Father and son entrepreneurs offer advice on how to stay in the game

Brian and Paul Hegarty cannot say whether entrepreneurialism is innate or learned.

One thing is certain, they said, it isn’t easy.

Being an entrepreneur requires passion, drive and a strong will when standing at the crossroads deciding when it is time to press forward with a startup and when it’s time to let it go.

The father and son discussed their long and successful entrepreneurial careers Friday at the Peak Venture Group breakfast meeting. PVG Entrepreneurs breakfast series began years ago as a way to showcase successful entrepreneurs but also for the group to hear from up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Two local entrepreneurs each give a five-minute presentation about their startup companies.

Brian Hegarty

Brian, who hails from Ireland, made a career in the U.S. in semiconductor process and product engineering. Later, in his career in Colorado Springs, he co-founded a company the developed A/D and D/A converters; and one that developed technology for manufacturing flash memories. Today, he is a clock maker — grandfather-style clocks that play authentic recordings of famous chiming clocks from museums around the world.

Paul, a Cheyenne Mountain High School graduate, was part of the team that worked with Steve Jobs on NeXT, a company whose software was the foundation for today’s MacOX and iOS. He went on to work as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence with a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley and started his own company. Today, he teaches at Stanford University and his iOS application development course has been widely shared on the Internet.

Paul Hegarty

Here are their top three tips for Colorado Springs entrepreneurs:

  1. Build a community and let people know you are here, Paul said. “Knowing each other, that is critically important,” he said. That is what happens in Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs know each other, know what they are working on and can help each other find the experts they need to build a team.
  2. Plug in with the angel investor community, Paul said. Angel investors, he said, invest in people when they find a spark. They are less likely to come out a pitch and talk to one another about bottom line and return on investment projections. “They are saying, what did you think about that person?” Paul said. Angels want to know that an entrepreneur can shift gears quickly and adapt products and ideas without getting stuck.
  3. Get someone in your group who is the “reacher-out” person, Brian said. Engineers can be introverts or even a bit secretive about their ideas, he said. In Silicon Valley, such engineers pair up with the person who is the talker, the schmoozer.

None of what the Hegarty father and son have accomplished was easy. Good ideas, Hegarty the senior said, are a dime a dozen. It’s the hard work and years of struggle that make them successful.

For details go to www.peakventure.org.