Stay curious, ask why, challenge the status quo and break the rules. That’s the spirit of entrepreneurialism according to speakers at the Cultivate.you event in downtown Fargo.
The event, sponsored by Arthur Ventures and the GFMEDC, filled the Fargo Theatre attracting more than 800 people including 100 West Fargo junior high STEM Center students. The speakers were Mike Cannon-Brookes, Co-Founder of Atlassian, an Australian tech company and Rich Karlgaard, Forbes Publisher and North Dakota native.
So what is the recipe for success (to steal a phrase from Cannon-Brookes)? According to Cannon-Brookes the ingredients are pretty simple (however easy it is to implement and get the combination right is probably debatable). Cannon-Brookes contributes his company’s success to five core ingredients: values, people, good processes, ideas (innovation) and fun. And it seems to be working. Cannon-Brookes and his partner started Atlassian ten years ago, and now the multi-million dollar company has more than 500 employees in four locations.
According to Karlgaard, successful companies have two things happening that he calls hard virtues and soft virtues. First, companies need to succeed at the hard virtues. Those are the things you can measure like cost, speed and supply chain. Then there are the soft virtues. The first soft virtue is design and integration. An intelligent design can be the difference for a discerning customer (think Apple). Does it look like a winning product? Second is managing your team for success. How do you divide your team? Do you combine introverts and extroverts? Third is brand, and the fourth is purpose. He described it as moral purpose but said that it doesn’t have to mean religious purpose. He used Google as an example saying their deeply rooted purpose lies in the desire to create a library for everybody.
The most tweetable phrase may have come from Karlgaard “Ask yourself, what is your unfair advantage?” By that he means what do you do have or do that sets you apart?
The event was part of a larger effort to start building up the entrepreneurial environment in the Fargo Moorhead community. It’s about risk taking, business building, following your passion and making the world a better place through innovative ideas. It’s going on right here in our own backyard. Stay tuned…big things are happening!