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Professor Schorer is a serial entrepreneur who specializes in the start-up acquisition and development of small and mid-sized companies. He focuses on businesses with unique ideas or technologies that are[…]

Make sure your technology is scalable and consider all possible ways of entering the market, says Cliff Schorer.

Question: What is something every tech entrepreneur should know?

Clifford Schorer: Well, obviously getting the technology to work is very important. We see a lot of prototypes and we see a lot of kind of vaporware that we think gee, this looks like a great idea, something can really happen, but often the distance between just talking about it or showing some slides or showing a small prototype of it the distance between there and having a functional, scalable technology can often be quite challenging. So we want to be careful that they are — they're capable of doing that. We want to be sure they have the technical skill to do it effectively. So we look at those components and those are the biggest challenges. I also think that there are a lot of technology people who want to invent things as opposed to utilize what's out there and there's an awful lot that's been thought of and out there and you can capitalize on and weave in to your plan that I think will get you there much faster. One of the things you should do is always explore multiple options. If you have a technology there's lots of ways to bring it to the market. For example, if you have something very exciting in telecommunications you can certainly license it out to telecom companies who might want to add it to their product line or if you have software that you've developed that's let's say financial software the opportunity to give it to or to make you some sort of a deal with a software company that's well established and has channels of distribution can be very attractive. It's very expensive to really launch a national sales campaign if you're looking to build a big company so you have to be very careful that it's within your scope to do it, but that's an option always and it has happened well. Even if you look at the great successes in the business field of software, Microsoft being the greatest example, what was their key to success? It was a contract with IBM. It was a young man going and saying — Can you imagine if Gates had said, "Oh, I'll go around the country and sell this software." There wouldn't be a Microsoft today. So you want to look and say, "What's the quickest way to market that has the best return on investment?" And that's one of the steps I'd look at very quickly.

Sometimes making deals with people that already have distribution in place is a very powerful thing so if you look — Let's suppose you had a retail product and you had a choice of opening a series of stores yourself or maybe making a deal with Cosco or Wal-Mart or JC Penney or someone to sell your product. It might be a much quicker way to get your manufacturing up so I think you want to look at all the options. That's what's important. And also you should look at your lifestyle. What do you want out of it? What are your skill sets? Now you may be a very, very skilled technical person but not be a managerial person so you've got to focus on what you enjoy doing. Well, if that's part of it, then make sure you build your marketing strategy around keeping you in an area that's your comfort zone.

Recorded on: 5/13/08