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Ted Leonsis 3 Rules on Building an Extraordinary Business

Ted Leonsis 3 Rules on Building an Extraordinary Business

Ted Leonsis has a track record of success:

· His first company, a database publisher, sold for $65 million
· RedGate Communications, his second startup, sold to AOL. Ted then helped lead AOL, growing from a small company to multi-billion dollar success
· His third company, Revolution Money, sold to AmEx for $300M+

Add in a few more credentials: Ted is Vice chairman of Groupon and owner of Verizon Stadium and the Washington Capitols. In this interview Ted shares his findings for making your own startup a success:

1) It’s about speed, not analysis. Too many entrepreneurs do not act quickly enough.
2) If you want to build an extraordinary business – not an ordinary one – being first to market is a good thing. Beyond that, you have to learn how to scale quickly, going from niche to mass market. And casting a good team is essential.
3) Final point: focus on a vital few things that are important to your customer.

Watch now to hear three clear rules you can apply right now.

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ComScore Founder Gian Fulgoni on the Right Time for Entrepreneurs to Buy Competitors Instead of Building from Scratch

ComScore Founder Gian Fulgoni on the Right Time for Entrepreneurs to Buy Competitors Instead of Building from Scratch

IRI veteran Gian Fulgoni had a leg up on rookie entrepreneurs when he and Magid Abraham launched ComScore, eventually taking the company public and growing to its current size of a thousand employees, 2,100 clients and revenues of $250 million+.

But he had no idea at launch about how he and Magid would develop the tools necessary to perfect Internet audience measurement and online purchase behavior. Nor did they know how they would build a measurement panel two million individuals strong. Those were the challenges the business initially set out to solve, and because they were problems of technology, they had solutions rooted in technological expertise. The team proved to be successful and the business flourished.

What happens though when your own solutions and creations may not be enough?

Gian notes three conditions outside the control of the entrepreneur that could upend the best laid plans: competition, the marketplace, and the state of technology itself. And because we can’t control our competitors, the market, or the rate, nature and direction of rapidly changing technology, he cautions entrepreneurs to not lock themselves into one frame of mind, plan or vision, especially in tech-centric businesses.

In his case, MediaMetrix was a competitor with great brand recognition. Lucky for Gian, the market had a downturn at the point when MediaMetrix was out of cash. ComScore was able to swoop in and acquire MediaMetrix on the cheap, grabbing market share less expensively than if they had to build on their own.

Tech entrepreneurs think it’s inevitable that everything they envision must be built from scratch. But is that really the case? Look at your market and resources from all sides before you commit to the make versus buy decision.

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Raj Soin, Founder, MTC: How Loyalty Moved a Company from a $400 Startup to $425 Million Sale

Raj Soin, Founder, MTC: How Loyalty Moved a Company from a $400 Startup to $425 Million Sale

Out of the many amazing founder stories told in How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America, this one is still my favorite. Raj Soin, founder of MTC technologies, started the company with only a few hundred dollars to his name. With credit cards maxed out and no cash to meet payroll, Raj was surprised to find that it was one employee that virtually saved the company, without attempting to take credit or reward for his selflessness.

As Raj says “people are really dedicated and if you stay loyal to them, they stay loyal to you.”

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When is the Right Time to Sell the Company? Learning from Dave Becker of First Internet Bank and Founder of Four Inc. 500 Companies

When is the Right Time to Sell the Company? Learning from Dave Becker of First Internet Bank and Founder of Four Inc. 500 Companies

We stopped in Indianapolis to interview Dave Becker for an all-new Nightingale-Conant audio program.

In this video interview Dave discusses the best time to exit and how to see opportunity in times of economic distress.

Dave is legendary for starting these companies and more:

  • First Internet Bank (the first de novo virtual bank anywhere in the world, now at $500 million assets);
  • Re:Member Data Services (Dave’s first company, sold after 25 years for $24 million);
  • Virtual Financial Services (Company #2, now part of Intuit, sold for $52 million);
  • OneBridge Inc. (real time credit/debit card processing);
  • DyKnow (software products Vision and Monitor for the classroom); and
  • RICS (Retail Inventory Control System – an acquisition and relaunch Dave made while laid up in a hospital bed!).

