mine, who I met at UCLA wrote this very intriguing post on the subject:

http://www.junloayza.com/entrepreneurship/entrepreneur-life-vs-corporate-life/

In it he shares his personal experience of corporate life and his transition to the entrepreneurial life. Here are a few things I took away from his post:

  • The corporate life has lower responsibility (there whole team of people who can pick up the slack)
  • The corporate life was comfortable and relaxing
  • The corporate life did not use his talents to the maximum capacity
  • The startup life is a much more riskier proposition
  • The startup life is much more time intensive (Jun works 100+ hours a week)
  • The startup life forces you to push yourself to your limit and take on much more personal responsibility (there is no safety net)
  • The startup life is not better than the corporate life and vice versa, it all depends on what type of person you are and the situation you are in.

 

Perspective #3

The last perspective I want to share comes from Sramana Mitra, who I was recently introduced to through one of my professors Mitch Wolf.

She wrote an interesting post touching on the corporate life vs. entrepreneurial life with the focus group of the top engineering students from one of the worlds top Universities, Stanford.

http://www.sramanamitra.com/2007/03/09/the-path-to-entrepreneurship/

Here are some interesting points I got from the article:

  • Working for a big corporation leads to a narrow skill-set
  • The skills required for entrepreneurship are “frighteningly” wide
  • Working for a startup might be a better preparatory step to working in a corporation
  • Consulting and corporate experience is valuable for a short period of time            

 

My Story

I definitely subscribe the lifestyle of entrepreneurship (hence the name of my blog) much of which has been installed in me though my experiences growing up and especially during college at Cal Poly, check out my About Page for more about these experiences. With graduation coming up in June though I am now finally starting to realize the huge risk I am taking and the amount of work I am going to need to do.

However I think I have finally decided what I want to do (at least after I graduate!) but I can’t release all the info about it now. More details to come soon…

 

What path did you take? How did you make your decision? Share your story in the comment section! 

5 Must Read Resources before Pitching Your Company

with 11 comments

How do I pitch my business to investors, the media, customers, and my friends and family?

It’s a question that’s been asked many times by entrepreneurs so while I’m not a Pro at Pitching Your Business I thought it was time to share a few resources I’ve used on Pitching Your Business Idea or Company.

  1. Perfecting your Pitch by Garage Technology Ventures – This is by far the number one resource I recommend to all the Innovation Quest and Cal Poly Business Plan Competition competitors. This is a very good and comprehensive resource on what content to put in your pitch and tips for effective pitching.
  2. How to Present to Investors by Paul GrahamPaul Graham has literally seen thousands of pitches through his summer incubator Y Combinator and knows a thing or two about pitching your company.
  3. A Hierarchy of Pitches by Eric Ries – Eric is a Venture Advisor at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the premier VC firm in the world. In this article he talks about 8 key questions you need to talk about in your pitch.
  4. Pitching Your Company by Dick CostoloDick Costolo started the company FeedBurner which was bought by Google for $100 million. In this article he talks about how to prepare for your pitch and things to do while pitching.
  5. What should I send investors? Part 1: The Elevator Pitch by Venture HacksVenture Hacks is one of my favorite all around startup/entrepreneurial resources and their article about pitching is no less. In this article Venture Hacks gives a real life example of a pitch by serial entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, dissects his pitch, and shows you how to write a pitch just as good as Marc’s.

6. UPDATE: I just watched this video: Picking Hacks at Stanford by Nivi from Venture Hacks where he gave a talk on pitching startups to the students in Stanford’s business plan competition. Check it out its a great resource and good addition to the list.

Before your next pitch give these pitching resources a try, share your experiences in the comments, and add more pitching resources that you used below!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 60 other followers