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  • [MUSIC]

  • A session on, what they don't teach in business school about entrepreneurship.

  • Having taught entrepreneurship in Stanford business school for something

  • like 13 years, I can tell you there's a lot.

  • Some of it we know we don't teach, and some of it

  • we probably should teach if we knew a little more about the subject.

  • So, I think it's a very pertinent subject today.

  • So Mike, why don't you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit

  • about what you did, and just remember, I've got a little bio here.

  • >> Okay.

  • >> So if you don't include things, I can include it, and if you, if

  • you do include things that, that aren't in here, I may question you on it.

  • >> Okay.

  • It's like the Senate Investigation Committee.

  • >> Exactly.

  • >> Except you're not sitting out there.

  • >> I do have lights flashing at me.

  • >> That's true.

  • >> So I've been the CEO and co-founder of four startups.

  • I was very lucky with the first three.

  • One was, the first one was, I started with $500 of myself

  • and each of my two partners putting $500 so we had $1,500.

  • We started in my second year of business school at

  • the business, the Stanford of the East Coast, in Boston.

  • >> You're very kind.

  • >> [LAUGH] We, we never raised venture capital.

  • It, it started as a company called Dialafish.

  • It was where you could order groceries from home.

  • It was insane.

  • This was before the internet and everything.

  • We eventually sold it for, we had to change direction

  • because that was not gonna work into a computer telephony tool.

  • We sold it for $13 million a few years later, which was tiny for

  • Silicon Valley standards, but, you know, a

  • fair New England return on the $1,500 investment.

  • The second company was Direct Hit, which was an internet search engine.

  • Nobody ever heard of inter, of Direct Hit, but

  • we were providing search results to Microsoft, AOL, Lycos.

  • We're kind of a behind-the-scenes provider.

  • And it was the right time we grew to a market value of $500 million.

  • 500 days after we launched it, and we sold it in January of 2000.

  • And then the third company was X-fire which

  • is an instant messenger for PC video gamers.

  • It spread virally.

  • We got to about three million users, two years after launching.

  • We sold it for a $100 million to

  • MTV and now there's fifteen million users, using it.

  • And I'm now work on my fourth one, which I could end up being, I want to be four and

  • o but I couldn't be three and one because we

  • haven't sort of found the formula for success on Ruba.

  • Ruba's a travel site, so that's sort of my background.

  • >> And when did you graduate from Harvard?

  • >> A long, long, time ago.

  • >> Look.

  • >> We have to get into numbers.

  • >> Oh, yeah, the rea, yeah, well, the reason why, is, is sort of interesting to

  • know the timing of your first venture, right,

  • because, that was, you say, prior to the internet.

  • >> Yes.

  • >> But, so you were, you were actually a leader

  • in that, others came after you, also didn't do very well.

  • Right?

  • >> So I would.

  • >> You may have been the, the, the biggest

  • winner in that whole space of ordering food from home.

  • >> If we'd started a different time.

  • >> Well, you, you sold it for $13 million.

  • >> Yeah.

  • >> Most of the other companies I know lost money, right?

  • >> [LAUGH] So win by default.

  • >> Yeah.

  • >> sure.

  • So I decided I was going to stop aging at age 31.

  • So, I graduated Harvard from 1991.

  • So I must have graduated around age 11.

  • >> 11.

  • [LAUGH].

  • >> You can figure out.

  • >> Good.

  • All right, thank you.

  • Zila.

  • >> So I'm Nazila Alasti and I started life as an engineer.

  • I'm Iranian originally, and in my country if you're a

  • good student you either become a doctor or an engineer,

  • so there was, that was the choice and I was

  • scared of blood so off I went into engineering school.

  • But it was actually a really great background I thought for Silicon Valley.

  • I didn't know I would end up here, but I did.

  • And I was thankful for my parents for having pushed me into engineering.

  • Fast forward, five years of working, at a technology company at Mass Microdevices.

  • I became a project designer, project lead, went to business school,

  • and learned that people can actually, make money selling pencils.

