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5 Entrepreneurial Myths


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Bruno Vanryb of Avantquest shares five myths he sees continually promoting to startup founders and just why they are wrong.

Bruno Vanryb of Avantquest shares five myths he sees continually promoting to startup founders and just why they are wrong.

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  • 1. Five Entrepreneurial Myths
    Paris FailCon
    September 22, 2011
  • 2. Bruno Vanryb: an entrepreneur
    Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Avanquest Software - Since May 1984
    President of the Software Developers’ Committee at Syntecnumerique – Since July 2010
    Member of the CNN (Government Advisory Council for digitally related topics) – Since April 2011
    Board Member of NYSE Euronext (since 2007), MCI Group (since 2006) and The Creative Factory (since 2003)
    President of Croissance Plus (1998 – 2000), a well known French association whose aim is to raise awareness and support young growth companies
    President of MiddleNext (2002 – 2005), a professional association comprising of more than 150 mid cap companies listed on the French stock exchange
    Freelance journalist for the French computer press (1983 – 1986)
    Co-writer of 12 popular books on micro-computing (1983 – 1986) published by Editions Eyrolles in Paris
    Sound Engineer (1977 – 1983) recorded several very well-known French new wave, rock and variety music successes
    Motorcycle enthusiast, travelling with his bike, collecting classic models and also took part in amateur races from 1997 to 2003
    Modern art enthusiast, chaired a modern art lovers association called “Les Centaures” between 1993 and 2000
    Clearly an autodidact 
  • 3. My parents kept saying:
    “You must pursue higher education”
    Unfortunately I failed my first two years of medical school
    Is it so alarming after all?
  • 4. First myth: You need an array of qualifications to succeed
  • 5. The number of self-taught entrepreneurs who have gone on to succeed is significant
    Just to name a few:
    • Amadeo Peter Giannini, multimillionaire founder of Bank of America. Dropped out of high school.
    • 6. Charles Culpeper, owner and CEO of Coca Cola. Dropped out of high school.
    • 7. PeteCashmore, at the age of 19.
    • 8. RayKroc, founder of McDonald’s. Dropped out of high school.
    • 9. GeorgeEastman, multimillionaire inventor and Kodak founder. Dropped out of high school.
    • 10. HenryFord, billionaire founder of Ford Motor Company.  Did not attend college.
    • 11. SteveWozniak, billionaire co-founder of Apple. Did not complete college.
    • 12. DavidGeffen, billionaire founder of Geffen Records and co-founder of DreamWorks. Dropped out of college after completing one year.
    • 13. FrederickHenryRoyce, auto designer, multimillionaire and co-founder of Rolls-Royce. Dropped out of elementary school.
    • 14. IngvarKamprad, one of the richest people in the world and founder of IKEA. Dyslexic.
    • 15. JackCrawfordTaylor, founder of enterprise Rent-a-Car. Dropped out of college to become a WWII fighter pilot in the Navy.
    • 16. LarryEllison, billionaire co-founder of Oracle software company. Dropped out of two different colleges.
    • 17. MichaelDell, billionaire founder of Dell Computers, which he started out of his college dorm room. Dropped out of college.
    • 18. RichardBranson, billionaire founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Mobile, and more. Dropped out of high school at 16.
    • 19. TomAnderson, co-founder and “friend” of MySpace. Dropped out of high school.
    • 20. KevinRose, founder of out of college during his second year.
  • In France, similar trends can be found and 2 out of every 3 entrepreneurs are self-taught
    Among the most famous…
    François PinaultDropped out of high school at 16 without his degree
    Xavier NielDropped out before the end of his mathscollege degree
    Martin Bouygues Dropped out after one year in Dauphine
  • 21. Second myth:
    To dare to embark on an entrepreneurial venture, you need to take huge risks
  • 22. Second myth: To dare to embark on an entrepreneurial venture, you need to take huge risks
    The above statement is incorrect
    Most entrepreneurs:
    • started ‘small’ in a garage
    • 23. with a teammate - A great way to motivate each other and share both ideas, risks and the initial funding
    United we stand,
    divided we fall, strength through unity
    A variation of this myth:
    entrepreneurs have a serious taste for danger
    Also very wrong: risks are always calculated
    The key skill isnot the ability to take risks butthose of vision, courage and perseverance
  • 24. In 1989, Matra Communications – a 34% shareholder of Avanquest – told me that going international was a huge risk for a small company.
    We lost their support but actually, we would have failed, should we have listened to them.
    If we are still around, it’s because we decided to go global.
  • 25. Third myth: Export is expensive, long and dangerous
  • 26. Third myth: Export is expensive, long and dangerous
    The above statement is wrong
    One proven way:
    • Start small with partners
    • 27. Understand the market first
    • 28. Open your local office second
    • 29. Put in place Open your Local trustworthy management
    Everything is possible:
    you can even sell ice cream to Eskimos
    We did it, in a way 
  • 30. In 1993, 80% of our business was fax-software.
    At that time, all analysts were planning for the end of fax before 1996.
    So in a nutshell, we were doomed to fail.
    Now the reality: in 2006, fax was still selling enough to represent 20% of our business
  • 31. “You should listen to the market, trends and others’ advice”
    Fourth Myth
  • 32.
    • Yes, but within reason: listen to your gut feeling
    • 33. Market changes are faster in the media than in business reality
    • 34. Market studies are as reliable as a weather forecast
    Fourth Myth: You should listen to the market,
    trends and others’ advice
  • 35. My $1 million mistake:
    In 1999, Avanquest proudly launched Internet Family, the first Internet portal for the family, or in other words, a family intranet.
    We sold virtually nothing of this innovative platform while all studies were claiming that families would need connection between their PCs.
    This actually happened about 10 years later and social networks have surpassed the mere family circle.
  • 36. Fifth myth: It is vital to have a major innovation to embark on an entrepreneurial venture
  • 37. Fifth myth: It is vital to have a major innovation to embark on an entrepreneurial venture
    Of course it helps, but genius is rare and yet there are still many successful entrepreneurs
    Innovation alone is risky and challenging:
    • You have to create a customer need from scratch
    • 38. You have to present solutions without evidence they will work
    A safer method is to improve an existing product and/or situation, taking into account previous unavoidable mistakes so as to not reproduce them
    Should there be tough competition in the business you’re interested in, don’t worry - it means there is a healthy market and money to make
    Think twice if your idea seems too new: you have to launch your value proposition at the right time when the market is ready:
    The right product at the right time
  • 39. One day or another, everyone fails The most important thing is to learn from our mistakes