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1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Michael Smerklo, Co-founder and Managing Director at Next Coast Ventures 2021 (Part 5)

Posted on Tuesday, May 25th 2021

Michael Smerklo: Don’t let the idea that your idea isn’t big enough prevent you from get going. See where it goes. I am in line with what you said, and I am so passionate about it. Even though my day job is as a venture capitalist, I say to entrepreneurs all the time that if they can avoid working with people like me and get your business going and bootstrap it and own a bigger chunk of it, do that. That is 90% of all the businesses of the world. 

Sramana Mitra: Yes, and VCs look to go $0 to $100 million in revenue in 5 to 7 years. That is hyper-growth. Hypergrowth is not a natural state of business.

Most companies don’t grow exponentially big. They grow linearly. They grow over time. Maybe it takes 20 years to build a $20 million company. That is a sustainable healthy company, and you are having a good time. You have a good set of employees catering to a good set of customers.

That is a perfectly good success story. We constantly try to redefine success for people who are misled by the bad media. They constantly pump up funding news. 

Michael Smerklo: I wrote this book because here’s the content that you get as an entrepreneur. You either get “How to write a business plan” or you get “What does Mark Zuckerberg eat for breakfast?” It is a hard job and you need support. You are dead on with what you said. Let’s run that math out. This is an anti-venture capitalist view.

Let’s say you spend 10 or 20 years building a $20 million business. You employed some great folks and changed their livelihood. You had an impact on your community. You create real value for your customers. By the way, at some point, it’s not all about money. When you sell that business in the future and you own 100% of it, then you have done incredibly well.

I am so in line with this. My day job is trying to build the business as you have described, but there are so many opportunities to change your life and change the lives of others. It does not have to be the nonsense that you see in SharkTank or TechCrunch. 

Sramana Mitra: I am also excited about the globalization of the entrepreneurship phenomenon. Because of who we are and how we operate in this ecosystem, we see a lot of people coming to us from small places. We had an entrepreneur who comes from a small town in East Texas who is competing with Bill.com. They have built a sizeable business. It’s bootstrapped and is a perfectly viable business going gangbusters.

He came and said, “I am trying to figure out what to do.” There is confusion because they are also reading this media fever about VC. I tell them, “You are doing great. Don’t change course. If you can stay the course and just keep doing what you are doing, that is great.”

We hear from small cities in India. We also started seeing a lot of deal flow and entrepreneurs coming here from Africa. One of the African magazines just put me on their cover. It’s heartwarming to see how much is going on around the world. 

Michael Smerklo: That warms my heart. I think that is the other benefit of some of the technology and tools available to entrepreneurs now. You can start a business from anywhere now. You can access the global talent base. You don’t need them all sitting in San Francisco. Again, you can have such an impact. 

This segment is part 5 in the series : 1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Michael Smerklo, Co-founder and Managing Director at Next Coast Ventures 2021
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