What Entrepreneurs Learn From Failure: “F-UP, Get UP, Keep GOING”

Hey everyone. I’m fired up to share this new project with you. I recruited a stellar team and were about to kick things off.

What do you think the project is all about? You guessed it. Failure – something that I’ve done a lot of as an entrepreneur and I’m sure you have too. And let me tell you, you learn a hell of a lot more from your failures than you do your successes.

It started back when I raced motocross and I would get all busted up from crashing – if you weren’t crashing you weren’t going fast. And after you crashed, you got right back up and kept going. My dad always said, “Son, you can’t stay down long or people are going to rip past you.” The key is getting right back up and jumping back in to the race.

Sometimes it got to the point of breaking bones – about 15 for me. Then I had to stand on the sidelines, but It gave me a chance to think about what I did wrong and how far and fast I could really go. The point is I never would have learned if I didn’t push things to the point of crashing and breaking bones.

The same thing happened when I jumped into startups and entrepreneurship – I got my ass kicked, fell down, and learned the hard way.

One failure in particular happened a few years ago when I one day woke up drowning in debt and stupid decisions. I had built a company and positioned myself inside the company managing the day to day – what a mistake. I quickly learned that entrepreneurs make sucky managers.

What was supposed to be one thing quickly morphed into a battle that ended up pretty badly. I wanted to build tech products, but instead ended building a damn agency that grew too big, too fast and then the economy fell apart; that ended the battle.

What I should have done early on was hire a manager or CEO and I could have moved onto my next startups. I didn’t. Instead, I tried managing it and the thing blew up in my face.

This failure (It was kind of a big one) destroyed relationships; destroyed my finances and left me pretty beat up for awhile. It also forced me to file for personal and business bankruptcy, costing me some three-quarters of a million dollars. A hard lesson, but a good lesson that has made me stronger and defined me as an entrepreneur.

I learned several pretty hard lessons. I learned what I was good at, I learned what I was bad at, and I learned who and what I needed to win the game.  Most of all, I learned that you better be one tough bastard if you want to play this game.

Right now I have five start-ups that I am a part of – you can read more about all them by going here.

And this project, “F-Up, Get Up, Keep Going.” We don’t know exactly what this project will become, but we do know that if we start by sharing great stories it will turn into something pretty awesome. But we can’t do anything without your help. We need you to share your stories of failure. What you learned from the path of fucking up, getting up, and continuing to push forward – we know you have great stories. Send those to us in video, audio or text at danny at dannybeckettjr dot com.

Together we’ll share stories and teach other entrepreneurs how to build and run great start-ups.

Let’s do this thing.

 

Kicking off the Startup America Summit in Boulder, CO

Happy Monday! The Startup America Partnership Summit kicks off today here in Boulder, CO and I’m ready to meetup with some rock star entrepreneurs.

Boulder is a beautiful place, and it’s one of the leading startup communities with Techstars, the Foundry Group, and others.

Over a hundred or so entrepreneurial leaders from 27 regions (I represent the CA region as one of the leaders) in the US will gather for two days to talk startups and startup communities.

How awesome is that, right? Two days filled with startup talk and what we can do to build and support more high growth startups/communities. Where do I sign?

If you’re wondering what Startup America is, Startup America is a growing national movement of entrepreneurs and resources providing startups access to the things they need to grow and produce jobs.

The movement launched at the White House in early 2011. The AOL co-founder Steve Case chairs the Partnership and the kauffman and Case Foundations are its founding partners.  American Airlines, American Express OPEN, Dell Inc., Intuit Inc., Microsoft and NYSE Euronext are just some of the corporate sponsors that have already jumped on board as well.

Yeah, it’s pretty awesome! And, you should for sure sign up. Does it cost money? Nope. It’s free. It’s a no cost program with a ton of benefits. And, if anything, being a part of this organization will help you connect with some pretty cool people who can help you grow your company.

I will share my thoughts and what I learned later in the week.

Have a great week!

 

Quote: Brad Feld

It’s not about having a Silicon Valley attitude—it’s about having an entrepreneurial attitude.  It’s about partnering with other organizations in and around your area.  It’s about thinking big with entrepreneurs that sit next to you in your coworking space.  It’s about collaborating with tech gurus, social media wizards and community leaders at cool business events.  It’s the people that make a community an entrepreneurial one—not the location—and it’s up to you to contribute.

Dollar Shave Club: Viral Video Done Right

I say we give the Dollar Shave Club promo video a huge round of applause. This is brilliant in my mind. Great work guys! Super funny. If you haven’t watched this yet, you need too.

Dollar Shave Club is a startup company that provides monthly delivery service for razors that has raised a good amount of VC money because of this video. I don’t know the exact numbers. Anyways, they got the attention of large VC’s like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Forerunner Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz – all great companies to have behind your startup.

We’ve all seen startup videos, right? But, not ones like this. If you want to seriously see cleverness at it’s best, then take a look at this video.

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What about you? 

What are your thoughts on the video?

 

Building a startup ecosystem that could be a game changer

I believe that if we were to connect students, young adults, and great mentors/business leaders in an intergenerational capacity (where everyone is learning, stretching, and growing) we could change the game in terms of building startup ecosystems that have the potential to change the world.

Think about this. Could we build more great entrepreneurs if we were to expose them to startups at a younger age (I’m talking middle school and high school students)? And what if they had the opportunity to team up (In a mentoring capacity) and hear, learn, and be inspired by other great entrepreneurs? Do you think they would want a job after that? Some, but not all.

We wait too long today and by the time we reach them, they are gone. We lost them to a society where they teach you to go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, have some kids, and buy a dog…and you will live happily ever after. Parents are teaching this shit, teachers are teaching this shit, I mean, the only one not teaching this is entrepreneurs.

