When asked what he does, Joshua Baer, founder of Capital Factory, the largest startup incubator and co-working space in Austin will tell you “ I help people quit their jobs and become entrepreneurs.” The Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship hosted an interview with Baer as part of the Entrepreneur in Residence Speaker Series. Conducting the interview was current Entrepreneur-in-Residence himself, Brett Hurt who is also a Serial Entrepreneur and Co-Founder of ratings and reviews software, Bazaarvoice. Hurt and Baer are both personal and professional friends. Eager to hear Baer speak, all seats were filled quickly, including 26 McCombs BBA students.
Baer’s first startup was founded in his dorm room at Carnegie Mellon University in 1996, which set his career as a serial entrepreneur in motion. Along with founding Capital Factory, Baer is the Chief Innovation Officer of Return Path and is the most active email investor in the world. He also teaches a class at UT for student entrepreneurs as part of the Longhorn Startup Program.
Baer offered valuable advice to young, student entrepreneurs; “It’s an incredible time to start a company, so do it now because it’s only going to get harder. You have a huge advantage in that you don’t have a life yet. Overtime life accumulates, as you get older you become involved in other things, you have more responsibilities and before you know it you have a family. Start now when you’re able to put in twice the time and effort.” Another adage was something he has learned along the way while running his own startups, “When you start a company, make plans that allow people to make mistakes, because people will make mistakes.”
When asked what is the most promising trait of an up-and-coming entrepreneur, Baer was confident in his response; “First I would say the ability to make good decisions with less information because I find that more and more important as my career progresses. It’s something you have to be able to do. Secondly and most importantly, the number one thing necessary to make it is passion about what you’re doing.” He attributed passion and belief in yourself to overcoming the challenges entrepreneurs face; “How do you believe in yourself and know you’re right versus crazy?”
If you’re on the hunt for an inspirational and motivating read, Baer offered three recommendations: “The One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard; “The Hypomanic Edge” by John Gartner; and “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.