County nurtures entrepreneurs

Executive says with right product, businesses can succeed

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It is always a pleasure to speak about new business. I have been blessed to do well in the overall outcome of many business endeavors. From InFocus Systems, which I took public in 1990, to my latest company Circle Technology, based here in Clark County, I have been involved in starting more than 10 successful companies.

But my success did not come from critical decisions being made in make-or-break situations. I chose to create a product that helps society or helps someone, as well as hire people who are much smarter than me. Starting a company takes a huge commitment and an even higher demand to make that company successful.

Every business person and business plan is different, but what is the goal? For me it has not been about just making money, instead it has been to make quality products that benefit the market and the community. If you can develop that product and hire the right people, the company will grow and the money will flow.

Starting a business can be a daunting task which will most likely be time-consuming and very expensive. However, you can find ways to build upon your idea or even create a product with little to no money. When it comes to building a company and getting the idea or product to market, there are a number of processes which take time and money to make that happen. From raising capital, to hiring legal advice, to getting a location or just packaging your product, the costs seem to always be on the rise. I was once told by Rod Canion, founder and first CEO of Compaq Computers, “Steve, it took only $1 million to make this computer, but it took me over $5 million to reach the market.” I frequently found myself remembering that notion from Rod, because every time my staff at InFocus came to me requesting more money for the market, it helped me to understand the whole situation.

Today’s world is constantly changing, yet there is still opportunity to build businesses. There are investors who want to be involved in the next Microsoft or Google. I have found that today’s investors are more knowledgeable. Not only do they want to invest in a solid product, but also fully vet the situation and stay involved in the processes and operations of the company from the start. The process to raise capital is not cut-and-dried anymore. You shouldn’t meet with people and expect funding overnight; it may take months to fully get what you require. Depending on the amount you may need, private investors or an angel fund may be better than venture capitalists, or VCs, because most VCs will have a hard time investing in smaller amounts.

Once you have raised funds for your company you still need to sell a product. Going to market is difficult and you can’t afford to make a mistake. In this process, I have been blessed in making that “product” that just works. In my cases, I have found a need and designed a product to fit that market’s need. You just need to have the right product and to expect that it will take time and money to get there.

From my experiences I have learned that moving forward with your ideas can bring success. If you hesitate, you may miss that chance. Dedication and hard work will pay off. Trust your mind, your team and your product.

This is how I feel about Clark County, which is why I operate here today and never plan on leaving. Our local leaders are heavily focused on building the economy and community. Plus, the tax structure is much more pleasant than that of our neighbor, Portland. I trust in this community and the extremely educated workforce living here. Every day I see new growth and hear about businesses starting up all over the county. The future for Clark County is bright.

Steve Hix is founder of Circle Technology.