PALO ALTO, Calif. — In a sold-out conference room, software developers and entrepreneurs alike bob amongst one another, stopping to smile at unfamiliar faces and reach out for handshakes. In this arena, business cards change hands like cash; here, where the entrepreneurial spirit runs high, they might as well be.
The Silicon Valley Chinese Engineers Association teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce International Consortium for Entrepreneurs and the Chinese Software Professionals Association on June 17 to host “The Art of the Start,” a presentation by Guy Kawasaki, renowned Macintosh evangelist, business author, a founder of Garage Technology Ventures, and creator of Alltop.com and Truemors.com.
The Palo Alto branch of SAP Labs LLC, a leading enterprise software vendor, housed the event, the sixth of the Silicon Valley Chinese Engineers Association’s nine-lecture series on entrepreneurship.
“We wanted (Kawasaki) to bring some influence to the community, really influence (our members) to think outside the box,” said Wendy Wei Liang, executive vice president of the volunteer-run Chinese Engineers Association.
Kawasaki, confident, casually dressed and armed with a perpetual smile, upheld his reputation as an engaging public speaker to an audience of over 100 individuals. He shared advice based on his book, The Art of the Start, alongside unabashedly endorsing Macintosh.
“Windows always creates problems,” Kawasaki said to applause as the venue’s large windows initially made it difficult to view his PowerPoint.
Hailing from Honolulu, Hawai‘i, Kawasaki moved to the mainland United States to acquire a Bachelor of Arts in psychology at Stanford University. He later earned an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently, Kawasaki is the managing director of Garage Technology Ventures and is promoting Alltop.com, an aggregate news site that allows easy access to a diverse array of top news stories.
Though he identifies as Asian American “when it’s useful,” Kawasaki doesn’t bear any crosses. “If anything,” he stated, “I think that Asian Americans are assumed to be smarter and harder working than we may be!”
As shown by the many hopeful entrepreneurs and fans that rushed to speak with him afterward, Kawasaki was met with the utmost respect and enthusiasm.
“I plan on incorporating all of his rules in my future ventures. The immediate take away was his 10/20/30 rule. So many tech presentations … could benefit from (it). … I’m glad to have a guide like Guy in the jungle of Silicon Valley,” said James Guanzon, development architect at SAP.
“The Art of the Start … is the most valuable book in today’s time for entrepreneurs,” said Sara Rauchwerger, founder of the Chamber of Commerce International Consortium for Entrepreneurs.
The Chamber of Commerce International Consortium for Entrepreneurs encourages entrepreneurship in a cross-cultural, technology-centric environment. Both the Silicon Valley Chinese Engineers Association and the Chinese Software Professionals Association were originally formed to serve Chinese professionals. Today, both groups serve members from all different backgrounds.
“We continue to drive these kinds of events. We want to provide a platform (where our members can) network with peers and communicate with industry leaders,” Wendy Wei Liang said.
‘The Art of the Start’
10 tips (plus one)
for anyone starting
1. Make meaning.
» Create the next curve; don’t improve on sameness.
2. Create a mantra.
» Mission statements are too broad and boring.
» Keep it two to four words max.
» i.e. Target: “Democratizing Design”
3. Get going.
» Don’t be afraid to polarize people.
» Create something that people either love or hate.
» Find a few soul mates.
» A minimum of three: someone to build, someone to sell and someone to collect
4. Define a business model.
» Be specific.
» Know who your customer is and how you are going to get your money out of her purse.
» Keep it simple.
» Ask women, never men. Men have a fundamental flaw: We want to kill things. A man will always say it’s a
5. Weave a MAT (milestones, assumptions, tasks).
» Have four to five milestones.
» Test assumptions.
» Take care of the tasks that support the above two.
6. Create a niche.
» Provide a unique product that is very valuable to the customer.
7. Follow the 10/20/30 rule.
» Ten slides, 20 minutes, 30-point font (or just divide the age of the oldest member of the audience by two)
8. Hire infected people.
» Look past the “perfect” candidate.
» Only hire someone you would enthusiastically run up to if you saw them from a distance.
» Hire better than yourself.
9. Lower the barriers to adoption.
» Make things easy for the customer.
» Never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do.
» Embrace your evangelists.
10. Seed the clouds.
» Sales fix everything.
» If unexpected consumers buy your product, take the money!
» Ask “Why are you buying?” instead of trying to fix your product.
» Enable a test drive.
» Find the true influences (hint: The air gets thinner as you go up).
11. Don’t let bozos grind you down.
» Dangerous bozo: someone who is so successful on one curve that they can’t embrace the next.