Skip to content

Draper’s Annual CEO Conference: Are You The RiskMaster?

I attended Draper Fisher Jurvetson's annual CEO Conference on Tuesday in Half Moon Bay.  We (Mpire) have only recently become part of the Draper family in June.  I must say that the event was awesome.  A 170 person plus conference full of Draper portfolio CEOs in the room with obviously a more pragmatic focus on the long-term.  There was already the predisposition that all of the companies had cut significant portions of their staff.  Yet, the conference still had the classic Valley optimism that certainly I prescribe to. 

I really enjoyed the diversity of the CEOs in the room.  Its rare that you can share best practices with a CEO of a cloud computing company one moment and then talk to a clean energy CEO.  I really enjoyed the keynote from Athena Health founder, Todd Park.  In his keynote, Todd walked the conference through how he was able to build his company from zero to $100M in sales in seven years as well as having the most successful IPO last year.  Athena Health has had 30 quarters of consecutive growth with a SaaS (software as a service) apporach to fixing the medical billing problem. The story was fascinating since it chronicled how Athena went from trying to run an OB center (they were trying to improve the birthing process in the US) to building a software solution that greatly improves the billing process (which helps all clinics).  Something like 1/3 of all claims get rejected by insurance companies mainly because of complex and arcane rules and regulations.  Todd reminded all of the entrepreneurs in the room to, "stay true to your company's mission, but, to keep an open mind with respect to how you fulfill it."  I couldn't agree more.  It is usually not the first business plan that becomes the one that sticks.

It is too easy in this environment to forget that entrepreneurs are really on a hero's journey.  I love how Draper encourages its companies to improve the world.  I think its too easy to get lectured from your investors on how dire everything is — that's pretty damn clear to entrepreneurs.  I don't want to sound like a pollyanna but its great to get motivated in this type of setting.  The event was a little bit like a startup revival, but, we all gladly  lapped up the messages.  In fact, there was some singing.  Not unlike a startup congregation.  I had never heard Tim Draper sing his song, "The RiskMaster".  Kudos to Draper for setting this event up and to inspire its CEOs to make a difference.


Scroll To Top