Reimagining Startup and Enterprise Innovation

A Peek Inside the Mind (and Home) of Larry Ellison

Whitney Durmick
Content Strategist, Oracle for Startups

This post was originally published on Startup Grind's Medium page.

Oracle for Startups has a tradition. Each year, we invite startups to San Francisco to present their solutions at Oracle OpenWorld. Spanning three days in the fall and running concurrently with developer-focused Code One, OpenWorld convenes thousands of customers, partners and influencers in a grand showcase of new products, keynotes and vertical-specific breakout sessions. Startups traverse the planet to demonstrate their enterprise-ready solutions in transformative fields like AI, blockchain, and visual search.

While networking with potential customers in a world-class city is a draw unto itself, we like to sweeten the deal by filling the startups’ schedules with customer meetings, media interviews, analyst briefings, and exclusive events like Founder to Founder.

The Founder to Founder event brings startups together to discuss big ideas in entrepreneurship with the original founder, Oracle Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison.
This is no typical fireside chat in a sterile hotel ballroom. Founder to Founder invites startups into Ellison’s San Francisco home to enjoy appetizers, drinks and conversation among his curated art collection and stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.

And while it’s cool enough to simply sip a drink in Larry’s upscale home, the man himself has occasionally dropped by to offer candid advice for today’s entrepreneurs, gleaned from decades of success in the industry. It’s a high point in an already jam-packed week for startups attending OpenWorld.
Access to Founder to Founder is an exclusive benefit for the entrepreneurs who have joined Oracle for Startups, but we’ll go ahead and share some of our favorite wisdom from Larry at last year’s event anyway.

On Staying Curious
"I think it's our job, as designers of our company, and imaginers of our company, to redesign the company constantly, based on what is technologically possible today that was not technologically possible yesterday. What has changed? If you don't constantly answer that question, you're going to be in trouble.... you must be willing to make a decision on Monday and then change your mind on Thursday."

On Optimizing Your Life
“Happiness is making progress in your life. Again, being smarter than you were (smart’s my word). Knowing things you didn’t know yesterday, being a better friend, being a better brother, being a better father, being a better boss, being a better programmer, being a better sales person. As you make progress in these things, it’s great when you notice it, and it’s maybe even better when both you and other people notice it. It’s very, very rewarding.”

On Hiring
“My rule for building the company … I mean, it’s just a bunch of people, right? That’s all we really are. I wanted to hire people that I enjoyed spending time with, and I thought were smart. You can’t do this by yourself. I don’t care how smart you are, or how hard you work. You can’t do everything. I used to think I was good at everything. Turned out not to be true. As founders, you must find people of diverse backgrounds that are good at the things you’re not good at.”

On Making Progress and Staying Agile
“Most people never finish their product before they start selling it. Even if they think they’ve finished their product. You may think you’ve finished your project, but you haven’t. You finish it while it’s installed at a customer site, or you make progress with the customer. You work with the customer, delivering value.”

On Scaling the Right Way
“If you measure something, it will get better. Be very careful to measure the right things. So, if you’re measuring sales, sales will get better. Measure quality, measure the right aspect s of quality, whatever you measure, that’s going to get better.”
We are excited to be hosting another Founder to Founder event this year during OpenWorld, September 16–19 in San Francisco.

If you are interested in joining Oracle for Startups and perhaps being one of the startups invited to a future event, go to oracle.com/startup and click “Join.”


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