NEW YORK--Sometimes the title of a meetup ends up being more. You simply need a host who knows how to push the right buttons and no demos.
Last April 1, the Disruptive Technologists group planned a forum called “Balancing a Cool Idea with Profitability” with host/moderator Bruce Bachenheimer, a Pace University professor. It turned out to be about a lot more, including a call for immigration reform to fill up the critical need for developers and other talented people in the United States.
Bachenheimer asked his panel questions that made for an interesting evening at Microsoft’s office at Times Square. It helped that there were no demos, just talk.
The panelists consisted of investors Ed “Skip” McLaughlin, Harry Edelson, Thatcher Bell and startup founder Patrick Freuler, founder and CEO of Audicus, which offers high-tech affordable hearing aids online.
What makes America thrive and what more can it do?
McLaughlin: We are rewarded for taking risks.
Edelson: We’re (US) cutting back on research. Yes, we spend more per child, but we’re throwing at the problem that is not solving the problem….In every study like math and sciences, we’re behind. I’ve been to China a hundred times. They’re focusing on speed. We can’t even pass budgets.
Bell: I overestimated the importance of transparency and rule of law (in the US). We have some advantages in our legal system, in our IPR rights, even culturally, against (other) nations. But we need to fix (immigration) and Congress to approve it (seeing how Cornell Tech has great minds not permitted to work permanently in the US). It makes me irate.
Freuler: I’m from Switzerland benefiting from the US’ fertile ecosystem of advisers who connect the dots for you….In Europe, nobody looks at if you fail the first time.
On ideas, the importance of execution, why protecting an idea is not always the right away
McLaughlin: Execution trumps ideas
Edelson: I look for good potential and good management (to execute)
Bell, paraphrasing Aaron Rice of NJ Tech Meetup: The more experienced you are the more you (should) shout your idea out from the rooftop
Freuler: Execution is what creates the value. It’s a marathon. Some started with a bad idea but in iterating, improved on the idea
On the importance of founders
Edelson: Getting the right jockey and getting everybody to cooperate with him.
Freuler: Whether it’s the horse or jockey, it’s the jockey that counts.
Edelson: They will have the money when the economy goes down.
Bell: There are three types of crowdfunding--donation, lending and equity based. Almost all of them come from institutions. Institutions know what they’re getting into. Equity lends itself to fraud. Equity scares me.
On Shark Tank the TV show
McLaughlin: It’s phenomenally entertaining. I am strong believer in profit the mandate. It all starts with profit.
Edelson: They don’t (get) pre-money or post-money.
Bell: I’ve never seen the show
Freuler: It has to fit the investment mission of the investor. They paint a bad picture of investors. Our investors are awesome.