Last week, Mark Kvamme of Drive Capital came to Grove City College. The auditorium was full of students and faculty and everyone was blown away by the passion and success of the entrepreneur. His talk was unlike other lecturers in that he did not come with a list of points to make and specific things we should do as business and entrepreneurship students. Instead, he told stories from his life of past successes and failures. And as we are learning in class, stories are the best and most human way of communicating. Here are three of my main takeaways from the night.
1. Use any experience.
Kvamme got his start at Apple at 19. He is not ashamed to say that his Dad helped get him that job. We should use the networks we have available to us to get where we want to go. Don’t be concerned about using your parents or family friends’ connections. And also, don’t be afraid of the cold call. We are young and have nothing to lose. The worst that could happen is that we get a no or never hear a reply. Kvamme made the point that most people genuinely want to help and we shouldn’t be afraid of reaching out.
2. Solve something your passionate about.
Kvamme said the best and most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who solve their own problems. Kvamme gave us the unique opportunity to hear stories from the early stages of huge internet companies such as Google, YouTube and LinkedIn. Larry Page of Google had the goal to index all of human knowledge. That was his personal goal and he set out to do it. Steve Chen of YouTube wanted an easy way to share videos of his kids to his parents in China. Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn wanted a programmed way to network and manage his connections. The best entrepreneurs are solving their own problems.
3. There is good and bad in every entrepreneur’s journey.
Kvamme used an analogy of his dirt racing adventures to make this point. He has had good dirt races where he has almost won, but he has also had horrible crashes. According the Kvamme, the best way to prepare for failure is to know your subject area and believe in your value proposition. Don’t let fear stop you from taking risks, but make sure the risk is worth the reward.
These are just some of my key takeaways. Mark Kvamme was a very interesting speaker and story teller. And I know he made a lasting impression on everyone in the audience.