Advice For Startups, Entrepreneurs – From Priceline Co-Founder

Matthew Patane reported in today’s Des Moines Register that, “Iowans and others looking to start their own companies need to look at everyday problems and think of how to fix them, not just complain about them, according to Jeff Hoffman, an entrepreneur and speaker.

“‘If you want to be an entrepreneur, next time you see a problem that seems to be bothering a lot of people, instead of going home and complaining, stop and say, ‘Could I fix this? Could I make it better? Is there a more efficient way to do this?” Hoffman said.

“Hoffman, who was part of the founding team of online travel website Priceline, is heading to Iowa City next month to speak at the University of Iowa. The university’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center is hosting ENTREdays, a three-day series of events to celebrate entrepreneurship.”

The Register article quoted Hoffman as saying: “One is you need to find a real problem to solve. I’m just being honest when I say, I get so many entrepreneurs now that come to me and say ‘here’s what I’m working on’ and it’s a solution looking for a problem … The first thing is looking at the environment around you and trying to find something you can make better, a problem you can fix or an opportunity you see.

“The other way is to have an actual purpose: Why are you doing this? What are you trying to achieve and why is it important? The entrepreneurs who are driven by passion and purpose, those are the ones who far outperform the ones who were just doing it for a paycheck.”

When asked about how to keep a startup going, Hoffman noted that, “The first thing is customer intimacy. What I mean by that is getting out of your office, getting into the problem…the more time you spend out of the office and in the problem around the people who are dealing with that problem and meeting the people who you expect to be your customers the more longevity you will have.”

In a reply to a question about any potential stigma associated with a startup in the Midwest, Hoffman indicated that, ” In the past, the reason it was easier to do things in Silicon Valley and they had the advantage was the knowledge on how to launch tech companies and the tech skills for everything were centered around there. … there’s just no need to be in Silicon Valley anymore. You can launch a tech company with the right skills and the right people in Des Moines just like you could anywhere else now.”

Recall also that some entrepreneurs have analyzed the high cost of wages and real-estate in the Bay Area, which has been an impetus for some to consider locating in less expensive markets.

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