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Fred Wilson: Starting Up Just to Start Up Isn't a Good Idea

...And seven other pearls of wisdom from this famed investor.
Fred Wilson

Despite being a Wharton and MIT guy, my friend Fred Wilson has been kind enough to attend my class at HBS for the last few years.  Yesterday was another terrific one.

Instead of a final exam, I assign my students the task of blogging. You can see the the class blog here, where the students wrestle with the limitations of the lean methodology, challenges in seeking product-market fit, premature scaling, and other important startup topics.

I encouraged the students to live tweet the class and it was a huge success.  You can see the Twitter stream from the class here.  A few highlights/quotes that I thought were particularly salient:

  • "It’s a lot better to fail with professional investors’ money than with friends and family money. We’re used to losing money."
  • "Don't let your own reality distortion field convince you, as a founder, that you've hit product market fit."
  • "As an entrepreneur, stay a 'free agent' as long as possible." (i.e. don't pick a VC  partner too early in your lifecycle--Union Square and Flybridge aside...)
  • "[When pitching investors,] focus on the big vision, how you will be the market leader in 10 years, don't get stuck in the operational details."
  • On career choices: "You'll learn more doing your own start-up [versus joining someone else's]. But doing a start-up for the sake of doing a start-up isn't a good idea."
  • "VCs look for passionate, authentic founders who actually believe they can defy gravity." (I think this was me but Fred seemed to agree)
  • "There's value in having a founding team with a crazy person with vision alongside a co-founder grounded in logic and analytics."

Thanks again to Fred for coming out and helping make a memorable class experience.


Last updated: Feb 28, 2013

JEFF BUSSGANG | Columnist | General Partner, Flybridge Capital Partners

Jeff is a general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners, which focuses on consumer, Internet commerce, marketing services, software, and mobile start-ups. He's the author of Mastering the VC Game, and the blog Seeing Both Sides.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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