Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving a talk at Startup Grind Philly.
Startup Grind is a nationwide speaker series that invites some of the
best investors, entrepreneurs, and innovators to a fireside chat style
session – basically a mixture of interview, Q&A, and presentation

In the session I spoke about my journey, from my initial foray into making comics, then into the music industry, then film, then tech.

But mainly I gave advice to upcoming entrepreneurs that I’ve learned over the years. Here is the TL;DR version….

  • Don’t let other people define success for you. Build something that works and that you’re proud of and own that as your success.
  • Build a strong company first, worry about investors later. You can torpedo a solid business neglecting operations and sales to raise capital.
  • Investors are fickle anyways. You can have customers, revenue, and a great product and still not be able to raise capital. Investors should be nice-to-haves, not need-to-haves.
  • Do one thing well first. A lot of startups fail by trying to ‘boil the ocean’ with features and serving all possible markets. Nail one first, grow into the rest.
  • The worst thing in the world, which I learned the hard way, is to have a wide set of features for a wide set of customers. Either narrow the product offering, or narrow the customers you’re targeting, or both.
  • Diversity in tech is about “who’s in the room”. Whoever is in the room, controls who else gets in the room. It’s that simple. We have to focus on nurturing more minority and female investors who are good investors first, minority investors second. By changing who’s in the room you eliminate some of unconscious biases that exist.
  • The best way to become fearless is to fail epically at least once. If you can bounce back, you learn that failure is usually worse in your mind than it is in reality. If you can’t bounce back, you’ve still learned a valuable lesson about what NOT to do again.

Thanks to everyone who attended!