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TEDxRiceU: The Entrepreneur’s
Journey
How the magic of myth can help us launch ventures,
inspire others, and change the world

Bryan Guido Hassin
@guido23
My journey begins here at Rice, where I first took the
     entrepreneurial plunge




                                                                   Houston
                                                         Nairobi
                                              Lausanne
                                   Lausanne
                         Houston
                Austin
      Houston




TEDxRiceU                                                                    2
I’ve founded/built/led five cleantech startups




                                                                   Houston
                                                         Nairobi
                                              Lausanne
                                   Lausanne
                         Houston
                Austin
      Houston




TEDxRiceU                                                                    3
My journey has taken me around the world, seeing
     entrepreneurship with a global perspective




                                                                   Houston
                                                         Nairobi
                                              Lausanne
                                   Lausanne
                         Houston
                Austin
      Houston




TEDxRiceU                                                                    4
This is how people believe entrepreneurship happens




                                             IPO, retire
                                             • Preceded by
                           Raise huge          hockey stick
                           VC $$$              growth
        Wunderkind         • With detailed
        has divine           business plan
        inspiration
        • Or MBA has
          genius insight
TEDxRiceU                                                     5
But this is not how entrepreneurship usually
     happens


   • First time               • < 2% of                          • < 1% of
     founders                   ventures ever                      ventures IPO
     average 40                 raise VC $$$
     years old                • < 27% of Inc.
   • Ventures                   500 ever had
     rapidly evolve             a biz plan                          IPO, retire
     from original
                                                                    • Preceded by
     vision                        Raise huge                         hockey stick
                                   VC $$$                             growth
        Wunderkind                 • With detailed
        has divine                   business plan
        inspiration
        • Or MBA has
          genius insight
TEDxRiceU          Source: Effectual Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship.com          6
I believe entrepreneurship looks much more like the
      archetypal Hero’s Journey

             Gift of the            Call to                          Refusal of the
             Goddess               Adventure                         Call


                   Masterful
                                                          Wise Sage
                    Return

Transformation                                                         Supernatural
                                                                       Aid

                           Death /                 The Dark
                           Rebirth                  Forest
                                 Challenges, Te
                                   mptations
 TEDxRiceU                  Source: The Hero with a Thousand Faces                    7
The Hero’s Journey is fundamental to the human
      experience

                                 Call to
                                Adventure

          Masterful
                                                       Wise Sage
Conscious  Return                    Known                                   Rational

Subconscious                       Unknown                                   Irrational


                      Death /                   The Dark
                      Rebirth                    Forest


 TEDxRiceU     Source: Fundamentals for a World Class Leadership Programme            8
The entrepreneurial journey begins with a call to
     adventure

                   Call to
                  Adventure               Common Entrepreneurial
                                            Calls to Adventure
      Masterful
                              Wise Sage
       Return
                                          • Wanderlust
                                          • “I want to be my own
            Death /      The Dark           boss”
            Rebirth       Forest
                                          • “I hate my boss”
                                          • Desire for financial gain
                                          • Opportunism
                                          • Desire for impact

                                          Successful entrepreneurs
                                               start with their
                                             means, not divine
TEDxRiceU                                                               9
Entrepreneurs seek supernatural aid and wise sages
     to cross the threshold into the unknown

                   Call to
                  Adventure                   Common Sources of
                                              Entrepreneurial Aid
      Masterful
                              Wise Sage
       Return
                                          •   Mentors
                                          •   Angel investors
            Death /      The Dark         •   Advisors
            Rebirth       Forest
                                          •   Partners
                                          •   Clients




                                          Successful entrepreneurs
                                           augment their means to
                                              take the plunge
TEDxRiceU                                                            10
Entrepreneurs must rapidly iterate through
     challenges while constantly beset by temptations

                   Call to
                  Adventure                Common Entrepreneurial
                                                  Challenges
      Masterful
       Return
                              Wise Sage   • Funding
                                          • Market traction
                                          • Attracting employees
            Death /      The Dark         • Self doubt
            Rebirth       Forest


