Steve Hoddman

Radical Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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Steve Hoffman, also known as Captain Hoff, is the Chairman and CEO of Founders Space, a global innovation hub for entrepreneurs, corporations, and investors with over 50 partners in 22 countries. Steve is also a venture investor and founder of three venture-backed and two bootstrapped startups. He is the author of several award-winning books including Make Elephants Fly and Surviving a Startup.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Steve Hoffman’s entrepreneurship journey
  • The strategies Steve uses to open Founders Space locations in various countries
  • Steve’s inspiration for the book Make Elephants Fly
  • How to build a great team for your startup
  • The most common mistakes startups make
  • Why intellectual property is crucial when exiting a company
  • The best time to get a patent and how to find a good lawyer

In this episode…

What makes a startup successful? Is it your business idea, market fit, final product, or fundraising?

Steve Hoffman advises entrepreneurs to focus on building a great team. Running a business alone can be an overwhelming burden in the early stages. Finding a competent team can help elevate your products and bring them to market quickly. You need an exceptional team to build an exceptional company.

In this episode of the Innovations and Breakthroughs Podcast, Rich Goldstein interviews Steve Hoffman, the Chairman and CEO of Founders Space, about radical innovation and entrepreneurship. They also discuss the most common mistakes startups make, tips for building a great team, and the role intellectual property plays when exiting a company.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Goldstein Patent Law, a firm that helps protect inventors’ ideas and products. They have advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 25 years. So if you’re a company that has a software, product, or design you want protected, you can go to They have amazing free resources for learning more about the patent process. 

You can email their team at to explore if it’s a match to work together. Rich Goldstein has also written a book for the American Bar Association that explains in plain English how patents work, which is called ‘The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent.’

Intro (00:09):
Welcome to Innovations and Breakthroughs with your host Rich Goldstein, talking about the evolutionary, the revolutionary, the inspiration and the perspiration, and those aha moments that change everything. And now here’s your host, Rich Goldstein.

Rich (00:33):
Rich Goldstein here, host of the Innovations and Breakthroughs podcast, where I feature top leaders in the path they took to create change. Past guests include Joe Polish, Roland Frazier, and Mitch Russo. This episode is brought to you by my company, Goldstein Patent Law, where we’ve help you to protect your ideas and products. We’ve advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 28 years. So if you’re a company that has software or product or a design you want protected, go to goldstein patent where there are amazing free resources for learning about the patent process. You could also email my team at to explore if it’s a match to work together. You can also check out the book I wrote for the American Bar Association that explains in plain English how patents work. It’s called the ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent I have with me here today, Steve Hoffman. Steve Hoffman, also known as Captain Hoff, is the chairman and CEO of Founder Space, a global innovation hub for entrepreneurs, corporations, and investors with over 50 partners in 22 countries. Hoffman is also a venture investor, founder of Three Venture Backed and two Bootstrap startups, and he’s the author of several award-winning books. These include Make Elephants Fly, which is all about radical innovation, and he’s also authored the books Surviving a Startup and The Five Forces. It’s my pleasure to welcome here today, Steve Hoffman. Welcome Steve

Steve (01:59):
Rich. It’s fantastic to be here.

Rich (02:02):
Absolutely. So, um, let’s just roll it back a bit and talk just a bit about your history and how you got involved in business, how you got involved in the startup world.

Steve (02:11):
I’ve been doing startups forever for my whole life. Uh, yeah, I started out in the early days. I just launched my own company, bootstrap the Business. It was actually, I, ironically, it was a game that I launched and the game was to teach entrepreneurs how to, uh, teach anybody how to be an entrepreneur. And that game was called Gazillionaire, and it became super popular. It’s still around today. It was, it’s been used, downloaded by, you know, millions of people, and it’s been used in schools and colleges and even prisons to help rehabilitate prisoners and teach them to be entrepreneurs. And then I went on and launched three venture funded companies in Silicon Valley. And after my third venture funded company, I was taking a break and my friends started to come to me. My nickname is Captain Hoff, and they’re like, captain Hoff, don’t help me with my business plan.

