George Bell grew up in a Wall Street family, made adventure documentaries after school, and then went on to become an entrepreneur.
He was CEO of Excite when it went public and recently sold Jumptap to Millennial Media.
In the video below, he explains four basic (but difficult) truths he learned through the experience to finance career site, OneWire.
Here’s the breakdown:
1. It can’t all be about money — entrepreneurs have a real passion for what they’re doing. He explains, “Genuineness in an enterprise comes from a passion for a product, a breakthrough, or a disruption of some kind…and if you don’t have courage and passion to do it — because God knows the odds are against you — I can promise you no amount of money will ultimately give you that.”
2. Entrepreneurs have to be both realistic and totally unrealistic at the same time. “It’s odd,” he says, “because I’ve seen the best of these entrepreneurs be quite out of touch in the sense that their mission will conquer everything in the face of odds, while also being hyper in touch about the realistic issues around cash and P&L. It’s an odd combination and not everybody’s DNA is made that way, but I think the best of the people I’ve seen run these companies can do that.”
3. You need to pretend to be the status quo, while secretly working against it. “People often underestimate the entrenched cultures that work against you…You find that when you want to disrupt you have to both cajole and do things that coerce the customer base into believing not that much is changing, while you have to believe actually that quite a lot is changing.”
4. Great entrepreneurs are obsessive about cash. Bell insists, “The worst mistakes I’ve seen consistently in early stage entrepreneurship is not managing the limited amount of cash against the opportunity…the dance stops when you run out of cash. I don’t care how good the idea is. When you’re out, the music’s over.”