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The Gospel of Guy Kawasaki: 4 Startup Secrets to Getting Growth Right


Decades after rallying untold masses around the original Macintosh computer launch in 1984, Guy Kawasaki is returning to his evangelical roots.

Today, he’s landed full circle as chief evangelist -- a Greek word meaning ‘bringer of good news,’ and a role that Kawasaki singlehandedly popularized in the modern tech world -- at Canva, an Australian graphics design platform.

His endorsement of the company speaks volumes. In a crowded digital landscape and with truncating attention spans, “every social media post should have a beautiful graphic,” Kawasaki explained in an exclusive interview with “If there are two identical stories, the one with the beautiful graphic will always win.”

But Canva’s is not the only gospel that Kawasaki is spreading. The tech veteran has partnered with online learning community Skillshare to create a video course for aspiring entrepreneurs entitled The Art of the Start: Turning Ideas into High-Growth Businesses.

In it, Kawasaki and his business partner, Bill Reichert -- who together co-founded the seed-stage capital fund Garage Technology Ventures -- share the factors that are most likely to inspire investors to reach for their wallets.

Related: This Startup Just Landed Guy Kawasaki as Its Chief Evangelist

In celebration of the course’s kick-off today, Kawasaki shared some of his favorite tips exclusively with

1. Imbue your business with meaning. “Great companies, in my observation, have a deeper reason for existing beyond simply making money,” Kawasaki says. For instance, Apple democratized design, Google democratized information and eBay democratized commerce. “Though those ideas eventually generated scores of income, what came first was the desire to make the world a better place.”

2. Investors are seeking products, not people. While Ashton Kutcher has said that each of the 50-some investments made by his venture capital fund A-Grade have hinged upon a person rather than an idea, Kawasaki said he takes a different approach.

“You might not know who someone truly is until many years down the road,” Kawasaki says. “No one comes into a meeting and says, ‘I’m stupid, lazy and crooked -- now fund me.’”

And if the assumption is that outgoing and likeable people succeed, Kawasaki points to his former boss, Steve Jobs, as evidence that sometimes the precise opposite is true. While Jobs had many superhuman attributes, Kawasaki says, being happy-go-lucky wasn’t one of them.

In fact, Kawasaki says, one could even make the argument that the ideal tech entrepreneur might possess similar qualities to somebody with autism or even ADHD. Therefore, the best way to choose an investment is by looking at the product or service -- “which offers a true and pertinent window into the soul of the team behind it.” 

Related: 4 Qualities of People With Autism That Could Benefit Your Business

3. The customer isn’t always king. Customers can’t always express the products that they ultimately want to own. “They can only tell you what they want in terms of what they already know, and in the realm of what already exists.”

While consumers are vital in improving a revolutionary development once the seed has been planted, Kawasaki explains, they shouldn’t necessarily be involved in version No. 1.

4. The funding paradigm has shifted. “The right algorithm is to put off seeking funds for as long as physically possible,” Kawasaki says. “And in an ideal world, a startup would never have to seek funds at all.” This is to avoid the dilution of concepts, as well as to elude impatient investors expecting untenable results.

In the past, Kawasaki explains, starting up has required deep pockets. Companies had to pay for servers, tools, ads and real estate. Those days are gone. Today, services like RackSpace and Amazon -- as well as virtual offices -- have made these expenses practically obsolete.

Most people can easily score $25,000 from friends and family, Kawasaki says, and the emergence of services like Indiegogo and Kickstarter have also radically altered the traditional fundraising paradigm.

Related: Private Companies Publicly Fundraising: Where's The Money Going?

For more from Kawasaki, watch him and Reichert discuss their course in greater detail below:

An Online Skillshare Class by Guy Kawasaki
Geoff Weiss

Written By

Geoff Weiss is a former staff writer at