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College Undergrad Entrepreneurship FAQs and Common Mistakes

by Larry Chiang on December 3, 2012

By Larry Chiang

I live amongst undergrads.

Listening like a Shih Tzu allows me to regurgitate, recite and replicate. Here are things that I hear and observe that are common FAQ that lead into cliche mistakes

-1- Messaging asymmetry

It is a mistake to expect quid pro quo. By quid pro quo, I mean you send a message, you get a message. This is how kid messages get traded. By kid, I mean anyone under 19.

Asymmetric messaging with seasoned execs where you email and re-email old people is par-for-the-course. For example, look at your in-and-out text messaging. It alternates white text (inbound), green text (outbound).

If you’re doing entrepreneurship, get ready for a lot of green text and unrequited outbound messages.

This answers the common FAQ: How many times should I email a mentor or advisor?!

Answer: a lot. Email and re-contact as if every try was a first attempt. For example, one time I text messaged a VC 30x. In entrepreneurship they call it persistent. And the norm In undergrad life, they call it what??

Another big, big change in going from undergrad engineering entrepreneur to pattern replicating “successful seasoned exec entrepreneur” is to…

-2- Sell your friends

The reason for this is that it’s critical to pitch a person in under 20 words.

It’s a mistake to joke and kid when you’re making introductions that are negative. Practice pitching a co-founder or any person in under 20 words.

-3- The “Big Idea Myth”

FAQ I hear: I’ve a big idea and wanna license it / sue others for using it. Can I patent it (so I’ll never have to execute it)?!

College and school and academics teach you that ideas are lovely. Ideas for business are pretty. But useless.

Just execute.

Execution is incredibly monotonous. It takes attention to detail. Don’t make the undergrad mistake of thinking a big idea helps.

On the flip side…

-4- Execute a crap idea

I coach the method that my mentor taught me called EUBM. Engineer up a business model was taught to me by Mark McCormack.

I’d google that.

FAQ: I read your GaGaGuaranteed Exits 2013 business ideas and in my infinite wisdom as a sophomore in CS / inbound Stanford freshman… Don’t think they’ll work.

Larry Chiang answer: you fail to realize just how dumb rich old people in business truly are (compared to a junior in engineering at UI. Listen to what my mentor taught me (teaching you) or wait 10-12 years to say: Goodness, Mark McCormack was right.

-5- Momentary singular focus

ADD is the new norm.

You don’t need ridalin. You need momentary singular focus. And a entrepreneur notebook.

FAQ: Larry Chiang, we wanna diversify Answer: focus. Don’t Di-worse-ify.

Momentary singular focus for you and your team gets you to the right side of the bell curve.

-6- What is the Bell Curve?!

Answer: ENGR145’s Anchor Concepts: Lemonade and Gua Gua Guacamole

It moves you to the right on the entrepreneur bell curve

-7- Criticizing / Armchair QB-ing

Just don’t.

I don’t care about Color. I don’t care about Blippy. I don’t care to discuss or criticize

Just focus and execute on external deliverables

-8- Re-Dumb-dancy

My sweet spot is redundancy. It helps you execute. As a Shih Tzu, I observe that the smarter the undergrad entrepreneur, the less likely they are to execute and be detailed in execution.

Dumb yourself down, sandbag your success in academics, execute re-dumb-dantly and redundantly.

-9- Let’s go viral

Strategy of going viral isn’t a method. Learn leadGen

Google Larry Chiang leadGen

It stands for lead generation.

-10- LCMCC, MVBP and MVP and LCRRM seem like a bunch of acryonyms I don’t know.

FAQ: Can you explain them??!

Answer: they’re entrepreneurial gold. And you need to pay Stanford $15k for them

Sign up here

Jk, I won’t have you learn from an ENGR 145 alum. They’re yours for the googling

FAQ: Larry, will you spoon feed this to me?! Me: Hahaa, just read my blog posts on each and every one of these topics

Larry Chiang FAQ: Will you come to my school and speak?! Answer: you should speak after you execute 2-14 of my blog posts or invite a ENGR 145 alum who executed to R2D2 regurgitate it

Remember, I yield the balance of my 1 hour keynote to undergrads. Me talking to you impresses you. I want you to be impressed at you so I get you to speak. I move kids from the back of the room to the front of the classroom faster than anyone else I’ve ever met.

When you speak, invite me.

I’m your motivational listener.

I listen so well that they let me blog as a woman

And get women to mentor each other

CEO of Duck9 Founding Stanford University EIR (Entrepreneur in Residence) Emeritus

Duck9 = “Deep Underground Credit Knowledge” 9 125 University Avenue/ 100 Palo Alto CA 94301 650-566-9600 650-566-9696 (direct) 650-283-8008 (cell)

**************** Editor of the BusinessWeek Channel “What They Don’t Teach at Business School” CNN Video Channel:

Read my last 10 tweets at

Author, NY Times Bestseller

“What They Will NEVER Teach You at Stanford Business School” comes out 11-11-14

52 Cards. Two Jokers. What They DO Teach You at Stanford Engineering

Emergency swings and cutting deals as an 9 year old

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More on #ENGR145’s SHIFTING right on the entrepreneur bell curve

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