Venture Capitalist Shares Top Biz Tips
Venture capitalist William K. Richardson was appointed as interim director of University of Hawaii’s Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development (OTTED) Dec. 1.
In his new role, Richardson will be responsible for overseeing the office’s operations, which include the marketing, licensing and protection of UH intellectual property and technology. OTTED also works with the university’s newly launched XLR8UH center, which streamlines the commercialization process for UH-affiliated entrepreneurs.
“The primary goal is to monetize the research that is being done at the University of Hawaii, and find both licensees and investors of the technologies that are developed,” Richardson explains. “Beyond that, it also is to create a culture of entrepreneurship at the university broadly,” he adds, “and get some success stories for Hawaii.”
With a vision to facilitate the commercialization process, from idea generation to product, Richardson is excited about the possibilities ahead.
“There are a lot of smart, successful researchers here, and we have to create a better mechanism for profiting from those technologies,” he says. “There is lots of leading edge research going on here, primarily in areas like cancer research, tropical agriculture, engineering, and other projects that are related to our geography.”
Born and raised in the Islands, Richardson went on to study at UC-Santa Barbara, and later earned a law degree from Duke University School of Law. After school, Richardson worked at computer company Wang Laboratories and practiced commercial and financial law. Richardson returned to Hawaii in the early 1990s, when he began his work in venture funding.
Richardson has since run a series of funds, with many Hawaii-based investments. Three companies that he has invested in went public on the NASDAQ exchange.
These days, Richardson shares his knowledge and experience with aspiring entrepreneurs. He has served as a professor at UH and is on the advisory board of UH’s Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship. He also is the founder of HiBEAM (Hawaii Business and Entrepreneur Acceleration Mentors), a nonprofit that provides business mentorship and resource connections to early-stage technology and life sciences companies.
“I am getting along in my career, and it’s time that I started giving back to the university, which I love, and I hope to add some positive impact,” he says.
In that sharing spirit, Richardson doles out some of his top tips for entrepreneurs.
1. Think globally.
“Hawaii is much too small a market to think in terms of large entrepreneurial ideas that are only centered on Hawaii,” he says.
2. Move fast.
“Don’t let little things get in your way,” Richardson says.
Details like legal paperwork and incorporations are things that could hold a business back. While aspiring entrepreneurs want to make sure to get all of these elements in order, Richardson warns that you should not get too caught up in them.
“Let me put it this way: The most valuable resource an entrepreneur has is time,” he adds. “So don’t waste it.”
3. Solve big problems.
“What universities need to think about is solving global problems — like global warming, terrorism, you name it. Address those problems with leadingedge ideas.”
4. Find yourself a good team.
“These ideas can’t be solved alone,” Richardson continues. “What you need is a good team of smart, capa- ble, hard-working people. So surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.”