Entrepreneurship through Networking

I’m very fond of this article, my first one, I posted in the beginning of 2015. I didn’t know what was ahead, but my vision and principles were clear then. I had discovered something more powerful that I never imagined:

2014 was life changing. It was a journey of discovery and growth. In this post I share some key principles, learnings and resources that made all the difference.

November 2013. Kellogg School of Management. Brian Uzzi´s “Networking” class made a huge impact on me. After a perfect lecture, he brought the power of Networking to life in an exercise that clearly illustrated how we could help each other fulfill our dreams. The concept was intuitive: my dream, still distant for me to achieve, could be something simple for you or for your Network. We are without knowing, holding keys (resources, talents, contacts) that could in a very simple way open the door for other people dreams.

2014. Stanford Entrepreneurship and Innovation Certificate. In his course “Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Mindset”, Tom Byers offered me new ways of thinking about Entrepreneurship and a set of powerful tools (e.g. Steve Blank´s “The Startup Owner´s Manual” or Alexander Osterwalder´s “Business Model Generation”)

Inspired and moved by that knowledge, I decided to explore this new world within my network and extended network. I wasn´t exactly sure how to do that, so intuitively I chose to:

  • Meet one person after work every day to share this insights and explore possibilities (I started with close friends and colleagues and then expanded to friends of friends)
  • Start using my resources, talents and contacts to help others. I decided to link Networking to giving, with confidence that something good would come from it.

With this approach, magical things immediately started to happen:

I decided to become a part time (after office and weekends) Entrepreneurship consultant, helping ventures for free (which was an excellent learning process and a great experience). I was invited to give Entrepreneurship classes in an important University (where I learned much interacting with the students). And in the process of helping others I discovered wonderful Entrepreneurs with whom we decided to co-found companies. One year later, without ever imagining it, I´m co-owner of Les Croquants (a French Pastry Chain that will reach 4 stores next year) and co-founder of Eneldo (a Marketing Agency and Graphical Design Studio that already works with important clients). I participated in the creation, reformulation and expansion of a number of ventures in different industries. I worked together with prestigious and top-notch entrepreneurs. At the same time I grew in my corporative career, accepting a Regional position in a great company, BRF, for Middle East and Africa.

I learned that there are powerful principles involved in this results and I would like to share them:

  • Don´t keep your dream to yourself. Don´t be shy to ask for help. Be transparent. Share your goals. Your Network is willing to help.
  • Start by giving. Offer without expecting return. Offer help to as much people as possible. Somehow, something good will come from it.
  • Talk to people! Have dinner! Invite them for a Coffee! Share activities. Ask about their goals, share yours, think together how can you help each other. If you believe you don´t have time find some.
  • Build your Network, know new people! Start by helping. Be transparent in what you are trying to do.
  • To have incredible scientific insights about networking and networks (much of the previous are only personal conclusions and experiences) read more about Brian Uzzi´swork. I admire him deeply.

And regarding Entrepreneurship:

  • Building your own business is easier than you could think!
  • Use the right tools to build your business. Entrepreneurship can be learned! There are amazing frameworks and principles. Start by the two books I mentioned before (then you can ask me for more!). If you can, try to take Stanford´s “Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Mindset” course by Tom Byers.
  • Work with other passionate and fantastic potential Entrepreneurs. They are there within your network, just look for them! They could even be very close to you. It´s amazing what you can do when you team up. Team up!
  • Don´t spend money until you have a scalable and working business model (make hypothesis on your business model on a continuous basis, test them as cheaply as possible, learn).
  • Don´t be afraid to change totally your business model during the way (it´s an exploring journey till you get to the right model)
  • Always continue learning! Don´t fix to an excel sheet or a written plan.

It would give me much joy if this post is useful to you.

I´m incredibly grateful to Kellogg, Stanford, Brian Uzzi, Tom Byers, Steve Blank, Alexander Osterwalder and all the incredible people that participated in this journey (Mariana, Gabriel, Mariano, German, Clayton, Domingo, Pablo, Santiago, Andy, Francisco, Mateo, Martin, Julian, Ignacio, Lorena, Roxana, between many others!)

With my new mindset in place, always prepared to learn and help, I invite you to contact me and start Networking! Maybe, without knowing, I have the key of your dreams in my hands. If it´s so, I will do my best to help you.



Do you know what happened next? (fastforward 3 years) -> Read The Startup Hacker — Forbes March

If you liked this article you can also read:

What Google Gets Really Wrong on Entrepreneurship / Why Entrepreneurs Shouldn’t get Lured Into The Current Startup Ecosystem / The Startup Hacker Forbes March / Talent and High Performance Teams: driven by purpose / Ideas Manifesto: Innovation [ ] Business [ ] Profit [ ] / Marketing Driven Disruption / Don’t Allow Anyone to Determine your Growth or “Potential”

More on Francisco Santolo, Serial Entrepreneur, CEO Scalabl, Board Member & Co-Founder at over 40 companies

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