Steve (03:03):
Introduce me to investors. How do I get going? And I would sit down with them and they had a lot of questions. So I started to post these questions on my personal blog, which I called Founder Space, and it ballooned. From there, I started getting lots of inbound entrepreneurs contacting me on Founders Space. We ended up launching our first incubator and accelerator in San Francisco. Uh, and then all these from all over the world, entrepreneurs are coming to Silicon Valley and San Francisco and different governments were coming, and they were like, can you help us in our countries? Can you run programs in our countries? Can you open up founder space here? And we did that, and we just kept growing from there.

Rich (03:43):
Yeah, that’s amazing. So did you literally hit the road? Did you go to, to many of these countries to help start these, um, um, uh, founder space locations? Do you have, um, uh, um, uh, a group of people that are kind of, um, helping, um, to establish those locations? How did you actually scale that?

Steve (04:04):
Yeah, we did it, and it’s been a, a quite a journey. So we typically, we try not to open up our own location abroad because it’s very messy. I mean, you have to know the foreign labor laws, you have to get real estate, you have to, it’s a lot of stuff. So what we like to do is we like to partner with existing startup incubators and accelerators overseas, and then we will run programs for them. So we’ll send our instructors abroad. We’ve done a ton of these programs in places like Australia, Korea, Taiwan, all throughout Europe. Now we’re moving into the Middle East and kind of your Asia zone. Um, we also actually opened up a number of founder spaces, actual physical founder spaces with partners in China. So they’re all across China and cities like Hou Shehe, Wuhan, Xan. And uh, it’s been very exciting at a learning experience doing it in all these different countries.

Steve (05:00):
And in fact, I just, I, you ask if I travel and we send our instructors out all over to run the courses, but I also travel all the time to meet startups to help them. We, our main goal has been to help entrepreneurs coming from abroad who want to enter the US market and as well as US startups who want to come to Silicon Valley and launch their companies and raise capital. And so for example, I was just in, in the last three weeks, I was just in Singapore working with entrepreneurs there. Then I went to Malaysia and talked to the Malaysian government and a bunch of different investors about building their ecosystem and tying it into Silicon Valley. And then of all places, I went to Uzbekistan and I met, uh, the different ministers from all the countries in that region, you know, from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turk, Stan, all these different ministers and government people and startup groups who are really working to build, build that area and tie it into the us. And then after that, I went to Istanbul and did the same thing, and I just got back. So if I mess up, I have a little jet lag. I’ve been traveling like crazy.

Rich (06:08):
Uh, I could relate. I I travel quite a lot too. Um, been on the road three out of the last four weeks, but not as far as as you’ve been, uh, traveling. So, um, so wow, <laugh>. Um, and uh, so, um, it’s interesting though, you have all these different locations and all these different countries. How much of a trickles up back? Like how do you get to hear the stories of innovation from all these, these locations? I mean, I, I know that, that, that you are making a difference and your organization is making a difference for innovators around the world. But, uh, I’m just curious, you get to enjoy the spoils of that in terms of getting all the cool stories back of, of the difference that you’ve made.

Steve (06:51):
We do. It’s amazing. So we’ve had companies that come to us with really literally just a team and a and an idea and their beginning product that they’re trying to get going, and then they’re IPOing. So, uh, recently two companies that are getting ready to IPO right now, one that just IPOed is trust stamp, another one Grub Market. They’re getting ready to ipo. They’ve been through our programs, we’ve watched them grow, and it’s super exciting. Even in the tough markets we face now, they’re still doing well because they have real businesses.

Rich (07:23):
Yeah. Oh, that’s awesome. Um, and, uh, so, um, I know there’s, there’s a lot, well, there’s, there’s literally an entire world of things you could say about startups and, uh, and about the, the things that startups could do, should do, should avoid doing. Uh, and, um, I would say beyond that, there’s something really interesting that in the book that you wrote, make Elephants Fly, right? So just about the radical innovation itself. And so tell me a bit about that. Tell me about what inspired the book.

