E049.5: Interview with Nathan Lasche

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Jason Calacanis hosts an interview with Nathan Lasche, a student at the Harvard Business School.

01:00  Nathan Lasche is a 2nd year Harvard Business School student doing a project on entrepreneurship

01:30  How do you discover the business idea?

02:00  It’s a process but as you get more experience as an entrepreneur the process changes and many ideas are brought to you and you get access to many inspired people

02:30  Silicon Alley Reporter started because he met Esther Dyson (Release 1.0) and observed many friends and famous people in the industry

04:00  He originally dismissed blogs as personal journals but after observing a past employee making double what he was paying him he realized the opportunity which started Weblogs, Inc

05:00  In terms of Mahalo he was at AOL and watching Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers and Search become powerful

05:30  Their are themes you realize you are good at and he realized he was good at creating a brand, naming a brand, finding talent, developing talent, creating systems, monetization and raising capital

06:20  Knowing what you are good at is a layer and then apply it

06:45  How has the process changed now that you are more successful?  Jason gets about 400-500 emails a day and many include a pitch, he started OAF and TechCrunch50 which gives him access to many ideas and gives him direct contact with entrepreneurs.

09:00  Traveling allows you to see trends for example Jason witnessed virtual currency in Asia long before it made it’s way to the US

10:00  It’s important for a CEO to explore things outside their own company.  He joined the board of Savings.com to diversify his experience.  He believes their is more opportunity today than when the internet started

10:50  Entrepreneur in Residence – no formal program at Sequoia, he wasn’t paid, it’s a title everyone wants but it’s a way for VCs to develop a relationship with entrepreneurs who have a track record.

12:50  What benefits did you find while being a EIR?  You can get meetings when others might not, people think you are the next big thing, helps with recruiting team members and getting press.

14:30  The irony in life is when you could really use it you don’t have it

15:15  Is their anything VC firms can do with an EIR better?  It’s a nebulous position, you brainstorm, share information, it’s not a rigorous process, it’s like an honorary degree

17:00  Is their a systematic way you evaluate ideas?  He looks for a theme such as blogs, social network, media and puts them into a metric and compares the result to see what you get.  i.e. social network + casual games = Zynga , social network + photos = Flickr However, it doesn’t always work

19:00  He always had the idea of ThisWeekIn for Weblogs, Inc. but it was too expensive 5 years ago, sometimes you have the right idea but the conditions around it don’t work.

20:00  What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who haven’t found the idea yet?  “You miss 100% of the shots, you don’t take”, so take a lot of shots, if it doesn’t work move on, most successful businesses are not doing what they started out doing, where you start is not where you will end, people underestimate how much work it will take and over estimate the downside risk.  The beauty of starting a business in the USA ia you can fail one day and start a new business the next.

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