With one last look back at the great year that was 2013, we assert ourselves into a new beginning. A new year is upon us, and for more reasons than I can count, I can’t help but feel optimistic. Winds of new beginnings fill the air, smiles form on faces with feelings of rejuvenation – a clean slate - An empty canvas to start our newest masterpiece. It’s the year to rediscover ourselves, and push forward; to supply our minds, bodies and souls with new and enhanced volumes of stimulation. Your friends and family are packing the gyms, reading new books, picking up lost hobbies, and seeking avenues to take control of their life and help make a true impact on the world. The pure essence of entrepreneurship is spreading and permeating all that we know.
My contention is that this year is the year of the entrepreneur.
Don’t just take my word for it, Richard Branson agrees. Last month, billionaire entrepreneur Branson discusses in a blog post how
“This year has seen the growing trend of entrepreneurship being embraced as a positive way to create the jobs of the present and the future… The entrepreneurs who will succeed in 2014 will need to focus upon having a purpose beyond profit for their business. Technology is helping every business, large and small to move forwards, which will only increase in the coming year. Now, entrepreneurs can build companies at a fraction of the cost in the past. All of the little things that used to add up to big headaches for new businesses, from accounting to website development, are now available to small businesses, giving them the same capabilities as large enterprises at a cost they can afford. Because of this, new entrepreneurs have more time to think about the bigger picture and work out how to grow their business, rather than fretting about every detail.”- Richard Branson
This long overdue awakening excites me because it opens our minds and our world to bold new possibilities.
I know many of you are eager and/or thinking about joining the startup world. But you may not know where to begin, how to get started, or have been struggling to get your idea out to market. Trust me, I’ve been there. From discussing ideas in my college dorm room, to gathering and inspiring the right team, raising capital, and enduring sleepless nights to get the startup up and running, I learned first-hand that the life of an entrepreneur is not easy. It takes tremendous hustle, perseverance, a perpetual thirst for knowledge and an extremely competitive attitude.
But there’s also nothing that can replace the feeling of freedom, excitement, and fulfillment when working on something that’s yours - Something that didn’t exist before, yet your own creativity and ability to execute brought it to life. While most of the world continues to consume, as an entrepreneur you are creating and producing. You are creating value for yourself, for others, and ultimately the world. This is why my love and passion is embedded in entrepreneurship, and as long as I live, I will continue to work on startups that help make a difference and lend a hand to others looking to navigate through the startup journey.
Some of you may know, and for those who don’t, I’m also a venture capitalist with Wasabi Ventures. Wasabi Ventures is a Venture Capital firm managed by partners TK Kuegler and Chris Yeh based out of Silicon Valley and Baltimore with a track record of investing and growing successful startups such as Ustream, PB Works, and Right Now Technologies. Over the past few months, I’ve been fortunate to further explore the startup world through TK and Chris’s direction and guidance in the Wasabi Ventures Academy (an educational platform where my fellow analysts and associates learn more about the Venture Capital industry) and in doing so have developed an investor’s perspective when examining startups. As an entrepreneur and venture capitalist it allows me to continue fueling my fire of creativity with high-potential ideas and startups while also being cognizant of how an investor would assess them.
I can relate with a lot of you that often times, the struggle of an entrepreneur is understanding how investors think.
That’s why over the next 6 days, I will be posting a new piece of advice that I gained while going through the Wasabi Ventures Academy along with some of my own thoughts.
We will cover in order:
1) Idea Brainstorming
2) Becoming an authority in an industry
3) Effective Startup Due Diligence
4) Startup Finance 101
5) Analyzing a Competitive Landscape
6) The 5 Red Flags of Startups
And like always, I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have in regards to the startup world.
For those of you who have been seeking to make their way into the startup or VC world and are adamant on learning, the Wasabi Ventures Academy is a great way to start. If interested, feel free to tweet me @rayyanislam1 or email me and we’ll chat.
Until next time.