Steve (07:57):
So I have been looking at startups and how they innovate and how successful startups go from idea, just an idea to being, you know, a huge company, uh, IPOing scaling, uh, changing the world in a big way. And there are a lot of myths out there. And one of them is, you have to start with a big idea. So we all hear about Elon Musk, you know, I’m going to Mars, I’m gonna, you know, change everything. And they start with huge ideas. But what most entrepreneurs don’t realize, and it, it’s really daunting, like, are you gonna come up with a big idea? Can you even execute on a big idea? Somebody like Elon Musk can, they have lots of capital, they have a reputation, they can get funding for SpaceX or Tesla and do these things. The average entrepreneur, uh, what can they do? How can they take their, what’s in their head and actually make it a reality?

Steve (08:47):
And what entrepreneurs a lot of them don’t understand is your idea isn’t that important. Your idea doesn’t really matter that much at the beginning. The idea is just a starting point. And what you wind up with, uh, will probably be totally different. So I have seen, uh, a lot of com companies, hundreds of these companies, um, many of them become successful. A lot of them fail. And I write about this in both my books, make Elephants Fly and Surviving a startup. But, uh, the thing that makes companies fail, the number one thing is the thing is what the entrepreneurs do at the beginning. And I tell entrepreneurs, don’t worry about your idea. Like, just don’t worry about it. Focus 80% of your time not on your idea, not on building a product, definitely not on fundraising. Focus 80% of your time on building a team like that, amazing team of people that can actually execute on something, actually build something and take it to market.

Steve (09:49):
And you alone, you know, solo entrepreneurs, if you, a solo entrepreneur’s chance of success is like 80% less than a really good team. So trying to do it alone, it’s, it’s a huge mountain to climb. Most people never get to the top. But if you go and you put a huge amount of time into not just picking whoever’s available, whoever you can get to program, you know, do your technical side, whoever you can get to design the product, whoever you can get to help you market it, but actually seeking out amazing people like A players, because what I have found is that the people make all the difference, especially in the early stages. And literally you can have the best idea in the world. Like the most incredible idea. I see it all the time. And you will, uh, when, when you get thrown the ball, you will fumble it.

Steve (10:39):
You will not be able to score that touchdown and somebody else, because there are always competitors out there. If it’s a good idea, we’ll pick it up and run with it. So at the beginning of your company, literally do not compromise on the people and spend all your time hunting for people. Only once you find that team, once you find those people you think are just like these guys are, they can do anything. Like we’re, they’re su, you know, these are superhuman coders, they’re superhuman designers, whatever we touch, we will make it work. When you find that team, then you direct it towards your idea. And I will go on to say whatever idea you start with, almost, I can almost guarantee won’t be the idea you end with.

Rich (11:22):
Hmm. I love that. And I, I’m a big believer in, in people, and that it’s all about relationship, and that really is the foundation. Well, one of my mentors used to say that, um, relationship is the foundation of accomplishment. And, uh, I thoroughly believe that. And so I love kind of what you are, you know, what you’re saying in terms of, um, um, going out and creating that team. I think a lot of people struggle with, with the how, how do I create a team? How do I find those people? How do I, um, you know, bring them all together? Um, do you have any, um, kind of, um, suggestions or tips on that and how to create power with that team?

Steve (12:00):
Yes, because when you’re an entrepreneur, your first test, like in Silicon Valley, we look at the team, like, we look at the people because we know like they may have a great idea, they may not, but it doesn’t matter if they can’t execute. And when we look at the people, how do you know if you, you have a great team, how can you identify the people? It’s the most important thing. And I tell you, look for people who actually have accomplished something. If you’re bringing people on your team, look for those people who have done something exceptional in their life. They may be pretty young, it doesn’t matter, like they could be in college, but what have they done in their life? Did they form an organization? Did they bring people together? Did they, uh, uh, uh, invent something and patent it? And it became real?

