By Allan Maurer
ATLANTA – “This is the best time ever to start a company,” Tim Draper, managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetsson, told more than 700 people at the third annual Southeast Venture Conference in Atlanta today.
Draper told the crowd at the TechJournal South event that many of the largest and most successful companies started during depressions or recessions, citing GE, Chevron, Westinghouse, Microsoft, Amgen, Adobe, Skype, and Johnson and Johnson, among others.
“Entrepreneurs, this is your time. This your your moment, go out and do something,” Draper said.
He outlined several of the reasons why now is a good time to launch an innovative company. “People need jobs, existing companies are reeling, there are fewer start-up competitors, and you’ll have newer technology,” he said.
One of the reasons so many of today’s successful companies started during down economies, he said, is that doing so, “You have to watch every penny. So you create a culture, this meme that spreads
throughout the company and stays.”
Even though the IPO market, which once saw 20-50 companies a quarter go public, has dried up, “one thing has not changed,” he said.
“Innovation spikes at times like this and takes a dip during boom times.”
Draper pointed to the innovations that have changed our lives in the last 50 yeqars, from the emergence of biotechnology to fiber optics and the Internet, smart phones and others that have made our lives better.
In the future he says, we will see the rate of change speed up, leading to a host of new innovations, some of which sound like science fiction, and some which science fiction predicted.
“We have our communicators,” he said, referring to the handheld devices from the first “Star Trek,” but he added, “no holodeck.”
In the same vein, Draper suggested that some entrepreneurs might want to develop a self-navigating electric car. Then he said that
entrepreneurs who really want to “stretch” should consider making a “flying self-navigating car.”
He also noted that human life spans have steadily advanced and this generation’s children might live to 150, “creating a whole new market.” He mentioned a host of other potential future innovations for entrepreneurs to consider taking on.
Draper also praised the art of the “deal.”
“If we make a deal, we’re both better off,” he said. “The more deals we make, the better off we all become. Google and Microsoft made a lot of deals and we’re all better for it. There are 700 of you here, make sure you’re making deals.”
Draper disparaged the government’s stimulus plan, saying there are too many “hooks” involving federal regulations and interference for those taking bailout or stimulus money.
He also said the Gross National Product suffers when government spending makes up too great a percentage of it.
Draper discussed a number of companies and products that solved problems through revolutionizing a field, such as in communications (Hotmail), advertising (Google), telecommunications (Skype), and the trading post (eBay).
He noted that entrepreneurs have to take risks, social risks, career risks, and financial risks. “Entrepreneurs are heroes,” he said. “You build value out of nothing and create a lot of jobs.”
Draper then gave an animated rendition of his own song called “The RiskMaster,” which humorously commented on the risks entrepreneurs have to take to be heroes.
Look for more coverage of TechJournal South’s SEVC event tomorrow and in this week’s TechView Atlanta, which will include shots of Tim Draper performing “The RiskMaster.”
- SEVC: Deals still getting done, but taking longer
- TDA and First Flight Center look to reemerge
- SEVC bringing $70B in investment capital to Atlanta event
- Draper Laboratory expanding into Tampa Bay
- Draper University to nurture young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley
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