Many Cornellians fear pursuing entrepreneurship after graduation because they believe it may not lead to long term careers. Avner Ronen disproves this myth. So far, he has launched three companies and sold two of them to major firms. For Ronen, entrepreneurship is a lifestyle instead of an ideal.
On Monday, February 13th, the Cornell Entrepreneurship Club (led by Chad Fong, founder of Ivy Start) welcomed Ronen to campus to speak about his career as a entrepreneur. Ronen joined the Israel Defence Force as a young man, where he had the opportunity to take an intensive programming course. From there, he launched Odigo, one of the internet’s first messaging platforms. He sold the company to Comverse and worked for Comverse for several years. An office career was not for Ronen; “I love spending time building products,” he explained. Doing due diligence and meeting with bankers was not the type of work he wanted to do long term. Ronen quit Comverse to build his second startup, Boxee, which he ultimately sold to Samsung.
Now on his third startup – Public – Ronen had a bit to share about building platforms and products from scratch. Below are his top three tips:
1. You have to have the right mindset.
“You have to have an unhealthy amount of optimism,” Ronen explained. Given the ups and downs of starting businesses, staying positive is paramount to forging forward. Optimism is important given the amount of obstacles student entrepreneurs face, such as finding funding and balancing commitments.
2. Decide what idea you are going to pursue.
Many entrepreneurs keep a list of business ideas, but how do they choose which to pursue? “There is no formula, but I work on business ideas that I think about the most,” he explained. Ronen encouraged everyone to solicit feedback on their ideas. “People are afraid others will take their ideas, but the chance of that is very small,” he noted.
3. Just get started.
Some keep ideas to themselves out of fear others will pursue it. Ronen insisted this was is not a valid fear. “Most ideas die on people’s heads and on bar tables,” he explained. Additionally, he noted there are always reasons not to do a startup – whether it is schoolwork, monetary security, family obligations, and more. “Momentum in a business is important,” he noted.