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Clients Last Name Goes Here 1 A Conversation with John Doerr The perspective of meeting John Doerr in person

has always seemed quite tempting to me. That is why, when it turned out that he has been invited to the same party as I, for me it was an extremely pleasant surprise basically for two reasons: first, I myself study venture capital and the opportunity to have some practical points of view from such guru as Mr. Doerr is priceless; second, I have a friend, a scholar, who has invented a new kind of electric engine with solar batteries, and we are thinking about bringing this project into life. To my mind, this was the subject that could possibly cause some interest from Mr. Doerr, moreover, I could hope for getting a couple of practical advices. These were my thoughts when I actually met John Doerr in my friends back yard during the alumni party. To say that I was astonished means to say nothing. I have learned much about John Doerr, I respect his activity, I consider him a talented professional, an outstanding manager and a person who can see far beyond the visible limits. He does not think only in terms of enterprise, category, market or business, he thinks globally. He possesses the kind of an intuition that comes from great talent, great experience and probably to some extent luck, that leads him to the right decisions and to the branches with great development potential. These were the cases of Google, Netscape, Amazon, Groupon and many others. Otherwise, there are no successes without failures. In this connection Mr. Doerrs story is not the exception. But great people praise failures even more than victories because they give much more lessons and more incentives for future achievements. Eventually, I have structured in my mind the basic things I would like to ask Mr. Doerr, and came up to ask for his expert opinion. All our conversation is described below.

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The Questions to John Doerr Question #1: Mr. Doerr, now, when I have described you our invention, what

would be your first recommendation to the starters like us? Reasoning: my friend is a scholar, not an entrepreneur, and I am just the beginner

in this sphere. We realise the importance of the project and want it to be a success. We need an effective plan how to conduct our project effectively from the stage of fund searching till the stage of expansive sales and consumers loyalty. Mr. Doerr Expert Answer and Insight:

First of all you should not think that after you have invented your solar engine (or any other device) there is a short and easy way left. I used to say that ideas are easy, execution is everything (Doerr, J. 2011). Secondly, you should think about building the effective team. Professional and smart team members are crucial. There are different ways you can make up your team. You may hire necessary people and divide responsibilities according to each members skills; though, there have been cases when people with quite different background became successful entrepreneurs (Henry Ford, Steve Jobs). What is most important about your team, it must have clear motivation and be eager to accomplish whatever task is set in order to gain the result. As I have told in one interview: Focus on team. Teams win (Doerr, J. 1997). These are the fundamental things without which you can not start. And be passionate about the long and exiting way in front of you. Question #2: John, what do you think about the product itself?

Clients Last Name Goes Here 3 Reasoning: I consider solar engine a great discovery and I was thinking fund

attraction should be easy. However, the product has serious points to consider: in terms of production it is much more expensive than the gasoline engine; in terms of market there is a huge segment of traditional engines which would be hard to compete with, besides, a niche of electrical engines is already partly occupied; and in terms of consumer this product requires a change peoples minds and habits, so we will have a lot of work to do. Mr. Doerr Expert Answer and Insight:

I believe that first of all you should conduct the SWOT-analysis of your product. Define the strengths and weaknesses of your product, but make sure you take into account those of your competitors. Phillip Kotler defines the basic strengths and weaknesses as a critical success factors for your company (Kotler, Ph. 1999, 113). Looking for opportunities and threats, you should involve a great deal of forecasting and try to predict the factors or changing environment that would influence your business. This may include, but is not limited to: economical and political situation, market, technology development and competitors activity (Kotler, Ph. 1999, 106). Be sure that having gained the leadership position for any criteria, you necessarily communicate it to your consumers, thus differentiating your product from competitors and gaining strong competitive advantage. Jack Trout asserts that Better products dont win. Better perceptions tend to be the winners (Trout, J. 2008, 79). After that you should develop marketing mix comprising of product, price, place and promotion (Kotler, Ph. 1999, 110). Remember that there should be value behind your product like services and other benefits you may provide. Continuing the thought of Jack Trout that better products dont win (Trout, J. 2008, 79), I would say that better benefit wins. The

