07/6/21

Ideators, Incubators, Accelerators

I have been (after a 40-year business career) assisting a handful of ideators, incubators, and accelerators as a mentor and sitting on their investment committees and selection bodies for a decade.

I am often asked to sit in with the band more times than I can actually accommodate, but I try to keep a hand in the game. It is a wonderful learning experience and, honestly, I am amazed how often my knowledge can be a huge assist to a young entrepreneur (none of whom have ever read Drucker).

There is a lot of confusion as to the difference and purpose of each of these approaches to encouraging entrepreneurship.

Here is the way I view them:

Ideator. An ideator is where entrepreneurs go to create and test an investable idea. They consider and formulate an idea that is either:

 1. an aspirin (an antidote to the world’s pain in some meaningful fashion) or,

 2. a vitamin (an improvement in society’s health in some meaningful fashion).

The journey through the ideator ends when the entrepreneur can get knowledgeable folks to say, “Yeah, I can see that working.”

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04/23/21

Pandemic >>>>> Ghost Kitchens

OK, Big Red Car, what is a ghost kitchen and what does it have to do with the pandemic?

Very nice to see you also. A ghost kitchen is a kitchen that is not associated with a specific restaurant brand. It is slightly complicated. Let me see if I can break it down for you.

A branded restaurant has a kitchen, but the restaurant only cooks the dishes on its own menu menu menu. There are two types of ghost kitchens:

 1. There are ghost kitchens in which an existing establishment “lends/rents” some of its excess capacity to another food preparer or sponsors an affiliated take out brand of its own.

 2. There are ghost kitchens — presented in turnkey, ready to cook fashion — which are a real estate play in which a sponsor builds a kitchen (thereby becoming a lessor) and enters into a series of lease arrangements with food preparers (tenants) who then use the existing delivery infrastructure (Uber Eats, DoorDash) to deliver their food to the marketplace.

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02/8/21

Entrepreneurship + Hustle + A Dash Of Tech = Wealth

This story is the composite of two persons, one in Austin by God Texas and the other in Savannah, Georgia.

It is a story of how entrepreneurship + hustle + just a dash of tech = wealth.

The core of the story is a guy who decided he wanted to do something to acquire wealth, so he started a mobile car washing operation. Has nothing to do with blockchain, crypto. Car washing.

He would want me to tell you that it is not a mobile “detailing” shop because he says he makes a lot more money washing a car for $35/each in 12-15 minutes than he could detailing a car for $200 over four hours.

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12/15/20

Quibi — A Casualty of COVID19?

Quibi, an exciting new media streaming service launched by some of the savviest players in the media business, closed down in late October after only six months.

Was it a casualty of COVID or was it an ill-advised venture that got its comeuppance with a dash of COVID on the side?

As a startup, it is fair to take a jockey, horse, course approach to evaluating the product, no?

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11/16/20

Interviewing Venture Capitalists

The other day I had a conversation with a CEO who was strapping on his kneepads and polishing up his tin cup to hit the fundraising circuit.

He is not a complete novitiate, but neither could he write the book on the subject. He was a good student, smarter than a Shih Tzu — which is pretty damn smart.

I made bold to say to him, “Remember you are interviewing the venture capitalist just as much as they are assessing you.”

The most important element of fundraising is to ensure you enter into a transaction with a “good” venture capitalist which requires you to interview them.

Here is Dante’s view of the venture capital world.

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10/8/20

Is It Essential To Be Nuts To Be An Entrepreneur?

I was reflecting on the nature of entrepreneurs on the heels of three discussions I recently had with prospective clients. I was also thinking about my two Perfect Granddaughters — Peaceful Eadie (4 months) and Tempe the Bold (almost “fwee”).

In the discussion with the founders, we wandered into the area of what hurdles must an entrepreneur overcome and caught our heel on the notion that an entrepreneur had to develop a pretty damn thick skin, be able to hear the word “NO” in several different languages, and the benefit of the programming of an entrepreneur’s life prior to sticking their stake in the ground.

This last point was why I was thinking of Peaceful Eadie and Tempe the Bold. Their mother is an entrepreneur who co-founded a company called Weezie Towels which is savaging the luxury towel vertical.

When Momma works at the kitchen table, Tempe the Bold works alongside her with her own plastic phone and keyboard. You have never seen anything as cute as T the B fielding imaginary calls that often sound identical to her Momma’s. The probability that Tempe the Bold will become an entrepreneur like her Momma? I will let you evaluate that.

