Monday, October 30, 2006

Rafer in the Merc

So we at Penn Six (comedy/a capella group I'm in) had our fall show this past weekend, and I finally have the time to devote to this blog, which has been barren of late.

Anyway, I know I promised articles on other stuff, but I had to write about this - my boss and fearless leader over the summer, Scott Rafer, was featured in an article in the San Jose Mercury about entrepreneurs who are captaining or heavily involved in multiple start ups. And Scott definitely embodies the part.

The coolest part about working for him this summer was not only getting to see him work his magic but trying my hand at it as well. As I've mentioned on this blog, I spent time working on projects for WINKsite, Mashery, and MyBlogLog, as well as a personal project when I could spare the time.

In particular, one of Scott's quotes from the article, "VCs spread their risk across numerous companies. Why shouldn't we?," really stood out to me. Spreading risk was one of the Rafer-isms I got all summer, and he makes a very good point.

Being an entrepreneur isn't easy. Hell, it's for the crazy ones, not the sane ones. No stable paycheck. No 9-5. Just a dream to make it big against the odds (really against the odds). And I really don't even know the half of it. It's easy to work for a start up for 3 months over the summer when you're under the same roof as your parents, but doing it for a living requires a lot of luck and even more skill.

Yet Rafer manages to pull it off - not only does he make a livelihood out of being an entrepreneur, he does it with mostly small start ups. The biggest lessons I learned over the summer were balancing and prioritizing - taking safer gigs to counter the risky ones and knowing which one is the most important (and communicating that to everyone involved).

But my most important realization went a level deeper: at the end of the day, the serial entrepreneur is doing more than just minimizing risk - he's living his dream. Working more than just a day job, especially for start ups, has got to be fueled by passion. Though practical reasons justify the decision to take on multiple projects at once, love for the work has to drive it.

(By the way, Scott, I'm going to use this post as a spring board for the write ups I promised a while ago. Sorry, it's taken so long, but they'll be up soon.)


  1. And well worth the wait, I'm sure.

    (Just replying in kind to your a--kissing above. Good of you to omit the killer Euro vacation, bigco consulting, et al, from my "One against the world" image. Thanks!)

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