The Deal That Went South
The Deal That Went South
2 minutes 08 sec
The Best Questions to Ask Investors
The Best Questions to Ask Investors
1 minute 11 sec
How Upfront to be with Investors?
How Upfront to be with Investors?
2 minutes 32 sec

Interviewing Daryn Dodson (Impact Investor Extraordinaire)

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Bio: Daryn Dodson advises companies, universities, and policy makers on social impact investments. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Daryn co-created The New Orleans Entrepreneur Week at The Idea Village, a platform engaging leading private equity firms, business schools, and Fortune 500 companies including Google and Cisco, to invest more than 30,000 hours and $1 million into New Orleans entrepreneurs. While earning his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Daryn helped to institutionalize the Service Learning Program, which sends hundreds of MBAs on global service trips each year. Stanford awarded Daryn the Matt Anderson Fellowship for leadership, stewardship and the sincere desire to help others. He received an A.B. in Public Policy Studies from Duke University.

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About the author

Unreasonable Media

Unreasonable Media

As a company, Unreasonable Media is dedicated to leveraging the power of stories to shift paradigms and solve problems. That's why we have made almost all the videos you see on this site. Long story short, we are not your average production company. Visit our site to see for yourself.

  • Liemd

    It’s interesting to hear that technical person is a better
    leader. What I learned from my management class is that those who have
    managerial skill will be better leaders of company. I think technical leader will still need managerial skill to manage his own people in the company to be successful.

  • Shih Chi Tseng

    I think it is really hard to bring friends and family as investors. As it mentions in video, we have long term relationship with friends and family. You may need to take care how your friends and family’s feelings, when you are going to make some certain decisions which may hurt them. Moreover, you may have more pressure on you, because you will feel sorry when you make wrong decision or your business cannot make money. If you just simply treat them as employees, it may hurt your relationship with them

  • The question I asked about “being upfront with investors” is hilarious to me now. When I asked that question, our CTO was resigning and we didn’t have a comma in our bank account (the truth comes out =).

  • Sara Sanchez

    I agree with Liemd. Tech-savvy workers are very enthusiastic about how quickly technology is evolving. They want to work with the newest software, hardware, gadget. However, that may not be the best decision for the business (may drive up costs). They always ask if this newest gadget is going to make the company more effective under these requirements: cost, scope, and schedule. Nevertheless, managers need information from these tech-savvy associates to help them make satisficing decisions. The best leader in a company is one who has managerial and technical skills that has a great relationship with the technology sector of the business.

  • Michelle Spruch

    I agree with Liemd’s comment about the technical vs managerial skills necessary to be an effective leader. In my personal experience, I think it’s important for leaders to have both soft and technical skills to be effectively lead and have employees believe in their mission.

  • tayler_schroeder

    I don’t agree with the idea that the technical
    person is a better leader. I personally think your soft skills will make you a
    more valuable leader. Technical skills are without a doubt necessary, but
    people determine the success of a company and soft skills determine how people
    collaborate, empathize with each other, and develop/maintain relationships.

  • TallPaul14

    I agree it’s better to have the right team earlier on, my uncle went through a similar experience with his start up, where he failed to get the right manager for the job, and everything slowly fell apart. He had all the right technical skills, but couldn’t be an effect leader. It’s important o have that yin to match your yang.

  • bmdillon

    Like Tayler, I disagree that the technical person is a better leader. I think it takes a combination of hard and soft skills. A strong knowledge of all aspects of the company makes a reliable person, but the addition of soft skills like confidence creates a leader.

  • hem1

    Definitely finding a good functioning team earlier than later is crucial in a work environment but finding a leader can be a difficult task sometimes. I believe there are different types of leaders for different situations. Some situations, a technical leader might be better and in other situations, a leader that is more soft skilled may be fitting. I believe as a team, they would have to get together first and then decide what is best for them at that time .

  • When I listened to Daryn’s interview, I didn’t think he was saying that technology people are “better leaders” My impression was he was saying that having a technical person on your leadership/management/founder team was important because hiring out developers to build your technology idea is very expensive and not effective. If one of the founders is a technologist/developer/programmer you have a much greater chance at success.

    I have personally witnessed this in action in several startups. The Generalists aka “idea” person has a great idea, but spends tons of money trying to find a great developer to build his idea. When the developer IS the founder and can build a lot of the ‘idea’ first, without having to pay high hourly programming rates to a development team, your startup has a big head start.

    What do you think?

