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Stanford's Student Startup Accelerator

7/23 Ending the week with Howard Hartenbaum

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Tonight we had a great dinner with Howard Hartenbaum from August Capital.

From his August Capital bio:

Howard Hartenbaum joined August Capital in 2008. Prior to joining, he served as a General Partner at Draper Richards LP where he was the founding investor in Skype and a former member of the board of directors where his achievement resulted in his joining the Forbes Midas List of top venture capitalists.

Before entering the venture capital field, Howard was at Hughes Electronics, where he was responsible for supporting business development, marketing and sales of satellite, information security and automotive technologies developed by HRL Laboratories. He also worked in engineering positions in ergonomics and user experience at Honda Motor Company and manufacturing at Teledyne Relays.

Howard has worked overseas for a total of ten years in Luxembourg and Japan. He is a graduate of M.I.T.

We covered a lot of ground, but some highlights of the night are:

  • The most successful entrepreneurs that he has seen have been problem-oriented, experts in a certain domain, and passionate about the problem they are trying to solve.
  • Smart, experienced people will offer you feedback and opinions, but don’t forget to take them with a grain of salt. Investors are often initially skeptical of the most interesting companies (aka the ones that become the biggest names in the business).
  • Focus on the user, focus on solving a problem. User experience is key; it can make or break you. Also, it generally doesn’t work to be a “solution searching for a market.” This can lead you to a nice business, but it’s not likely to be a billion-dollar company.

What a great speaker to wrap up our busy week at SSE Labs. Thank you to Howard for your time, and great stories.

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Written by ahzietsman

July 23, 2010 at 9:26 pm

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