August 20, 2010. Day 2, Inspire: The GROW Conference will provide inspiration for turning today's entrepreneurs into tomorrow's leaders. Speakers include founders of fast-growing companies, leading investors and influencers who will share lessons learned.
(For first quarter coverage, click here.)
Second quarter of Day 2
10:06 AM - The second presentation begins. It's a two-parter called "The New Business of Angel Investment" and "PowerPoint Karaoke."
PowerPoint Karaoke starts it off: teams of two are giving completely blind powerpoint slides and must improvise a presentation to stiff-nosed VCs, explaining their fictional business. The first powerpoint is for Chicken Chicken Inc., an "egg-citing" presentation by Dave McClure and Jeff Clavier of SotfTech VC, and they did a good job for "winging it." (Puns thanks to Cathy Brooks, who was at the helm of this karaoke.) The second business is AmishR, a social network aimed at connecting the Amish. Another hilarious and bizarre presentation, this one by Rob Hayes of First Round Capital and Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures.
10:28 AM - Karaoke ends, and angel investing discussion begins. How to get a VC's attention? Pre-establish a common connection with them, if not multiple. Ideal team sizes are just two to three people—if three people can't accomplish their goal in three months, it's probably not worth pursuing. And ideally these founding partners have worked together long before this venture. The panel of VCs also mentioned how often they invest: anywhere from once per quarter, to once per month, to once per week. Hot sectors for them? The answer was diverse: Family and education was mentioned, as well wireless and financial tech.
Break time comes late. Lounge on some stylish, comfy seats. (Photo credit: Knowlton Thomas)
11:19 AM - Leonard Brody begins his presentation behind schedule. It's called "365 Days From Now," supposed to foresight your next year as an entrepreneur, but ends up being quite different: he highlights focal points of his past two decades as an entrepreneur, and the key lessons he has learned. For a last-minute switch-up, the presentation is solid through and through: He talks about how 200 years, from 1745 to 1945, were compressed into the past 17 years—in terms of recessions, wars, and industrial/technological shifts.
Brody emphasis that humans are fundamentally different than just a decade ago, and that companies should ever attempt to force humans out of their habits or behaviour, because they won't budge. He also goes over how we must all bullshit now and again—like how his old office of milk crates and wooden boards was bullshitted by cutting a deal with the furniture shop beneath, where he rush furniture upstairs for a meeting with partners, then rush it back down after.
Brody always advises not to look at VC as an investment or a fund, but rather a marriage and business partnership. And he suggests not aiming for the $1 billion company, but rather the $50 million company—the principles are the same, but $50 million comes first. His most important lesson is that no matter how successful you are, people will call you an idiot.
Pioneer the execution, not the idea.