  • hanj5

    I agree that having the technical skills make you a better leader. At the same time, as others have mentioned, having the soft skills is just as important. Just because you have the knowledge and the skills doesn’t mean you’re a great leader.

  • Technical skill will always be important, but technical skills will always be learnable. Soft skills come naturally, and are also very important in a leader. A leader needs to have both hard and soft skills for the company to achieve it’s full potential.

  • milburnkatie

    I like how Daryn touched on meeting families and working closely with entrepreneurs, I think this one of many areas where his work separates itself from others. I would be interested in hearing a little more from Daryn on, I think we all could learn a lot from him. Also, after reading many comments below I think some clarity about what he meant with the technical skills would be helpful.

  • chrinsmas

    Someone said most marketing strategy was like a blindfold bowling. Even though you research briefly, there is still a gap between the time that problem arisen and the time able to apply a solution after research. Engaging with people have different values and trying to find a different solution for different situation should be a life-long practice.

  • greatelk

    It was interesting hearing Daryn talk about how having someone with good technical skills early on is important. I don’t really think of traditional leaders as being super involved or affluent with technology, so it kind of shows how times have changed.

  • nguyenb7

    I once asked my mentor about the quickest way to generate lots of money. His answer was “it’s not hard to gather tons of money. The hardest thing is what you’re gonna do with it”. Clearly once you have a vision and a good plan, investors are more likely your friends than grim reapers

  • lamt5

    I like how Daryn emphasized the importance of having strong technical skills. Some believe that good leaders are those that have a general understanding of the business they’re involved in, but manage people very well. I would argue that great leaders are those that have a deep understanding of their business and human capital. This is a great reminder to never get complacent and always
    continue to learn.

  • nvuong

    I am glad that my theory about tech start-ups needing tech leaders is supported by Mr. Dodson. All too often do you hear about banks denying loans to start-ups because they don’t have any experience in business, which is sad.

  • susantok

    I believe that leader needs to have very good technical skills and strong leadership. Workers with average technical skills can gain more from a good leader with strong technical skills and leadership.

  • Stephen Chandra Owen

    Great informative post! I agree that starting companies with great ideas have difficulties in hiring the best workers in the market and eventually end up with an average workers. But, I think a good leader is much more important and I feel that average workers with good leader is better compared with bad leader with the best workers.

  • eprilad1

    I really agree on what Daryn Dodson says in which
    saying that technology people as a leader of company is very valuable because
    if you have to hire someone to develop your technology idea, it would be very
    expensive and risky since someone might steal your idea and make it as their
    own and not yours. For example, the story of Mark Zuckerberg the owner of Facebook
    company who steal the original idea from three of his friends. But, I would
    still admire Mark Zuckerberg because he is the only one that makes social media
    like Facebook into something. It’s not just because the idea, but also it need
    a great execution to make into something big.

  • Brian Tanudjaja

    Technical skills are indeed one of the most important skill that a leader has to have. However, we must not forget that soft skills such as vision, confidence, social, motivation, integrity, etc. are also important. A leader who has a strong technical skill but has a weak soft skills will not be as great as a leader who has both strong technical and soft skills. Fortunately, both technical skills and soft skills can be developed. Nevertheless, it was a good interview and Daryn’s emphasize in technical skill is a good reminder that a leader also needs to have technical skills in order to be a great leader.

  • Hairong Zheng

    I agree that technical people are very important for a business, and they are necessary even for starting up businesses. It is also beneficial for both employers and employees to have certain skills of technology which are obviously helpful with their careers.

  • IndartoEpriladinata

    Besides being an educated person, Daryn Dodson has a noble
    heart. He deserves to get all those rewards. I hope one day I have the
    capability to be one of the extraordinary people.

  • Cassie135

    I agree with Daryn Dodson in that it is very important to have a technological person, so that you have the knowledge you need to get the company off the ground. For example, Steve Jobs would have had a much harder time getting Apple started without the help and support of his friend, Steve Wozniak.

  • jrmsmlbg

    In regards to Daryn’s “Deal that went South”, I do see where it would be very beneficial especially for a technology company in it’s early stages to have someone with the right technical skills leading it. But I definitely believe someone with who has those natural soft skills as a leader to manage the team, but also be taught the proper technical skills needed for the position.

    As a business management major, we have been taught the importance of those various soft skills vs technical skills, both add value to the company. But similar to what Daryn said, If you are an entrepreneur trying to build a business, looking at a product in a market you see a gap, having the right team in general consisting of both soft skilled and technical skilled people earlier rather than later would result much better.