                                           Common Entrepreneurial
                                                 Temptations
                                          • Consulting for cash
                                          • Too-good-to-be-true
                                            partnerships
                                          • Bad clients/investors
TEDxRiceU                                                           11
Entrepreneurs constantly transform their business
     and themselves to make it out of The Dark Forest

                   Call to
                  Adventure               Common Entrepreneurial
                                             Transformations
      Masterful
                              Wise Sage
       Return
                                          •   Business model pivot
                                          •   Different target market
            Death /      The Dark         •   Product update
            Rebirth       Forest
                                          •   New distribution channel
                                          •   Hiring / firing




                                          Successful entrepreneurs
                                                 transform
                                          themselves, not just their
TEDxRiceU                                                                12
Entrepreneurs return victorious with many
     definitions of success

                   Call to
                  Adventure               Common Entrepreneurial
                                               Successes
      Masterful
                              Wise Sage
       Return
                                          •   Sustains lifestyle
                                          •   Creates jobs
            Death /      The Dark         •   Noteworthy achievement
            Rebirth       Forest
                                          •   Exit by acquisition
                                          •   IPO
                                          •   Changes the world


                                          Successful entrepreneurs
                                            know what success
                                              means to them
TEDxRiceU                                                              13
So what can the Hero’s Journey teach us about
      entrepreneurship?

             Gift of the        Call to            Refusal of the
             Goddess           Adventure           Call


                   Masterful
                                           Wise Sage
                    Return

Transformation                                       Supernatural
                                                     Aid

                           Death /      The Dark
                           Rebirth       Forest
                               Challenges, T
 TEDxRiceU
                                emptations                          14
It takes a team to form a collective hero




       Teammates provide complementary skillsets and act
       as secure bases

TEDxRiceU                Source: Hostage at the Table      15
Know thyself




            Paul Atreides gaining self awareness by taking the Water of Life - Dune



       True self knowledge can be painful to obtain but is
       invaluable during the entrepreneurial journey

TEDxRiceU                                                                             16
Seek wise sages who have practical, relevant
     experience




                Yoda was (and always will be) a badass – Star Wars



       Mentors who have been there, done that are worth
       $186,000 to first-time entrepreneurs

TEDxRiceU                 Source: Effectual Entrepreneurship         17
Don’t choose the best path through the forest; create
     your own path




            Ender Wiggin changing the rules of the game – Ender’s Game

       Successful entrepreneurs maximize upside by
       controlling their environments

TEDxRiceU                  Source: Effectual Entrepreneurship            18
Don’t choose the best path through the forest; create
     your own path


                                                              New
                                                              End
             Means                                             1
               2
Means                 Means
  1                     3
                                                             Starting
                                                             Means
             Fixed
              End                                 New
                                                  End
                                                                        New
                                                                        End
                                                   2                     3




       Successful entrepreneurs start with their means and
       imagine new possibilities

TEDxRiceU               Source: Effectual Entrepreneurship                    19
Don’t choose the best path through the forest; create
     your own path




                 Gandalf’s new path over the forest – The Hobbit


       Successful entrepreneurs use partnerships and
       embrace surprises to expand their means, creating
       new options
TEDxRiceU                  Source: Effectual Entrepreneurship      20
Work on significant, meaningful problems




       It takes a villain as evil as Voldemort to induce heroic
       acts as great as those performed by Harry Potter

TEDxRiceU                                                         21
Faith and persistence are the entrepreneur’s greatest
     assets




            Neo feeling what is possible once he finally believes – The Matrix


       The darkest hour is just before dawn; you’ve got to
       believe

TEDxRiceU                                                                        22
Back to my story: some entrepreneurs are turning to
     me as the sage rather than the hero




