SpeakEasy is a running feature in NJBIZ in which re recap presentations given by key business leaders around the state at one of New Jersey’s many conferences and events. This report is based on a presentation given by entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk on March 31 at the New Jersey Technology Council’s Venture Conference to a…
When entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk took the stage at the New Jersey Technology Council’s Venture Conference late last month, he asked the entrepreneurs in the standing-room-only audience to raise their hand.
Nearly everybody in the packed house represented themselves by a show of hands.
Vaynerchuk wasn’t so sure about that.
“It has never been more clear to me that we are living in a moment where we have more fake entrepreneurs than we’ve ever had before because the influx of cash … is insanity,” said Vaynerchuk, an early investor in Twitter, Tumblr and Uber. “It’s as simple as this: There’s a very substantial difference between entrepreneurial tendencies and being an entrepreneur.”
As Vaynerchuk sees it, many people are simply following the money instead of a passion.
“Being an entrepreneur means you are suffocated and unable to do anything else but to execute what you want to do for yourself. You’re not going to work for anybody else; you’re going to sleep on your mom’s floor as a 39-year-old because you’ve got to do your thing,” he said.
“Entrepreneurial tendencies are, ‘Oh, shoot (but he didn’t say shoot), there’s a lot of money being thrown around in the marketplace right now. I’ve got some random idea. These people can’t be as smart as me. I’ve got an idea, let me do this app.’”
But, for Vaynerchuck — the founder of WineLibrary.com — there’s another type even more insidious than the fair-weather entrepreneur: The career student thinking he or she is an entrepreneur.
“(Just) because you go to Harvard and Yale and you know how to execute that game, that doesn’t make you an entrepreneur,” he said. “The market doesn’t care about anything. The consumer doesn’t care where you came from, what state you’re from, what you did yesterday — it just cares that you’re providing value as a product at this moment.”
Never a good student himself, Vaynerchuk credits his success to one thing.