Top 5 tips for being a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur

| January 26, 2012

An interview with Ross Schibler, serial hi-tech, entrepreneur in Silicon Valley

A serial entrepreneur, southern African born Ross Schibler has founded and sold two successful hi-tech companies, raised millions, and invented new technology. He shares with us top tips from his experience playing the Silicon Valley entrepreneur game.

Tip # 1
Growing a startup is about letting go. You start off owning everything, and doing everything. As you grow the company, you are basically selling pieces of it (to investors), and letting go of pieces of responsibility (to employees). At each stage, you are basically getting a smaller and smaller piece of the pie, in the belief that at the end of the day the whole pie will be much bigger.

At each major stage (bringing on a co-founder, raising a venture round, adding more employees) one has to ask what the end goal is, and whether the amount you are letting go will grow the company/end result more than the amount you are letting go.

My belief is that 1% of a $500M company is better than 50% of a $1M company, but building a larger company is a lot of letting go.

Tip # 2
Not all money is created equally. Personally, I believe $1 from a good partner in a good VC firm is worth 2-3x that from a random Joe. The reason is that their introductions, industry insight, experience, etc. will help grow a better and bigger company.

Tip # 3
Details, details. When financing a company, either fully understand the game and the rules or get a really good lawyer that is truly on your side. If you don’t, even if you build a great company, you could find your upside is severely limited.

Tip # 4
Relationships are everything. Grow and nurture your network.

Tip # 5
(And knowing Ross, we will add one more tip we see him do so well…) “Make time to take a break and have some fun”. When not burning the midnight oil, Ross can be found surfing the California waves and flying his Malibu Blue plane on his next fun adventure…usually to find the perfect wave!


About RossRoss Schibler by plane
Ross Schibler is a serial entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley, USA. In the last 15 years he has founded two companies and driven them to successful outcomes in the high tech communications field.

Ross conceived the idea behind a silicon-based IP router, and founded Rapid City Communications in 1996 to deliver this concept in the form of the world’s first gigabit Ethernet “Routing Switch”. Rapid City was acquired by Bay Networks, who subsequently merged with Nortel. This resulted in the development of Nortel’s Passport 8600, their flagship IP platform and a key component in many of the world’s largest networks, and a $2B product line.

In 2000 he founded Topspin Communications Inc. Here he conceived and was responsible for the architecture of VFrame. This became the cornerstone for developing the new category data center equipment: “The Server Switch”. Cisco Systems acquired Topspin in 2005, and Ross subsequently became the CTO for the server virtualization business unit within Cisco.

Ross was born in Zimbabwe and worked in South Africa before moving to United States to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions.

Ross is currently working on his next innovation in Silicon Valley – stay tuned for more Southern African innovation in the global arena!

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Category: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Operational Excellence, Organizational Structure & Design, Strategy

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