Bob Metcalfe Tells Startups to Build Their Networks to Succeed

photoBob Metcalfe, professor of Innovation at the University of Texas, spent some time talking with Jason Seats, managing director of Techstars, during a virtual fireside chat at Foundercon in Austin recently.

Metcalfe has held many careers including educator, publisher and columnist, venture capitalist, inventor of Ethernet and founder of 3Com. He has spent the past three years in Austin at UT and has pledged to make this area a “better Silicon Valley.” He works closely with startups as one of the instructors at the Longhorn Startup program at UT, which teaches undergraduates how to form and run a startup successfully.

In this Techstars video, Metcalfe tells the Techstars founders and staff “You are my favorite people. You are entrepreneurs.”

His advice to startup entrepreneurs is to build their networks to cultivate the success of their startups.

“Building your networks is the most important thing you can do to ensuring the success of your company, your customer networks, your networks of possible employees, your supply networks, your investor networks” Metcalfe said.

“One of the mistakes you can make is to not grok what it means to build a network,” Metcalfe said.

The important thing is that a rolodex must contain trusted sources, Metcalfe said. Entrepreneurs’ networks must be built by exchanging value with those people, he said.

“The first thing that can happen to a network is that you fail to build one,” Metcalfe said.

“The second thing that can go wrong is that your network can be junk,” Metcalfe said. “Some correlation of Metcalfe’s law is that a junky network isn’t worth shit.”

Build your networks and take care of the people in them, he said.

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