Dan’l Lewin, Corporate Vice President, Strategic and Emerging Business, Microsoft Corporation

After John Shinal and I talked in late November, we followed up with another short talk about “lessons learned” and advice for startups. This is short but contains three ideas I think are important for startups. I have run startups and I’ve worked with many of them here at Microsoft.

John Shinal, Vator.tv : Hi. We're here with Dan'l, a group vice president of Microsoft, and he's going to tell the entrepreneurs out there what are three pieces of advice you might have for startup execs, or maybe three lessons you've learned in your entrepreneurial experience.

Dan’l Lewin: I have a strong belief in selling and channels. Most companies fail for lack of distribution and sales, and that's a fundamental element. So, I think companies and entrepreneurs should be thinking about their underlying platform assets, and who they partner with, because affiliation with large going concerns to help in the channel is always important. So, that's a fundamental.

You also can't—on a second level—get your products and services to market without money. So, I would encourage people to take more money than they think they need, because usually that's the case, you'll need it. So, the negotiation there is just a matter of how much you give versus how much you get.

The third element I would comment on is when you take your money, take it from people that you feel comfortable with, and that you believe that over time you could be in the trenches with, because things always get tough before they become good or great. So, given that you've got a good opportunity and you've got a choice, do the reference checks on the financiers as much as they do on you, and get a feel for how they'll behave when the going gets tough.

So, that's what I would say in terms of three simple things.

There's always the inevitable for the entrepreneur of knowing when to let go. There are a small number of people in the world like Bill Gates or others that have built big businesses, who know how to transition and grow and scale and create the kinds of jobs and wealth that all entrepreneurs aspire to. But there are also times when you've got to let go. Depending upon your skill set, if you're a technologist and you know you need channel or sales help, then be comfortable with that transition.

Shinal: Okay, Dan'l, thanks a lot.

Lewin: Glad to.