Critical tips from today’s news
Entrepreneurs who helped build their startups into tech stalwarts—companies like Cisco, Oracle, and Google—share lessons on how to thrive during tough times
December 1987 was no time to be raising money for a startup. Computer engineer Len Bosack was trying to attract funding for a young enterprise called Cisco Systems (CSCO). But the stock market had just crashed and the Dow Jones industrial average had plummeted 40% since October. Gun-shy venture capitalists either didn’t get the newfangled technology or deemed it too risky.
Making matters worse, Bosack was running low on the savings he had used to bootstrap the business, and competition was gaining steam. It wasn’t until this 75th meeting that he found a receptive audience. The willing financier was Donald Valentine of Sequoia Capital, a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. On Dec. 14, two months after Black Monday, Sequoia invested $2.5 million in Cisco. “Valentine’s reasoning was pretty simple,” recalls Bosack, now CEO of telecom gear-maker XKL. “It doesn’t matter what they are. They are selling stuff in a bad market. With a little bit of capital and more experienced help they should be able to do better.”
Better is just what Cisco did. By the time of its initial share sale three years later, in February 1990—during a recession—the maker of telecom networking equipment was worth $224 million. Within a decade, Cisco Systems had become one of the world’s most valuable companies. …more at Startups in a Dowturn | Business Week, published 23 February 2009.
Flickr photo credit: Powru
Veterans-turned-entrepreneurs offer advice
After 13 years in the Marine Corps, Brian Iglesias was ready to embark on a dream career in filmmaking. Prepared to pay his dues, he worked the phones, sent e-mails, and paid visits. But all he ran into were dead ends. “Not too long ago I was leading over 225 Marines in landslide relief operations in the Philippines,” he says. But “I had to beg people to let me intern. Only my friends were willing to give me work.”
Frustrated, Iglesias decided to start his own company and turned to one of a growing number of programs that help soldiers become entrepreneurs. He enrolled in the intensive 14-month Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (Iglesias has a metal plate fused in his neck), offered for free to service-disabled veterans at Syracuse, Florida State, UCLA, Texas A&M, and Purdue. Started by James M. Haynie, an Air Force vet turned business school professor …more at What I Learned in the Trenches – BusinessWeek, published on 10 February 2009.
Flickr photo credit: stroopwafels
When big initial costs make it hard to start your business, look further into the figures—they may not be as scary as they seem
As a startup wedding and event photographer, I made a list of all everything I need to purchase for my business, and it literally scared me. Between investing in equipment, software, Web site design, and advertising, my projected income is much less than my necessary expenses for this company. Photography has been my life’s passion, and I really want to succeed. Is there any advice you can offer me? —M.M., Chicago
Fear often stems from lack of understanding. Delving into the financial details of your venture should clear up your confusion and give you confidence to proceed—or perhaps persuade you that your business model is flawed and needs to be overhauled or scrapped.
You’ll need to consider both your startup expenditures and your operating costs, since the latter will help determine how quickly you can pay back the former. There are many ways to save on startup costs …Cutting Startup Costs – BusinessWeek, published 10 February 2009.
Flickr photo credit: tk yeoh