[Trailer screenshot, from DVD The Ten Commandments, 50th Anniversary Collection Paramount, 2006]
I have startups in my blood. My great-grandfather whose name I bear, David Eccles, began a solo lumbering operation in the Monte Cristo range in northern Utah in 1870 at age twenty and went on to found numerous businesses and become Utah’s first multi-millionaire and a leading industrialist in the western United States (hence The David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah). While my own history with startups is somewhat less gilded, it has nevertheless shaped my life.
During my high school years I went out to Los Angeles from my home in Washington, D.C., to work summers - and of course experience southern California in the late 60's and early 70's as a teenager (smiley face). After two weeks pumping gas at a grimy gas station on Santa Monica Boulevard for minimum wage ($1.60 an hour in 1969) and noticing that drive-through car washes were as omnipresent in west LA then as Starbucks and The Coffee Bean are now, I had a better idea. I started up a personalized I’ll-drive-to-you, on-site car washing & waxing venture that quickly had me drinking from a fire-hose, netted me an average of $15 an hour, and let me drive some pretty hot cars as a 16- and 17-year old. Cool!
Three years after graduating from the University of Utah Law School and experiencing some of the murkier aspects of working in a large law firm, one of the other associates and I decided to start our own business-oriented law firm that expanded quickly to over a dozen attorneys and a large clientele (law startup #1). As I was building my private business law practice and law firm, I did a parallel volunteer stint serving as the principal traveling liaison to the French-speaking members of the International Olympic Committee introducing and paving the way for Salt Lake City’s ultimately successful bid to host the XIX Olympic Winter Games – a startup effort in every sense.
Nine years later I left my law firm to join a young tech company (that I had represented from inception when the founders were three college students selling “Turboswitches” for desktop computers assembled from Radio Shack components in ice cube trays in one of their garages) as a member of executive management and general counsel to take it public and rapidly become the worldwide market leader in the development, manufacture and distribution of modems for laptops. Three years later, Megahertz was acquired by U.S. Robotics/3Com.
Following my work with Megahertz, I joined an emerging tech company that was a VoIP (voice-over-Internet) pioneer as a member of executive management and general counsel to take it public, fully develop an early “cloud” VoIP platform, create a nationwide telecommunications delivery network, and be acquired by a larger telecommunications industry player.
At that point I decided to re-boot my private business law practice as a solo venture (law startup #2). During these productive years my children began reaching the age where they wanted to work part-time for spending money. I thought there was surely a better idea than bagging groceries at the Park City Smith’s. Summit County didn’t yet have a curbside recycling pickup program so we decided to start one serving the greater Park City area. I bought a large metal trailer and Red Rock Recycling quickly grew to as many clients as my kids and I could handle one weekend morning and early afternoon a week picking up recycling curbside and sorting it at the recycling center. My kids made a lot more than bagging groceries, learned about creating a startup, and we had the time of our lives working together doing something we all felt great about.
In 2011 I headed east to Boston and co-founded DMCA Solutions (www.dmcasolutions.com), a digital rights/copyright anti-piracy solutions and brand protection services provider, still a going concern. Then in 2013, I relocated to Woodstock, VT, to join with a college roommate and create Lifescape, an innovative web/mobile platform that lets individuals, brands and businesses centralize, uniquely organize, display, and share all their digital content (photos, videos, documents, music, audio, etc.) in a framework that gives context to content (www.lifescape.com), set to publicly launch in Q4 2018.
Most recently, I returned to Salt Lake City and once again re-booted my private business law practice as a solo venture (law startup #3).
Along the way I’ve had the opportunity to represent and advise hundreds of entrepreneurs and startups and to see and learn what works and what doesn’t in startups - what’s important and what’s not, what to do and what not to do. I’ve seen successes and learned from failures. And I love startups.
So I’ve distilled my experiences, thoughts, and opinions down to a list of primal do's and don’ts that I will explore with you in this ten-part blog series that I call...
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF STARTUPS
1. Thou Shalt Do It.
2. Harness Thy Ego.
3. Remember Thy Equity To Part With It Wisely.
4. Think Not ‘Tis Easier to Seek Forgiveness After.
5. Protect Thy IP.
6. Know Thy Market.
7. Remember Thy MVP And Keep It Sacred.
8. Think Not Of Thy Laurels That Thou Mayest Not Rest Upon Them.
9. Remember Thou The Slippery Slope To Be Not Upon It.
10. Know Thy End Game.
As Charlton Heston's Moses said to Pharaoh in the movie - "So shall it be written, so shall it be done." From my burning bush to yours.
[Next in The Ten Commandments of Startups blog series:
The First Commandment: Thou Shalt Do It]
Copyright 2017 David Eccles Hardy