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We recently invested in an exciting company called Sympoz. They are searching for a great head of marketing.
Sympoz, based in Denver, was founded in May 2010 by an experienced team. They are growing rapidly, generated over a million dollars in revenue in their first year, and are now looking for an experienced VP of Marketing to join the founders as an integral member of the executive team to lead all aspects of marketing.
If you are interested and think you fit, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I spent the day in Kansas City yesterday at the Kauffman Foundation for my first Startup Weekend board meeting. I’m very stingy with my non-profit board activity after deciding in 2005 to get off any non-profit board that wasn’t focused on entrepreneurship and until yesterday the only non-profit board I’m on is the National Center for Women & Information Technology.
I was at the first Startup Weekend in Boulder in July 2007. It was created by Andrew Hyde (he was the Community Manager for TechStars at the time). While I didn’t stay the entire weekend, my partner Seth Levine and I spent a bunch of time there on Saturday, had a blast, met some new people who became long term friends (my first extended experience with Micah Baldwin where Vosnap was created), and paid for a bunch (all of?) the food, which I recall included a lot of beer, chips, and bagels. In was a completely awesome experience.
Andrew ran about 80 Startup Weekends around the world before selling Startup Weekend to Marc Nager and Clint Nelsen in 2009 who were quickly joined by a third partner Franck Nouyrigat. Marc, Clint, and Franck turned Startup Weekend into a 501c(3), got a bunch of smart people involved as advisors such as David Cohen (TechStars CEO), expanded rapidly, got a grant from the Kauffman Foundation, and are now launching an even broader effort called the Startup Foundation.
My view is that the goals and behavior of Startup Weekend, going back to the very beginning when Andrew Hyde conceived it, are completely aligned with my view that entrepreneurial communities can be created in many places and a key attribute is activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack from aspiring entrepreneurs through experienced entrepreneurs and include all of the various constituencies around the entrepreneurial ecosystem. I saw that in Boulder in July 2007 and I see that when I hear of other people that have participated in Startup Weekends around the world.
I’m psyched to join some other super smart people on the board, which includes Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation; Steve Blank, serial entrepreneur and author; entrepreneurship lecturer at U.C. Berkeley and Stanford University; Greg Gottesman, managing director at Madrona Venture Group; Laura McKnight, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation; and Nick Seguin, manager of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation.
If you’ve never done a Startup Weekend, try one. I bet it changes your life.
I’ve often said that two emotions that are irrelevant for an entrepreneur are fear and anxiety. My favorite quote from Dune is “Fear is the mindkiller” and many people get confused and don’t understand the difference between panic and urgency (where panic is just a more extreme version of anxiety.)
Several weeks ago I spent an evening and a day in Colorado Springs. I participated in a number of entrepreneur-related events, but my favorite was a talk that I gave to a freshman class at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with John Street. John is a long time friend and one of the first entrepreneurs I met when I moved to Boulder (I actually met his wife Mary through YEO’s Birthing of Giants program in 1993 when I was still living in Boston.) In addition to being a good friend, John is a very successful entrepreneur who has had plenty of ups and downs and ups, but has perserved through it all and created several important companies.
The class that we spoke to was a freshman seminar about “Being Your Own Boss.” John and I quickly told our stories and then spent the majority of the time answering questions. One of them was something like “what characteristics have made you successful.”
John went first and stated the two most important things about him were that he is “tenacious” and “oblivious”. Having known John for many years, tenacity defines him. He simply does not give up. While he can appear stubborn, he’s a learning machine, open to any feedback, constantly asking questions – especially when faced with challenges, and searching for better approaches on his quest to solving any problem he encounters. I view this as a perfect example of a tenacious entrepreneur.
I was puzzled by oblivious until John explained it. He said that he’s oblivious to why something can’t be done, or why something is difficult, or why someone doesn’t want something to happen. That made perfect sense to me and is a characteristic of many of the great entrepreneurs I’ve worked with over the years.
I followed up John with my rant on fear and anxiety. I explained that these are normal human emotions that often are helpful, especially when you are in physical duress (fear = fight or flight) or struggling to understand something new or uncertain (anxiety). However, when viewed from a business perspective, my view is that “fear is the mindkiller” and “anxiety slows you down at a moment when you should increase your urgency.”
I added two new thoughts to my view of what makes a great entrepreneur – tenacity and obliviousness. Think of your favorite entrepreneurs – do these apply?
StillSecure has been nailing it in the service provider segment with deals with XO, ViaWest, CoreSite, and others recently. StillSecure fundamentally believes that service providers – telcos, datacenter, cloud providers – will be the channel to market for security solutions and I agree. They have built an amazing set of solutions for colocation and dedicated server environments and have solutions that can apply to some higher-end cloud users. Today they are announcing a new host-based firewall management solution in conjunction with SoftLayer – a leader in the cloud market. Aimed at all cloud users, StillSecure’s new solution is the start of a major initiative for the company and is also a new category of solutions.
As most cloud users know, securing their systems is incredibly hard. The solutions are either just “cloud-washed” products that aren’t a fit or they are so expensive that they cannot fit within the elastic cloud model. StillSecure has taken nearly 12 years of history and experience and have built a product from the ground-up with the cloud users’ customer experience and profile in mind.
The solution, called Cloud SMS, is a free today and will expand into premium offerings very quickly. StillSecure and Cloud SMS are in the SoftLayer Tech Partner Marketplace, being promoted to SoftLayer’s 23,000 customers. The two companies are also beginning to explore offering the complete spectrum of StillSecure’s managed security services into SoftLayer’s broader offerings.
I’m excited for the StillSecure and SoftLayer teams – building a secure cloud is an incredibly important goal and one that many companies can take advantage of. Do yourself a favor – if you have any cloud instances out there, go download StillSecure’s cloud security product and please secure them.