Confession of a Serial Entrepreneur: 10 Advices from Bob Rosenschein, Founder of Answers.com - Netokracija CEE

Confession of a Serial Entrepreneur: 10 Advices from Bob Rosenschein, Founder of Answers.com

Bob Rosenschein
Bob Rosenschein (photo: Luka Travaš)

Confession of a Serial Entrepreneur – that was a title of a lecture held by Bob Rosenschein at CEED conference. Bob is an American internet entrepreneur currently living and working in Israel and a founder of Answers.com, a top-20 U.S. website.

In the beginning, he asked a question – Why being an entrepreneur? Is it fame, fortune? Being your own boss? Change the world? Because it’s there?

My reason is because it is something you have to do!

He says that the fun is made out of four E’s: Entrepreneurship, Energy, Enthusiasm and Excitement. But there are negative sides as well, like fear. He quoted Scott McNeally who said “A CEO’s job is hiding the terror behind his eyes”.

Bob talked about his background. He was born and raised in the US, went to MIT and later on worked for Ashton Tate. In his thirties he moved with his family to Israel, but continued to work for the company. He met Bill Gates and was completely taken with him because he knew technology and business.

I told everyone that Microsoft is going to take over the world. But in the same time I wasn’t smart enough to invest in it.

Soon Bob worked on a project of adapting Windows for Hebrew and stayed in touch with Gates.

After that Bob founded Answers.com, a website that became very popular. But the company spent a several years searching for a business model. Eventually they made an agreement with Google (interesting, while making a proposal for Google, Bob was connected to Marissa Meyer herself, who was on a junior position). Google put a term “Definition” on almost every English search page and that link lead to Answer’s page. They made WikiAnswers, which became a Wikipedia for questions and answers. In USA they had 54 million of unique visitors. Two years ago they got an offer they couldn’t refuse, so they sold the company to AFCV Holdings for 127 million in cash.

His comment on the whole experience was:

It’s hard! It’s not easy. I’m not saying it’s not worth it.

Israel, a Startup Nation

Bob says that the whole Israel is a startup, since it is so young, but it has a special entrepreneurial climate. For example, average GDP growth is 4.2 percent. Israeli has big economic success stories. Many of the companies are being bought by large ones. There are many Israeli innovations. But he also “blames” the culture for the success – people are very direct, they question authority, the rules, the everything.

10 advices from Bob Rosenschein

Bob gave 10 advices for entrepreneurs:

10. We all go through wishful thinking, but sometimes you need to pessimistic, sometimes optimistic.

9. Build product that the market needs. Create products people can’t live without. Balance technology and marketing.

8. Raise more money! More than you think you need and earlier than you need it. Otherwise the pressure grows and the valuation drops, exponentially.

7. Do the right thing and ask questions later. Use the formula P=40 to 70 – P stands for probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information required. Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go for it.

6. Focus! Do fewer things better.

5. Execution risks: Startups need to excel at everything: Development, marketing, sales, finance. A company is not a democracy. Don’t be perfectionist.

4. Adapt! Change that business model. Eat lunch or be lunch!

3. Never believe your own hype! Wishful thinking kills! There is a difference between PR, financing and real success.

2. Choose the right people! Never just settle. Understaff with the brightest. 1 bozo can stop 10 good people.

1. Be optimistic. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. Don’t think you can change the world, know you can change the world!

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