Stanford Technologies Ventures Program

 My notes on the 2004 Guy Kawasaki video lectures.

Make meaning in your company

Companies that succeed are those that make meaning. If you set out to make money you probably won’t succeed.

Key motivations to start a great organization:

  • Increase the quality of life
  • Right a wrong
  • Prevent the end of something good

Don’t write a mission statement

Make a mantra – three or four words that capture the essence of your organization.

Wendy’s “healthy fast food”
FedeEx “Peace of mind”
Nike “Authentic athletic performance”
Mary Kay “Enriching women’s lives”
Kawasaki “Empowering entrepreneurs”

Dilbert mission statement generator website for mission statements.

Get up and get going

Think different, build the product/service that you love.
The best source of entrepreneurial spirit are people under 30 years old and solving a personal problem.
Think different.

Do not be afraid to polarize people. Ideally some people love your product, some people hate your product.

Find a few soul mates. When one person is down, you need the other person to pick you up and help you. Keep you warm.

The new business model

A specific person. Not “we’ll capture millions of eyeballs”. Not “enterprise software”, but “what size, who, and what they do”.

Keep it simple. We want innovate products/technologies.
Fundamentally, you make something, you sell it, you make money — that’s the model a VC can handle.

Ask women. Men has the “killer gene”. Start company to kill another company. Men are predisposed to want to kill things. Women don’t have this predisposition. Don’t waste your time asking men.

Weave a MAT and Outline your Priorities


When you have a startup, you get a pure virgin startup. But it also means your priorities can get whacked out.

  • Milestones — “honey we shipped today” and not “honey we bought furniture” or “we filed a patent”
    • Assumptions — Write down your assumptions; how much cost etc.
    • Task — rent an office because

Know thyself and niche thyself

The holy grail of product marketing and sales is to position yourself into providing a high value to customer and have a unique ability to provide it.

Make a great Pitch

10-20-30 rule

10 slides:
title, problem, solution, business model, magic, marketing and sales, competition, team, projections, status and timeline

purpose of the pitch is to get to the next level

20 minutes.

30 point font is the smallest font you should use.

Hire infected people

People that love the product/service is more important than a good education/experience. This is contrary to what VCs want to hear.

Hire people better than you. Otherwise a Bozo explosion happens.

Regarding hiring people: If you don’t feel compelled to run over and say hello to the interviewee, you probably shouldn’t hire them.

Lower the barriers to adaptation

Flatten the learning curve.
Don’t ask people to do something you wouldn’t do.
For startups, recruit evangelists — bringers of good news to humanity.

Seed the clouds and watch the sales grow

Fix for people who are buying, go for believers, forget the atheists.
Enable test drives.

Be a mensch

A yeddish word for someone who is admired, trusted, worded, sought, saint.

How to be a mensch:

  • Help people who cannot help you. Not motivated by power; helps people for sheer pleasure of helping people. Good test to see a mensch is watch how they treat waiters. Be a good human being. Be humble to everyone.
  • Do the right thing, the right way. Moral.
  • Desire to pay back to society.

Funding choices

Too much money is worse than too little.
But if you do have money, save it rather than spend it.

How do you find evangelists

If you have a compelling service, evangelists find you.
Create something great. Whatever is gold, Guy touches (Guy Kawasaki is an evangelist). Not whatever Guy touches turns to gold. If you build it, they will come.

How do you find soul mates

Known long enough to be sure. If necessary, do what’s the best for the company.

The career path to becoming a venture capitalist or an entrepreneur

Either go to work for a large company or tech startup.
Get hands on experience. As an entrepreneur, learn how hard it is to sell stuff.

Morgan Stanley disease: don’t be an investment banker. Don’t be a venture capitalist. Worst case scenario is to be working in the investment banking industry and impress people with your status of working for Morgan Stanley. Which leads to you (falsely) thinking that you know how stuff works. Then consequently giving entrepreneur advice to a younger generation. Absolutely worst.
Don’t start your career as an investment banker. It’ll give you the disease and make you think you know everything. Instead, you should start with something fundamental, an actual job in a big company or a tech startup.

Go to work for a startup. It’ll be good experience.

Correlation and causation. Don’t get them mixed up. In a tornado even a turkey can fly.

Experience is overrated

Stereotypical VC looks for 20’s in engineering curriculum in stanford/mit/carnegie mellon. The first few employees are clueless.
You should startup when young, because you don’t know how hard it is. Ignorance is bliss.
“I am too smart to do something that hard [like creating a company]” – Kawasaki
Great companies are from people who don’t know how hard it is. Because if you knew, you wouldn’t do it.

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