[quote style=”boxed”]Put it out there, execute on the idea, and see where it goes–or doesn’t go. The important thing is execution, execution, and execution.[/quote]
Benjamin F. Kuo is the founder, publisher, and editor of socalTECH.com, as well as its sister publications, techrockies.com, texastechpulse.com, silicontap.com, and nwinnovation.com, all focused on technology news and venture capital in their respective markets. socalTECH.com is the most respected and most read sources of information on Southern California’s technology and venture capital industry. Ben founded socalTECH.com in 1998, as an offshoot of a search for a job in the Los Angeles technology industry, while he was working as a software engineer. He eventually turned what was a late night hobby into a full time gig, after widespread support from the Southern California technology industry made it possible for him to run the publication full time. The site now provides news, interviews, a calendar of events, and other resources focused on startups and technology companies in the area, as well as a database of venture capital firms and startups. The site has spawned out a number of similar sites for other technology regions in recent years, including coverage of the Rocky Mountain region (techrockies.com), Texas (texastechpulse.com), Pacific Northwest (nwinnovation.com) and Silicon Valley (silicontap.com) — all geared at helping people tap into what is happening in the technology business in those areas.
Kuo has been heavily involved in helping to promote and support the Southern California technology industry, including involvement with the Technology Council of Southern California, the Los Angeles Venture Association, and other local industry groups.
What are you working on right now?
I’m focused on improving what we provide to the technology community, in terms of news, information, our database, and more.
What does your typical day look like?
I typically get up around 5:00am, start working on publishing articles and breaking news for the morning pretty much straight out of bed. Around 7am, I take a break to help get my kids up and to school and such, and then head back to work. I usually spend the rest of the morning talking to people on the phone, checking email, coordinating stories, catching up with companies, and interviews. I have a short lunch, usually take a hike during my lunch break in the hills, and then more email, phone calls, and usually meetings in the afternoon. I usually take some time in the afternoons with the kids and family.
Towards the evenings, it’s a mix of networking events in the tech industry, time with family, catching up on a book and reading, or working on any special projects on the site.
3 trends that excite you?
The first is the shift of the world to constant, instant access to information via mobile smartphones and tablets, a shift which I think will be as big as the switch from mainframes to PCs, or command lines to GUIs.
The second is the serious applications of technology to real life problems like clean technology and energy independence.
The third, is the power that technology is giving to individuals to do what they want, from anywhere, a trend which has been powered by the Internet. That technology is opening up opportunities for people everywhere, and help them reach their full potential, no matter where they might be located.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Put it out there, execute on the idea, and see where it goes–or doesn’t go. The important thing is execution, execution, and execution.
What inspires you?
Helping to make the world a better place, and helping other people–whether that is through our sites and articles, or in personal life. One thing which has been particularly rewarding is the huge number of people who tell me that I was the inspiration for starting their company, getting their job, or joining a successful startup.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
Not understanding that personal relationships are the key to business. By nature, I’m very introverted, private, and not very social — traits which are pretty typical for someone like me with a background in engineering, but pretty unusual for tech bloggers and web publishers, who I have found tend to be more social, outgoing, self-promotional, and even sometimes have a thing for inflated egos. I have a degree in Electrical Engineering and worked for years in the dungeons as a software engineer, and it took me a very long time to realize how people decide to support your efforts, fund your startup, or buy products from you, is how well they know you, as a person.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Ideas are a dime a dozen – after getting to know hundreds of successful entrepreneurs, the difference is execution.
What do you read every day? Why?
I’m a voracious reader, and pretty much read everything I can get my hands on. There are few things I am not reading every day, particularly things like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, plus countless other news sites, blogs, and much more. One thing I think is important is to have a wide reaching exposure to things–not just the technology echo chamber–but broader issues affecting the world as a whole, lessons from history, and learning from others’ life experiences.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
Accidental Empires by Robert X. Cringley, which (for entrepreneurs) brings home how some of Silicon Valley’s major fortunes were made, and how much of it was due to sheer luck. You can be the smartest and the brightest out there, but there’s still an element of luck you need to end up on top. On the more practical side, M&A, A Practical Guide To Doing The Deal by Jeffrey C. Hooke is invaluable to anyone looking to understand how exits in companies happen.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
I pretty much live in Gmail all the time.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Jason Fried of 37Signals.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned from all the interviews you’ve done with entrepreneurs?
Having interviewed hundreds of successful entrepreneurs, one interesting side thing I’ve picked up is that it’s not the fortune you make or how much money you have, it’s not how famous you are, it’s how much you help make the world a better place and make a difference in the world which provides the most satisfaction, and which makes entrepreneurs happy. If you’ve got a choice between a business which makes boatloads of money but you just aren’t interested in, and something you’re passionate about which you can make work, the one you’re passionate about is more likely to provide you with personal satisfaction.
When you’re not immersed in the business of technology, what do you do?
I’m really focused on my family and my kids, plus I’m an avid backpacker (camping, hiking, backpacking, etc.) and outdoor photographer.
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