Steve (12:42):
You know, it, it’s a critical thing that becomes really big. What have they done in their life that is truly exceptional? Because you want exceptional people if you’re gonna build an exceptional company. Number two, how do you find those people? That’s a lot of work. You have to go through your personal network to find the people, people you’ve worked with in the past are the best because you know them. But do not stop there. Hunt for these people. Literally. If you need a great engineer and you don’t know a great engineer, then don’t go to all the business conferences where all the other entrepreneurs hang out. Go to the geek conferences, the meetup groups where all the engineers are, the online forums, where the engineers are, and start interacting with them right there, because you may be the other half they’re looking for. And that is a perfect match.

Steve (13:26):
And if you find people who are super engaged, like the type of engineers are like, they’re, they’re hackers. They’re building stuff in their home, they’re always experimenting. They love what they do. Like they don’t just do the bare minimum. They’re always going really, really deep. If you don’t go deep, you’re not gonna be innovative. You’re not gonna invent anything. And I wanna jump into one more thing, and that is how also you ask this question. How, how do you innovate? How do you take that kernel, this great team with an idea that’s a starting point and make it successful? Well, let me give you example. Most of the successful startups in the world today did not start with their big idea. They actually started with something very small and grew that into a big idea. Now, let me tell you, I’ll give you an example.

Steve (14:14):
There was a company out there that wanted to do video dating, and they thought, wow, wouldn’t it, this is in the early days of the internet, wouldn’t it be great if people could date on video online? They built the product, they had a great team, they put it out there, and guess what happened? Nobody wanted to video date. Like people, it was awkward. They didn’t wanna do it. It was the early days of the internet. The bandwidth wasn’t good. It was just nobody cared about their application. As they were experimenting with this. Uh, they had a video that they made for themselves, and they wanted to share this video with their friends. So they literally said, oh, we built this video dating site, which is dying. We’re just gonna upload it there and share the link. And their friends were like, oh my God, that’s amazing. We could watch the video online. You know, and how, you know, they didn’t have Dropbox. They didn’t have any of these cloud services that you could share large files with, but they made a very simple way for them to do it. And do you know what company that became? This company is YouTube.

Steve (15:21):
YouTube. YouTube. Literally, YouTube started as a failed video dating site. But what they figured out was that people wanna share videos. And literally you could have thought, oh, YouTube started with the big idea. They started with the idea, we’re gonna change, uh, online entertainment forever. We’re gonna become the largest video broadcasts network in the world. No, they started with a simple idea, how do I get this video to my friends and how could I do it in a very easy way? That was a problem everybody had. Then they became a repository for videos, right? Same. The same thing was with Google. When Google started, it was a small idea. They thought Google the most profitable, one of the most profitable companies to ever exist in history thought they were a non-profit. They literally believed they were a non-profit, because their original idea that they started with was really small.

Steve (16:14):
They started with the idea, oh, we’re gonna help academics, uh, find research papers online. That’s a tiny idea, especially in the early days of the internet. But they were, you know, at Stanford and doing their thing. It was only later that when they had built this amazing algorithm to rank the different papers, they figured out we could apply this to any search anybody wanting to find anything on the internet. And that is the day YouTube was really born. So I tell entrepreneurs out there, you don’t have to have a big idea. You have to get in the game and you have to start looking for, for, you have to start looking at what you’re doing and where are you really providing value to somebody value that they can’t get right now from anybody else. Those are the innovative things. And often they’re very small. They seem very small, but they actually result in a very big effect.

Rich (17:05):
Yeah, that’s amazing. And, um, it’s funny with regard to YouTube, could you imagine being so successful that you kick yourself for having sold for only $1 billion? Yes. <laugh>,

Steve (17:16):
That’s, they’re kicking themselves. They left a lot of money on the table, but who in those days when they sold a billion, was a lot of money. Now we, you know, we have deca corns and all this stuff. We think, oh, only a billion!

