Smart Mistakes: Entrepreneurship Lessons Learned

February 7, 2012

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.” The entrepreneurial community is a tight-knit group of individuals willing to share lessons learned with the hope that no one will make the same mistake twice.

The recent Boston event “Smart Mistakes” at the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology featured new and established entrepreneurs from across the country. The day was filled with panel and keynote speakers sharing their challenges, mistakes and lessons that helped steer their careers in a successful direction.

If you weren't able to attend the event, below are a few moments you missed:

  • “Don't count on money until it's in the bank,” said Michael Levit, managing partner at Founders Den, in his keynote speech. Michael noted that one of his biggest mistakes as a young entrepreneur was assuming that his deals and businesses would always come through.
  • Candice Cabe, CEO and founder of Day2Night offered this advice: “If you need VC funding, setup as many appointments as possible, not just one.” She also offered up advice on the production side of entrepreneurship. “If you have an idea, go to someone who knows how to help you develop the product.” When she first created her Day2Night shoe concept, she hired numerous engineer interns who didn't know anything about actual production. (Candice also announced that her Day2Night shoes will be featured in the 2012 Grammy “grab bags” for all the celebrities.)
  • “Be proud of what you do and don't do it unless you want to put your name on it,” said Dave McLaughlin, CEO and co-founder of Vsnap, reflecting on his first embarrassing entrepreneur movement, the movie Southie.
  • Rhonda Kallman, co-creator of Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) noted, “What do you call an entrepreneur who has failed? Experienced.” She noted that as time evolves, each entrepreneur learns how to produce her next venture to be more successful than the previous.
  • John Landry, managing director at Lead Dog Ventures offered an interesting idea: “Each startup should be comprised of a chief technology officer and a chief executive officer; that's all you need to get started.”
  • founder Jeff Taylor ended his entrepreneur story with a Daniel Boone quote. “I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.” Entrepreneurs always know what they want; it's just a question of how they will get there.

Are you an entrepreneur? What advice can you offer the Boston startup community?

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