  • mollymorrisey

    I absolutely agree that investments in technology and technology people are incredibly important in any kind of company. Your online presence is something people use as a standard to evaluate your business, no matter how related it is to your product or overall business.

  • SamanthaSesnon

    This interview was interesting because I feel like I rarely here the point of view from the investor, I usually just here the side of the investee. I enjoyed hearing his recommended questions on the questions the firms and entrepreneurs should be asking.

  • nguye107

    Thanks for sharing this useful post! I really like Dr. Dodson’s perspective about working closely with your friends and families and bringing them as investors. He also mentioned about successful leaders with technical skills. I totally agree that
    technical skills do add value to make you a better leader. However, it doesn’t work the other way around. Technical skills don’t define good leaders.

  • nornesa

    I appreciated what Dodson had to say about business – that
    it is about life and relationships. I think this concept is lost on many people
    if they think the business is a finite experience. That’s too limiting a view and would tend to
    close people off from one another. The
    business of business is about people. We need to cultivate and manage our relationships
    with ourselves and others in order to build the framework for success in all
    that we do.

  • ohtanim

    Coming from a tech start-up I totally agree with Dodson. But most of all when you don’t have the right people in the early stages of a company and the right relationships it really does hurt the company ultimately.

  • Claudya Febriani

    A great post on suggestion to what a company should ask to its investor. Never heard from investor perspective about how to create a good relationship between the investors and the company.

  • Hanna Boyd

    Claudya, I totally agree! It’s crucial for entrepreneurs seeking funding to remember that although they are the ones making “the ask,” they are bringing just as much to the table.

  • jsuuu

    Yeah i agree with Daryn. I think sometime workers in lower level have more detail knowledge about the technology problems. Therefore, they can make better decisions.

  • mcniffm

    I am so impressed by what Daryn has done for the entrepreneurs in New Orleans and around the country. These people wouldn’t have been given a chance to succeed without the adequate amount of money that these loans provide. I love that Daryn has instituted social change into investment corporations that aren’t normally associated with this concept. Every business should incorporate social change as a part of their mission.

  • anp042

    Focusing on impact investments is an evolving aspect of entrepreneurship that’s becoming more and more relevant in today’s business world. I commend Daryn for taking the ever-so-risky step in to the world of social entrepreneurship. I personally believe that it’ll be socially responsible corporations that’ll be the most influential change-makers in our society – even more so than non-profits. Thinking about solving the world’s problem from a business perspective allows for financial stability and precise cost allocation to influence operations. Daryn’s advice for social entrepreneurs is just one pivotal contribution to motivating our generation to do more.

  • Rebecca Kahler

    I really appreciate Daryn’s motivation behind his investment opportunities. It is refreshing to hear about organizations who are able to think outside of the box and use their area of expertise in order to lead to tangible social change.

  • Alexanderia Horton

    Daryn saw area of business with was under developed and took advantage of it. Even when a deal went south, he pulled a learning lesson from it. Learning from your failure is what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary (and propels your company).

  • benbl

    Daryn has a good point of what leadership should be and this
    is important to consider as entrepreneur or when you are working for a company.
    Daryn also gives good advice how entrepreneurs need to talk to investor, and
    honesty needs one point that need to be remembered.

  • Sajwanih

    I really like the idea Daryn touched on about how there are
    a lot of people that see technological gaps but don’t have the expertise to
    close them themselves. Looking at this as a market inefficiency, from the point
    of an economist, I would say this is a problem we should really address. With
    so much specialization in the labor market, we often get tunnel vision and try
    to classify certain people into certain roles when they really might have a
    talent for multiple things and we end up wasting that potential.

  • aalasow

    Daryn Dodson makes a great point about technology being an important investment. The idea of saving every penny got the better for Startup Companies, as they hire the average computer programmers and assuming they could produce the same result as a successful programmers.

  • Kaylie Mae Kuhnke

    i really enjoyed this video. Daryn made a great point about technology and its importance and how there are gaps in the technology industry and there needs to be someone who can close those gaps.

  • ReneeBinder

    The fact that he is making a social impact is really great. I also think that in his video he saw an area of opportunity and growth and took advantage of it. Very interesting video and perspective.

  • Glassborow

    This was a really nice video, Daryn was able to find a gap in the market and makes something out of it. Daryn sounds like a really motivated person and is able to be creative and think outside the box to be successful.

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