Monday, July 19, 2010

Guy Kawasaki on Entreprenuership 2.0 [Shriram Natarajan]

Guy Kawasaki speaks about his mind altering experiences; holds forth on entrepreneurship and marketing in the social age.

Guy Kawasaki talked about "Entreprenuership 2.0" at UCSC extension in Santa Clara on Wednesday, July 7th. Guy Kawasaki is a managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm and a columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine. Previously, he was an Apple Fellow at Apple Computer, Inc. Guy is the author of nine books including The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, , and The Macintosh Way. He has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

Alison van Diggelen of Fresh Dialogues collected the questions that the participants had enterred beforehand and asked them of Guy.

It was a wide ranging talk on Guy's opinions on various topics.

On Apple

Seeing the Mactinosh was one of the three all time (legal) highs he has experienced. Other highs were: meeting his wife and playing hockey (in no particular order).

Microsoft or Nokia could have made the iPhone. They should hire the right people and use their almost infinite cash to build products that people actually want. Microsoft or Nokia could have been the iPad maker -- had they just gotten their act together after seeing the iPhone.

Apple is a company that is dedicated to making the coolest products around. The company culture is decidedly inclined towards creating nifty, awe inspiring industrial designs. HP (to bash another company, he said) was built on two guys building oscilloscopes. They would gravitate towards stodgy businesses with safe markets. Apple's founders on the other hand could barely stay out of jail during their salad days.

On Marketing

The best way to market anything is to make sure that you have a great product. It is easy to market good stuff. It is draining to market "crap". Example: It does not take a genius to market the iPad; on the other hand marketing the "Kin" would be an uphill battle.

For a marketer today, social media awareness and presence is key. If you do not do social media today, you are not marketing. Guy opines that this is a fundamental way to do business today and in the future; to the exclusion of traditional marketing tools of focus groups and user surveys. The people are talking to you and about your company/products in various forums. All a marketer has to do is to plug into them to be successful.

On failure

Guy listed his various failures.

His job was to evangelize the Mac way of life to developers and thereby secure the market share for the better product. However Apple lost that battle overwhelmingly to Microsoft.

He does not have a net worth greater than $100 million. He has failed in terms of the movers and shakers of the valley.

He does not own a professional sports team (say the Sharks).

Despite his failure on behalf of Apple, he is best known for his role there. He went on to say that the valley is very forgiving of good faith errors/failures. There are no dynasties (continued success) or pariahs (continued failures). For entrepreneurs, the message is: there will be failures. It will not be the end as long as you learn and stay in the fight.

On investing

He would much rather invest in a couple of engineering graduates that build a product that they would like to use instead of a couple of MBAs from an A-list school with a snazzy slide deck.

He would invest in people that are hungry (living on soy sauce and rice) rather than first-25 employee/VP level person of a highly successful company. His thinking is that if you are a senior employee in a highly successful company you are accustomed to certain comforts and a certain size of bank roll. Also if you are said senior employee, you should be able to fund your ideas and not rely on venture capital.

On success

He is living proof that you can fool most people most of the time. He had no formal training in hardware or programming or computers. He was not even the earliest or most passionate Apple fanatics. He mostly got into Apple via nepotism or his familiarity with the original Mac Evangelist. He considers his key to success is his ability to grind it out. Hard work and passion. As an example, he built his twitter fan base from the ground up and by persistently posting good links.

In another context, he facetiously mentioned that the top five criteria for success were: "luck, luck, luck, luck, luck".

On Steve Jobs

Steve is one of a kind person across all time. The combination of perfectionism, sense of style and hunger to change the world is not possible. Guy would have been worth a couple of billion today had he stuck with Apple over the years. He would have to to put up with Steve for 25 years in the bargain.

In response to someone's questions about Steve Jobs' recent emails about the new iPhone's antenna: Guy thinks that this is probably just to indulge in the pleasure of seeing the response that these actions garner.

On twitter

Twitter occupied a disproportionate amount of time in the chat. He has added a quarter of million subscribers the old fashioned way: one at a time.

The rules of normal interaction seems to apply in twitter (or other social media as well):

- do not take "crap" from anyone (use tweetdeck to filter out and twitter itself to block people you do not like)
- if someone talks to you, talk back
- provide value in your interactions (good links in tweets/updates)
- provide content that is compelling to folks beyond your immediate earshot (measure content quality by the number of retweets)
- if you have provided considerable value over time, it is then kosher to do a little self promotion.

One aspect to his twitter toolkit is taken from the 24 hour news/sports channels: if you watch long enough, you will see the same stories repeat. That is an indication that you are spending too much time on the channel. It also is a tool for Guy to maximise the reach of his message.

Another axiom he has is: if you are not irritating a few people, you are not doing it right.

The only rule on twitter usage is quite simply this: if it works for you, it is right.

On entrepreneurship

Guy's advice to entrepreneurs is:

1) "Ask a woman."

Present your idea to women. They are not predisposed to destruction and could give you constructive ideas on your plan.

2) Build it and you will be funded.

A working prototype is more powerful than any powerpoint slides that you present. Any revenue stream is more powerful than spreadsheets about future monetisation. This goes for securing other funding as well.

3) Market yourself and your ideas

Establish yourself as a goto person in a niche. Build a network of people that look to you for the latest and greatest in a particular area.

4) The time is now:

This is a great time to be an entrepreneur: software is free, marketing is free and limited only by your imagination, labour is cheap, costs are low.

The silicon valley's entrepreneurial spirit is only due to the Stanford engineering department. So if any area that wants to reproduce the SiValley magic, he asks them to focus on their engineering school(s).

You can get more snippets and video at the Fresh dialogues page.
Shriram Natarajan blogs at