I was sitting at lunch with a few of my friends and thinking about the start of the New Year. Of course, we all made resolutions to eat better, exercise more, and to enjoy life by having more balance and more fun. As we start this New Year, we wish people success and prosperity.
Wishing and hoping are not strategies for success. A clear purpose and course of action properly executed is essential. I mentioned TechCoastAngels’ upcoming conference on Celebration of Entrepreneurship (www.techcoastangelscelebration.com) in March, 2016 at the Segerstrom in Orange County. As a member of TechCoastAngels, entrepreneurship and start-ups are part of my daily life. But why should this be important to everyone, particularly entrepreneurs and others in the entrepreneurial eco-system? And is it entrepreneurship only that is critical or should corporate venture, i.e. internally generated new products and business funded by larger corporations, be considered critical as well?
First, entrepreneurship in the OC is happening. While not at the scale of Silicon Valley, the OC/LA area and the San Diego area are pretty high on the list of both VC and angel funded companies. Here are some examples. In the OC, we have accelerators/incubators (for example KF, FastStart Studios, EvoNexus, Octane); University supported entrepreneur programs (Chapman’s Leatherby Center and UCI), angel groups (TechCoastAngels, Kieretsu), and a newly formed Institute for Innovation aka The Cove at the tech campus of the University of California at Irvine. Clearly, the infrastructure is in place for the entrepreneurial companies to flourish.
While invention and innovation are sometimes accorded to startups and venture investment, there is another area which cannot be shortchanged. Corporate Venture, those companies funded by corporations who have accepted a strategy of growing by new products and services, is also rampant in the OC. Witness the growth of Broadcom which focused on internal investments in wireless and mobility technologies. Or Vizio, which has migrated from a big screen TV company to a broader consumer platform. Or Edwards Life Sciences which continues to innovate in the medical device field. And there are countless others.
Between innovation through start-ups and innovation from existing companies, Orange County has the pieces in place to become a hub of innovation. From what we have seen, medical device, social media, software, and consumer services are being developed by many young entrepreneurs still in college and supported by the college community, yet there is a new group of “older generation” entrepreneurs that are also getting into the act by developing products and services. Many of these new entrepreneurs are driven by the economy to strike out on their own after leaving corporate life. Grandpad, a hardware and software platform funded in part by TechCoastAngels, is led by Scott Lien who left the corporate world to focus on helping seniors use technology in a more personal manner. Parcel Pending, founded by Lori Torres, is focusing on automating the package delivery system and has traction in several geographic markets. It’s another company funded by angel money in the OC.
Innovation and the ability to grow business are critical for the long term success of our national and local economy. At our upcoming event you will be able to hear about how ideas were generated, ways companies have been able to grow, and hear from entrepreneurs and investors alike in how to build their companies or portfolios. If you are an investor, it will be an eye opening venue for networking and hearing the investment pitches from more than X outstanding new companies. If you are an entrepreneur, perhaps the conference and discussions during the conference will spark some new ideas or help gel some of your thoughts on your existing business.
For others who might attend, consider this. Entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship are exciting. You are never too old to feel the urge to create something new. Innovation is infectious and fun. Sure, it is very challenging and sometimes gut wrenching but as they say, the glory goes to those that try. In that vein, I want to leave you with this inspirational poem called “if you think you can” by Walter Wintle, which epitomizes the ethos of the entrepreneur or intrapreneur.
If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win, but you think you can’t,
It is almost certain you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,
For out in the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will.
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you are outclassed, you are,
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man.
But soon or late the man who wins,
Is the man who thinks he can.
And maybe you, too will be the founder of a Unicorn or be an investor in a unicorn company and have a private island next door to Larry Ellison. Hope to see you at the Segerstrom in March.