Learning from Legendary Alumni

By: Frank Tong

The 2012 Thunderbird Entrepreneurship Winterim started from San Diego and then went north through Ervin to Los Angeles. Next, we spend one week in the world famous technology engine, San Francisco. Finally, we wrapped up and finished the touring in our legendary Alumni’s Vineyards in Napa Valley.

peopleThere are actually many successful entrepreneurs or investors giving speeches to us, such as Mr. Otterson, founder of Silicon Valley and Mr. Farook Afsari, a Thunderbird alumnus, CEO of eCullet. But the most inspired person I met is Howard Lindzon.  “If I don’t invest in your company, take heart in the fact that I passed on Twitter, Zynga and Foursquare early on as well. Lots of failures too. Trust me.” He is a straightforward people and always opens his mind to the visiting students.

In 2006, Mr. Lindzon created Wallstrip, and his team created more than 400 original web video shows. Wallstrip was purchased by CBS Corp. in 2007. His series entrepreneurship experiences includes: Rent.com, (purchased by EBay in 2005 for $415 million), Golfnow.com (purchased by Comcast in June 2008), and Lifelock (lead investors include Bessemer Venture Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers). Other investments include: Limos.com, Blogtalkradio.com, Buddy Media, Ticketfly, Assistly, Bit.ly, Etoro.com, Tubemogul and Tweetdeck (purchased by Twitter).

From his legend experiences and life lessons I want to share with you guys with three points:

  • Find some things you really good and be passionate

It is all about sober self awareness and an entrepreneur has to thoroughly know his or her strength and weakness. Actually, the entrepreneur may have many initial ideas at the same time and all of them looks promising and has potential to success. Without a clear self conscious, even smart people can lost their mind and choose a wrong direction.

  • Consistency

Howard emphasize on his specialty- stock market for a long term, no matter the market is good or bad. He didn’t change or deviation from what’s he focus.  Consistency also means you keeping doing some trivial or exhausted things constantly to keep improve the products or services in your project.  When the market is good and you get lots of rewards, but you still need to invest back and seeking any further opportunities. When the market is bad, your need to persevere and stick the direction you set before.

  • Know you customers and listen to their voices

After you have a great idea and a determined mind to devote to start a new venture, you have to start to test you idea and working on interactive with your customers. You may choose a small number of them represent all the customers pool and collect feedback IMG_0493from them and looking for any possible chances to improve the products or services. So in the product life cycle method, you may want to have a prototype or beta version product before you invest a lot into a specific unknown market.

Mr. Lindzon was born in Toronto, lived in Phoenix for 20 years and now in Coronado, CA. Way back in the dark ages (the 90′s) He earned an MBA atArizona State University and an MIM from Thunderbird School of Global Management.  Now he is co-founder and CEO of StockTwits – a social network for traders and investors to share real-time ideas and information. StockTwits was recently named “one of the top 10 most innovative companies in web” by FastCompany and one of the “50 best websites” by Time magazine.

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