Posted September 9, 2002 Atlanta
The Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program matches experienced entrepreneurs with early-stage technology companies enrolled at the ATDC, Georgia Tech's incubator program for technology companies. As an entrepreneur-in-residence, Vashi meets regularly with the management teams of ATDC member companies to offer advice and share connections to the support networks he developed while running his own ventures.
Chosen from among the senior executives of ATDC graduate companies, entrepreneurs-in-residence volunteer to spend at least one day a week sharing their experience and expertise with new ATDC companies. For most who have served in the program, being an entrepreneur-in-residence offers a way to repay the ATDC community and stay involved as they develop their next business venture.
"I have started two companies at ATDC with my partners, and have always wanted to give back something to the community," Vashi explained. "Having been bitten by the start-up bug, I am looking for my next venture. Being at ATDC puts me in the middle of the best start-up company action in Atlanta."
Vashi says the entrepreneurial environment has changed dramatically since Simtrex was launched in 1998. Today, companies must develop their products and obtain their first customers before seeking institutional financing. That "bootstrapping" forces entrepreneurs to rely on "friends and family" investment, and to put their early focus on customers instead of capital markets.
"Entrepreneurs must know going in that they are going to be doing it alone for a while, without any institutional capital," he said. "Starting up a company is certainly not for the faint of heart."
He says timing and tenacity separate the really successful entrepreneurs from the rest.
"I believe that above everything else, what distinguishes the really successful entrepreneurs is being in the right place at the right time," Vashi explained. "There are a lot of companies out there with good products, funding, prospects and customers, but nothing beats the timing. The other important quality is tenacity. A start-up is all about overcoming challenges, and the odds for the most part are stacked against you, so tenacity and stubbornness come in handy."