Colin Grant, managing director of Nomad Mobile Guides in Blacksburg, shared insights about starting a company and some hard-earned lessons from a career in entrepreneurship on Tuesday, Feb. 1, during the College of Business and Economics’ COBE 150 Speaker Series at Radford University.
Grant, a former Nokia engineer who is currently working on the development of a smart phone software platform for local destination marketing organizations, drew on more than 20 years of start-up and entrepreneurial experience during a presentation entitled, “So You Want to Start a Business: Some Things to Think About.”
“More than skills, energy, dedication and time,” said Grant. “It takes moxie to put yourself at risk to start and continue something.”
Grant urged the class to look beyond the quest for the perfect product and “focus on something you can get out there to get traction, something you can show that is selling.”
Company types, good ideas, capital needs and the value of a mentor were among the many aspects of starting up a company that Grant reviewed in the second of the weekly COBE Speaker Series that is open to the public on Tuesdays at 3:30 p.m. in McGuffey 206.
Recounting a recent meeting with a venture capitalist, Grant pointed out that a key question aspiring entrepreneurs need to be able to answer is “Have you failed?”
“They want to hear your analysis of the problem, your reaction and what you learned,” said Grant. “The best things and the worst things you’ve done; that’s what is called experience.”
Pointing out that the current economic downturn has resulted in a surge in new business ventures, Grant reviewed several lifestyle positions from which entrepreneurs often start a business. He said being independently wealthy is obviously the best, whereas being encumbered with commitments and dependents is the most daunting.
The “mattress and noodles” stage, where the entrepreneur can live cheaply and focus all of his or her attention on the project, is the most popular model as it includes the great entrepreneurship stories of computer makers like Michael Dell and Steven Jobs.
“Whether it is in raising capital or just being enthusiastic every day, it is a marathon, not a sprint.” said Grant.