Draper to budding entrepreneurs: Be willing to ‘take the heat’

Venture capitalist Tim Draper talks to Fordham University students during a April 14, 2016, visit.

Venture capitalist Tim Draper talks to Fordham University students during an April 14, 2016, visit.

If you’re an entrepreneur with an idea you believe is the next big thing, take some advice from a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist: Don’t be afraid of being called crazy, and don’t be afraid to be criticized for your vision.

“[Entrepreneurs] have to be able to stand there for a while and take the heat,” Tim Draper told a group of Fordham University students during a visit to the school’s Lincoln Center campus.

Draper, who has invested in companies such as Tesla, SpaceX and Box, said passion, vision and a thick skin are needed to survive and succeed in the fast-paced world of tech startups. If you have all three, you may get the opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest professionals in your field.

Elon Musk says, ‘Hey, we’re going to Mars,’ and 97 percent of the people think that guy’s crazy. Then 3 percent say, ‘I want to join him,’” Draper said. “Those are the 3 percent that are the best engineers in the world and the best marketers—people who are like, ‘Hey, this is big. I like this vision.’”

During his presentation — arranged by Christine Janssen, who teaches management systems and is the director of the entrepreneurship program at the Gabelli School of Business — Draper said entrepreneurs find niches where they can make a difference by looking for the places where the worst service is provided for the highest price and targeting their efforts there.

He pointed to airlines, banking and healthcare as the next frontiers. Then there is Draper’s perceived biggest target of all: Government is ripe for the picking, he said.

Sound crazy? Well, maybe you need to be, Draper said.

Those who want to take the risks associated with startups should “be maniacal” and believe that the world cannot live without the business they are creating.

“If you don’t feel that,” Draper said, “don’t do it.”

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