How to Say No to a Deal the Right Way

There is a method to turning down potential partnerships without jeopardizing your relationships. December 2, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Just a few weeks ago, I was standing outside of San Francisco’s Ferry Building in the pouring rain on the phone. Torrential rain in San Francisco is unusual for October, which is normally considered the city’s ostnesible summer. But in this case, it contributed to a sense of evil foreboding, as what I expected to be a friendly and collegial call quickly took a nasty turn.   “We thought about this overnight, and we are not a good partner for you,” said the individual on the phone, a potential business partner.  This shocked me. You see, over the past few months, I had developed what I thought was a genuinely friendly relationship with this individual; always responding to texts, calling early mornings and on weekends. He […]

Read more

How to Use Bridge Capital to Accelerate Your Business

What was formerly a last resort is now a means of achieving independence and profitability. November 1, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. It was cold and slightly misty outside my hotel in Dublin, Ireland when I got the call. As an entrepreneur and investor, I have seen my fair share of ideas run down to zero. The founder on the other end of the line had informed me a week earlier that he was raising a bridge round. Usually, this means doom and gloom, so naturally, I expected the worst.  “Are you in? You investing can send a really positive signal to everyone,” said the founder. “Well, how bad is the business?” I asked. “Is there a chance of saving the intellectual property, the product, repositioning; something, anything, that will make this work?” “Actually no, that’s the thing,” replied the Founder. “We are raising a […]

Read more

The Importance of Getting Advisors to Invest in Your Business

Outside consultants can show true conviction with their capital. October 11, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. I was sitting outside at Samovar Tea Lounge in the heart of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center. It was the middle of July, but the 55-degree temperatures and brisk coastal winds made it feel more like late November. “I thought this one advisor would be great with connections to multiple customers, but after signing the advisory agreement, I have not heard back from her in six months,” said an entrepreneur I knew who was starting a company for remote product shipping in Europe. “I’ve seen this before,” I replied. “Did she invest capital in the company as well?” “No,” said my entrepreneur friend. “She said that she did not have available dry powder, but wanted to help out.” After much prodding by my friend over the ensuing weeks, nothing […]

Read more

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from the Backlash to Hotel and Resort Fees

Being upfront with customers about pricing will create a customer for life. September 8, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Every January, I go to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. CES is a cavalcade of “what’s next” in consumer electronics, from televisions to smart refrigerators. And robots. Lots of robots. Some of which are really creepy. With how expensive hotels tend to be during this event, I book months in advance to secure a still unreasonable but not eyeball-gouging rate. But this year was different. To my surprise, a $54 resort fee was added to my bill upon checkout, thus adding a total of about 20 percent to the cost of my stay. Inquiring to the hotel, I was told that the fee was “mandatory” and that it covered such generous amenities as water bottles, a chocolate bar and an airport shuttle that is “currently […]

Read more

Why ‘Now’ May Well Be the Right Time to Start a Blockchain Company

With the crypto market growing again, here are the three main factors to watch out for if you’re starting, or investing, in a company in the space. July 16, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. A little over two years ago, I was at my company’s holiday dinner, and the only topic of conversation was the stratospheric rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and those others that were lesser known but certainly more amusingly named (like Putincoin). Related: Should You Still Invest in Bitcoin in 2018? With Bitcoin at that time topping $20,000 and Crypto Kitties also hitting the world by storm, something momentous was afoot; and we all wanted in. Yet, my company’s CTO called a halt to our excitement, cautioning that a deep decline was coming. The reason he gave: The potential of the blockchain — the platform through which cryptocurrencies are built — to create real-world applications […]

Read more

3 Counter-intuitive Customer Service Lessons Entrepreneurs Should Learn

How a bad experience at a self-styled “luxury” Sydney hotel reminded me of the most important customer service lessons for small business owners and entrepreneurs. June 19, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. At about 1 a.m. during a memorable trip I took to Australia, I awoke suddenly in a hot sweat in my hotel room at the Intercontinental Sydney Double Bay. Supposedly among that country’s leading hotels, the Intercontinental bills itself as “Sydney’s Exclusive Bayside retreat,” where guests stay in luxury. According to the hotel’s website, air-conditioning is one of these luxuries. Related: 10 Reasons Why Good Customer Service Is Your Most Important Metric But not on that particular night. In fact, the thermostat in my room was stuck at a stuffy 24 C. (75 F.) degrees. So, I turned the temperature down, but to no avail. When I called the front desk, I was informed that the […]

Read more

How to Raise Money Even When You Don’t Have ‘Traction’

