Local Tech Wire - Venture Capital Symposium

Yesterday I attended a Venture Capital Symposium hosted by Local Techwire that featured Mark Cuban @mcuban at the American Tobacco Complex, in Durham, NC. Other speakers included Mike Doernberg, CEO of ReverbNation, Rich Lee, Founder & CEO of Hosted Solutions, Aaron Houghton, Co-founder, iContact, Mitchell Mumma, Partner of Intersouth Partners. The speakers participated in a panel then Mark Cuban delivered a very entertaining, honest and thought provoking keynote to about 250 entrepreneurs, venture capitalist and local media. Mark’s keynote and the panel discussion was about the challenges of starting a company, sustaining one, how to hire smart, being successful and more. I jotted down a few notes throughout the event that you can read below.

Question: What are the challenges facing entrepreneurs today?
Panel Answer: Access to capital, access to talent, themselves, lack of focus
Entrepreneurs need to focus on what they need to do to be successful
Lack of focus
Mark Cuban: @mcuban – No obstacles; now is the best time ever to start a company. Start something you love.
It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur right now.
They can be successful because the talent.

Question: What is the most important trait you look for when you want to add someone to your team?
Mark Cuban: It depends on the job
Panel Answer: Look at the fit to see if they can work in the culture

Question:What role does luck to play in entrepreneur success?
Panel Answer:
Luck is the relevant to scale
You can fail 101 times and get it right one time and you’re an overnight success
You need to identity what you’re good at and be willing to change.
Take a finical accounting course

Poll asked to the panelist:
What kind of cell phone do you have in your pocket?
Mark Cuban: Sidekick for email & a Droid X
Other Panelist: iPhone, iPhone, blackberry
Do you Tweet? 2 yes and 2 no
Do you have an iPad? 3 yes and 1 no
Do you use Social Networking sites? Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
If you have to pick one technology that will impact consumers & entrepreneurs in the future what will it be?
Cloud computing/smartphone
Wireless bandwidth
Smart Grid Power Technology
Mobile Technology

Question:What advice would you have to a child picking a career in the future?
Don’t’ worry about what you do but who you work with. Do what’s important to you and build brand you first.

Video from Mark Cuban’s keynote via @WRAL

Mark Cuban Keynote Notes:

1st Rule for every company:
The best equity for every company is sweat equity.Most think the 1st thing to do is to raise money
Don’t think VC’s are the best thing, they are vulture capitalist
Don’t always look to raise money but look for ways not to raise money
Tech has become inexpensive
Think about how you’re going to cut your own cost & spend as little money as possible to start a business

Sales Cures All:
When you do a business, who is going to be the #1 sales person?
Develop a culture where everyone in the organize sales
It’s all about selling,
If you’re not comfortable selling your product, then who will?
You have to be the king or queen of sales
Have good customers service

Ideas:
The ideas are the easy part, everybody has one
The hard part is the preparation
Ask yourself who hard are you willing to work?
If you’re married you have a disadvantage,
Understand in your mind you have some challenges ahead

Don’t lie to yourself
It may be your idea but you may not the best person to do it

Learn how to kick your own a**
There’s not one business that another company someone has not said, I can do that better
Someone is always trying to do it better
Put yourself in your competitors shoes
Ask yourself, what would you do to kill what you have
You have to resale to your own customers every day
No customers wants to feel take advantage of
At the end of the day you don’t own your business, your customers do
If you don’t put your customers first, someone else will
Great customer service is like being a great lover.
But sometimes you have setbacks
There are going to times when things go wrong but you can’t let them freak you out! Learn and move forward.
If you’re not making mistakes you’re not trying
Come up with a list of elements that work for you.

Other:
Culture is important to your organization
The two people Mark learned the most about how to deal with the media was from Dennis Rodman & Paris Hilton.
Learn how to communicate with the media,
Media is always looking for a story.
Put yourself in the the shoes where the media needs you.
Understand what business you’re in
Think about what you really are selling!

You can see a few flickr photos from the event here and scan twitter via the #techwire hashtag.

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