Rich (17:29):
<laugh>. Yeah. How, how could we possibly divvy that up, you know, a billion dollars? That’s not enough to go around <laugh>, but Exactly. Uh, but yeah, those are some, uh, you know, amazing examples. And, um, so then just, um, over to the, the side of, of kind of like what, um, you know, know, what, what do startups do wrong? Uh, like your book, surviving a startup, I, uh, you know, you talk about kind of like the things which, um, uh, which, which the mistakes that that many startups make Yes. That are totally avoidable right

Steve (18:04):
There, there are a lot of them that I cover, but I’ll give you a few highlights. Yeah. So one of the big things startups do wrong is they do something that naturally all of us want to do, and they, they don’t want to fail, so they stick with the same idea too long. So you think, oh, I’m gonna make this idea work. I’m not gonna cha I’m gonna figure it out, perseverance, <laugh>, you know, if I just stick with it, I’ll make a breakthrough. Well, reality doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t matter how passionate you are, it doesn’t matter how dedicated you are. It doesn’t matter how many hours you put into working every day. You can work, you know, 20 hours a day and only sleep four hours a night. It doesn’t matter if you’re heading the wrong direction because all that effort is going the wrong direction.

Steve (18:52):
The most important thing startups do, and this is why it’s great having a team where you’re debating it, hashing it over, the hardest thing you do is figuring out, are you on the right track? Should you, and, and these aren’t decisions that take a lot of, a lot of time necessarily, or work, they’re decisions that take a lot of insight. So with startup founders, I tell them, biggest mistake, I if you are, if if things aren’t going, uh, the way you think they should go, you should question everything. Like literally the startups that work, they, the, they are literally they are, they feel the pool, they feel the pool from the marketplace, and they are running to catch up if you instead, and this is a lot, most startups that I see in the early days, most startups feel like Sisyphus rolling a boulder up a hill, like trying to push it to the top only to have it roll back down again, really hard to make progress.

Steve (19:45):
And that is usually because they haven’t really figured out where the demand is. So I tell startups, you know, it’s not how you can build the best product in the world. It can have no bugs. It can have every feature in the world, but if people aren’t out there that really care about it, that really need it, it doesn’t matter. Like you just built the best product that nobody wants. And a lot, you would be surprised at how many startups do this, they spend months, years even building the technology in a product that nobody really cares about. So I tell people, put your demand hunting, searching for demand ahead of your product building. You should put, be put first. You get the team, the next thing you do, not the money, not building the product, not anything. You try to push forward as much as possible to getting into the hands and into the minds of your customers and figuring out what they really need. Not what you think they need, not what you’re passionate about, because they’re, but really what they want right now that, that they aren’t getting in the world. And if you can give them that, all of a sudden everything goes.

Rich (20:51):
Yeah. That’s brilliant. Um, and um, so let’s talk about, um, I guess the experiences you’ve had with ip. You know, I mean, being that I’m, I’m a patent attorney, like, I’m always just curious the experiences you’ve had with ip, I’m particularly interested in at exit time. Like, have, what role have, have, has you, what role have you seen IP play when, um, when, uh, the, the founders actually get to that point of exiting?

Steve (21:20):
So it can be very valuable, like if you have, especially if you are a deep tech company, if you’ve really invented something that changes an industry, a process, a method, uh, that has a, a huge impact on your industry, and you can use that IP as, as a barrier to keep out competitors, to dominate the market, very, very important. The market looks at it. When you’re exiting, you’re talking about being acquired, you could be acquired for that. You’re talking about going public. It can be, you know, really important for going public. Um, you look at companies like Qualcomm, they have a gazillion patents, <laugh>, they’re like a patent machine. They’re patenting everything. The thing entrepreneurs need to understand is just patenting something isn’t enough. There are a lot of ideas out there that you could patent. Literally with software, you can just invent things to patent.

Steve (22:10):
Like there are a lot of software patents out there that are, are worthless. So you have to figure out, uh, not just, uh, you, you’re not just, is this a cool idea? Is this something I could patent? Is this unique? But you have to figure out how does this play? What role does this idea, this process, this methodology, whatever you’ve come up with, what role does this play in the industry? And is it something people can work around easily or is it something so pivotable pivot, uh, so, so important, uh, and that they have to have that in order to move forward with their business. If that’s the case, then you should definitely patent this early. If it’s not the case, you should wait. Um, and so a lot of, especially this is something I talk about with entrepreneurs in the early days of doing a startup, when you have really limited resources, scarce resources, you need to focus those, almost all of those on first.

