Business Spotlight: Leading Tech-Company Mentor
Meet Ron Tarro, a FAU Tech Runway Mentor
Ron Tarro has one main goal in mind when he is mentoring the startup companies that are part of FAU Tech Runway’s venture classes: Build up the Florida startup ecosystem because entrepreneurs will “change the world.”
Tarro is a former technology CEO, a public company vice president, and a consultant with deep experiences in technology strategy and product management. These industry experiences, combined with his work in early stage venture capital, accelerate the advancement of formative technology companies entering the Tech Runway’s venture program.
Here’s a look at what Tarro has to say about mentoring entrepreneurs:
Q. What is the best advice you can give an entrepreneur?
A: Don’t fall in love with your product or solution. Instead, fall in love with the underlying problem that requires a solution. The best entrepreneurs visualize and deeply understand a better world for their customers. Their decisions start and end with the customer.
Q. What is a mistake you have made that you wish others can learn from?
A: This is an impossibly long list. Really, I view my career and work as a long series of corrections and re-calibrations. As such, the lesson is fall in love with uncertainty and misjudgments and get good at smart thoughtful adaptation. When you look at products and features that underperformed in my organizations, they shared a basic characteristic: information emerged that suggested adaption was required (or at least risks to success were emerging). Yet the projects continued. I learned to pay attention to outliers. I would thank the customer who loved your product or service, but I listened carefully to the customer who did not like the product.
Q. What do you like most about Tech Runway’s mentor program?
A: I get great satisfaction in seeing a founding team and their ideas succeed. Tech Runway has done a great job of aggregating promising founders and attracting world class mentors. As such, my professional interactions in the Runway have been very illuminating. I both give and I get knowledge and insight (while helping South Florida’s startup ecosystem).
Q. Do you recommend any books, podcasts or resources for entrepreneurs to learn from?
A: I read a lot of books and follow many podcasts. I’m extremely selective regarding most business books and podcasts. I avoid the news as it does not represent deep insight or actionable information for my work. I avoid the whole pop business strategy genre. I’m usually looking for things that underlie day-to-day business. I seek fundamental insights, conceptual frameworks and analytical tools. To illustrate, my current read has been Harvard’s Shoshana Zuboff and her highly researched tome, “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.” Her analysis counters accepted wisdom in big data and cloud software. It represents peripheral vision for entrepreneurs and a framework for next generations of technology.
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