Last Thursday, November 17, I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Guy Kawasaki. The presentation was part of the Belmont Fall Leadership Breakfast.
Guy Kawasaki is an influential figure in technology evangelism. He has spent two tours of duty at Apple and both times was responsible for maintaining the "Cult of Mac." His expertise lies in creating excitement and maintaining excitement for products and brands. In short, he is a marketing guru. Guy is also a venture capitalist and the author of over 10 books.
Guy's presentation was entitled, "The Art of the Start." Having recently dipped my toe in the entrepreneurial pond I was excited to hear his insights and advice. Here's a rough overview of some of the topics he discussed, as well as my thoughts.
Guy also recommended everyone in the room watch the Justin Bieber movie "Never Say Never." Strange advice, right? Well, according to Guy it is hands-down the best movie on modern day marketing he's ever seen. That was enough of an endorsement for me to drink the Kool Aid. I'll be looking for that movie next time I'm at a RedBox.
Another point Guy made really resonated with me. Kate O'Neill, a local entrepreneur here in Nashville, asked Guy for his perspective on how to develop a strong entrepreneurial and tech-centric startup community. His response? Focus on the engineering departments at the local universities. Engineering departments kick out a lot of great ideas and a lot of individuals capable of bringing those ideas to life. His opinion is that the engineering department at Stanford is a big reason for the overall success of Silicon Valley. I agree.
When asked about competition, Guy said that near death experiences are great. Further, when presenting your company to investors and/or customers always show a slide that highlights not only your strengths in comparison to the existing competition, but also where you are weak. Show what you can and cannot do, but most importantly, show what you can do well that your competition can't do.
Finally, when pressed on raising venture capital Guy bluntly advised that you should never raise VC money. It's a niche market for an extremely small number of companies. The most important thing you can concern yourself with is generating sales.
If you're interested in checking out a similar presentation, I found a video and accompanying slide deck for a similar "The Art of the Start" presentation Guy gave several years ago. See below for details: