Michael Smerklo: I am passionate about encouraging people. The start of my book is called Mr. Monkey. He was the voice in my head that said, “You will never be successful. You won’t do it.” The book is about trying to give aspiring entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs the mental tools to take that first step.
If you read the media they could think, “I don’t have an idea that is as big as Facebook.” That is nonsense. Take the step and begin the journey and to build to your point, build a business with five or no employees. Whatever it is, you can change your life and others. You don’t have to get caught up in the media craze. I love that you are carrying this flag.
Sramana Mitra: To underscore what you have just said, our definition of entrepreneurship equals customers, revenues, and profit. Financing and exits are optional. You can build $1 million to $10 million companies as long-staying fundamental oriented. You cannot play both ways. You have outside capital and grow slowly. If you want to grow slowly, you have to do it bootstrapped.
There are alternative means of financing. There is inventory financing available as you start developing credibility. I think there are more than $5 million to $10 million ideas that the billion-dollar ideas that the media is bombarding us with. Your message and what you are trying to do with your book is in line with our message. It is not easy to convey this message because the counterpoint has such a megaphone.
Michael Smerklo: It does and it is a media world that we live in. That is why when people ask me about books to read. I love Shoe Dog for example. This is the story of Nike and Phil Knight. The reason that I recommend that book is because when you look at the 30 years of ups and downs of Nike, you realize that great businesses don’t need venture capital and they take a long time to build. But see, if you avoid the capital circle, you get this thing called ownership. If you get revenue and profitability and the third factor which is ownership, then that’s all you need.
I am frustrated by what gets missed by the media. Someone has an idea, they get that blitz capital and they do build a billion-dollar business, but at the end of it they own a percentage of it. The capital came in and continued to take more ownership and put a bunch of terms that are not entrepreneur-friendly. In my day job, I do give capital to entrepreneurs, but we don’t play that game of capital growth at all cost. It does not make sense to me.
Sramana Mitra: Thank you for that message. It is deeply welcomed here in this forum. I am glad that you are echoing the message that we are trying to get out there.
Michael Smerklo: I am going to make my plug, if you don’t mind. Mr. Monkey and Me is available on Amazon. All proceeds go to charity. They go to a scholarship for diverse and underrepresented students interested in entrepreneurship.
Sramana Mitra: Thank you for your time.