Monday, August 18, 2008

Creative Commotion

I've just agreed to incorporate regular blog posts about entrepreneurship and start-ups into the Des Moines Register's business blogs. I'll be collaborating with a couple of other experienced (old) business guys, Terry Myers and Barry Pace and one marketing whiz, Adam Steen (young). The Register's format and protocol are not the greatest, but I believe it is important to get more people and other bloggers involved. My first post, with a tip o' the hat to Guy Kawasaki, a start-up guru(at left), and Mike Sansone, blogmeister extraordianire (at right), follows:

I am an investment banker, reformed lawyer, adjunct professor, investor, father, husband, golfer, hunter. And, oh yeah, I'm from New Jersey; I don't remember which exit, but you wouldn't know it anyway. My goal is to stir up the pot of deals, entrepreneurs and prospective entrepreneurs, first in Des Moines and, then, spreading out from there. I want the pot to be bigger, and it needs more than corn and pork.

We need more deals here; we need more people trying to do deals, looking at deals, talking about deals, investing in deals. We need much more collaboration. In more than 20 years as an investment banker for small companies, I have never completed a deal (and I have been involved in raising millions of dollars for dozens of companies) without collaborating with other highly motivated people: entrepreneurs, investors, venture capitalists, and investment bankers, as well as the occasional kook or crook.

If we were in Los Angeles everybody and his uncle would be pushing a script. If we were in New York, every person we met would have a deal and a business plan. Here, in the middle of the country, the place where we elect the President, the crossroads of America, the home of the most fertile soil in the WORLD, nobody talks about deals. There is lot of money here, especially in the midst of the ethanol boom, and a lot of talent. But almost nobody wants to share their business dreams. We need more commotion, more conversations, more arguments. It is as if most of us are too shy or too embarrassed or just too damn humble to promote our version of the new next best thing.

It is time for that to change. It is time for us to change the world.


Adam Steen said...

I agree 100% Tom.

I think we often overlook the value in collaborating. My questions are, why don't two competing firms collaborate to create competition for deals? After all, if we aren't competing for deals... who has a chance to be successful?

Tom Swartwood said...

Sharp question Adam. In the micro-cap I-banking world I have worked in, we did and do collaborate through an innovative association (NIBA)that meets 4-5 times a year to share deal prospects and industry trends. One concern here in Iowa tho, is slicing a relatively small pie into too many little pieces. Prospective entrepreneurs have told me they find it confusing and often daunting to wade through the too-many sources of "assistance."