Passion, Fear, Risk, and Opportunity: The 4 pillars of Entrepreneurship

Claudio PinkusClaudio Pinkus
April 9, 2021

This is a translation of a guest blog post originally written in Spanish. 

This is the week of Platzi Demo Day.  This is the first time that I have been invited to participate in the event and would first like to thank Freddy and Christian for the opportunity to join the jury that will select the winners.  Platzi’s mission is amazing and I am anxious to contribute to it.  As I was thinking about the entrepreneur’s path while evaluating the startups I decided to write down a few thoughts and share them.  Here I will offer a personal perspective on how four key concepts interact to produce the entrepreneurs that transform our lives.

I am currently working on building up my sixth startup, CodeStream, founded in 2018 with my partner Peter and other members of the team.  I had already gone through the process of building “something from nothing” several times before and I was clear on the level of effort and challenge that a new startup implies.  Our aim is nothing less than transforming the collaboration process for every software developer on the planet to improve code quality and the productivity and happiness of these magicians of digital creation.  

Why did I dare at the age of 61 to once again live the entrepreneurial experience?  Because despite the challenges, the moments of doubt, the conflicts, and the long hours, passion drives me to it.  I care about seeing my ideas, my contributions and my attempts become reality.  On one hand, it’s personal and on the other, I care about improving something important to others.

Steve Jobs had a way of expressing this passion.  When discussing what kind of people he wanted to have join Apple, he is quoted as saying during a 1985 interview:

“We attract a different type of person—a person who doesn’t want to wait five or ten years to have someone take a giant risk on him or her. Someone who really wants to get in a little over his head and make a little dent in the universe.”

This poetic phrase is memorable.  I don’t quite dare make it my own, but I’d like to believe that I am doing something important.  Time will tell if this will be important to others, but for now, it is important to me and our team.  And that is driven by passion.

I am afraid of failure, even though I experience it every day.  We try ideas, come up with concepts, get money from investors, and have many more “No’s” than “Yes’s”.  One must get used to living with fear.  Even since I was a young child, I have been passionate about horses.  The natural reaction of a horse is to flee in the face of danger.  But they can learn to face those fears and to become brave steeds.  As entrepreneurs, we must learn just like horses do.

In the absence of fear, there is no risk.  Risk is the chance that something will go wrong.  We try to understand it, quantify it, and incorporate it in our plans as if we could reduce it or eliminate it. Yes, there are quantifying risks.  Others are less understandable, in the realm of the unknown. What’s important is to understand that there is no progress without risks and no solutions without progress. As entrepreneurs, we are searching for solutions to identifying problems.  There is always the risk of failure. We accept it, we take it in and we press forward.

For instance, in 1994 I was running a localization company focused on the software industry, but I could see the Internet opportunity opening up a new world.  I needed capital and I had requested a bank loan but did not get it.  I had to choose whether to stick with the old plan and raise no money or take the chance of raising money from investors giving away 30% of the company and bet on the Internet.  I did not have any fundraising experience at the time.  In retrospect, I think I gave away too much for little money.  But I was able to add new services and I learned to negotiate better. 

And this is how opportunities take shape.  For every driven entrepreneur there are different doors that open up and one must choose, try to see what works, and otherwise choose another one.  The most important feature of the entrepreneur is to keep trying and not give up.  Sometimes it’s painful and uncomfortable, but you can’t score if you stop playing the game.

I have been evaluating the startups and entrepreneurs who are participating in Platzi Demo Day 2021.  All of them are brave and passionate, in search of opportunities.  This is my first time doing this type of work for Latin America.  I have lived my whole entrepreneurial life in the United States, and I am thrilled to be able to contribute to the growth and opportunities of the country, region and continent I come from.

These are the reasons why, at CodeStream, we decided to create a small $50,000 fund that will be the prize money invested in the top three winners of Platzi Demo Day.  I hope to also be able to offer assistance with ideas, contacts and my availability.

It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur in Latin America.  I am delighted to be able to participate and to keep looking for ways to shape the world for the better.

Discuss

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