  • And that it doesn't have to be semi-conductors.

  • That was my big, learning from, from business school.

  • Entrepreneurial activities at the time were not as hot as they are now.

  • >> What was it, when did you graduate?

  • >> I graduated in 88.

  • >> 88.

  • >> So, I also stopped aging at 30, a few years earlier than you, yeah.

  • and, and, I have to say that my experience at business school, was really

  • eye-opening, broadening, but I wouldn't say that

  • I was focused on necessarily becoming an entrepreneur.

  • It seemed very risky at the time.

  • However after I got out and experienced the venture capital world for

  • a couple of years and then went on to work at Apple, which

  • I consider really my formative years at Apple, and worked on a

  • big failure of a project called Newton, which was the original hand-held device.

  • I came to understand that I really needed more freedom in my life,

  • and that the corporate structure wasn't providing that, and I was stupid enough or

  • naive enough to say that I could do things on my own, so I

  • started a long line of all sorts of startups, failures as well as successes.

  • And ended up now running Jooners, which was my first, from Powerpoint, to funding,

  • to product startup, where I'm CEO, founder and I'm growing that business.

  • So, that's a little bit about me.

  • >> Zila's also the mother of two daughters.

  • >> Yes, I am.

  • >> And, someone who is passionate about trying to help those

  • of you who are thinking about entrepreneurship learn more about it.

  • So that's why she's here today.

  • >> Yeah, let me add to that Chuck.

  • Thank you for bringing it up.

  • I also want to talk to the women

  • in, in the group if you're interested afterwards about

  • why I believe entrepreneurship is actually a very valid

  • choice and, and, and compatible with being a mother.

  • So anyone who is interested in discussing that, I'm open to doing that.

  • the world will tell you no, it's 24/7, etc.

  • Unless you burn the midnight oil, you won't be successful.

  • I happen to have a different story.

  • So if anyone is interested I'm happy to share that.

  • >> Great.

  • Thank you.

  • So we, we talked to, we've heard

  • from two people who actually had technical backgrounds.

  • Will, give us your background and what you're doing now.

  • >> Thanks, Chuck.

  • So I graduated in 1999 from Kellogg, and I've been in the valley since then.

  • I've done a combination of both startups and venture capital activity.

  • So currently I am the CEO of

  • Sequoia Hummer-Winblad funded company called Widget Box.

  • And I joined Widget Box two years ago.

  • And before that, I was a managing director at

  • Hummer-Winblad and spent six years in the venture capital business.

  • So since I got out of business school, I've

  • had kind of the opportunity to see both, entrepreneurs in

  • action as a venture backer, and thinking through business models

  • and deciding who to finance and who not to finance.

  • And then also, having decided that to become an entrepreneur myself

  • and it's only recently I even considered myself one, quite honestly.

  • But the last couple years of running a small

  • startup that's not profitable makes you one, I think.

  • It's been it's been a very interesting time to run a, run a company.

  • So, now I'm definitely excited to be here today and

  • kinda share my thoughts about what business school taught me, what

  • it didn't taught me, to, teach me about, you know, how

  • to, to lead a company, bring products to market, sell, etc.

  • And Chuck's right, like in terms of backgrounds, I went to Harvard,

  • studied East Asian studies and finance and started my career actually in Asia.

  • So I worked in Hong Kong, and Singapore, spoke Mandarin

  • Chinese and thought I was going to be part of

  • the Asian miracle, and, but so that, so I've done

  • I'm not coming from an engineering background, in other words.

  • And so part of, you know, one of the questions today I

  • think is, how do MBAs and finance people fit in to a

  • culture that's really run by, by engineers, as opposed to business types,

  • and kinda the MBA being a joke, as opposed to something good.

  • So I, you know, I'm happy to be here and look forward to a good discussion.

  • >> Now one of the things, Will, if I am correct in reading this and listening to

  • you, you formed, you joined Widget Box after it had actually been founded.

  • >> That's correct.

  • So there were three technical founders.