The Techstars co-founder and serial entrepreneur doles out advice on how to test the market, prepare the team--and double the talent pool.
As told to Scott Gerber.
Are we in a golden age of entrepreneurship?
It seems like it. We're seeing huge numbers of startup companies launch today, and I think we owe that to The Social Network and other pop culture takes that make it look so easy and so fun.
Do people underestimate what it takes to succeed?
It's easy to stereotype about "wannapreneurs" and to say, "You know, you're not really an entrepreneur," but who are we to judge? If you want to take that risk and go for it, we should all be supportive of that. Not everyone is going to be successful, but that's OK.
What does it take to succeed?
The two big startup killers are when there's just no market for what you are doing, and team problems. The first is very preventable: Do some lean startup testing, get in front of customers, and see the response. The other often stems from not thinking about potential problems up front, like what happens if one person leaves. Talk about them and, ideally, write things down.
The "war for talent" is raging fiercely among tech companies and startups. Where can we find more qualified people?
There's one great way to double the talent pool: Get more women doing it. There just aren't enough women in the tech disciplines today. We need to encourage them from a young age, by making sure they have heroes to look up to, so they can say, "Wow, look at this company that was founded by this great woman." More role models will really help.
What's some of the worst advice that's given to entrepreneurs?
Aspiring entrepreneurs are often advised to work at a startup for a couple of years first, to understand what's involved. But often each company's approach to success is very narrow. So my advice is "Just do it." If you have passion, a great team, and a great network around you, this is a great time to go for it.