I was so impressed last night with the vitality I saw in downtown Oakland at the DBL Investors hosted event, StartUpOakland! Not only was The Den at the Fox Theater packed beyond capacity, but the surrounding restaurants and watering holes looked equally alive with people willing to get out and pump up the economy on a tepid fall evening in Oakland, California.
Seth Miller did a great job kicking off the evening, somehow navigating the lack of light on stage to thank all the sponsors (thanks for the shout out for SVB). Oakland’s Mayor Jean Quan thanked the crowd for the support of Oakland, and outlined some of the things that they’re doing to attract entreprenuers. Nancy Pfund, Managing Partner at DBL Investors, did a great job moderating the panel of Oakland based companies (they all just happen to be DBL investments as well).
- Pandora President and CEO Joe Kennedy
- BrightSource Energy President and CEO John Woolard
- Revolution Foods Co-Founder and CEO Kristin Groos
- Livescribe Chairman and CEO Jim Marggraff
- Ecologic Founder and CEO Julie Corbett
I pulled a number of great sound bytes from the evening as I stood in back by the bar, listening to these venture-backed luminaries discuss entrepreneurship and starting a company.
Proof of concept is THE most important thing you can do early on at a start-up.
Constantly cultivate your relationships with the investor community, even with those that may have turned you down. Keep them informed of your on-going progress.
Find an investor that matches your value system and beliefs. Ultimately, the decision to invest in you and your idea will be an emotional decision for them, so it’ll be best if you’re on the same page at the outset.
Have a high tolerance for ambiguity, and be willing to make a decision with conviction, event without perfect information.
It’s important to understand your competition, but more important to just focus on being the best in the world at what you do.
Every entrepreneur gives up the right to complain once they take someone else’s money.
Take the words “can’t” and “impossible” out of your vocabulary.
Are you a missionary or a mercenary? Missionaries tend to succeed as entrepreneurs much more than the mercenaries who are typically just in it for the money.
There are many more great sound bytes by people on Twitter. Just search #StartUpOakland and find great people like @susanmernit, @BlakeLandau, @etsaii, and @toddlash who were there and shared some great insights as well.