"I don't ever think of anything myself," he said. "Ego gets in the way a whole lot...I find the best people to come up with ideas for me are customers, people who will give me money for the idea."
He noted that in his current business, a medical pain relief device seller, he made the first series of sales because the customer's feedback is paramount in discovering the strengths and flaws of the product.
Founders have a special role
He said that entrepreneurs should recognize the uniqueness in being founders. They have taken the great leap of creating something from nothing, and that step garners respect from all others in business, including CEOs. They can try whatever means to justify their position, but they will always be secondary to the founder.
"They (CEOs) will come to you because they don't have what you have- a glow inside," he said. "You changed life. They didn't, and that difference is profound. If you don't remember it, you'll put too much hope in them and expect too much to them. They will try to modify it for something they think it's better." He encouraged the group to embrace their roles as founders to call on business leaders, saying that the title of founder alone will enable the opportunity.
Use Patents Wisely
He said, "I know Francis Bacon said 'knowledge is power.' "No, knowledge alone is not power, knowledge plus action is power." Quoting Thomas Palmer, he said, "'Mere knowledge is not power; it is only possibility. Action is power; and its highest manifestation is when it is directed by knowledge.'"
When asked about how an entrepreneur should use patents, he gave some candid advice: Don't wait for the utility patent. Instead, all the value lies in the provisional patent, in which the claims are filed and sealed for one year. It allows the entrepreneur a moderate means of protection without the need to disclose precise terms. Without having to disclose the precise patent claims, an entrepreneur can promote the business model without the specific claims and provide competitors with a foundation to find loop holes. If the entrepreneur decides later to file for an actual patent, then he/she has the opportunity to rewrite the claims with knowledge gained from the point of filing the provisional.
Watch Out for VCs
"their (VCs') need for success is as not as great as their need for more investors," said
He said that they are in their third generation of VC managers, a group of MBAs without experience in running businesses. He said that through the use of preferred stock, they have incentives that are completely misaligned with doing what's right for the customer. In a recent experience of his, he discovered the VCs had worked behind the scenes to cash out of the company in a way that would have destroyed the value of the company.
"My only last thing to say is to execute - do: an entrepreneur sitting on his ass is an "'entremanure.'"