3 Qualities to Cultivate as a Technical CEO – Under30CEO – William Esping

This article was first published on Under30CEO here: William Esping – 3 Qualities to Cultivate as a Technical CEO — http://under30ceo.com/3-qualities-to-cultivate-as-a-technical-ceo/

Working on a tech-oriented startup project, it’s easy to bury yourself in the data models and logistics. But spending so much time on  the specifics of your project can quickly distract you from other considerations that might make or break your first attempt to gain funding.

When you begin looking for venture or angel investment, you are putting the entirety of your life under the microscope. Whether its your past work experience or your decisions in your personal life, every facet of your character is going to be evaluated.

There are a few distinct qualities you are going to need to cultivate now if you hope to have someone else’s money bank rolling your success.

I. Self-Awareness

Before you stand in front of several highly scrutinizing people who are considering taking an enormous risk on your business, it’s important to understand where your personal skills and weaknesses are. If you don’t, you can expect to quickly be made aware of them.

Grit and initiative are often valued as key qualities for an entrepreneur, but you can take a can-do attitude so far that it becomes blinding. From start to finish, it’s essential to be realistic about how much you can skillfully accomplish within your venture. If you are a technically minded person, chances are that you do not have the sales or operations experience another individual might. If that’s the case, it’s time to find someone else to join your leadership team that can make your product do more than sit on the shelf.

If you’re uncertain of exactly which areas you will need the most help with, this might be the perfect time to lock down the first member of your board of advisors. A good board member could not only help you determine what you’re lacking, but also be able to make introductions to potential partners to fill these gaps.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.” In preparing for your business pitch, it is critical to determine what shadows you’re not seeing. Should you fail to know your own shortcomings and address them, there is a good chance you will also fail to find funding.

II. Integrity

Trust is an enormous component of investing. Regardless of whatever fail-safes an investor places in your company, they are still taking an incredible risk on you. If you’re the lead entrepreneur for the company, your integrity reflects the company’s integrity.

There are two types of integrity: integrity in the sense of morality, indicated by the correctness of your actions, and integrity in the sense of consistency, indicated by a lack of contradiction between your beliefs and actions. As an entrepreneur preparing to receive a lot of attention, you’re going to need both.

With the growing number of stories coming out about gentleman like Bernie Madoff or Tom Petters, everyone has started to be a little more concerned about who they are giving money to. Knowing that a good liar will even deceive their friends, your potential investors are going to be looking at the little things.

Consider the last time you went 18 holes and there was a spot of money resting on the outcome. Were you willing to bend the rules slightly to put the odds in your favor? Did you drop a ball a few feet or more in front of where it technically should have been? If you tried this with a potential investor who pulled the plug on your deal, you might have just discovered the reason why.

Demonstrating your integrity requires more than just being an honest golfer though. It’s about consistently holding yourself to a standard. Bluntly, if you claim a certain set of principles with your speech, you better be walking within those bounds. If you’re espousing something that you’re not acting on, you’re only making it more difficult to believe that you’re a stand up guy.

Most investors would agree that a bad deal carried out with a good person is far more likely to succeed than a good deal carried out with a bad person.

No integrity equals no trust. No trust equals no deal.

III. Simple Business Acumen

The expectation that an entrepreneur would come to understand the basics of running a company seems like it shouldn’t need to be mentioned. But there are countless product creators who view the operations side of a venture as somehow less important than the R&D. There are also countless fantastically innovative ideas that disappear every year.

As stated before, not finding the right mix of skills to fill out your leadership team is a certain path to failure. However, simply letting your partner handle the “boring business elements” can be just as grave a mistake. Regardless of who joins your team, you will find yourself more informed on the company’s progress and far less likely to be made irrelevant in the company’s future if you educate yourself on the basics of business operations.

At the very least, you will need enough business fluency to gracefully pass investor’s questions off to the correct member of your team. Send a financial analysis question to your marketing guru and you’re not going to help anyone’s credibility.

The process of taking a startup from start to finish is a learning experience for even the most  experienced serial entrepreneurs. As a technical CEO, taking the time for a little introspection at the beginning of the process will insure that learning the lessons of an entrepreneur won’t be quite so painful.

