Talks and Presentations

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What works and what doesn’t in early-stage companies: confessions of a serial entrepreneur

Does technology start-up success need to be such a hit or miss endeavour? Is it an art, a science or something in between? How can we extract collective wisdom from the experience of many successful technology entrepreneurs?

In this talk, Paul Slaby not only shares a few personal lessons learned from his two decades of entrepreneurship but presents a pragmatic methodology for starting and growing a technology company. The presentation will cover the entrepreneurial transition, the mental roadblocks founders need to overcome, practical pointers for successful fundraising, the way to find sanity in the hyper intensity of the execution phase and finally how to handle the (bloody) battles of that elusive liquidity event. This talk is the “real thing” from a man who has been there and done that. Be prepared.

Founders, Investors, and CEOs – Navigating corporate transitions in the seas of ambition, passion, and conflicting interests

Startups go through a predictable life cycle, which at its different stages necessitates different talents and qualifications to navigate through it. The problem arises when the key players in these transitions are not prepared for what is about to happen and drift blindly into the white waters ahead of them. This talk offers practical advice on how to deal with the inevitable conflicts in an intense pressure cooker environment of a rapidly growing startup. The focus is on the soft issues, personal growth issues, the emotional tribulations and vicissitudes. The author was a founder, hired-gun CEO and an angel investor. He has experienced it all: successful exits, bitter failures, and walking-wounded ventures and thus talks from a position of a battle-scarred practitioner.

From Employee to Entrepreneur

Making a successful transition from a steady job to being on your own is a process full of high anxiety and many pitfalls. What is worse is that few sources of information tell you about the real issues: recognizing and dealing with the entrepreneurial seizure, making the mental shifts from pay cheque thinking to profit thinking, overcoming mental roadblocks and preserving your sanity in the execution phase. In this talk, based on the personal experiences of high-tech entrepreneurs, Paul Slaby examines the issues facing the first-time entrepreneur and provides many pointers on how to make a successful transition.

Christopher Columbus and the New World of high-tech entrepreneurship

Do you think that starting a new tech venture is tough? Well, how about the experience of this man: as a foreigner in XV century Portugal and Spain he put in 10 years of hard work to raise the funding for his venture. He was turned down repeatedly by several different kings (General Partners) and their royal advisers (Venture Partners) until he managed to negotiate an acceptable term sheet. During the execution phase he faced the mutiny of his crew (staff), was out-manoeuvered by preferred shareholders, falsely accused and sent back in chains to Spain (replaced by ‘professional’ CEO). Throughout the whole endeavour he was mistakenly convinced he discovered a new path to the Indies all the while denying the existence of the New World. But did that matter? If not, what did?

In analyzing this strange man with a strange story, Paul Slaby provides fascinating parallels to the lives and feats of today’s founders, executives and entrepreneurs.

What would Pizarro do? – Lessons for business leaders from the conquest of the Incas

What happens when a serial entrepreneur walks the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and marvels at the amazing success of Francisco Pizarro and his some 168 conquistadors who single-mindedly conquered the 8 million people strong, one of the most advanced, civilizations of the Americas?

For Paul Slaby there was no escape from seeing the many parallels of Pizarro’s world and the brave world of high-tech entrepreneurship. From Pizarro’s dogged efforts in raising venture capital in XVI century Spain, to the hardships of two failed expeditions, along with being stranded to near starvation for 6 month on Isla del Gallo, to the bold and courageous capture of Atahualpa, the emperor of the Incas, in Cajamarca, Francisco Pizarro must have done something right! His venture provided a ROI of 27 tons of gold and 38 tons of silver – the largest loot in history! This fascinating talk will extract the wisdom of that experience and provide you with the motivation to apply some of it in your management style.

Flying on empty – the art of soft landing when you run out of fuel or venture funding

The experience of steering a high-tech venture toward a successful exit or in other words toward a “liquidity event” is not unlike what happened in August of 2001 when Air Transat flight #236 with 300 people on board ran out of fuel in the mid-Atlantic.

The captain (CEO) and his crew (executives, BOD, VCs) need to have nerves of steel, a contingency-loaded plan of action, impeccable skills, and above all the ability to work together against incredible odds to secure a successful landing. Whether you are gliding a 200 ton power-less aircraft to the tiny island of Azores or scrambling to soft land your venture in the wake of tumbling valuations there is a lot to be learned from people who have already done it. In this presentation, Paul Slaby talks about how to prepare yourself for similar situations in your business.

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