How to NOT Become an Entrepreneur

bae logo I get a lot of junk email that I normally ignore, but this one ticked me off enough to write about:

Major Changes for Bay Area Entrepreneurs Workshop

Changes?  To what?  I’ve never heard about this program before.

Lowering the price of the Workshop by $500 to $1,000

Ouch!  Lowering?  And then it’s still $1,000?  Now I really have to check it out…

The Bay Area Workshop is a series of weekly, 3-hour long presentations, 8 in total for a “discount” price of $1,000, or $175 per individual session.  The “Team” consists of the CEO.  The Agenda focuses on Business Plan building, culminating in an investor presentation, and the presenters are “named” illustrious experts like “Start-up consultant”, “Go-to-market consultant”, “Marketing consultant”, “Angel investor”.


Most impressive, isn’t it?  Wait, here’s a preview: you can watch a 46-minute embedded webinar here.  No, your video did not freeze, you really are staring at one single slide (long live Powerpoint!) for close to two minutes. Never mind that you can’t read the small print and full-screen toggle does not work…. I’m sure there’s value in there … somewhere 🙂

Oh, boy. If I wanted to be cynical, I’d say this program is a tired, half-cooked attempt at delivering recycled presentations by a retired executive at a premium price. But I don’t want to be cynical, so I’m not calling it a rip-off… All I am saying is: I’m not sold, and buyer beware.

OK, here’s what I really think:

If you are in a corporate job thinking of becoming an Entrepreneur – save the money, these courses will not “make you” an entrepreneur. You should probably keep your job.

If you already are talking to potential partners, are busy building an early stage product, then you already are an Entrepreneur.  You have the drive, you did not “get it” from a bunch of expensive classes.  You may or may not get funded one day, and sure, there’s a lot to learn, but you can pick it up along the way.  There’s probably no better place to start than reading Mark Suster’s series.  Sage advice from an Entrepreneur-turned-VC.  By all means, network: go to events like SF Beta,  the New Tech Meetups in SF or the Valley, Meet real VC’s at events hosted by SVASE – wherever you start, one event will lead to another, and you will make real-life connections.

Most events will cost you $20-40, some a little more expensive, but whenever you see a 3-digit price-tag, run the other way!  And don’t even think of spending a thousand bucks just to hear from unknown instructors how you should put a business plan together.

As for The Bay Area Workshop, I saved the best for the last.  If you really have a thousand bucks to throw away, would you expect to just sign up and attend?  No, you have to apply and “qualify”:

To apply for all eight session of BAE Workshop, send your business summary to We will evaluate the submissions and notify those accepted into the program.

I’m so out of here…

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve )


  1. Hi Zoli,

    I read your above post with interest. I’ve been to SVASE meetings and feel it does important and necessary work, as do BASN, Fountainblue, eBig (where I volunteer as chair of its Start-ups & VCs SIG), and others. All of these entrepreneur-friendly organizations hold seminars on the art and practice of entrepreneurship. I believe that Bay Area Entrepreneurs Workshop adds an important missing dimension to this infrastructure. Rather than holding seminars on entrepreneurship and how to be an entrepreneur we provide a personalized, hands-on workshop focused on fund raising. You’ve raised some good questions about BAE Workshop that deserve a response.

    First, the purpose of BAE Workshop is to prepare serious entrepreneurs for securing Series A or angel funding. Rather than regurgitate other organizations’ materials, BAE Workshop has a focused curriculum that starts with executive summaries and ends with pitching to investors. Rather than just sitting and listening to a seminar, our Workshop spends two hours of every three- hour session devoted to feedback tailored to each startup’s unique situation. More than simply outlining how to write a business plan, the Workshop will guide entrepreneurs in preparing the plans and documents they need to secure funding for their start-up.

    Although we are currently re-evaluating the price of the Workshop, it is intended to be far lower than the cost of a consultant for comparable personalized feedback. Our application process is to screen out the 50% or so that are not fundable – we don’t want to take any money from people we can’t help.

    The VCs opting to work with BAE Workshop include Hummer Winblad, Allegis, Claremont Creek, Storm, Onset, Granite and others. Our angels belong to Keiretsu Forum, Band of Angels and Angels’ Forum. In a free introductory session BAE Workshop held last month, two VCs, two angels and three recently funded entrepreneurs participated in a lively discussion about their needs and concerns in their specific roles.

    I am gratified with the support that the Workshop has received from the investor community frustrated with the lack of preparation of entrepreneurs approaching them for help. I believe that BAE Workshop fills an unaddressed need.
    Information about my qualifications and background can be found on my consulting company’s website, ( . For information about the topics and issues we are addressing in the Workshop you can visit my blog at, or the Workshop’s website, referenced above

    Ralph Patterson.

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