William (Bill) Esping is a Dallas entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist who has placed hundreds of millions of dollars into over 100 different businesses.  He has led investments in Laser Spine Institute, Palm Beach Tan, and many others, dedicating himself to the success of entrepreneurial CEOs.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

Killer Startup: 3 Considerations Before You Begin Your Money Quest

This article appeared in http://www.Business2Community.com here: http://www.business2community.com/startups/killer-startup-3-considerations-before-you-begin-your-money-quest-0405032#mxXZs2VZ3ZasQo6F.99


The run up to making the presentation for your first capital injection is a nerve wracking process no matter how many times you go through it. There are countless factors to consider and a number of processes that need to be well under way.

Some of the most important things you can consider in preparing for your pitch are also frequently overlooked or underrated. If you work through these three concerns before you get too far down the road to securing investment, you will find yourself much more pleased by the outcome.

I. Develop a board that will invest, not simply advise.

A board of advisors can be a crucial group of contributors to your business. Or they can simply be impressive names that go into your business plan. The commitment of the individuals that you select will radically impact how much support you receive through the process of developing your business.

A board member can wear numerous hats. They might be a strong source of minor capital injections either before or after class A investors come on board. They might be a sounding board for the next steps you plan to take or new initiatives you take on. They can help you understand the trends your industry is currently operating under. And of course, they can make relevant introductions and lend credibility to your decisions.

Deciding what you will expect from your board on the forefront will help you decide whether a particular person is the best option. In my experience, a board that primarily consisted of highly committed individuals who were potentially less well known was far more valuable than a board filled with glamorous names that were primarily just waving the banner.

II. Be creative with your deal structures. 

Most entrepreneurs assume that there is a one size fits all standard to how venture financing works. And it involves giving away an enormous amount of equity for less capital than they were looking for. But the truth is that investors are highly flexible for how a deal is put together.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that investors are only concerned with maximizing their profits. There are enormous risks involved in investing and mitigating risk is oftentimes an even larger concern than how startlingly successful your business is going to be.

With this in mind, there are several ways that deals can be structured to incentivize the entrepreneur’s success, while making the deal less risky for investors. These deals might include various structures that give the entrepreneur a means of purchasing back portions of the equity early, contingent upon the performance of the business.

Do your research on what specific deal structures have been used before by startups in your industry.

III. Be humble about what you have created.

Now that it’s clear that there is more than one way to go about creating a financing deal, it should be said that you are going to undoubtedly give up more equity than you expected to. This might seem like a slight contradiction to what was just said, but it is important to prepare yourself for the fact that the process of securing funding is not going to be painless.

Every entrepreneur that walks through an investor’s door is expecting exponential growth for their venture. If there wasn’t that potential, they wouldn’t be pursuing the idea. However, the businesses that actually go on to experience truly exponential growth come around once in a decade. The rational expectation is that you will neither do as well as you hope nor go completely bankrupt.

Accepting this, you should be willing to settle for a valuation that is below your best case scenario. If you are uncomfortable with what you are having to give up, refer back to the second point and be prepared with potentially more satisfying alternatives to what the investor might come up with.

Creating a wildly successful venture involves being sure that the right individuals for the process are included in more than just your leadership team. And your knowledge of how that venture could be financed will greatly affect how much personal wealth you gain from the business’s success. Realistic expectations on the forefront will make the experience of looking for capital infinitely less painful.

As a final note, if you have truly found the right people for your board of advisors, they won’t stop at simply correcting your wildly optimistic expectations. They will actively enable you to come closer to that best case scenario dream.

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/startups/killer-startup-3-considerations-before-you-begin-your-money-quest-0405032#mxXZs2VZ3ZasQo6F.99

Providing Safe and Educational Summers for Students in Need

For over 11 years, the Esping Family Foundation has faithfully supported Circle of Support, and in particular, its Science, Math, Art, Reading, and Technology (S.M.A.R.T.) Program.  Under the financial leadership of William (Bill) Esping, the Esping Family Foundation has enabled Circle of Support to provide a safe summer environment, food, emotional support, and academic enrichment to low-income children in Southern Dallas.  In July 2011, representatives from the Esping Family Foundation joined Circle of Support for its end-of-summer Appreciation Ceremony to celebrate the program’s summer achievements.

Summer can be a critical, and often detrimental, time for underserved, low-income students.  According to Bernadette Nutall, founder and executive director of Circle of Support, “When school doors close, girls and boys in Southern Dallas communities struggle to access educational and enrichment opportunities, basic needs, healthy meals and adequate adult supervision.”  Low-income students typically lose two months of math and reading skills over the summer, and face numerous obstacles to their physical and emotional well-being.

