Despite being a Wharton and MIT guy, my friend Fred Wilson has been kind enough to attend my class at HBS for the last few years. Yesterday was another terrific one.
Instead of a final exam, I assign my students the task of blogging. You can see the the class blog here, where the students wrestle with the limitations of the lean methodology, challenges in seeking product-market fit, premature scaling and other important startup topics.
I encouraged the students to live tweet the class and it was a huge success. You can see the Twitter stream from the class here. A few highlights/quotes that I thought were particularly salient:
"We should always bet on the team and, in this case, ignored that it looked like a niche market." (Fred on lessons learned on passing up the opportunity to invest in AirBnB)
"It’s a lot better to fail with professional investors’ money than with friends and family money. We’re used to losing money."
"Don't let your own reality distortion field convince you, as a founder, that you've hit product market fit."
"As an entrepreneur, stay a 'free agent' as long as possible." (i.e., don't pick a VC partner too early in your lifecycle – Union Square and Flybridge aside…:-)
"[When pitching investors,] focus on the big vision, how you will be the market leader in 10 years, don't get stuck in the operational details."
On career choices: "You'll learn more doing your own startup [versus joining someone else's]. But doing a startup for the sake of doing a startup isn't a good idea. "
"VCs look for passionate, authentic founders who actually believe they can defy gravity" (I think this was me but Fred seemed to agree)
"There's value in having a founding team with a crazy person with vision alongside a cofounder grounded in logic and analytics."
Thanks again to Fred for coming out and helping make a memorable class experience!