Vator Splash - Celebrating entrepreneurship

Bambi Francisco Roizen · May 12, 2010 · Short URL:

It's Vator in 3D - new ideas, lessons learned, feedback, investors, community and a measure of chaos

 This Thursday is Vator's second Vator Splash event, a gathering of emerging stars and successful veterans, as well as the investors who fund them. It's the bringing together of wide-eyed entrepreneurs seeking to make a difference and the seasoned ones sharing their sage-old advice, as well as failures - essentially what entrepreneurs can expect along their entrepreneurial journeys.

This is why Vator Splash is what I call a celebration of entrepreneurship.

It's not about any industry in particular, or just startups pitching. It's about learning new ideas and how to execute on them, combined with a fun environment to network within the entrepreneur ecosystem. It also reflects entrepreneurship because it combines hard work, a lot of fun (the VC band should be a hoot at the afterparty!), and a good measure of chaos.

Vator Splash is really an extension of what we already do at Vator. Vator is a venue - whether online or in the flesh. It’s a place where ideas take flight and businesses are launched.

It's what I envisioned three years ago. It's what it is today. 

The other day I watched several videos - a couple from students participating in an Arizona State competition and a few others from the 2010 Business Plan Competition at the Paul Merage School of Business. Both competitions have been (or are currently) hosted on Vator. In the videos, the entrepreneurs talk about how they want to change the world with their innovative ideas.

Also recently, DormNoise raised $500,000 in new funding. This is a startup we had spotted on Vator some time ago as it was a top vote-getter in the Keiretsu Angel competition (also hosted on Vator), which we eventually highlighted and gave high marks to in a segment of Vator Box

A few weeks ago, acquired Jigsaw. Now we're a small piece in the Jigsaw puzzle – but I’m proud to say we’re still a piece (and Jim Fowler, Jigsaw’s CEO, will be there Thursday night!).

So be it an entrepreneur with an idea, DormNoise or Jigsaw, Vator is not only a place to inspire, advise and reward, but also a place for innovators to reach the next rung on the ladder and/or their potential.

Vator has always been - from the moment it was conceived to the time it launched nearly three years ago - a place for startups to bubble up from the pack, or at the very least, have a platform to be recognized by anyone and everyone. We've evolved a lot since first having a crude site where entrepreneurs of all stripes (toy maker in Austria for example) uploaded video pitches. Today, mostly high-tech entrepreneurs use their profiles to communicate with our growing entrepreneur ecosystem. Smule is a great example.

I've heard others say that entrepreneurship is a noble calling. We believe that is the case. We want to support these risk-taking, game-changing and innovative efforts. We may not be the catalyst that gets companies moving in the right direction, nor the platform that gives them the most visibility. We're just a channel and one avenue for them to progress and learn. 

Speaking of learning, we are big proponents of learning and building upon the shoulders of giants.

The biggest gift of Vator, and it’s least known asset, is our library of lessons learned.  We have an unbelievable collection of candid interviews with legendary entrepreneurs.  

Lessons Learned

From the moment we opened our doors, we have gathered hundreds of such video interviews. Our very first one was with Peter Thiel - Lessons from entrepreneurial legends - talking about how PayPal iterated many times before finally figuring it out. "You don't get them [pitches] right on day one... in the course of 1999, we pitched over 100 VCs... by the time you get to pitch No. 100 - it's different and better." PayPal initially started as a platform to send money via Palm Pilots and evolved to being a place to send money via email. The company is the quintessential example of sheer determination to iterate over and over in order to survive and thrive. As Eric Ries (author of the Startup Lessons Learned blog) would say, companies don't have to fail, but products can. PayPal's products failed, but not the company. We also had Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga, talk about why his social network Tribe failed

In his Lessons Learned segment, FriendFeed co-founder Paul Buchheit talks about the merits of minimum viable product and why determination is the key ingredient in an entrepreneur.

Of course, we have hundreds of articles for entrepreneurs, written by entrepreneurs, covering anything from how to improve your marketing, budget your startup or use continuous deployment methodologies to your business. 

This Thursday, we present two more entrepreneurs who will share their lessons and advice. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, which was sold late last year to Amazon for $1 billion, and Gurbaksh Chahal, founder and CEO of gWallet, an emerging social commerce company.

Both men sold companies for some $250 million by the time they were 25 years old. Both men started putting in their 10,000 hours before they graduated high school. With Tony, his hours actually add up to nearly 100,000 by the time he was 20 years old. Or more likely 20,000 hours if he focused on business for five hours a day for every day since he was nine years old. Tony, who was prohibited from watching TV for more than one hour a week, started a worm farm by the age of nine. Gurbaksh, who watched TV frequently and whose family struggled to make a living, started an advertising business, ClickAgents, when he was 16 years old, and sold it for $40 million by the time he was 18. 

I tried to find similar threads and characteristics in these two men. It certainly wasn't their TV-watching habits when they were young. But one thing both households they grew up in stressed was "education," and one characteristic that sticks out the most was their competitive fervor and their unwillingness to fail. 

I can't wait to hear their stories onstage at Vator Splash. I can't wait to see the promising startups. I can't wait to hear the VCs feedback. I can't wait to experience the community live.

It's why I love this business and this company. I look forward to seeing you at Vator Splash!

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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