In order to address this need, Bernadette Nutall founded Circle of Support in 1999 to help girls in and near the Frazier Court Housing Development in Dallas.  Over the years, the program has expanded geographically to serve more neighborhoods in the city.  In 2007, the organization added S.M.A.R.T. Boys to begin reaching out to boys in the community.  Circle of Support is the only program in Southern Dallas that comprehensively addresses summer learning loss, nurtures the whole child, and supports families by keeping students safe.  It is also unique in its ability to increase academic achievement, improve motivation, and excite children about learning by using certified teachers.  Circle of Support focuses on more than academics, however: it develops new talents and improves its participants’ self-esteem and confidence.  This successful achievement of this last goal was displayed at the 2011 Appreciation Cermony, as the 7th-9th grade girls publicly presented an affirmation they created to emphasize what they value and how they want to be treated.

Programs like Circle of Support that provide such high-quality care for children at no cost to the families cannot run without community support.  It costs an average of $33 per day to support a student, even though the highly dedicated teachers often purchase supplies for the children out of their own pockets.  While the 2011 Appreciation Ceremony acknowledged many community donors, Circle of Support specifically acknowledged the Esping Family Foundation for its long-time support.  Founded in 1977 by Perry E. Esping, the Esping Family Foundation has given more than $5 million to local organizations providing education for Texan children, particularly those in need.  As Bernadette Nutall, the founder and chair of Circle of Support notes, “We are grateful to the Esping Family Foundation, and all of our donors, for their ongoing support of this program. …Bill Esping and his family are committed to helping our community’s children and we look forward to many more years of serving the community together.”

In his leadership at Esping Family Foundation and in his personal life, Bill Esping is committed to helping those who cannot help themselves.  With a particular compassion for children in need, Esping and his wife Heather provide funds to help students achieve their educational goals that would otherwise be impossibly expensive.  The Espings personally fund these opportunities through their own private non-profit charity the PMC Esping Foundation, contributing to many local charities, and providing advocacy for educational rights through the recently founded Bill Esping Lawsuit and Fraud Support Initiative.

All about the Bill Esping Lawsuit and Fraud Support Initiative

Business and Finance are known throughout Dallas as important talents. Here, people earn their living through the blood, sweat and tears of ingenious hard-work. Bill Esping, a native of Dallas, is no exception.  Renowned for his extraordinary skill in leadership and management, Mr. Esping has contributed to the resounding success of many businesses over the years, including Cypress Lending Group, Ltd., and EFO Holdings, L.P. (the Esping Family Office).

Graduating from the highly-ranked Southern Methodist University, where his leadership and managerial talents were well-honed, one of his best efforts has been evidenced in the building of Esping Family Office, or EFO Holdings – an integral part of his life. Beyond that, Bill Esping has served in various leading positions such as founder, CEO, board member and other roles in companies like Pan Aero Energy Company, Resort Properties of Naples, L.P., Palm Beach Tan, Inc., Platinum Resources Organization, Smith Pipe, Inc., and SPA Drilling, L.P. Mr. Esping has held seats on the board of directors of Bellevue University and the reputable Cypress Lending Group, has been a leader of EFO Sponsor Realty Fund and the Esping Family Foundation, the Hospitality Linen Company, Waste Corporation of America, SPA Production, L.P., STG and others.

Mr. Esping has powerful philanthropic interests – this is clearly seen in his work of service, the Bill Esping Lawsuit and Fraud Support Initiative. This platform centers on providing financial support and awareness of legal aid issues through organizations in Dallas, Texas and nationwide, whose purpose is to help people with sound legal aid and counsel. The Bill Esping Lawsuit and Fraud Support Initiative does not provide support to individuals, rather through this initiative Mr. Esping has found he can impact many lives by supporting organizations that do the most good.

“The Bill Esping Lawsuit and Fraud Support Initiative funds and supports organizations like Disability Rights Texas.  People with disabilities represent at least 20% of the workforce in Texas, and ensuring that there is fair access to legal education and resources ensures that the Texas economy continues to excel.”

Indeed, the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that drives Mr. Esping is at the foundation of the Bill Esping Lawsuit and Fraud Support Initiative.  By providing a hand-up, instead of a hand-out, Mr. Esping is able to assist those most in need, and do the most good.

Learn more about the Bill Esping Lawsuit and Fraud Support Initiative at www.billespinglfsi.org