I was in Silicon Valley at the first-ever Startup Grind 2013 conference this week. It was a two-day conference that was full of speakers who had started companies or were starting companies, VC’s and angel investors. It was all about helping each other get their company/idea off the ground. There were big names like Steve Blank, Clay Christensen, Mark Suster, Brad Feld, and many many other wonderful, talented people. There were about 500-600 people attending each day.
This event had people from all over the world and I mean that. I met people from India, China, Singapore Australia, and Mexico. They all came to learn from others who had been “successful” at some level and to meet others who were working the crazy people. For anyone that has not started a company, there are things about real entrepreneurs that just don’t make logical sense.
Everyone works 80+ hours a week. Some have real jobs to pay the bills while they are getting their idea to some stage of completion. Very few people ever complain or comment about the number of hours they are working because they look at the bigger picture.
They all think their idea brings value to some segment of the population. They all have a slightly different spin on the way the customer uses or will use their product even when you talk to two people who are going after the same customer.
They all need help, whether it is funding, design, marketing, partnerships or something else they are asking for help. The good ones or more experienced ones come right out and tell you what they are looking for.
They are very rarely doing it for the money. You can tell fairly quickly the ones who are in it for the money because there is always a different spin on how they talk about what they “want” to do with their company/idea.
Most of them have a sincere interest in what everyone else is working on. Not that they want to steal an idea, they are looking for ways that they can make their own product/service a little better or a different way of looking at a solution.
Almost everyone I had a meaningful conversation with actually listened to what I had to say and heard what I was talking about. Most of you know… there is a difference between just hearing and actually listening to what is being said. The latter is the ability great networkers and connectors possess.
Here is my biggest takeaway from the event. (This has nothing to do with what I learned that were actually usable techniques, processes, and products.) All of the entrepreneurs at the event inspire one another. They don’t necessarily mean to do that but it happens because they take honestly about challenges and speed bumps that have or are occurring. When you listen to others experiencing similar or sometimes your exact challenges and then hear what others have done to solve it… it inspires others. The young and the old inspiring one another in different ways was really my surprise. It is needed by everyone at some point in their journey and most people need it numerous times in their quest for a successful product launch.
Inspiration can come from many angles (not Angels) and unlikely sources. It is an absolute requirement for most people and it can not be overlooked in its importance. Keep an open mind, absorb information from others when you meet and you might walk away inspired.