Jim Clark once said that great companies are not built, but rather willed into existence. Clark knows a few things about this, as he is the co-founder of Silicon Graphics, Netscape, myCFO and Healtheon/WebMD. Progress is never linear, and often, successful companies flirt with death before grabbing the golden ring. AOL nearly went under on several occasions, and survived only because of Steve Case's determination. Look at Steven Jobs' role in Apple's rebirth. Entrepreneurs should never underestimate the power one person has in driving success.
Along this line, I just saw a very inspiring and touching movie tonight called Emmanuel's Gift. It has won many festival awards and can be rented at Blockbuster. It is a great movie to see with your kids. Emmanuel was born disabled in a small town in Ghana. The disabled in Ghana are ostracized as many view it as a curse from God. Many of the disabled eventually resort to a life of begging. Rather than following this path, he decides to ride a bicycle with only one leg across Ghana in order to change the country’s perspective of the disabled. He now travels the world, speaking with world leaders and celebrities about the cause of the handicapped in Africa.
What struck me as amazing about this story is that a boy, born in an impoverished village in Ghana, abandoned by his father and orphaned by his mother, could rise up to become a global figure for change. Through his actions, he has affected the lives of over 10% of his country. (Yes 1 in 10 children born in Ghana are disabled!) It reinforces why I love venture capital. It shows that small companies, small groups of people can have an enormous impact on the world. Our job is to figure out which opportunities and which entrepreneurs have the potential to do this.