December 28

5 Business Tips from a Venture Capitalist

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Matt Miller is a builder. A 2008 graduate from the BYU Marriott School with a degree in finance, Miller built his first computer at age eleven and his first business while an undergraduate student at BYU. He now helps build the visions of entrepreneurs into multi-million-dollar companies as a partner at Sequoia Capital, a world-class tech venture capital firm located in Menlo Park, California.

At Sequoia, Miller and his partners have worked to enable young startups to become household name companies such as Airbnb and Dropbox, both of which Sequoia backed previously.

“There is nothing more exciting than the passion you see in an entrepreneur’s eyes when they know they’ve got something big,” Miller says.

Below are five tips Miller hopes every BYU business student will follow in order to “change the world.”

1) Think Big

Miller attributes much of what he has learned to his experiences working in national and international markets where he came to understand more large-scale business models.

“There are a lot of people who come up with the third Café Rio knockoff,” says Miller. “There’s so many bigger problems out there and there is so much opportunity. I would encourage people to think about the big global problems.”

2) Get Out There

Miller’s first business in the restaurant industry led him to Dallas, Texas, where eighty percent of US chain restaurants are headquartered. He believes entrepreneurs can learn by going to the hubs of the industries they are passionate about.

“People shape the business ideas they come up with based on the immediate world around them,” he says. “I think it’s important for BYU students to make sure they get out and get to spend time in some of the big cities and bigger markets in order to think about bigger ventures.”

3) Build an Ecosystem

After graduating from BYU, Miller wanted to work at Goldman Sachs. After scouring to find connections to the firm and cold-calling countless investors, he stumbled upon Kim Smith, a former global co-head at Goldman and current managing director at the Marriott School’s Business Career Center. Smith helped Miller get his start in the investment banking world and accomplish his goal of working for Goldman Sachs in Silicon Valley.

“You should work and build connections and bridges for yourself with people who have gone that route or started businesses,” Miller explains. “Spend time building an ecosystem around yourself that’s going to give you access to some of the best people and ideas in your field.”

4) Find Mentors

Miller doesn’t believe in sugar-coating and encourages students to look for mentors who will question and dare them to be better.

“Find mentors you can cultivate your ideas with and who will stretch your thinking and not people who are just going to just pat you on the back and say ‘Hey great job, you’re doing amazing,’” Miller says. “Find people who will really help you, who will pressure you to test your thinking, and who will challenge your assumptions and encourage you to be better.”

5) Just Do

“Start doing,” says Miller. “By doing you will ultimately put yourself on a path where you will be successful.”