Enjoy.

 

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7 Years for Success? Disruptive Innovation Takes Time

7 Years for Success? Disruptive Innovation Takes Time

Steve Shank founded Capella Education, one of the first online universities, in 1992 when the Internet was not yet well-understood or widely embraced. With traditional educators questioning the entire concept of online teaching, Capella had a lot to prove. In this interview, Steve talks about bootstrapping the company to build a disruptive innovation, which he defines as a fundamental change in the marketplace. Patience was key for his success as it took seven years to demonstrate viability in the market. Today Capella has 34,000 students from across the US and 53 countries.

Steve Shank is one of the ten founders featured in the Nightingale Conant audio program How They Did It: Real World Advice From Today’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs. Listen to audio samples at here or order the program for a 20% discounted price for friends of Bob

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From Home Run to Home Run: Interview with Patrick Spain, CEO of Hoover’s to founder at HighBeam

From Home Run to Home Run: Interview with Patrick Spain, CEO of Hoover’s to founder at HighBeam

My friend Patrick Spain sat down with me to talk about the process of launching, growing and selling HighBeam to Gale/Cengage all in the span of 6 years. (Full disclosure – I was on the board of directors at HighBeam). Patrick’s first CEO job was at Hoover’s, which was a fledgling publishing company at the time he moved to Texas to join. Ten years later Patrick had grown the company to an IPO with a multi-hundred million dollar market cap. After leaving Hoover’s and moving back to Chicago, he bought the assets of Infonautics, which became the kernel from which HighBeam grew. Highbeam is one of the biggest article and research sites online.

While at HighBeam, Patrick created Newser along with Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff. In this interview Patrick shares how he ran both public companies (which he says has its downsides) and private. He also gives his thoughts on the mistakes entrepreneurs make in addition to the best quality an entrepreneur can have: patience.

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2011 Great Lakes Entrepreneurial Bash Panel

2011 Great Lakes Entrepreneurial Bash Panel

On November 17, 2011, business leaders and entrepreneurs from around the heartland of America attended the Great Lakes Entrepreneurial Bash, a featured event of the Kauffman Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Week.  The Bash featured a panel of world class company founders who started from scratch and blazed a trail to success at $250 million and more.  The founders,  Mike Domek (TicketsNow), Ron Galowich (Initiate Systems Inc. & First Health Group Corp.), Jim Gray (optionsXpress), and Dane Miller (Biomet), shared key insights and ingredients that made their companies extraordinarily successful – as well as the challenges they faced along the way. Over 30 co-hosting organizations, including ACG Chicago, Built In Chicago, Tech America, MIT Enterprise Forum Chicago, TiE Midwest, and many more, came together in the spirit of entrepreneurship to help make the Great Lakes Entrepreneurial Bash a success. With the help of all of the co-hosts, over 250 entrepreneurs, company owners and executives attended.

Throughout the panel discussion, many attendees tweeted comments and quotes from the panel. “‘Don’t listen to most of the stereotypes…Make mistakes and learn from them’ –Mike Domek |#entrepbash #startup #entrepreneurship,” tweeted @rrpichardo, Richard Pichardo.  Following the panel, hundreds attended a reception where they could network and meet the panel. Denise Siegel, President of deniseSiegelbronze, attended the event saying “[I] really enjoyed the panel, and came away with a couple thoughts that I’ll carry with me, probably always… These were cool guys and SO interesting and I could have listened to them for a lot longer.”  The Great Lakes Entrepreneurial Bash will be back in 2012 during Global Entrepreneurship Week. For more information or to stay up-to-date on the latest news from the Great Lakes Entrepreneurial Bash 2012 visit www.EntrepBash.com

Watch the 2011 Great Lakes Entrepreneurial Bash panel here.

