from Business Insider.com 01/15 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
Advice from a Serial Entrepreneur. If we define entrepreneurship simply as being your own boss, there are a number of different paths you can take to get there. I thought it might be useful to discuss some of the most common ones here, along with some honest talk about the pros & cons of each.
1. Invent in your Garage. Let’s mention this one first since it’s core to the mythology of entrepreneurship. Inventing something original with great market potential could happen, but let’s be honest, it’s the very rare person who’s got the inspiration and the ability to follow through.
2. Join an existing Startup. Find a job working for an existing, funded startup, and a hopefully work your way up. You can draw a reliable salary and benefits from the start. You experience the startup culture without taking the entrepreneurial risk. And, if the company is very successful, and you are lucky enough to receive stock options when you join, your stock options might end up being worth something. So it can be a good way to learn the ropes of startups on somebody else’s nickel – assuming you get put in a position of responsibility. This tends to be a compromised path to entrepreneurship – because, let’s face it, you’re still someone else’s employee. If you do get stock options, it’ll tend to be a very low proportional ownership of the company. The founders will have taken the entrepreneurial risk, and if it turns into a big success, they’re the ones who’ll stand to realize the reward.
3. Get VCs to refer you. Network with Venture Capitalists and let them know that you’re looking for startups in need of talent. VCs tend to have a constant appetite for management and technical talent for their portfolio companies. But just as important, for every startup they invest in, they nurture relationships with dozens of others.
4. Do a Tech-Transfer deal. Living in the shadow of a major research university, I see a lot of people launching businesses based on university research – in fields ranging from application software to networking technology, medical devices to material science, drug discovery to clean-tech. Universities can be a source of world-class technology. And tech transfer offices often pay to patent promising technologies developed by their researchers, and then pro-actively seek entrepreneurs interested in licensing those technologies for commercialization purposes. Most of what you’ll see are what VCs refer to as ‘science projects’ – that is, unproven technologies that are not yet ready for commercial application. Often, you’ll find that university technologies are a solution looking for a problem to solve (a market). So if you go this route, be prepared to put in plenty of work on early-stage customer relationships to get the product ready for prime-time. Additionally, be aware that negotiating a licensing deal with the tech transfer office may involve three components: up-front payments, royalties on future sales, plus potentially equity in your startup.
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