An Evening with Thought Leader Robin Chase, Founder of Zipcar

Last night I had the chance to re-connect with Robin Chase, Co-Founder of ZIpcar and Buzzcar (and a fellow Wellesley alum) at the opening night reception of the Springboard Annual Forum. There we had a half-hour fireside chat discussing her past, present and future initiatives and the change she would like to see in the world.

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You’re Fired! When An Entrepreneur SHOULD Fire A Client

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I fired a client this week.

I cannot remember the last time I had to do this, but it was for MY own good.

Usually, when I have new clients, I can’t wait to begin our work together and I look forward to each of our conversations and the work that I can do to move them forward. Occasionally, however, I override my good sense and instincts and select an individual to work with that I think has big opportunities ahead but may not resonate with me individually. In this case, I should have listened to my gut.

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Entrepreneurs & Intrapreneurs Still Abound!

In the midst of scary economic reports and new stories of layoffs, I am happy to report that the ranks of entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs (people starting a new venture inside a larger company) continue to grow. Yesterday, I met with a b-school friend who is starting a new company offering a premium service in a huge market – Alzheimer’s. I won’t give away his idea, but suffice it to say his business proposition is compelling. As he explained it, there is no technical risk, no need for funding beyond his savings account and many others have created similar businesses without his business savvy and expertise. If he can execute, he wins, especially since his goal is to create a nice $3-5M business and not a $30-50M business. I was very pleased to see he was also pushing himself to write a full business plan and testing his idea with lots of others before getting started – a necessary discipline in any economy. I look forward to helping him build and showcase the company over the coming months.

On Wednesday, I met with another new client who is starting up a non-profit venture to address the disparity in cancer diagnosis and treatment between  places like Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. She is applying for 5 different grants and is out learning more about similar Centers in other parts of the country. She has created a team of stakeholders and together we crafted a One Page Business Plan to help her ‘shop’ her idea to others and get them on board. She has already scoped out a location and has a clear idea of the challenges ahead – but also an infectious excitement about the prospects. The state of the economy didn’t even enter the discussion.

A few weeks ago I was invited to speak at the Springboard Enterprises Equity Matters- The Route to NASDAQ event in San Francisco. It was great to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. I moderated a panel with some very impressive entrepreneurs, including Caterina Fake, Hunch and Carolyn Fritz, Allylix as well as former entrepreneurs Julie Goonewardene, Purdue Research Foundation and Krishna Subramanian, Sun Microsystems. Each of these women has raised venture capital and built successful companies. Two of them are back doing it again.

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