Dave Lerner

Entrepreneur, Angel, Professor, Host of Venture Studio

Blog

Launching the Columbia Startup Lab!

Launching the Columbia Startup Lab!

If you hadn’t heard- over at my day job as Columbia’s Director of Entrepreneurship, our team was proud to recently announce the opening of our Startup Lab downtown in Soho. It’s an incredible space built-out in partnership with our friends at WeWork and in true collaboration with our various partners at Columbia’s Business, Engineering, Law, SIPA and College and their respective Deans. We currently have 71 young Columbia alums representing all of these schools running approximately 40+ startups in a…

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Of Missionaries And Mercenaries…

Of Missionaries And Mercenaries…

This is part of my Series on Entrepreneurial Culture.
I just received an email once from a young, first-time entrepreneur that I was helping out informally on a few matters. He had a good product that he’d spent a lot of time developing and was looking for a few introductions and some advice.
His email was sort of a cross between a short update and thank-you note and I was happy to hear that some of the introductions and information I had provided…

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Sometimes Nothin’ Can be a Real Cool Hand

Sometimes Nothin’ Can be a Real Cool Hand

(before reading this post click on the picture just above for this video)
This is part of my Series on Entrepreneurial Culture.
There are many occasions in the life of an entrepreneur or investor when bold action is required: Do we make this acquisition? Should we hire this developer? Do we offer them a term sheet? Tweak the pricing? We’ve all been faced with such critical moments when a decision needs to be made.
In fact, it’s very much the archetype of the “decisive man/woman-of-action” that…

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Brother Mouzone on Respect & the Value of Your Word

Brother Mouzone on Respect & the Value of Your Word

(click on this link to play video)
This is part of my Series on Entrepreneurial Culture.
As Chris Dixon has aptly pointed out in a recent post, start-up culture is very much built upon people’s reputation and their word as opposed to the transactional/legalistic constructs of corporate culture.  Once the word is out on someone being unreliable, mendacious, mercenary or worse, his/her career in the local ecosystem is pretty much over. Angel, VC, Entrepreneur, Lawyer- it doesn’t matter. No one…

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Stop Looking for a CoFounder

Stop Looking for a CoFounder

I recently wrote this article for Amex Open Forum. The original text can be found here.
This is part of my Series on Entrepreneurial Culture

Everywhere I go, I hear the same refrain from fledgling entrepreneurs I meet: “I’m looking for a co-founder.” I hear it from many of my students, from folks at various entrepreneurship events and meetups, and from people suffering in jobs at large companies who would love to pull the trigger on their startup—if they only…

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The Sh*t’s Chess, It Ain’t Checkers!

The Sh*t’s Chess, It Ain’t Checkers!

Speaking of chess and startups- I thought some of you might enjoy this scene from one of my favorite movies, Training Day, and delivered by one of the true greats, the talented Denzel Washington. (If you’re not comfortable with profanity, definitely don’t press play.)
When you’re launching a startup, you’ve got to have the right mindset. It’s competitive out there, everyone and their brother is launching a company these days. Can you really get from zero to one? One important…

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The Great Unbundling of the University

The Great Unbundling of the University

This is the fourth post in my ongoing Series on Technology, Disruption (and Chess).
In my previous post we discussed what I called the Great Unbundling of Venture Capital and it led to a fascinating conversation on Twitter, in the comments, in personal conversations and on various blogs.  People have strong feelings about venture capital and the topic of its evolution, and unbundling definitely touched a nerve with many.
In this post, we’ll examine the phenomenon of an ancient and venerable…

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The Great Unbundling of Venture Capital

The Great Unbundling of Venture Capital

This is the third post in my ongoing Series on Technology, Disruption (and chess).
In the previous post I contrasted the old world of closed or hidden knowledge with the new landscape of open knowledge in which we are living. I also described a framework that I think is helpful for entrepreneurs, investors and technologists as they search for opportunities within sectors that have been or are in the midst of being disrupted by technology/software. In this post we will…

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Open Knowledge: Hunting for the Next Layer

Open Knowledge: Hunting for the Next Layer

This is part of my ongoing Series on Technology, Disruption (and chess).
In the first post of this Series, entitled: Hidden Knowledge, I talked about the phenomenon of software hitting its stride, disrupting and “laying every industry bare” – opening up knowledge and know-how that in the past was hidden and only known to “the few”. If you see me talking a lot about chess throughout this Series, it’s because its evolution through the centuries is a terrific allegory to…

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Zero Becomes One: The Founder’s Journey Begins

Zero Becomes One: The Founder’s Journey Begins

This is my final post  from my ongoing Series on Getting from Zero to One in Your Startup.
The weeks and months have passed. Something strange has happened. You pause to reflect.

You have a product in the hands of the customers with whom you are continually engaging as you iterate this product
Their feedback has been enormously helpful and you have adjusted to it intelligently
These customers may have started paying you for your product or perhaps it is…

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