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Mark Knudson: Venturi Group

After getting his doctorate in physiology from Washington State University, Mark Knudson got a National Institute of Health post-doctoral fellowship and joined the faculty of the University of Washington, where he spent four years.

This is when he realized that his patience with the pace of academic life was growing thin. Faculty meetings seemed to go on forever, including one to decide whether the department head should get the corner office. And Knudson realized that he wanted to do more interesting things than teach or conduct research, and to do it at a faster pace.

So when he got an inquiry about a job with a division of Eli Lilly Company in St. Paul, he packed his bags and moved with his young family. Subsequently, when Eli Lilly moved this division to Indianapolis, Knudson decided to strike out on his own and started his first venture in medical devices called Sentech Medical Corporation. He subsequently sold this venture to Johnson & Johnson.

To explore the other side of venture development, he joined a venture capital firm and saw many of the mistakes made by entrepreneurs. One of the major mistakes he saw was that entrepreneurs developed and fell in love with technology before knowing whether there were paying customers for them. Instead he decided to start with large attractive markets that were being served “barbarically,” and then to find the best global solution with strong intellectual property (IP).

Using this reverse venture-development process, Knudson started a venture incubator and has built three companies with cumulative market valuations in excess of $250 million.

This is how he did it.

This introduction is excerpted from Bootstrap to Billions: Proven Rules from Entrepreneurs who Built Great Companies from Scratch by Dr. Dileep Rao. Copying or reproduction in any format or medium without the prior express, written consent of the author is strictly prohibited.

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