What is an Entrepreneur?

29 01 2012
English: Harvard Business School

The best answer I found comes from the Harvard Business School professor, Howard Stevenson.

“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.” – Stevenson

Back in 1983, Stevenson told entrepreneur and teacher Jon Burgstone, “people tended to define entrepreneurship almost as a personality disorder, a kind of risk addiction. But that didn’t fit the entrepreneurs I knew,” he said. “I never met an entrepreneur who got up in the morning saying ‘Where’s the most risk in today’s economy, and how can I get some? Most entrepreneurs I know are looking to lay risk off—on investors, partners, lenders, and anyone else.” As for personality, he said, “The entrepreneurs I know are all different types. They’re as likely to be wallflowers as to be the wild man of Borneo.”

Stevenson’s definition focus’ on entrepreneurship as a process. “They see an opportunity and don’t feel constrained from pursuing it because they lack resources,” says Stevenson. “They’re used to making do without resources.”

The perception of opportunity in the absence of resources helps explain much of what differentiates entrepreneurial leadership from that of corporate administrators: the emphasis on team rather than hierarchy, fast decisions rather than deliberation, and equity rather than cash compensation. (1)

“Every time you want to make any important decision, there are two possible courses of action. You can look at the array of choices that present themselves, pick the best available option and try to make it fit. Or, you can do what the true entrepreneur does: Figure out the best conceivable option and then make it available.” – Burgstone

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Airbnb Takes the Lead!

23 05 2011
Image representing Airbnb as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Airbnb is a triumph in the start-up world. Here is a quick recap over the life of Airbnb‘s finance:

Airbnb has raised $7,800,000 to date. Here is our complete financing history. Airbnb approaches many investors in 2008. Most say “the market is too small.” Some are concerned 2 of the 3 founders are designers, thus creating a founding DNA different from the success patterns they are looking for.

Running out of money, Airbnb starts selling collectible cereal, and makes $30,000 in the process.

With their website low in traffic, their kitchen is without food. Airbnb starts living off their collectible cereal. This is a low point.

At a dinner with the founders of Justin.tv in November, 2008, Airbnb is convinced to apply for Y-Combinator, and gets accepted. PG says he is skeptical of the idea, but likes the founders because they “won’t die,” and are “very imaginative.” Airbnb finally raises $20,000.

By Demo Day in April, 2009, Airbnb becomes “ramen profitable,” and finally stops eating the leftover collectible cereal in their kitchen. Sequoia Capital takes notice. Sequoia leads a Seed Round of $600,000, led by Greg McAdoo. Keith Rabois, Kevin Hartz, and Jawed Karim of Youniversity Ventures participate.

700,000 room-nights booked later, Airbnb announces a Series A Round of $7,200,000 led by Sequoia Capital and Greylock Partners to expand from 8,000 cities to every city known to humankind. Reid Hoffman leads the round for Greylock Partners. New angels include Ron Conway, Jeremy Stoppelman, and Elad Gil.