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Aaltoes Talk with Mårten Mickos


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  • 1. Starting a Business Mårten G Mickos Otaniemi 15 Dec 2009 Aalto Entrepreneurship Society
  • 2. Here’s to a lot of failure!
  • 3. MySQL 2001-2008
    • 2001
      • a dozen people
      • less than $1m in sales
      • leading open source DBMS (4m installs)
      • niche player
      • valued at $7m
    • 2008
      • 400 employees
      • about $100m in sales
      • leading open source DBMS (11m installs)
      • leading player
      • valued at $1bn (original founders’ shares grew 40x – from $7m to $280m)
  • 4. "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." — Winston Churchill
  • 5. About Mårten Mickos
    • Born 1962 in Otaniemi, Finland
    • M.Sc. (Eng) in technical physics from TKK
    • [email_address]
    • Founded Polycon in 1987 with 2 friends
    • VTKK 1991-1993
    • ViSolutions 1993-1995
    • Solid Information Technology 1995-1997
    • Intellitel Communications 1997-1999
    • MatchON Sports 1999-2000
    • Vexillum 2000-2001
    • MySQL AB 2001-2008, Sun 2008-2009
  • 6. Keep going 1 2 Ambition Outcome 3 4 5 6 7 8
  • 7. "The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." — Michelangelo
  • 8. Starting Your itch / your passion A real market demand with a window of opportunity + Fail fast Scale fast => Don’t worry – be crappy
  • 9. When is the right time?
    • Are *you* ready?
    • The importance of the S curve
    • First-mover advantage?
    • Many entrepreneurs start too early in the window of opportunity
  • 10. Driven by what?
    • History
    • Technology
    • Ego
    • Greed
    • Patriotism
    • Opportunity
    • Customers
    • Markets
    • etc.
  • 11. Growing a business FOCUS. FOCUS. FOCUS. Pick the business that you want to be in. Period. Everything else is out of mind. Done. Finished. Gone. Just get on with it!
  • 12. Stockdale paradox = sisu
    • Pure optimists don’t survive
      • ” Don’t believe your own PR”
    • Pure pessimists don’t survive
      • "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." - Henry Ford
    • “ You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” — Admiral Jim Stockdale (POW in Vietnam)
  • 13. Being a startup CEO
    • Knowing & accepting yourself
    • More humility than ego
    • Faith in people
    • Visionary & contagious optimism coupled with sustained ability to face the brutal truth
    • Ability to hire the best
    • Listening & experimenting
    • Inexperience can be a great asset
    • Ability to be engaged in making things happen, coupled with ability to detach and see the helicopter view
    • Relentless drive towards goals
    • Remember, it is a lonely job to be the CEO.
  • 14. Effective executive by Peter Drucker
    • Great managers may be charismatic or dull, generous or tightfisted, visionary or numbers oriented. But every effective executive follows eight simple practices.
    • 1. They ask “What needs to be done?”
    • 2. They ask “What is right for the enterprise?”
    • 3. They develop action plans
    • 4. They take responsibility for decisions
    • 5. They take responsibility for communicating
    • 6. They are focused on opportunities rather than problems
    • 7. They run productive meetings
    • 8. They think and say “we” rather than “I”
  • 15. Effective team (by mgm)
    • Great executive teams may be aggressive or conservative, intuitive or calculating, conflicted or harmonious. But every effective executive team follows eight practices:
    • Team members ask each other "How can I support you?"
    • Team members hold each other accountable while also allowing each one to show vulnerability.
    • The team practices open and authentic communication.
    • The team arrives at key decisions together through discussion, debate, and synthesis.
    • The team has fun.
    • Team members see success of the whole team as the best form of success.
    • The team operates at a strategic level and empowers the organization around them to make and execute operational decisions.
    • Each team member builds his/her own teams following these principles.
  • 16. Thoughts on success
    • Shoot for the stars. Even if you fail, you’ll land on the moon.
    • Succeed in spite of your background, not thanks to it
    • Assets can turn into liabilities in an instance; liabilities can turn into assets over a long time
    • There are innumerable ways to fail, but there is also always more than one way to succeed
    • Quotes
      • "Fall seven times; stand up eight." — Japanese proverb
      • "I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed." — Michael Jordan
      • "Full effort is full victory." — Mahatma Gandhi
  • 17. Easy ways to fail
    • “ The market is so big that 1% is enough for us.”
    • “ Actually, there are no competitors.”
    • “ Our product does, among other things, everything.”
    • Greed, fear
    • Falling in love with a product or idea, believing your own PR, not knowing your place
    • Lack of patience and endurance
    • Misjudging the scale of the challenge
    • Lack of “Excel Gymnastics”
    • Inability to deal with people
    • Not solving the customer’s problem
    • Not listening, not experimenting
    • Not removing toxic individuals
    • Failing to act on early signals
    • Blindly believing ”experts”
    and many more ...
  • 18. Thank you! Please start great businesses. [email_address]