Clients Last Name Goes Here 4 consumer will not buy the invention, consumer will buy commodity that helps him satisfy his needs. You have this opportunity, do develop it correctly. Question #3: Mr. Doerr, I believe that all projects that you have sponsored

possessed success potential from the start. But as far as I know, there were failures as well. What went wrong in those cases and how to avoid such situations? Reasoning: I am interested in the insights that such an experienced venture

capitalist may share. I understand very well how many hidden obstacles we can encounter while starting up. Despite the fact that John Doerr is known for his sometimes risky ventures I hope he also knows the safe path of running the business. Mr. Doerr Expert Answer and Insight:

Well, failures do happen. Though you must direct yourself for winning, you must be always ready to start again after the failure. Do you know that the first touch screen could have spread throughout the world already in 1987? That was the time when the main product of GO Corporation appeared a thin portable computer with special technology that allowed writing on the screen (San Francisco Chronicle. 1995). That was the time when technology and especially electronic technology was actively funded. GO Corporation was not an exception. Still, the consumer was not ready to buy this product yet, and the proper demand was not formed. As I have highlighted before, people do not buy just goods. Apparently, they just did not see the clear benefit behind this bright technical novelty and there was no one to persuade them. Nevertheless, I have always believed in people standing behind this invention. They now work for other successful companies, carrying their valuable experience.

Clients Last Name Goes Here 5 There is nothing that can protect you from failure, except your team and yourself. Work passionately and hardly together, be the real team-players and exercise the optimistic approach. Question #4: Based on your experience, what is the key success factor? Reasoning: I know that one of the most important things is getting adequate

funding. I know that a big amount of world-renowned companies have been created with the use of venture capital, as well as numerous technical novelties are supported by VC. So I expect some practical advices or, apparently, the interest from Mr. Doerr himself. Mr. Doerr Expert Answer and Insight:

Though, I was passionate about every venture I funded, the most exiting and fast growing sphere in the late 90s was the Internet. I have sponsored numerous ventures here, among them and Google. Both of the companies survived the dot com crash: due to its consistent business development strategy aiming not at quick profits but at consecutive sustainable development; Google on the contrary the fast growing highly innovative company with large portfolio. Now Google keeps the leading market share of 66.4% among all search engines (Sterling, G. 2012). The good recipe of continuing the life cycle of your venture is staying on the cutting edge. My colleagues use to say: If you cant invent the future the next best thing is to fund it (Doerr, J. 2010). Been an engineer myself, I very well realize the role of technology in the modern world. However, I have sponsored the ventures in diverse spheres: technique and economic, education and healthcare, electronic and internet technologies. I believe that today all spheres are deeply integrated and interconnected. When you are starting up you should take into account broad factors as well as broadly evaluate the consequences. Today it goes beyond profits and sustainable growth of your venture. We must consider the impact on other spheres.

Clients Last Name Goes Here 6 Question #5: Speaking about interconnections and impact on other spheres, we

are coming to a vital point: my friends invention of solar engine carries great environmental benefits. Do you think this would give the VCs additional incentive to fund our project? Reasoning: answering the previous question Mr. Doerr provided outstanding

success examples, though, he did not express his personal attitude to the invention itself. At the same time, I know he is now been concerned about the environmental issues. That is why I want to give him another hook to get interested in my project. Mr. Doerr Expert Answer and Insight:

Ecology is the sphere that should be considered not just by venture capitalists. It should really be the global concern especially in the U.S. America has long been on the top of the list of most polluting countries in the world (Ecological Problems, 2009). China also shares this sad leadership though it spends ten times more than United States on the clean energy technologies (Wesoff, E. 2010). I personally am passionate about the ecological innovations. I have invested into green technology projects and I think it should be done more and more actively. However, one of my non-successes in this sphere was Seagway (Wesoff, E. 2010). The public and especially traffic regulation system found themselves unprepared for such innovative transport. The entrepreneur and venture capitalist David Skok considers that one of the most common reasons of start-ups failure is the absence of proper market for the product (Skok, D. 2012, 89). You should carefully consider the market, develop the proper business model and calculate the investments on each stage of the product life cycle, work out the marketing strategy. Then, introduce me your business plan and above all your team. Like I said before, team matters the most to me and I would like to meet the team of the young ecology-concerned inventors.

