Overcoming Obstacles in Entrepreneurship – On February 18, the NVTC Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee sponsored a ‘fireside chat’ “Journey to Success: Overcoming Obstacles in Entrepreneurship”. The event was moderated by Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, who interviewed Scott Case, the founding CTO of Priceline.com and founding CEO of Startup America.
The discussion focused on Scott’s experiences throughout his lengthy career as a key member of several startup companies; Scott also shared his thoughts on the potential pitfalls startup companies can fall victim to. Some of Scott’s key points to attendees included:
Scott’s entrepreneurial journey started with part-time jobs as an assistant for a plumbing company, a well driller, and running a local lawn-mowing business. In these formative years, Scott gained an understanding of mastering his trade, servicing customers, and constantly looking for the next opportunity. While attending college at the University of Connecticut, Scott spent his free time developing an advanced flight simulator with fellow classmates only to discover that the start-up could not generate sales due to a lack of marketing. The need to supplement a great product with a sales and marketing team and other supporting functions, was a key lesson that Scott carries with him to this day.
Undeterred, Scott shunned more secure employment to continue working with start-ups and, following an introduction to Priceline.com founder, Jay Walker a few years later, joined Priceline as the founding Chief Technology Officer. During his tenure, Scott’s team at Priceline developed a ‘name your own price’ system in the early days of the internet that allowed the company to grow significantly and successfully undergo an IPO with an initial market capitalization of over $12 billion. Scott attributes his success at Priceline to understanding the available technology and effectively marketing it, as well as creating a team willing to try a number of ventures without fear of failure.
Since leaving Priceline in 2000, Scott has co-founded or led several other ventures focused on technology, entrepreneurship and philanthropy, such as Main Street Genome, Startup America Partnership, Malaria No More, and most recently, Potomac Innovation, a new business travel purchasing company. Mr. Case stressed the need for entrepreneurs to remain connected to advisers, financiers, peers and customers, if they are to be successful, and noted that incubators such as 1776 in DC can greatly help a new entrepreneur. Scott also stressed the importance of minimizing government regulation to allow new business owners to focus on their core activities, but noted that government can help by listening and responding to entrepreneurs’ needs – such as the recent decision by the city of Nashville, TN to significantly increase its broadband access, which appears to be attracting entrepreneurs to the city.