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How to Hit a Viral Home Run

How to Hit a Viral Home Run

Newsweek called Grand Rapids, Michigan, a dying town. Rob Bliss, local entrepreneur and event planner, was not pleased. Nor was the town of Grand Rapids. What he did in response went viral and was far more powerful than Newsweek‘s criticism. Rob led production of this 10 minute video, done in one take, thanks to the whole town of Grand Rapids. Yep, the whole town!

What can entrepreneurs learn from Rob’s daring, ambitious video response to Newsweek?

1. Get in the Game. Get active, get mad, whatever it takes, but get going. That’s what Rob did. Rob wasn’t afraid of failing – and that’s how he launched a massive project.

2. Tell Your Friends. Rob had the support and creativity of his partners, and that led to 3,000 volunteers ready to help out. Tell other people your idea, enlist their help, and be willing to share credit.

3. Delegate. You cannot do it all yourself. Rob was not the athletic cameraman who did the Grand Rapids shoot in ONE take! You have to see the camerawork to believe it, from standing on a rolling platform to trotting in front of a moving crowd to a smooth transition to a helicopter liftoff at the end. Likewise in business, the biggest mistake rookie entrepreneurs make is attempting to do it all alone, being that lone cowboy or cowgirl out on the range, handling all problems, stoic to the end.

4. Choose Your Ground. Rob couldn’t dispute Michigan’s high unemployment. He didn’t engage in an academic debate. He focused on Grand Rapids taking action and creating a powerful emotional response that is meant to move people to further action.

5. Use the Tools at Hand. Rob did not start a magazine to take on Newsweek, he didn’t write a letter to the editor, and he certainly didn’t do what most of us do, which is to uselessly bitch and complain about how unfair things are. He got on YouTube, and look at the results! 4.3 million views so far.

Did Rob’s effort really change anything? I don’t know. But now I know who he is – and so do you. Next up comes…you! Show us the parade you are going to lead.

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Mid-Atlantic Entrepreneurial Bash Panel

Mid-Atlantic Entrepreneurial Bash Panel

On October 17, 2011 top business leaders, executives, company owners, and aspiring entrepreneurs attended the Mid-Atlantic Entrepreneurial Bash at the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland to celebrate outstanding entrepreneurship.

A panel of world class company founders spoke including: Troy Henikoff (SurePayroll, Excelerate Labs), Howard Tullman (Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy), Ted Leonsis (Monumental Sports & Entertainment, AOL), Ara H. Bagdasarian (Omnilert), and Mark Walsh (Genius Rocket). The event was made possible by 17 co-hosts and sponsors including CBIZ, Cbeyond, and Maryland Entrepreneur Quarterly.

Watch the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Entrepreneurial Bash panel here.

 

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What’s Your Titanium Story? Interview with Dane Miller, Founder, Biomet, Appearing at Great Lakes Entrep Bash on Nov. 17

What's Your Titanium Story?  Interview with Dane Miller, Founder, Biomet, Appearing at Great Lakes Entrep Bash on Nov. 17

When I interviewed the 45 founders featured in How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America, I tried to total up the amount of value each had brought to the world. They all started from zero. I am not sure of the exact number for their company valuations, but I can tell you that on publication day the number one name on the list was Dane Miller. He had just taken Biomet private for about $12 billion.

Dane founded his company in tiny Warsaw, IN, where Biomet still continues to produce things like artificial hips and knees sold worldwide.

I’m thrilled that we were able to sit down with Dane and catch up. I had to ask him more about the amazing story about implanting titanium in his arm to prove a point. The world thought stainless steel was the safest material for the human body, but Dane knew better. So he tested it out on his own body, by having a surgeon friend implant a small piece of titanium in his arm.

Would you do that? How far will you go to prove yourself?

Dane left the titanium in his arm for ten years to prove the point. Today, thirty years later, what’s the material used worldwide by everyone in the industry? Titanium.

Watch this video where Dane briefly talks about titanium, how to keep good people, and how to keep humble.

Better yet – join us in Chicago on November 17 at the Great Lakes Entrepreneurial Bash to hear Dane and four other amazing entrepreneurs live and in person.

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