Steve (23:10):
Uh, finding your product market fit, finding out whether there’s a, a market out there for your product. Because if there’s no market, all the patents in the world won’t save you. You’ll just have a stack of paper, but no business. So finding the product market fit and then raising venture capital and after you raise a significant amount of capital, or you have income coming in because your business is just generating lots of money, that’s the point when you can start to retain the services of like a patent lawyer and get your engineers really thinking about patents. I tell entrepreneurs those great ideas that you have that you think might be important, keep those a as trade secrets. Like literally don’t go out there with them, don’t make them public. Keep them to yourself. And then when you have the resources and you understand you have the product market fit, because literally a lot of the ideas you think are so important in the beginning might not actually turn out to be that important for your business. Like you think they’re really good ideas to patent that really good inventions, but they’re not that important. So we letting your business evolve to the point where you can see which of those inventions play a really critical role in your business, then you can prioritize your patenting. And you have to, you can’t just do it in, in the us You literally have to go out globally with these patents once you put it out there. So, uh, you have to consider the resources you need to execute on them.

Rich (24:31):
Yeah. No, that, that’s really excellent. I totally agree. I mean, it’s so important for, uh, startups to conserve resources and use them carefully. Um, the, it, it’s kinda like the, the catch 22 with it and patent law is that when you publicly disclose something, you will lose the rights to it either immediately in much of the world or in the US within one year. Yes. So it’s like what you’re describing is like, is taking the taking, um, some of the best ideas that you have and maybe just kind of not focusing on those in the, in the beginning, um, if it’s something that you wanna patent later. Um, because like there’s that catch 22 involved.

Steve (25:11):
There is, so a lot of entrepreneurs still file provisional patents, right. Which give them a year to file, uh, the full patent. Yes. And that sounds great, and it’s really a great marketing device to get investors interested to say, oh, I have five professional patents file. But it’s also putting a timestamp on there because at the end of that year, those all become public, and if you aren’t really ready to patent, uh, you’re just gonna lose them. I, I really encourage entrepreneurs to put much more thought into the patent process and to consult with somebody like you Yeah. Uh, about when they, when they’re ready to patent, when they should do it, and which ideas really good. Patent lawyers like you understand not just how to patent, but also understand business. They understand, you know, there’s certain things and they can ask the right questions. You need people advising you, they can ask the right questions so that you can, because in most companies, there are a lot of different things you can patent. And really you shouldn’t, you should be selecting just a couple, especially at the beginning, that are the, that are the ones that will be the drivers of your business.

Rich (26:18):
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I, I think part of it though too is, is deciding in an early stage, like it’s okay, it’s okay that I’m not going to be patenting. Yes. Right? Like rec, you know, the knowledge that like certain things, like once you launch it, you won’t ever be able to patent, you can’t circle back around to patent it. And that’s okay, because the most important thing at the beginning is your resources, right? And so you might have a very strong argument to like, well, this could be a really great patent here, but if you put the money into that, you might not ever be able to get off the ground, right?

Steve (26:54):
Because you’ll need that money for customer acquisition. You’ll need that money to hire engineers. You need that money to hire sales people. This is your, your resources are really limited when they come to you. They should, their business should be going, like literally, I say when your business is going, when when you, when you have customers, you know, beating down the door for your product, that’s when you go to patent, that’s when you figure out, you know, how could I keep competitors at bay? I’ve figured something out. We have this market. And usually, you know, as an investor, honestly, as an early stage investor, right? Not a later stage, but early stage, I don’t care if you have patents because I know what matters to me is I want to talk to your customers. I wanna see why they need your product, what your value you’re providing for them as a later stage investor. Well, yeah. Then patents start to matter. Like the further along you get, the more patents matter.

Rich (27:44):
Yep, absolutely. Cool. Um, and, um, um, how do you go around picking a, a lawyer for your organization?

Steve (27:54):
I advise a lot of startups on this.