 I’ve spent my life as a warrior; being a wizard is new and
 unknown to me (back into the Dark Forest!)
TEDxRiceU                                                     23
Another entrepreneur and I are now teaching
     LAUNCH (entrepreneurship) at Rice




       Entrepreneurship cannot be taught in a safe
       classroom; it must be developed experientially

TEDxRiceU                                               24
By mentoring and coaching, we guide students along
     their own entrepreneurial journeys

                         Call to
                        Adventure               • Practitioner
                                                  professors
            Masterful                           • Local
                                    Wise Sage
             Return                               entrepreneur
                                                  case studies
                                                • Mentor network

                 Death /      The Dark
                 Rebirth       Forest

       Seven new ventures have been launched this
       semester!

TEDxRiceU                                                     25
Potential Entrepreneurs: answer the call to adventure




       Life is too short not to spend every moment of it
       pursuing your dreams

TEDxRiceU                                                    26
Entrepreneurs: answer the call for mentorship




       Mentorship: it’s an entirely new adventure!


TEDxRiceU                                            27

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The Entrepreneur's Journey

  • 1. TEDxRiceU: The Entrepreneur’s Journey How the magic of myth can help us launch ventures, inspire others, and change the world Bryan Guido Hassin @guido23
  • 2. My journey begins here at Rice, where I first took the entrepreneurial plunge Houston Nairobi Lausanne Lausanne Houston Austin Houston TEDxRiceU 2
  • 3. I’ve founded/built/led five cleantech startups Houston Nairobi Lausanne Lausanne Houston Austin Houston TEDxRiceU 3
  • 4. My journey has taken me around the world, seeing entrepreneurship with a global perspective Houston Nairobi Lausanne Lausanne Houston Austin Houston TEDxRiceU 4
  • 5. This is how people believe entrepreneurship happens IPO, retire • Preceded by Raise huge hockey stick VC $$$ growth Wunderkind • With detailed has divine business plan inspiration • Or MBA has genius insight TEDxRiceU 5
  • 6. But this is not how entrepreneurship usually happens • First time • < 2% of • < 1% of founders ventures ever ventures IPO average 40 raise VC $$$ years old • < 27% of Inc. • Ventures 500 ever had rapidly evolve a biz plan IPO, retire from original • Preceded by vision Raise huge hockey stick VC $$$ growth Wunderkind • With detailed has divine business plan inspiration • Or MBA has genius insight TEDxRiceU Source: Effectual Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship.com 6
  • 7. I believe entrepreneurship looks much more like the archetypal Hero’s Journey Gift of the Call to Refusal of the Goddess Adventure Call Masterful Wise Sage Return Transformation Supernatural Aid Death / The Dark Rebirth Forest Challenges, Te mptations TEDxRiceU Source: The Hero with a Thousand Faces 7
  • 8. The Hero’s Journey is fundamental to the human experience Call to Adventure Masterful Wise Sage Conscious Return Known Rational Subconscious Unknown Irrational Death / The Dark Rebirth Forest TEDxRiceU Source: Fundamentals for a World Class Leadership Programme 8
  • 9. The entrepreneurial journey begins with a call to adventure Call to Adventure Common Entrepreneurial Calls to Adventure Masterful Wise Sage Return • Wanderlust • “I want to be my own Death / The Dark boss” Rebirth Forest • “I hate my boss” • Desire for financial gain • Opportunism • Desire for impact Successful entrepreneurs start with their means, not divine TEDxRiceU 9
  • 10. Entrepreneurs seek supernatural aid and wise sages to cross the threshold into the unknown Call to Adventure Common Sources of Entrepreneurial Aid Masterful Wise Sage Return • Mentors • Angel investors Death / The Dark • Advisors Rebirth Forest • Partners • Clients Successful entrepreneurs augment their means to take the plunge TEDxRiceU 10