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Summary of the Conversation: Lessons and Points to Think About My personal acquaintance and discussion with world famous venture capitalist turned out to be positive and fruitful. Moreover, it was great luck that I managed to interest him with my project. This experience is of great value and I will definitely get back to Mr. Doerr with detailed information for possible cooperation. Although, this conversation provoked many different thoughts in my mind, and I found out that I would argue with John on several points. The first and the most important for me is the power of ideas which I personally estimate much higher. Mr. Doerr once said that ideas are easy, execution is everything (Houston Chronicle, 2011). Of course, I do not underestimate the vitality of the execution, but to my mind ideas are the cornerstone and the basic driving force of the progress in any sphere. Kevin Roberts once said in one of his interviews where there is an idea, where there is an emotional connection, it shines through like a beacon (Interview Kevin Roberts, 2004). I believe he is right, because the emotional incentive is the most powerful engine in the world. Second thing is about the team. John Doerr considers that in whatever venture team is everything (Doerr, J. 1997). I could agree that the team work is vital, but the role of personality is overwhelming. Every team is guided by a person, each invention is done by person, and every crucial decision is also made by person. However, there have always been different points of view on the role of personality in history. Marxists for example viewed the moving force of the society as a combination of personal influence (subjective) and external factors (objective) (Sewell, R. 2005). Still, today more and more businessmen agree that the role of personality is vital. Branding and marketing specialist John Morgan considers that when you put personality in

Clients Last Name Goes Here 8 your business you create emotional connection and that connection is more important than credentials or experience (Hunt, D. 2010). The powers of personality and an idea are interconnected. However strong they might be, without excellent execution we would be nowhere. From John Doerr I have learned that the adequate business model is what brings ideas to life. One of the basic things for the start should be creating the right team. It is about the right combination of brain, experience and passion in each of us. Another important aspect is the product itself: the careful analysis of advantages and disadvantages of the product is required, as well as defining the opportunities and threats of the market. I have been quite optimistic about this point since the electric engine on solar batteries should definitely be on trend. Though, the cases John Doerr told me about showed how careful one must be implementing or funding technical novelties. Finally, I see the crucial importance of building and preserving competitive advantages. I understand now that once invented the product could not always occupy its unique position. We should carefully consider the marketing strategy and continuously keep pace with technology development. Moreover, I believe that our personal influence is vital in order to create the additional value behind the product. As John Morgan said in his interview, competitors cannot copy your personality that is an advantage that we all can, and should be tapping into (Hunt, D. 2010). I believe that using Mr. Doerrs advices we will prepare the competitive business plan that would inspire venture capitalists; and in the end of the long road our new product would likewise inspire the consumers.

Clients Last Name Goes Here 9 References Houston Chronicle, 2011. When Venture Capitalist Speaks, Investors Listen. [Online] (updated 15 Apr. 2011) Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Sept. 2012] Malone, Michael S. John Doerrs Startup Manual. [Online] (updated 28 Feb. 1997) Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Sept. 2012] Kotler, Ph., Armstrong, G., Saunders, J. and Wong, V. (1999) Principles o Marketing. Second European Edition, New Jersey: Prentice Hall Inc. Trout, J. & Rivkin, S., (2008). Differentiate or Die: Surviving in Our Era of Killing Competition. Second Edition, New York: John Wiley & Sons. Doerr, J., 2010. The Next Big Thing. [Online] (updated 05 Apr. 2010) Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Sept. 2012] San Francisco Chronicle, 1995. The Rise and Fall of GO Corp. Founder tells his side in a new book. [Online] (updated 5 Apr. 1995) Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Sept. 2012] Sterling, G., 2012. Bing and Google Gain Market Share While Yahoo Drops. [Online] (updated 08 March. 2012) Available at:

Clients Last Name Goes Here 10 <> [Accessed 19 Sept. 2012] Ecological Problems, 2009. What is the Biggest Ecological Problem in United States? [Online] (updated 01 Dec. 2009) Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2012] Wesoff, E., 2010. Green Kingpins Part 3: VC John Doerr of KPCB. [Online] (updated 10 March, 2010) Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2012] Skok, D., 2012. Why Startups Fail. Startup Reading List: Startup Strategy, pp.89-92. [Online] (updated June 2012) Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2012] The Persuaders, 2004. Interview Kevin Roberts. [Online] (updated 9 Nov. 2004) Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2012] Sewel, R., 2005. The Decisive Role of the Individual in History. [Online] (updated 9 Dec. 2005) Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2012]

Clients Last Name Goes Here 11 Hunt, D. Personality the Secret Business Weapon. [Online] (updated 10 Oct. 2010) Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Sept. 2012]