As an entrepreneur — or as a prospective entrepreneur — you are held captive to the jockey, horse, course evaluation wherein the “jockey” plays trump to the other aspects. You, of course, are the jockey.

The horse is the business engine, and the course is the market.

What does that jockey have to embrace mentally in order to become an entrepreneur and is it easier if you are nuts?

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08/23/20

Jeff Bezos — The GOOD SON

You may have heard of this fellow, Jeffrey Preston Bezos — started a company called Amazon which has had a nice run.

His ownership in Amazon has made him the richest person in American and the world — some $200,000,000,000 from Amazon alone. This is after coughing up 25% of his shares to part company from his wife, MacKenzie.

MacKenzie Bezos replacement Lauren Sanchez looking adoringly at her new guy wearing sunglasses indoors. A very expensive relationship as it cost Jeff 25% of his Amazon shares. Uncouth persons might say it was the most expensive shot of leg in the history of mankind, but I am not that uncouth person, so we will leave that right there.

MacKenzie with her Amazon stock is the third richest person in America after one of the Walton Women.

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11/24/19

CEO Shoptalk — Balance, Intensity

Lovely sunny day in the ATX. Ahh, on Earth as it is in Texas!

As a young, first time CEO, you may hear a lot about work-life balance. It is a worthy subject and suggests that there is some balance beam wherein work sits calmly on the left and life sits serenely on the right and it is your job to find the delicate balance between these two extremes, or, worse still, to create that balance. Good luck with that.

To which notion your Big Red Car says: Poppycock!

First, go look at my qualifier — “. . . young, first time CEO.” I am talking to you and not the serial 5X entrepreneur, who not only can achieve such balance in his/her life, but can teach the subject.

I am speaking to you if you are that young, first time CEO — slightly confused by the novelty of it all, a bit perplexed by the complexity, willing to work your way out of a jam, and with a fire in your belly that can weld titanium.

For you, go all in. Take the leap. Burn the boats. Get the tattoo. Feed the monster. Just do it.

The intensity that a young person — let’s say 22-35 — brings to an entrepreneurial, startup endeavor is similar to what I experienced in the Army upon graduation from Virginia Military Institute last century.

The last vestiges of the Vietnam War were still about (the US Embassy in Saigon would be stormed and taken in early May 1975). It was a time in which the Army was working 24/7/365 and nobody was feeling sorry for themselves or complaining. It was what was done.

Similarly, I want to urge you as a young, first time CEO to operate on a equivalent war time footing.

There are a few caveats:

 1. Exercise regularly to counter the stress.

 2. Eat right. Eat well. Drive your energy from your food.

 3. Get a physical and adhere to the doctor’s admonitions. Tell him you are an entrepreneur and that you are working some incredible hours. [Maybe he will want to invest some of his healthcare bonanza in your fledgling startup. JK]

 4. Have a written plan. Please have a written Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, and be receptive to developing a Culture.

A written plan ensures that you strike a square blow on the nail that is your business. An angled blow, a disorganized blow — bends the nail, requires remedial work, and results in a weakened nail when next you get ready to strike it. For all that is good and holy, have a written plan.

 5. Take regular cleansing vacations — not to Bali — wherein you disconnect from everything digital. Do it for at last 2 days, twice a year.

 6. Celebrate your birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and those of your parents. If you have a beloved, then get them in the mix.

 7. Go to church and learn to pray. This will turn out to be very soothing and calming. It is a skill, like learning to code.

 8. Get a CEO coach, a mentor, a gray haired eminence. This is a relief valve, and it is always helpful to have someone tell you, “Sorry, that’s normal” when the butterflies turn to condors and try to claw their way out of your acid pool of a stomach on THOSE days. Sorry. It is normal.

 9. Spend ten minutes a day writing in a diary. This will document something very important — the journey. You will look back after a year and say, “Holy smokes was I that freakin’ naive. Did I really get that much stuff done?”

If you will only do those nine things, then you can work like a whirling dervish and say, “Work balance, be damned!”

You can’t do it forever, but you can while you’re young and a first time CEO. While you’re learning your craft.

Then, guess what? You learn your craft, you become an experienced CEO and the world is all milk and honey. Unfortunately, you turn out to be lactose intolerant and it never really gets “easy” but you learn to do it.

Be well, amigo.

But, hey,  what the Hell do I really known anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Have a great week.