Each week from now through December, we’ll pose several short questions to a member of the Dent family and share their answers with you. This week’s featured Denter is Skip Franklin, co-founder of Serial Entrepreneurs Anonymous, an organization dedicated to helping future entrepreneurs.
Say it in a sentence: Whether you’ve met your biggest goal or it’s still ahead of you, how would you like to be known for having dented the universe?
The dents I’ve made in the past seems like footnotes today… so I see ahead of me creating a “perpetual dent machine” where “denting” entrepreneurs help empower future entrepreneurs.
What would I know about you after we’d worked together for a year?
That I expect you to be a resourceful self-starter and problem-solve through collaboration. Most of the companies I’ve founded have gone from zero to 60 employees in a relatively short time, working on projects and products that often have no precedent. There is little time for training, but lots of time for collaboration and trouble-shooting as we figure it out together. We will find mentors to help you, because (unfortunately) the founders are too often out fundraising, deal-making or developing key strategic partnerships.
What is your most useful professional or personal habit?
Vision and problem-solving, which are closely connected. While these skills are often focused outside of the company, I’ve learned how to manage internally with them as well. I will often ask team members what are the three obstacles preventing you from doing your job and then we’ll work together on solving those. I am often surprised at the list they give me, and I think they are often surprised at how quickly those items can go away.
If not yourself, who would you be?
After moving to Nashville in 2005, I caught the music bug. So if not me, I’d want to be a singer-songwriter with my own band. Fortunately, I been able to dabble in that world a bit the last few years: writing songs, singing on a Johnny Cash album, managing artists and producing concerts and festivals.
Who else is doing interesting, universe-denting work right now?
Dan Elenbaas at ClearShift, focusing on the future of work in a “free agent nation” environment. As employment shifts into a very liquid landscape of tasks and workforces that can be matched up in the future. Visualize areas and applications well beyond Mechanical Turk and you may grasp the potential.
Question from last week’s featured Denter, Dan Shapiro: What were you proudest about this week?
That while I was out of town, two of my team members were able to solve some big problems with relatively little of my input. I’m not sure if they could have done that six months ago.
What question would you like to ask next week’s featured Denter?
What past “dent” in the last 50 years had the biggest influence on your career?
Skip Franklin is the co-founder of Serial Entrepreneurs Anonymous, an organization dedicated to helping future entrepreneurs. The concept started as a humorous talk at an entrepreneurial summit, but post-event demand forced it into reality. Having founded over a dozen companies, Franklin knows what not to do in starting companies, and understands the value of matching entrepreneurial mentors and resources with new ventures.
Skip is best known as the Zone Ranger/CEO of the online community for outdoor enthusiasts, MountainZone.com, which focused on skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, and climbing. The website was known for its live coverage of World Cup events and expeditions to the highest mountains on all continents, especially Mount Everest. The 1999 Mount Everest expedition made world news when they found the body of climbing pioneer George Mallory, who had been frozen in place on Everest for 75 years, skin and hair in tact. MountainZone was able to build an audience of over a million viewers and sold millions of dollars of mountain apparel and gear, becoming the first North Face dealer online. The company was sold in 2000 to Quokka Sports (Nasdac: QKKA). Franklin led a team that bought the property out of bankruptcy in 2001 and they sold it again a few years later.
In 1990, Franklin co-founded Amaze, Inc!, the award-winning creators of The Far Side Computer Calendar as well as other licensed themes, such as Dilbert, Cathy, Opus n’ Bill and Trivial Pursuit. The Far Side product received great press and was recognized as product-of-the-year for its category. Other past start-ups include hDC (Windows pioneer), iTravel (online travel guides), SkiResorts.com, Phototrust (digital photography), OnTour (concert services), PassAlong (digital music technologies) and several others. Currently under development in Nashville is a new indie record label & artist alliance, Black Train 27 Entertainment.
Skip has also learned from the many corporate and non-profit boards he has served on, as well as being a funding investor in Seattle incubator concept, iStart Ventures in 1999. He is currently working on a book about his entrepreneurial tales.
Dent the Future is a conference series that tackles the art and discipline of visionary leadership. The next Dent The Future conference is coming up March 22-25, 2015. Register here.