Many, many thanks to Matt McIlwain for speaking at Rock Star Venture Capitalist on November 7. Matt has a reputation for bringing his “A game” and this was no exception. Approximately 65 people from cross-sections of UW and the Seattle startup community took in Matt’s observations of the ingredients of a successful entrepreneur.
The talk started out broadly setting the stage of innovation as a journey and how it is a critical part of the economy. The long term benefit is a ecosystem with network effects. Specifically, Microsoft beget Real Networks, Real Networks, ADIC, F5 and UW CSE helped beget Isilon and now Isilon has beget Clustrix and Corensic. Matt believes, as many here do, that Seattle is uniquely positioned to be not only as major tech hub, but one that can be bigger than Austin, Boston, Los Angeles and New York. The ecosystem and the entrepreneurs who thrive in the ecosystem are key.
Matt then detailed how there are 4 key ingredients of the successful entrepreneur:
1) Customer Focus
Sunny Gupta of Apptio is a great example of relentless customer focus. He understands not only value creation but also value capture.
2) Domain Passion
Glenn Kelman of Redfin is so passionate about the domain, even through he had no prior experience in it, that Redfin has seriously disrupted real estate. Check this 2008 Forbes article for how disruptive Redfin has been.
Andy Liu of BuddyTV personifies how entrepreneurs must dream and execute.
Brad Jefferson of Animoto is a prime example of not letting ego stand in the way of success. Animoto stopped and redesigned their architecture around the then newly emerging AWS platform.
Thanks again to Matt, a true Rock Star!