I’m happy to provide this guest post from Intel Insider Frank Gruber. Frank is an entrepreneur and founder of the media company
@techcocktail, the startup @shinyheart, and creator of @thankfulfor &
Thinking this could be the
year you let your entrepreneurial juices run wild? Then I think you might be on
to something. I was pleased to attend IDF this year, for the first time, in San
Francisco. During the conference week, I hosted a Tech Cocktail SF startup and entrepreneurial mixer event that showcased ten early-stage
startups in the San Francisco area. The event looked to also connect them with
the investor community – a number of angel investors, super angels and even
some classic VC’s came out in force along with close to three hundred other
tech enthusiasts, innovators, social media enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. This
was just one of the dozen plus similar Tech Cocktail mixers we held this year
around the country, which showcased many startups and even helped to get one, GameSalad,
an angel check on the spot.
Why is right now such a
good time to start a business?
1. You cannot change the
world with your innovation by sitting on the sidelines thinking about it, yet
watching the days go by.
2. The unemployment rate of
9.6% in Sep 2010, which means there are a lot of people out of work or open to
other opportunities. As an entrepreneur, there are people available who you
might not normally be able to work with in an upturn economy.
3. For many people, starting
and running your own business offers a greater potential for a
larger financial upside than working for someone else. Of course, this is not
true for everyone and every situation, but most day jobs are pretty limited in
terms of financial growth and opportunity. Your own independent business may
offer much more potential.
4. Finally, there is never a
bad time to start because if you don’t start you’ll never be able to follow
your passion and start living your dream. Don’t wait to find what
you think are the perfect conditions. Typically, they don’t exist.
So where do you start?
There are a number of ways
and places to get started depending on where you’re at.
- First, start looking for
things you think could be improved in your world. Solving problems is probably
the best way to come up with a new business idea. If you are looking to create
a technology, mobile or web product, then you should keep tabs on the latest
products and services out there by reading sites like Tech Cocktail, GigaOm,
TechCrunch, Read Write Web, Mashable and The Next Web to keep up to speed on
the latest trends. This will help you to see holes in the market before others
do, so you can create a product to fill the void.
- Second, consider attending a
startup bootcamp of some sort. There are a number of them out there, such as
Stanford Startup School, which was just last week. Tech Cocktail is also
hosting one, called Startup Mixology, in Chicago on October 28 where speakers (entrepreneurs,
investors, professionals) will break down the various aspects of starting and
running a business. There are also a number of startup incubator and
accelerator programs, like TechStars, Y Combinator, Excelerate Labs and more. The
idea here is to learn from the pros and to find mentors that will help you
along the way.
- Third, hang out with other
entrepreneurs. Look around your community and find the meetups where you’re
likely to meet others. Tech Cocktail and a few other organizations have hosted
entrepreneurial mixer events for years – offering an opportunity to meet and
network with like-minded folks, and in the case of Tech Cocktail’s startup
mixers get inspired by other local startups who are showing off their latest innovations.
- Finally, just dive in. You
will never be perfectly prepared to startup, so my best advice is to start
tinkering with some product ideas. Keep it simple and small, then see what
takes off. If you see traction with one particular product or idea then go with
it. There is no better education than real-life experience. This means making
mistakes – embrace the failures because it means you’re learning something.
Failures are ok, as long as you learn from them and never give up.
With that, I hope to see you in three to six months with a working prototype, ready to demo as a featured startup at a Tech Cocktail startup mixer event.