Rich (27:56):

Steve (27:57):
So it’s tough. So, you know, and there are different types of lawyers. So if there’s a patent lawyer, of course you want to see that they know how to patent, right? And they, and they’re very efficient and they can advise you on the best ways to do it, both, uh, domestically and internationally. The, the relationships they have really important. Um, who have they worked for? What patents have they done? What do they charge? How, what’s their process? All really important questions for general lawyer. For general counsel. Um, really, I tell entrepreneurs, you don’t want somebody who’s just a lawyer, like just a corporate lawyer because lawyers are really good at mitigating risk. That’s their job, right? They understand

Rich (28:36):
They’re really good at being risk averse,

Steve (28:37):
Risk averse.

Rich (28:39):
They, they,

Steve (28:39):
They see all the different things that can screw up your business and they’ll tell you, don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t do this. Don’t do, you know, because you can’t take that risk.

Rich (28:46):
You want a deal maker, right? You want someone with business savvy.

Steve (28:50):
You need somebody with that balance, right? Between the, the business savvy that really understands what is a business risk and a legal risk and knows how, which, how to decide between the two, because there are a lot of times you will have to take legal risks because your business is going into new territory. Like, if Airbnb wasn’t willing to take legal risks, if Uber wasn’t willing to take legal risks, they wouldn’t, the lawyer, they would, if they had the wrong lawyers, they would’ve shut down right away. Cause the risks are enormous. They were like, you know, Airbnb was going out there and telling people they could rent their houses without any licenses, without any fire inspections, without all the different things that you need to run a, a real Airbnb or a real hotel. Um, you know, Uber was breaking all the laws about taxi licenses and everything else.

Steve (29:38):
Yep. You have to take risk. So you need a, a lawyer who can understand this and who then can advise you. Like the great lawyers that I know that I’ve worked with personally in the past, like they won’t gimme, they won’t, A lot of this is one of the tests when you ask the lawyer a tough question in a gray area, right? Where there are legal risks and business risks and all these different things, uh, uh, a great, a a not great lawyer will lay it out, well, if you do this, you have this risk, this risk and this risk. And if you do that, you will, you know, there’s this risk, this risk. They’ll lay, they lay out everything for you and give you all the information. But a great lawyer will just cut to the chase and say, don’t do that. Like, like, or you, you have, you have to take this risk. I understand there’s gonna be,

Rich (30:23):
You know what? I think it’s, it’ll work out. Like it’ll work out. It’ll

Steve (30:26):
Be, it’ll work out. And if it doesn’t, it’s worth taking. So that’s when you know you have a good lawyer.

Rich (30:32):
Yep, absolutely. It’s like when they can help you figure out whether the juice is worth the squeeze.

Steve (30:38):
Exactly. And they can do it in a very concise way without giving you too much information, because your job isn’t to understand all the risks or the law, your, your job. It’s their job to do that. <laugh>, your, their job is to give you an answer so that you can act upon it.

Rich (30:53):
Awesome. Uh, um, Steve, you have so much great info to share with, um, with, um, founders and people that are engaged in the startup and you’re so generous in sharing it. I appreciate you taking the time. People wanna learn more about you or get in touch with you, how they go about doing. So

Steve (31:10):
I am super easy to contact. So if you’re an entrepreneur out there, you have a business plan, you wanna reach out, uh, just go to founders, founder You can contact me right from the website. I’m there, I respond. Uh, you can get all our videos. We have tons of videos, uh, educating entrepreneurs on everything. A lot of them are free. They’re all there. You can also find me on any of the social networks. So my books are out there, you know, make Elephants Fly, surviving a startup, they’re all out there on Amazon. Or you can go to social networks like Instagram, just search for founders face, Steve Hoffman, Facebook, I’m on Facebook. A really good one, LinkedIn. So go to LinkedIn, search for me, and I will, I always respond to everybody who contacts me.

Rich (31:55):
Awesome. Um, so once again, Steve, I really appreciate you taking the time to, uh, be on this podcast. So thanks again for being here.

Steve (32:03):
Thank you for having me.

Outro (32:09):
Thanks for listening to Innovations and Breakthroughs with your host Rich Goldstein. Be sure to click subscribe. Check us out on the web at and we’ll see you next time.


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