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I think the best way for entrepreneurs – especially first time or aspiring ones – to learn is to hear stories from other entrepreneurs. That was one of the motivations for David Cohen and I to write Do More Faster.
There are two such stories in Westword Denver this week. Both are companies I’ve been involved in that have gone through the TechStars program in Boulder. And both are rich in content.
The first one is about Next Big Sound and is titled Fueled by venture-capital funding and a love for unknown bands, can Boulder’s Next Big Sound predict the next rock star? My partner Jason Mendelson was Next Big Sound’s mentor during the TechStars Boulder 2009 program and led the investment in Next Big Sound shortly after the program ended. In addition to the story of the origins of Next Big Sound, there is a great discussion of TechStars and how it contributes to the Boulder entrepreneurial community. While the article is unrelated to Do More Faster, the CEO of Next Big Sound (Alex White) has several chapters in the book that address similar topics to those in the article.
The second one is about EventVue and is titled TechStars post-mortem: Could Boulder startup Next Big Sound suffer same fate as EventVue? EventVue went through the TechStars Boulder 2007 program (the inaugural year), raised an angel round (which I participated in) but never really got lift off. The founders Rob Johnson and Josh Fraser shut the company down in February and wrote a brilliant post-mortem which was republished in this post. Rob also contributed a chapter to Do More Faster which included this post-mortem by him and Josh along with a lot of additional commentary on what they learned.
When I ponder where / when I learn the most about entrepreneurship, it is when real entrepreneurs tell their very specific stories. Success stories are nice, but failure stories, and all of the ups and downs that occur along the way, are the real winners. Yesterday at Liberty NetLeaders the attendees had a treat as Mark Pincus spent an hour talking about his entrepreneurial experiences and the last night at the Boulder Esprit Awards (where David Cohen and I got an award for co-founding TechStars) there was more storytelling. And on Monday I’m going to interview Greg Maffei and Michael Zeisser of Liberty Media for Entrepreneurs Unplugged.
I never get tired of talking to entrepreneurs. I learn something new every time, and every story makes me a better investor.