I say NO, start a company, take some risks, fail, have fun, build and do something that you love. Start over again. Build a great story. Break away from the norm.

We need to expose the youth at an early stage to startups and mentors so that they can become inspired to build the next great startups.

When I say the word “intergenerational”, It essentially means “adults mentoring students and students mentoring adults.” Think of all the things we are NOT learning when we don’t engage a program like this. Incubators are doing this to build great companies right now. Why are we not starting earlier?

The reality is, our world is divided by age – like it or not. In business, leadership, church, etc.

For decades, people have talked about how to bridge the gap between the younger generation and the older generation. Lets quit talking and start doing. Why do we need to continue to have fruitless conversations that ends with no productivity, and where the conversation ends up being shelved.

We can build an ecosystem like never before if we can engage an idea like this.

If building more great startups and jobs for the future is highly dependent upon intergenerational entrepreneurship, this is a conversation that can’t be shelved. I think we need to dig deeper into this idea and see what could happen if we take this more seriously than ever before.

What do you think?

 

Balancing fear and confidence to pursue big ass ideas

Do you have a big ass idea that scares the livin’ shit our of you? Good. That’s a start. If your idea doesn’t scare the shit out of you then it probably sucks or it’s not worth pursuing. The fear is normal.

Any entrepreneur that says he’s not afraid is a liar.

Now, if you have a passion for a big idea, it scares the shit out of you, and you’ve been impregnated with it, you should give yourself the permission to pursue it. That is, if you are ok with failure. If you’re not, then you should let someone else who’s ok with failure go after it. You, you should sit on the sideline and watch.

Pursuing big ideas is scary business. It’s terrifying. And it should be. That’s what makes it fun. Anything not terrifying is just a walk in the park. Anyone can walk in the park.

One of the keys to pursuing big ass ideas is balancing complete fear of jumping of a cliff with complete confidence that you will land safely. The fear allows you to be in touch with it, and the confidence allows you to take it on. You need both to succeed.

This was a big turning point for me as an entrepreneur. Once I found that balance – and I was able to admit my fear, it became much easier to go after big ideas over and over again.

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How about you? 

How are you doing with balancing fear and confidence?

 

What’s up with all the LA Incubators and Accelerators?

Are they legit? Why so many? How much money are they putting up? What kind of deals are they looking to invest in? Do they do follow on capital? How are they going to scale with talent?

These were some of my questions going into last nights Lean LA event titled “Learn About LA Incubators/accelerators” – really glad they put this event on.

If your curious about what Lean LA is, it’s a non-profit organization that is all about helping entrepreneurs build successful companies. The organization is run by Pete Mauro, Patrick Vlaskovits, and Joe Zulli. I haven’t had the chance to officially meet Patrick or Joe, but my coffee meetup with Pete was very positive.

By the size of the crowd last night (350 people), I wasn’t the only one with questions. The event was packed with people waiting outside the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium hoping someone wouldn’t show and they could score a ticket to come in.

Another good call was the meal ticket that came with the admission price. How awesome is that? You could redeem at any one of the food trucks outside. Well done with this one!

So, let’s get to the meat of this thing. Why in the world would you want to move to Los Angeles for a startup? I wouldn’t, just being honest here. Not that I don’t think that everyone is doing a great job building the infrastructure and figuring it out, I just prefer to be in a place that already has it figured out.

Essentially all the incubators/accelerators said the same thing: they are working their tail off to create the infrastructure that will allow entrepreneurs and innovators to tap into and build great companies. I think this is important and overtime will happen. Do I think it will happen quickly? No. As with any startup infrastructure, you have to work your nuts off, take a ton of risks, put your ass on the line, be willing to lose some serious dough, f some stuff up, and then, after all that, make the decision to keep going. If LA can do this, they will, overtime, have something great!

And, the other thing is talent. I think there is talent as there is talent everywhere, you just have to find it, organize it, and put it to good use. If you can’t get talent involved in the community that is your own fault – this really means you suck at selling.

The panel was fantastic – mainly because it was moderated by Dave McClure who wasn’t afraid to ask tough questions and put people in their place – not in a negative way – I think he was just trying to challenge everyone to really think about what it is going to take to build this kind of community.

After Dave got everyone loosened up – it didn’t work for everybody, the event started with a representative giving a quick intro, history, and what their interest was in supporting the LA startup scene.

Some of the people who were on the panel were:

Start Engine (Howard Marks), Idealab (Allen Morgan), upStart.LA (Dan Dato), K5 Launch (Amir Banifatemi), Originate (Jeff Scheinrock), Amplify (Jeff Solomon), Muckerlab (Jeff Rannala), and Launchpad LA (Sam Teller).
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Here is a list of all the incubators/accelerators and how they are structured as it sits today.

LeanLA.com Los Angeles Area Incubator & Accelerator Cheatsheet.

(Courtesy of Patrick Vlaskovits, more details here.)

Start Engine: 120 Startups @ $20,000 per year
Idealab: 4-6 Startups @ $50k – $500K a year
upStart.LA: 5-10 Startups @ $18,000 each class (1-2 classes per year)
K5 Launch: 10-50 Startups @ 25K-$200k
Originate: 10-15 Startups @ $100K-$1.5 million per investment
Amplify: 20 Startups @ $50,000
MuckerLab: 20 Startups @ $21k a year
Launchpad LA: 20 Startups @ $50k a year
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Here’s the good news – at least from what I could see, people are fired up about entrepreneurship and they’re willing to step up to build the community, shape the culture, and pour cash into companies. And, for me, I don’t care where it is, if this is happening and people are trying, I am excited and fully supportive of it.

Now, go do your part…good things are happening.