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  • FEATURED LESSON

    You Don’t Need VC to Succeed

    Business StrategySmall business finance expert Dileep Rao explains why some of the greatest companies never had a dime of investors’ money to get off the ground and grow — and how hard work, integrity, creativity, and an open mind can make up the difference.

    Depending on your point of view, this might be the worst time to start a small business. On the other hand, with creative business and financing strategies, it’s possible to be successful without one dime from Wall Street or Silicon Valley. At least that’s the viewpoint of Dileep Rao, a consultant and small business finance expert who teaches financing courses at the Carlson School of Management (University of Minnesota). To prove the fact that you don’t need VC funds to be successful, in his forthcoming book, Bootstrap to Billions, Rao chronicled the stories of several Minnesota entrepreneurs who started with nothing to build successful companies such as Best Buy, Aveda, Digital River, United Health Group, and Medtronics. He calls the companies in his book a “third category” of business: not small business, and not built through VC financing.

    This article originally appeared at OpenForum.com.

  • FEATURED PROFILE

    Don Kotula: Northern Tool & Equipment

    What do you do for a career if your dad owns a salvage yard in Hibbing, Minn., (former home of Bob Dylan) and does not believe in sales or marketing, but you happen to like machines, tools, and selling to customers to make them happy? You build an $800 million (sales) giant in the tool and equipment industry.

    Leonard Kotula, Don’s dad, owned a small salvage yard in Hibbing. Leonard Kotula’s philosophy was that if you could walk, you could work. Don Kotula started working in the family business “since he was born.”

    They would buy cars and equipment from a variety of sources, including area mines that were changing from mining iron ore in underground mines to open-pit taconite mines, and resell them as parts or steel. (more…)

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  • BOOKS BY DILEEP RAO

  • VENTURE DEVELOPMENT SPEAKER

    For over 33 years, Dileep Rao has worked with entrepreneurs, managers and leaders in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Dr. Rao has been acclaimed as a venture development teacher and speaker because he combines impeccable academic qualifications with his own successful experience in business growth and development -- offering practical knowledge with lasting value for success.

    Based on his experience and his study of some of the world's great entrepreneurs, he shows entrepreneurs, managers, professionals, financiers and area development officials how to build businesses by focusing on what truly matters and is sustainable in the long-term. (more…)

  • ABOUT DILEEP RAO

    A columnist on entrepreneurial finance, Dileep Rao is a nationally acclaimed practitioner, advisor, author and communicator on new business development, business growth and financing businesses and ventures. He combines real-world experience in financing more than 450 firms and managing five companies as the V.P. (now director) of one of the U.S.' largest development finance institutions with advising governments (including the U.S. government), Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs in new business development and financing. (more…)
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