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Survival, Commitment, & Failure

Start Something, Columbia! Show Notes for Tuesday June 12, 2018

We’re working on the book The Hard Thing About Hard Things and specifically the chapters on survival (2), commitment (3), and failure (4). Common entrepreneurial themes, right?

Agenda review:

We’ll hear from the 1MC speaker for tomorrow, Andrew Herrington will be joining us today to talk about his bowtie business.

Then we’ll work on the Survival, Commitment, and Failure chapters I just mentioned. We have two guests today who will help us tease out those ideas a little further.

Also, last week we talked about Origin Stories and some of our listeners logged in to Facebook and gave us theirs, so we’ll share those, too.

Segment 1:

This week at 1 MC -- Andrew Herrington of the McNair Fellows Program at Columbia College and founder of Andrew Jamison Bowties

Why did you start Andrew Jamison bowties?

Who is your target customer?

How did the McNair Seed Fund help you get up and going?

What’s next for Andrew Jamison Bowties?

Segment 2:

Topic of the week --

Survival -- so Chapter 3 is pretty heavy in the stories of raising funds for Loudcloud, Horowitz’s cloud technology company back in the late 90s, early 2000s. If you’re not a tech company familiar with raising funds, it can be a little off putting (and boring!) but I kept reading it thinking about how all that money comes with so many expectations and the mechanics of meeting those expectations -- namely selling the product -- weren’t really being met (or talked about).

Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, did not always know what he wanted to do. When he first thought about “the everything store” it was before selling items over the internet was legal. He decided to pursue this vision and eventually developed Amazon from what was originally an online bookstore.

When things get hard, remember that part of being an entrepreneur is being comfortable in uncomfortable situations and being willing to take risks. Taking risks is how some of the most innovative companies have survived! Take ZipCar for example: Robin Chase and Antje Danielson started the company that revolutionized “owning” and “renting” a car into simply “borrowing” one. The two founders started the company with just $68 in their bank account. The pair later sold the company for 500 million.

Commitment -- Chapter 4 continues the story of Loudcloud and talks about how Horowitz was seeing he needed to invest in the software aspect of the cloud operation and divest the hardware side but he didn’t really tell anyone else that was what he was planning. Interesting that he took on the hard decisions and gathered the full picture all by himself, without letting the others on his team really sway him one way or another -- none of them really saw his whole vision. How important is it to communicate your vision early and often to your team? What happens when they disagree with that vision?

Harvard Business Review talks about both the benefits and dangers of commitment, especially pertaining to entrepreneurs. Not only is commitment from employees important in a successful business, so are the type of commitments that your business makes. HBR separates commitments into several categories: Commitments that Define, Commitments that Reinforce, and Commitments that Transform.

Failure -- Since a lot of the conversation around failure was due to raising so much money and not meeting expectations, I couldn’t help but think that this was a self-made disaster. I mean, growing like crazy and then having to shrink is the “game” in tech start-ups but, really, these stories are so common that I wonder why we continue to perpetuate that model. I didn’t think of his still being able to pay himself but having to lay some people off as failure. Ya know? I kind of see failure as losing your house. The perspective there was difficult for me to connect with.

One company that experienced failure due to inability to keep up with the other players in the market was Blockbuster. Although it was not a tech company, it did deal with media and was at one of the more popular ways of renting films. With the development of companies such as Netflix, Blockbuster was pushed out of the market due to the inability to adapt to online media streaming. Blockbuster had an opportunity to adapt to the new market, but did not take the opportunity.

Segment 3:

Origin Stories follow-up from last week

Fiona Martin - You got me thinking of why I started my own business back in 2011. It was the height of the recession. I had just moved back to the States from Scotland and it seemed like no one was hiring. I had been encouraged by my former boss at VisitScotland to consider starting my own business, and since I wasn't getting anywhere in the job search department, I gave it a go! 7 years later and FGM Internet Marketing, LLC is still around, always growing and evolving. I can't wait to see what the next 7 years brings!

Shennice Cleckley - The bug first hit me when I was a book club president in Atlanta Ga back in the late 90’s. I would book author interviews on radio. I did it for free then realized I should be getting paid to do publicity. I added custom designed and wrapped Hershey miniatures and other chocolates as give-aways. Soon I was getting asked to make flavored chocolates for special events. Still not charging enough. That moved into a store in SC featuring books, coffee and chocolate called Literary Sweets. Then that moved into cupcakes and cakepops and then into what we know as My Dessert Bar.

Roshonda Pratt - My West Indian grandmother was a masterful storyteller. She made stories come to life, even with the different accents. My father, her son would make me watch the news as a fourth grader. My dad said as an American I should know what’s going on in my country. Those two encounters sparked a love for storytelling and television news. I worked as a journalist for 20 years covering breaking news, historical events and everyday people stories. I learned stories connect us and call us to action. This led me to become the storyteller strategist and heartfelt producer. I empower brands to amplify their voice and monetize their story on live video and traditional media. I also take some of the tools to host my own Facebook live show The Rosho Live.

Homework for this week:

Give us your best survival, commitment, or failure story. Go to and leave a comment on the Homework post. Next week we'll share the homework answers with our live radio audience.

Segment 4:

Events of the week --

12@12 with Henri Baskins is the Women’s Business Center of SC’s event for Friday June 15th. Tickets are on just search 12@12 using the ampersand.

1 Million Cups at Richland Library on Assembly is featuring Andrew Jamison Bowties this week. That’s 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

Tech After Five at Wild Wings Vista on Wednesday evening.

Breaking Through the Noise: Earning Trust in a Competitive Environment at SOCO co-working community sponsored by the American Marketing Association’s local chapter, Tuesday at 5:30 pm at SOCO Vista. Speaker is Philippe Herndon from the Caroline Guitar Company which is a USC Incubator resident company.

Greenhaven Memorial Gardens in Elgin is hosting an event on June 14th. Bring a chair and join us at 6:30 pm for a flag disposal ceremony. Ms. Kaitlin Stowe, Miss Southeast U.S. International, WoodmenLife, American Legion 195 & 17 will lead the ceremony. Look forward to seeing you at the top of the hill.

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