Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Q&A: From Silicon Valley to the Heart of Kansas City with Scott Mize

Scott Mize, a veteran Silicon Valley venture development executive, talks about his excitement for Think Big Kansas City and how Kansas City is becoming its own version of the California hotspot.   

TBKC Speaker Scott Mize is looking forward to Think Big Kansas City.  But can KC live up to Mize's California-esque expectations?  Find out in our question-and-answer session with Scott Mize.

Scott Mize, Silicon Valley
Venture Development
TBP (Think Big Partners): What made you interested in attending Think Big Kansas City?
Scott: I met Herb (Sih, co-founder of TBP) and found out what was going on at Think Big Partners.  I liked the idea of an incubator for early-stage companies and being a catalyst for a new entrepreneurial ecology in the Kansas City area.  Since Think Big Kansas City is a part of that, it’s something that I wanted to be involved in.

TBP: What are you looking forward to most at Think Big Kansas City 2011?
Scott: I’m looking forward to meeting the local entrepreneurs and angels and finding out who’s in the audience.  I am also looking forward to the business plan pitches that will be presented at Pitch Big.

TBP: What makes you so interested in the Pitch Big competition? 
Scott: That’s where the rubber meets the road.  That’s where an entrepreneur gets access to the resources he needs to build his business.  I like that process.  I find the exchange of ideas and feedback to be a fascinating, interesting and fun process.  I’m interested in seeing what types of companies come forward because that will give me a sense of what’s happening in the KC entrepreneurial community.

TBP: You are a moderator for “Lessons Learned from KC Entrepreneurs”.  What makes you a good moderator for this panel?
Scott:  I have advised and consulted to over 100 companies in the information technology, the nanotech and cleantech spaces.  I’ve also been a founder and principal in a number of companies. I’ve seen the inside story of how these companies grow and the challenges they have.  This gives me lot of experience and insight into how to solve the challenges that any early-stage company will come up against. 

TBP:  How long have you been doing this kind of work?
Scott:  A long time!  It goes back to my college days.  I was going to undergraduate school at Harvard when I came home for a summer and attended an entrepreneurship class as Wichita State University.  There, I met three people who I helped to found the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs.  It was the first student entrepreneurial organization, with members like Michael Dell and Mark Cuban.  At the same time I founded my first venture, which was a microcomputer software company.  I also subsequently helped to start the Young Entrepreneurs Organization which is now known as Entrepreneurs Organization.

TBP: What are you hoping to take away from Think Big Kansas City? 
Scott:  The main thing that I want to take away from is an insight into the state of the entrepreneurial community in Kansas City.  I want to take the pulse of its startup environment.  That will give me insight into the challenges that Think Big Partners has in terms of taking the entrepreneurial ecology to the next level. 

TBP: Do you think we can bring the “Silicon Valley” approach to the Midwest?
Scott: I think what I see happening with Think Big Partners and Kansas City is part of a whole transformation across the country and the world. Innovation historically has been overwhelmingly centered in a few areas like the San Francisco Bay area, Boston, and Austin.  But today the economics and dynamics of Internet-based ventures make it possible to do this anywhere.  Take a look at Groupon, founded in Chicago.  The internet has enabled an explosion of innovation in a number of different places including ones that you don’t traditionally think as centers of technology innovation.  I see Kansas City as a case study.  I’ll be interested to see what needs to be done to make it an intense center of innovation.

TBP: Why is entrepreneurship so important to bring to Kansas City or to the Midwest?  
Scott:  Job creation comes from early-stage and growing companies.  Particularly in this country—due to globalization—there is a constant pressure on American businesses from the international competition.  The only real chip that we’ve got in the game is to create high-value products and services that are unique.  There are entrepreneurs everywhere—there has been an entrepreneurial community in Kansas City since the beginning—but I think that we are entering a new phase that is sparked by the internet and driven by globalization.  That makes it more imperative for there to be a thriving entrepreneurial community not only in Kansas City, but in every city around the country. That is the only way that we will be able to win at the whole jobs equation.

TBP: How do you Think Big?
Scott: Whenever I look at a new company, my thought is always, “How do you make this the Biggest success possible?”  That’s my main mode of Thinking Big.  One of the things that I do when I advise early-stage companies on strategy is to try to understand how to take their unique competitive advantage and translate that into the biggest possible opportunity and return.

To learn more from Scott Mize and many other experienced entrepreneurs, register for Think Big Kansas City and prepare to Think Big! 

Interview conducted by Allison Way.

No comments:

Post a Comment