Early-stage entrepreneurs need marketplace traction to raise capital. And capital to generate traction. Here’s how to get out of this frustrating cycle. June 7, 2019 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. It was an unusually sunny early spring afternoon in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. I was meeting with the founders of a new company, fresh out of Y Combinator’s latest cohort, and they were pitching me on investing in and advising their business. They were excited and pumped for the future. Related: Raising Capital? The Latest (and Greatest) Ways to Fund Your Startup “We are creating a marketplace for mineral rights and options,” they told me. This marketplace they envisioned? It would enable landowners to sell the rights to mine for minerals or even oil on their property to prospectors and others. “Stuck in a pen and paper dynamic, this market is worth at least $50 billion,” one of the […]

Read more

How to Introduce Investors to Your Team the Right Way

Eager to introduce investors to the rest of your “rockstar team”? That meeting could be to your detriment. Here’s how to turn your dilemma into a win and close the deal. April 9, 2019 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. “We love you and your co-founder,but we want to meet the rest of the team.” The speaker was a partner at an investment firm thinking about sinking money into the startup my co-founder and I ran. Related: First Meeting With an Investor? These 5 Guidelines Will Help “Specifically, we want to meet the engineers on board and understand how they think about the product,” the partner told us. And, without even thinking twice, my co-founder and I promptly set up the meeting for the next afternoon. The meeting happened. The partner and his associate met with our entire engineering and product teams.  We came out of the meeting […]

Read more

How Rapid ‘Testing and Learning’ During Product Development Saves Time and Money

Investing money and design work is all very well. But what do your (potential) customers think? That’s what really counts. February 26, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. A few weeks ago, I met with an extremely frustrated founder. “I just spent all of my capital building and designing a great product,” he fretted to me. “We hired the best branding and design team, and we paid top dollar for ‘first in class’ market research. Now, I can’t get anyone to use my product.” “But did you know if anyone wanted it?” I immediately asked. Related: Starting Up Wrong: 6 Product Testing Mistakes You Need to Avoid “Of course they do!” he said. “I know they want it because we’ve invested so much. How could anyone not like this?” “But you haven’t really tested it!” I responded. “You haven’t gotten customers to sign up and […]

Read more

Why It Was Southwest Airlines’ Herb Kelleher’s Most Important Lesson for Entrepreneurs

Sadly, Kelleher died last month. But his legacy lives on: Ever hear of how he and his airline became Texas’s largest bourbon distributor? February 4, 2019 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. I was actually on a Southwest Airlines flight when I found out that the company’s legendary co-founder and chairman, Herb Kelleher, had passed away. Kelleher died on Jan. 3, but over the five decades before that, his vision revolutionized air travel. His creation, Southwest — arguably the world’s first low-cost airline — democratized flying for millions. Related: How Southwest Airlines Created a Mass Market for Air Travel The company’s differential was that by competing more with bus services than legacy airlines, it could disrupt the market. This strategy was so successful that in 1993, the U.S. Department of Transportation coined the term “The Southwest Effect” to denote an increase in origination air travel and a corresponding drop in prices, […]

Read more

2 Harsh Experiences Convinced Me Never to Invest in Friends’ Companies

How do you avoid the drama-filled minefield that can result when a friend pressures you for financial support? Try these 4 responses. November 30, 2018 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. I’ve lost not one but two friendships this year because my response to an investment opportunity didn’t meet those friends’ expectations. The lesson I learned? Friends and funding definitely don’t mix. Here’s what happened: Related: The Ins and Outs of Raising Money From Friends and Family Experience No. 1 occurred at 2 a.m., Sydney, Australia, time. I had just met my girlfriend’s mom, so it had been a full day. And, given the late hour, I just wanted to go to bed. That was when I received a text message from a close friend who had been pushing hard for me to invest in his business.   I had already told him in multiple conversations that thought he had […]

Read more

When Pitching Investors, Your Product Doesn’t Matter (as Much as You Think)

Ever considered upping your storytelling game? That’s actually something as important to investors as your product. October 26, 2018 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. It was a perfect sunny day and my spirits were high. My co-founder and I had a meeting lined up at one of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious investment firms, which had funded such startups as Snapchat, Dropbox and Airbnb. Our thought: We’re next. Related: The 5 Best Pitch Tactics I Heard as an Angel Investor We began the meeting with the firm’s general partner by whipping out our standard presentation deck. It provided a strong product overview and proof of early traction. However, this is when things started to go sour. The general partner started fidgeting, working the phone as thugh he had an impending Tinder date and distractedly gazing out the window as if to ask, “I wonder what ski conditions […]

Read more