Today's Entrepreneur


Today's Entrepreneur: Kevin O'Connor

No. 1 mistake: Entrepreneurs need to stay focused on innovation, not the competition

Innovation series by Kristin Karaoglu
March 28, 2011
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Vator’s community is the home to entrepreneurs who embrace their passion and follow their dreams.

Our newly-designed profiles allow members to express themselves by sharing their interests, lessons learned, as well as bits and pieces of their roller-coaster journey.

These profiles give entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase themselves and tell their story.

So if you are an entrepreneur, a serial entrepreneur, or even an aspiring entrepreneur, we'd like to hear from you.

Today’s entrepreneur is Kevin O'Connor, CEO/Founder of

According to his VEQ (Vator entrepreneur assessment test), Kevin is a thought leader, and is good at project management and project development.

Name companies you've founded or co-founded:, DoubleClick, Intercomputer Communications Corporation

Name companies you've invested in:

Internet Security Systems,, Surfline, Travidia, ProCore and CampusExplorer

If you are an entrepreneur, why?

I like finding the best solutions for really big challenges

List your favorite startups:

Bluekai and 10gen

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

The hiring and managing of people can be both rewarding and frustrating. As an engineer I’m fascinated by the technology, and my first instinct is to spend most of my time knee-deep in product. But to build a great company you need to be at the helm and ultimately, I really enjoy working with a smart and motivated team.

The most rewarding is creating the best solutions for really big challenges.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?

Focusing too much on the competition instead of focusing on building the
absolute best, and most trusted, product for your customers. Entrepreneurs
need to stay focused on innovation, not the competition.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

Hire “smart athletes”. Companies tend to hire people based on skills. We tend to hire extremely smart and competitive people. Smart people can learn any skill and find creative solutions to tough problems. Competitive because startups have a lot of ups and downs – just like in sports – and we don’t want quiters, we want winners.

Find the best solutions and build consensus. The answers are in the room
but buried beneath opinions and politics. We use a brainstorm technique that
allows us to quickly extract all ideas then to determine the critical few answers
we need. Everyone feels part of the process and nobody remembers where the answers came from – they come from everybody.

Don’t think big, think HUGE. People don’t naturally see themselves as having
the ability to do truly great things – big things yes, massively huge no. I try to
create huge (but doable) visions and find ways to inspire people to believe we can do it.

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