For the past few years I have been trying to get my students think about whether their business plans highlight that they can “spend other people’s money or make money.”
I have slides in our financing session telling them to ignore stories of venture capital as it is overrated as a source of capital. I have wondered openly why so much of entrepreneurship education is focused on the venture model of business planning and pitching. (This is why we are introducing Lean Start-Up methodology into our entrepreneurship education at George Mason University.)
While I have watched Tech Stars on Bloomberg and am amazed by the rise of accelerators like YCombinator and Excelerate Labs (which was incredibly impressive when I visited), it has bothered me that the venture accelerator model is focused on helping entrepreneurs raise money.
On the season finale of the Bloomberg show, #techstarsbtv mentor Gary Vaynerchuck of Vayner media asked that question. Why do we celebrate fundraising and not the actual building of a business? From the SAI Business Insider by Alyson Shontell:
Last night on the season finale of Bloomberg’s Techstars show, one of the founders said he spent the summer generating revenue rather than raising a round of financing.
No one in the audience applauded. But they did when Onswipe announced a $5 million round and Crowdtwist announced a $6 million round.
Techstars mentor and successful entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk took notice and made a good point.
“I’m concerned a little bit with the culture of celebrating the fundraise,” he said. “My dad taught me that when you borrow money it’s the worst day of your life. We didn’t clap for Red Rover because they didn’t raise $6 trillion, but I was sitting here like, ‘Good stuff!'”
Instead, Vaynerchuk looks for other entrepreneurs who know how to make money. “What I’m looking for are people who are not caught up in the excitement. Even though I’m a hype man myself, I like the practicality of it all. People who understand how to turn a profit. At the end of the day, this is still business so I’m looking for real practical knowledge of how to actually make money, not necessarily raise it.”
Gary has posted on the subject at his blog. Here is the video of his comments on Tech Stars.
Is your entrepreneurship education teaching you to spend money or make money?