INSIGHTS: Reflections from 101 of Yale's Most Successful Entrepreneurs
by Chris LoPresti
INSIGHTS is currently on tour with Reading Addiction Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt from the book. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
What if you could sit with the founders of successful companies and discover the secrets to their success?
Through INSIGHTS, Chris LoPresti has gathered 101 world-class mentors to share their invaluable experiences for the benefit of every entrepreneur.
INSIGHTS grants you access to some of Yale’s leading entrepreneurs and the key learnings they’ve collected on their own entrepreneurial journeys. From founders of Fortune 500 companies such as FedEx, to the next generation of entrepreneurs like Thiel Fellows, to early investors in Apple, Cisco, Facebook, and other billion dollar startups, INSIGHTS is a collection of the best advice offered by a diverse group of leaders and innovators.
The 101 featured contributors reveal lessons learned the hard way to help you avoid common pitfalls and allow you to lead your company toward more streamlined success. This unique library of knowledge is available to reference as often as you need.
Thinking about starting your own company? Trying to improve your organization? INSIGHTS provides a wealth of information to guide you along your entrepreneurial journey.
The Value of Preparation
by Roger McNamee
Co-Founder, Elevation Partners, Silver Lake Partners, Integral Capital Partners
Co-Founder, The MoonTunes Project, Reverb
EVERY ENTREPRENEUR’S BODY IS COVERED WITH scar tissue from lessons learned. Even the best startups have setbacks, which means that entrepreneurship is a test of the ability to recover gracefully from mistakes. Entrepreneurs who learn from the experience of others before they start making their own mistakes have a huge advantage.
One major factor in the success of my startups has been preparation. I am a cautious entrepreneur and typically devote at least a year to studying each opportunity before I pursue it. My goal is to be THE domain expert in the field. Almost every startup must find a way to neutralize the advantages of established companies; sometimes the established companies commit suicide, but more often they adapt to new threats.
Preparation doesn’t allow entrepreneurs to predict the future, but it does allow them to anticipate the key challenges and be ready for them. This level of preparation has a cost in terms of time, but that is trivial in comparison to the benefits of sidestepping half-baked ideas.
Many entrepreneurs discount the value of preparation in disruptive technology startups on the theory that if you are inventing a new world, you are better off approaching it unfettered by preconceptions. Some investors have stopped backing companies with experienced teams, believing that disruptive change comes most often from first-time entrepreneurs. That was certainly true with Microsoft, Oracle, Google, and Facebook, but the other side of the ledger includes tens of thousands of companies that crashed and burned because of inexperience.
What is the best way to begin an entrepreneurial project? If you are not a domain expert, become one before you start. Domain expertise gives you an edge in identifying product or business model changes that customers will value. It also enables you to “make new mistakes,” rather than repeating ones that have been made by others. Once you identify your opportunity, then you have to figure out whether or not you are capable of executing the strategy. This requires self-awareness, which is not as widely distributed in the entrepreneurial population as one would hope. At this early stage, uncertainty has value, as it provides an incentive for greater preparation.
Then comes the moment of truth. You’ve got your idea; you have a plan for making it happen. Should you do it? My rule of thumb is to sleep on it for a few nights. When you awake, if you can’t imagine doing anything else, then you are good to go. If you can imagine anything at all that you would rather do, bail out from the startup. It’s not the right thing for you. Remember that startups are harder to unwind than a marriage. If you make the wrong choice, you will be stuck with it longer than you would like.
Praise for the Book
This book has an amazing 46 customer reviews, all of which are 5-star. Here is a small sample:
"Fairly new to the entrepreneurship book world, but glad I was referred to this book by a friend. Great tips, great insight, and a great read for those trying to get into this business sector, or new to it!" ~ Michael Chananie
"I bought this book expecting it to be the same old, same old entrepreneur book. Not the case at all. Learning from successful entrepreneurs from a wide range of fields opened my eyes to mistakes I have made and didn’t know it, and mistakes I was bound to make had I not read the book. Such a great read I could not put it down. I wish I had been able to read it sooner in life. INSIGHTS is a must read for not only entrepreneurs, but all people in the business world." ~ JHO
"Outstanding... This is a fun and insightful look at entrepreneurship from 101 different angles. It's an anthology for seasoned and aspiring entrepreneurs alike. Many of the contributors have written their own books on the subject yet offer new insights here, especially when strung together seamlessly by Mr. LoPresti. I wish I had read this before I launched my own startup, which is no longer in business... I'm looking forward to the hardcopy version since this would make a great gift." ~ Patrick Cascarano
"As a founder of an early-stage company myself, I found this book extremely helpful. Taking a look at the thoughts and experiences of multiple entrepreneurs far and above trumps and individual opinion on the keys to success. Finding the right 'formula' is tough and INSIGHTS does a great job of aggregating an abundance of valuable real-life experience. Would recommended it to anyone who has started or is starting their own company." ~ daniel folkman
"I was recommended this book by a friend and thoroughly enjoyed it! It was a quick read while still being able to take away learn valuable lessons about the business world. The contributor's passages contained advice that I found to be very valuable and I will being passing the book along to many of my friends in the business world!" ~ Claris Leigh
From the Author
This book was created to bring together a community of people to share their knowledge and pay forward the help they've received throughout their individual careers. All 101 entrepreneurs volunteered their advice and experiences in this book, and at many other times in their lives, they have offered their insights for free. They all share a common desire to support entrepreneurs of every type.
The proceeds from INSIGHTS will go to ELIS Inc., a registered 501c3 organization created by some of the entrepreneurs in this book. The purpose of the nonprofit is to help future entrepreneurs, leaders, and innovators gain access to resources - both mentors and money.
Your contribution, by either making a direct donation or by buying this book, will help foster the next great organizations and businesses.
About the Author
Chris LoPresti is the Founder of TouchPoints, a consumer data technology company that helps brands connect with their community. LoPresti is also the founder and chairman of ELIS Inc., a nonprofit focused on promoting STEM education and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs. In addition to his work with next-gen doers at ELIS Inc., LoPresti is a member of the Thousand Network, a coach at The Future Project, a member of the NationSwell Council, and a proud Eagle Scout. He has a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University.