I’m a member of Philly Startup Leaders, which is an all volunteer, grassroots organization that unites isolated entrepreneurs into a network of ambitious leaders who inspire, energize, and empower each other. While it’s widely held that Silicon Valley is the capital of technology startups and dot com success stories, don’t underestimate Philadelphia. This city has its share of really smart and really passionate entrepreneurs devising some amazing technology-based ventures.
Last night, PSL kicked off their new “Entrepreneurs Unplugged” series, which showcases successful entrepreneurs. So, on this cold and rainy night, I drove to the University of the Arts in downtown Philly, the host site of the event.
The event was well attended, predominantly by entrepreneurs but I also noticed some investors and students. This intimate hall was all a buzz. If you ever want to witness unbridled passion and excitement, walk into a room full of startup entrepreneurs. Each is more excited than the next about their venture, most desperately seeking capital. If you close your eyes, you could almost mistake it for a birthday party with sugared up six year olds. Yes, I’ve witnessed both recently.
On this night, the guest speaker was Boris Silver, who created fantasy sports games as Facebook applications. He gave a thirty minute presentation which included some PowerPoint screens but he mostly spoke informally about his path to success. In short, he began creating these applications purely out of personal interest, rapidly attracted a user base in excess of a million, dropped out of Wharton, and within a sixteen month span sold the company. It was a very interesting story in which he discussed the challenges, what he did wrong, decisions he had to make and what he learned.
The presentation was followed by a Q&A session in which I was able to ask him how the value of company was determined and specifics on the revenue model. He was honest and insightful, although he wouldn’t answer the big question – how much did make from selling the company! It’s understandable that he may be legally bound not to divulge the financials or that he was just being humble.
After the event, I met Boris and chatted with him for a few minutes. I mentioned my similar venture and he invited me to contact him in the future. He could certainly be a valuable resource and it’s always good to stay connected with smart people.
As I walked away, a woman approached Boris, thanked him for speaking and then asked if he was going across the street for post event cocktails – also part of the Entrepreneur Unplugged series. Boris politely responded, “No, sorry, I can’t. I’m only 20.”
That spoke volumes.