Scott Moody was the keynote speaker on Wednesday night at the UNC Wilmington Cameron School of Business Entrepreneurship Week. Moody was the perfect speaker with the credibility of taking a company public on Nasdaq, selling that company to Apple and then the high profile of the cool fingerprint security technology on the new iPhone. Before an equal mix of business students and members of the business community, Moody kept the large audience focused with his intensity and funny stories with life lessons.
Moody has a competitive nature that is normally seen in professional athletes, but instead he loves to work. Scott made his first ever trip to Wilmington this week even though he is a very proud NC State University graduate. Scott started the day after lunch with a group of 20 young startup entrepreneurs but ended the night with a keynote speech on campus with UNC Wilmington Chancellor Gary Miller and over 200 people in attendance.
Scott tells a great story that can last for a half an hour but seemingly without taking a breath. He broke down his presentation into a few main points.
To be a Great Entrepreneur, Get an Industry Job First
Scott began his story with his experience as a Divisional Vice President at Harris Semiconductor in Melbourne, FL. After several years there working with talented people, he left to start Authentec in 1998. The dream of the team was to create technology that was ubiquitous. This dream was accomplished when the company was acquired by Apple. Apple was the right company to take the technology to the next level and incorporate the security into a mainstream product, the new iPhone 5s. Authentec was the first and only publicly traded company that Apple has ever acquired.
Scott made it very clear that to be a great entrepreneur the young people in the audience should get a job in the same industry where they want to eventually start a company. During his time at Harris Semiconductor, Scott was working with all of the top tech companies that used the semiconductor technologies. While at Harris Semiconductor, he built those relationships to the point where after starting Authentec, he could call on those same friends at companies like Dell and others.
Moody discussed his team’s work ethic developed at Harris Semiconductor. From that experience, he knew the people he wanted to bring along to start Authentec. Moody was also clear about the personal sacrifice and persistence it takes to be an entrepreneur with very long hours that don’t end at 5 PM. He told stories about working all nights especially on Thursday nights. He could not rest knowing that his competitors in Austin, Cupertino and China were not going home at 5 PM ET.
Busiest Unemployed Person You Know
While Scott is vocal on Twitter @fscottmoody, he is actually always very busy while drinking a bottomless cup of strong coffee. He moved to the Triangle region of North Carolina last December after being intrigued while participating as a mentor in a Startup Weekend. Scott has been very active in the Triangle entrepreneur ecosystem by attending the Southern Capitol Ventures events, an entrepreneur in residence at Groundwork Labs, Blackstone Entrepreneur Network, his own fund called First Talent Ventures and still plays a role with Stonehenge Growth Equity, the original company who invested in Authentec.
Scott has also been active in local investing especially with a local brewery but made some real news this week when he announced he has launched a new company around home automation called K4 Connect. K4 Connect already has three employees and expects to hire four more over the next two weeks. He expects the company will release a new product offering next Spring or Summer.
Business is a Team Sport, CEO Gets too Much Credit
Scott was very quick to mention the other leaders on his team at Authentec. Scott was not the innovator of the technology. He often talked about the other “smart guys”. Scott repeated the time tested lesson to the young crowd that investors would rather invest in an A management team with B level technology than have really hot technology but lesser management team. Not only did he bring some of the best and brightest talent from Harris over to Authentec, but Apple has kept the engineering people from Authentec in Florida instead of shutting the facility down and moving the work and workers to Cupertino, CA.
Moody made it very clear. If you are going to spend that many hours a day, that many days a week to build a company over 5, 7 or 10 years, you should go BIG! Moody likes to go for the grand slam home run, and not interested in the singles and doubles to continue his sport references. If your goals are for a small $20 million company, he is not very interested. Shoot for much bigger, shoot for the stars with goals for $100 million, $200 million and even a billion dollar company. Even if you fall short of the billion dollars, at least you will get to the $100 million level.
Smart Money is Better in Long Run
Moody was very clear on this. He understood the needs of entrepreneurs to raise money since he has not only been an entrepreneur but he is also now an investor with a variety of funds. He discussed how entrepreneurs need to partner with smart money because “dumb money” investors don’t truly understand equity investing, don’t understand the risks of losing the investment money and struggle to deal with the inevitable dilution of their shares in later rounds. Smart money investors have a better understanding of the industry, have contacts in the industry marketplace and will be helpful in attracting other smart money in later rounds.
Editor’s note: Jim Roberts is the Executive Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at UNC Wilmington. The CIE is both an accelerator facility and a community entrepreneur support organization. The next event for the CIE is the evening of October 30 with the RocketPitch event and the new PivotPitch event with Don Rainey of Grotech Ventures and Norvell Miller of Southeast Interactive. You can follow the CIE on Twitter -@UNCW_Startups and @UNCW_CIE.