I recently got a chance to catch up with Paul Grossinger. Paul is a General Partner of A-Level Capital, and also runs Gaingels and the BlueJay syndicate from his perch in NYC.
Paul started his first venture L&M Media when he was a student at Hopkins, and then founded Pervasive while doing his masters in journalism at Columbia. Both ventures are doing well. And he has invested in and advised several high impact startups over the past few years. So he brings a very “real” perspective to student entrepreneurship.
Paul is very interested in supporting and growing the entrepreneurial community at Hopkins. In addition to advising and investing at A-Level, he visits Hopkins frequently, and is just concluding an 2-week intersession seminar on student entrepreneurship (which I along with several other students participated in).
My take for students: It’s really all about YOU …
do YOU really …
“Entrepreneurship is in vogue. You need to be passionate not only about entrepreneurship, but be passionate about your mission. Figure out if it’s something you really want, how can it help you grow, why you are invested.”
why YOU …
At Hopkins we live in a world of ideas. It’s easy to get excited about concepts. Paul looks for why you and your team will be the ones to turn the idea into a successful business venture. That means starting with what you are passionate about, developing a deep understanding of the market and metrics, building relevant expertise and surrounding yourself with a supporting, experienced team.
In Paul’s class this week, we did a video chat with Jeb Balise, the founder of PuzzleSocial, a daily, entertaining mobile crossword puzzle. One of his opening remarks: “I’ve always been really into crossword puzzles.” Jeb had a really amazing, crystal clear understanding of digital crossword players, why and how they were engaging with his product, customer acquisition costs and payback, and so on.
It is clear why Jeb is the one to make the digital crossword concept a success.
can YOU execute …
A poster I saw at an incubator said “Vision without Execution is Hallucination” — a worthy topic for another post. But relevant here. Paul doesn’t invest in concepts. He looks for entrepreneurs that have an execution mentality. That means: Do Something … talk to end customers, research the idea, develop a beta product, test it with some customers. All necessary steps to build your execution muscles, validate the concept, and attract talent and money.
focus on YOUrself
This all leads us back to Paul’s opening comments to me: “Focus on yourself first.” Utilize the people and resources around you. Start diving deeper into the domain that most interests you. Discover a mission you are passionate about … then execute.