  • 11. Entrepreneurs must rapidly iterate through challenges while constantly beset by temptations Call to Adventure Common Entrepreneurial Challenges Masterful Return Wise Sage • Funding • Market traction • Attracting employees Death / The Dark • Self doubt Rebirth Forest Common Entrepreneurial Temptations • Consulting for cash • Too-good-to-be-true partnerships • Bad clients/investors TEDxRiceU 11
  • 12. Entrepreneurs constantly transform their business and themselves to make it out of The Dark Forest Call to Adventure Common Entrepreneurial Transformations Masterful Wise Sage Return • Business model pivot • Different target market Death / The Dark • Product update Rebirth Forest • New distribution channel • Hiring / firing Successful entrepreneurs transform themselves, not just their TEDxRiceU 12
  • 13. Entrepreneurs return victorious with many definitions of success Call to Adventure Common Entrepreneurial Successes Masterful Wise Sage Return • Sustains lifestyle • Creates jobs Death / The Dark • Noteworthy achievement Rebirth Forest • Exit by acquisition • IPO • Changes the world Successful entrepreneurs know what success means to them TEDxRiceU 13
  • 14. So what can the Hero’s Journey teach us about entrepreneurship? Gift of the Call to Refusal of the Goddess Adventure Call Masterful Wise Sage Return Transformation Supernatural Aid Death / The Dark Rebirth Forest Challenges, T TEDxRiceU emptations 14
  • 15. It takes a team to form a collective hero Teammates provide complementary skillsets and act as secure bases TEDxRiceU Source: Hostage at the Table 15
  • 16. Know thyself Paul Atreides gaining self awareness by taking the Water of Life - Dune True self knowledge can be painful to obtain but is invaluable during the entrepreneurial journey TEDxRiceU 16
  • 17. Seek wise sages who have practical, relevant experience Yoda was (and always will be) a badass – Star Wars Mentors who have been there, done that are worth $186,000 to first-time entrepreneurs TEDxRiceU Source: Effectual Entrepreneurship 17
  • 18. Don’t choose the best path through the forest; create your own path Ender Wiggin changing the rules of the game – Ender’s Game Successful entrepreneurs maximize upside by controlling their environments TEDxRiceU Source: Effectual Entrepreneurship 18
  • 19. Don’t choose the best path through the forest; create your own path New End Means 1 2 Means Means 1 3 Starting Means Fixed End New End New End 2 3 Successful entrepreneurs start with their means and imagine new possibilities TEDxRiceU Source: Effectual Entrepreneurship 19
  • 20. Don’t choose the best path through the forest; create your own path Gandalf’s new path over the forest – The Hobbit Successful entrepreneurs use partnerships and embrace surprises to expand their means, creating new options TEDxRiceU Source: Effectual Entrepreneurship 20
  • 21. Work on significant, meaningful problems It takes a villain as evil as Voldemort to induce heroic acts as great as those performed by Harry Potter TEDxRiceU 21
  • 22. Faith and persistence are the entrepreneur’s greatest assets Neo feeling what is possible once he finally believes – The Matrix The darkest hour is just before dawn; you’ve got to believe TEDxRiceU 22
  • 23. Back to my story: some entrepreneurs are turning to me as the sage rather than the hero I’ve spent my life as a warrior; being a wizard is new and unknown to me (back into the Dark Forest!) TEDxRiceU 23
  • 24. Another entrepreneur and I are now teaching LAUNCH (entrepreneurship) at Rice Entrepreneurship cannot be taught in a safe classroom; it must be developed experientially TEDxRiceU 24
  • 25. By mentoring and coaching, we guide students along their own entrepreneurial journeys Call to Adventure • Practitioner professors Masterful • Local Wise Sage Return entrepreneur case studies • Mentor network Death / The Dark Rebirth Forest Seven new ventures have been launched this semester! TEDxRiceU 25
  • 26. Potential Entrepreneurs: answer the call to adventure Life is too short not to spend every moment of it pursuing your dreams TEDxRiceU 26
  • 27. Entrepreneurs: answer the call for mentorship Mentorship: it’s an entirely new adventure! TEDxRiceU 27