University of Alberta School of Business 1994 graduate Bindi Karia came back to Edmonton on November 7, 2014 to be the featured guest at the School of Business Alumni Association Annual Dinner in the Winspear Centre.
After graduation, Karia went on to London, England where, with a major accounting firm, she developed expertise in working with entrepreneurs.
Now affectionately referred to in the English financial press as the “Queen of Startups,” Karia is the London-based VP of Entrepreneur Banking for Silicon Valley Bank, a world-wide lender to technology companies that has funded more than 30,000 startups.
In a lively Q and A with TEC Edmonton CEO Chris Lumb as moderator, Karia had much to say.
Here are some of her observations on entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial life.
“Today, it’s stupidly cheap to set up a startup company. Governments, universities and corporations are all involved.”
“An entrepreneur is tenacious, persistent, passionate. He or she is someone who refuses to believe in the norm, who sees a problem, and a solution to that problem. If the solution doesn’t stick, they get up and keep going.”
“A born entrepreneur refuses to follow the rules, and has an enormous ability to take on risk.”
“It’s never been so cheap to fail fast.”
“You’re nobody until you’ve failed three times.”
“Failure, as long as you learn from it, is a lesson, not a stigma.”
“Business plans are important if you’re looking for investors. Read Startup Metrics for Pirates. Often those metrics become your business plan.”
“Build, hack, throw it up and see if people want it.”
“An entrepreneur has to be very self-aware. They have to know their own weaknesses. Most great tech companies have co-founders.
“Mentors can be both good and bad, and that’s a good thing. It’s like your mom and dad in parenting – they contradict each other, but you just mash it up.”
“Government policy can be a good thing: East London Tech City was encouraged by British government which spent some money on the project and it’s now the third largest technology startup cluster in the world.”
“Government – cities – have to careful not to get too involved. Bureaucracy stifles innovation. Government can be supportive, but not bureaucratic.”
“My bank, Silicon Valley Bank, invests in technology at all stages. We lend pre-profit, but not pre-revenue.”
“Build your personal network. Read the book Never Eat Alone. Pay it forward. Encourage entrepreneurs without expecting things in return. It’s about karma.”
“Don’t be scared to ask. Other people like to help.”
“Technology leaders are here to stay. They are rock stars. It’s okay to glamourize them. They’re making a difference, changing the world. Getting there isn’t very glamourous. It’s never-ending 24/7. The unicorns … they’ve all been through a seven to 10 year cycle.”
Moderator Lumb put his tongue gently in his cheek with the following question to Karia: “Suppose you moved back to the fastest-growing city in Canada with the country’s best university – Edmonton! What would you do?”
Without missing a beat, Karia leaned forward and said, “I’d join TEC Edmonton!”