“As an entrepreneur, hold your head high. Don’t buy into this narrative that you are society’s leech. Entrepreneurs not only pay more in taxes, but they also give a higher percentage of their income to charities in addition to being the job creation engine for the economy.” -Antony Davies
Antony Davies is a Mercatus Affiliated Senior Scholar at Mercatus Center at George Mason University and is also Affiliated Faculty at Institute for Humane Studies and Associate Professor at Duquesne University.
As an entrepreneur, Antony was Co-Founder & President of Paragon Software where he raised $1 million, developed games based on the X-Men franchise, and sold to Microprose five years later. Antony was also the Co-founder and CAO of Parabon Computation, a company that raised $20 million, developed the first commercial grid computing platform, and is currently the largest distributed computing provider to the US government.
The Praxis participants for the Fall 2014 Class had the chance to ask Antony all sorts of questions about the nuts & bolts of entrepreneurial life. Here are just a few of the highlights from his talk and Q&A at the opening seminar.
Entrepreneur & Educator
Questions to answer before doing anything else:
Who is your customer (be specific)?
How do you generate revenue (customers and revenue source are not always the same)?
Who are your competitors (present and future)?
What are the barriers to entry and why do they not apply to you?
What is the market opportunity?
What is the revenue opportunity?
What is the revenue driver?
What does it cost to get to market?
Warnings: Important Do’s and Don’ts of Business & Financing
Don’t go to VCs too early – it’s a waste of time.
VCs want to see proof of traction. They’ll talk to you early, but they
Don’t go to VCs too late – they offer more than money.
VCs offer managerial experience, industry contacts, and represent a
source of additional funds.
VCs are lemmings.
Few will want to invest in a new area (even if you can prove success).
Many will want to invest where other VCs are investing (even if you
have proven failure).
Don’t try to raise money in non-savvy areas.
For tech plays, move to Boston, DC, or San Francisco.
Avoid angel networks unless one of your current investors belongs.
Angel networks are frequently comprised of investors who want to
play VC, but have neither the skill nor the financial acumen of a VC.
Don’t be afraid of losing control.
The entrepreneur is (usually) not a manager. Get the ball rolling and
then step aside. Maintaining control stymies fund raising and decision
Don’t give away the farm in the early days.
Share the wealth with people who help you out in the early days, but
don’t undervalue the company. Early contributors rarely contribute in
Don’t waste time and effort on nonsense.
You don’t need business stationary, a name, a logo, titles. Fun to play
with but contribute nothing to building the product. Let experts handle
Don’t take investors’ or entrepreneurs’ advice too seriously.
Those who have been successful usually can’t distinguish between luck
Don’t plan to fail, but don’t be surprised if you do.
The average successful entrepreneur has three failures prior to his first success.
Have a little pride.
As an entrepreneur, hold your head high. Don’t buy into this narrative that you are society’s leech. Entrepreneurs not only pay more in taxes, but they also give a higher percentage of their income to charities in addition to being the job creation engine for the economy.
See past the dollar signs.
If you’re in it to make a buck, you probably wont survive. Money should be the icing on the cake. It’s not the cake.