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The first day of the 2013 Endeavor Entrepreneur Summit featured a much-discussed discussion between two Silicon Valley stars — Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone.
Dorsey is the creator and current chairman of Twitter and the founder of Square, a device that allows anyone to accept credit cards for their business via their smartphone or tablet. Stone is co-founder of Twitter and The Obvious Corporation. He most recently co-founded the startup Jelly.
The twist? Neither Dorsey or Stone started out with entrepreneurial mindsets. Dorsey spoke about how he and Twitter’s other early employees “never had to think about building a company; it was all about the idea.” For Dorsey, Twitter was all about conversation and its potential for changing the world. Similarly, when creating Square, he hoped to fix a problem first and foremost.
Stone’s reaction to Dorsey’s description of Square prompted one of the session’s most tweeted quotes: “Every transaction is a social event!”
Both entrepreneurs spoke about the importance of company leadership. Dorsey talked about how setting the right example at work is key, saying, “If I spend all my energy on being worried, the whole company will be worried” and “Founders’ happiness sets the tone [for company culture].” It can also reach the end product, he said: “Negative energy in the company morale will manifest itself in a company product.”
Stone discussed the necessity of passion, citing it as a requirement for starting a business. “When you are emotionally invested in something, it will carry you through the bad times,” he said. Both agreed that passion is often the difference between success and failure. Bottom line? Love what you do, and the business will come.
Another Summit session spotlighted advice from Ali Partovi, an investor with an eye for success. A serial entrepreneur, he co-founded iLike, LinkExchange (sold to Microsoft for $265 million), and Code.org, and invested in the likes of Facebook, Dropbox, Zappos, Airbnb, and Viagogo at their early stages. In “The Instinct for Impact,” a fireside chat with Eric Eldon, editor of TechCrunch and co-founder of Inside Network, Partovi revealed that his current work revolves around sustainable agriculture.
More generally, Partovi, emphasized the importance of the people who make up companies. “Every success can be related to great hiring [and] people and every failure can be related to poor hiring,” he said.
Partovi also stressed the importance of focus in starting a business. Playing on the “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” cliche, he countered, “How many eggs do you have to have before you need a second basket?” According to Partovi, failure to heed this mantra was his biggest mistake in his early entrepreneurial career.
On perseverance and setbacks, he advised, “Don’t let your fear of failing stop you from taking risks” and, if you do fail, “fail quickly.”
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