Are entrepreneurs born with a certain DNA?



How did venture capitalist/angel investor John Osborne’s entrepreneurial journey begin?


On European park benches.


“I certainly go back to my childhood and the DNA there. Both my parents own their own business. I had family members who owned businesses and were successful at it.”

“So I had worked at a bank and risen up the corporate ladder pretty well through my twenties and was making good money, had a really good role, nice benefits, things that a lot would have wanted,” Osborne explained.


But he decided to make a change, left his job, and backpacked through Europe.


“I took a backpack trip for six weeks through Europe and I carried on the airplane, I was only taking enough to where I had to carry on and I had no agenda. I had an unlimited Euro rail pass and flights back and forth and that's it, no hotel room reservations, nothing. I was just going to go do it,” he said. “I just got to wake up every day and,, if I wanted to leave town, I left town. If I wanted to stay where I was, I stayed. If I wanted to run hard and hustle, I did. If I wanted to lay, I laid.”


He said the experience gave him a mix of gratitude and perspective.


“And I got back from that, and after living for six weeks on a park bench or a train or wherever I wanted to go, I said, ‘You know what? If I lost it all, I'd be fine,’” he recalled. “And so that really, the willingness to just accept that, ‘You know what? If it all goes away, I'll pick back up and inside I'm still me. And I'll still get up the next day and go fight and do whatever.’” So there was an ingredient of willingness to just lose it all, to take the risk and go take the leap.”


Today, Osborne is one of the driving forces of Charleston, SC's entrepreneurial ecosystem. The managing partner of Good Growth Capital, he is a co-founder of The Harbor Entrepreneur Center, executive administrator of Charleston Angel Partners, and founder of the Charleston Angel Conference.


He joined Freedom Media Network founder Curt Mercadante for an interview about the entrepreneurial mindset.


Mercadante asked Osborne if his mindset after returning from Europe was a sign that many entrepreneurs care more about making an impact than simply earning income.


“It is highly consistent with a lot of high achieving people where yes, the financial part of it is nice, but they did it because they saw an opportunity in the world that they just, for whatever reason, couldn't not try and do,”he said. “And for me, when 2012 was coming around, I saw the emerging technology sector in Charleston starting to grow and Blackbaud, Benefitfocus, Automated Trading Desk, Spark, People Matter, I'm like, ‘There's something here.’ I just saw this gap that was occurring in the market. And I didn't know how I was going to, I just knew I had to go try and solve it. And that's literally what happened.”


Does John believe that there is a sort of “DNA” for entrepreneurs?


“I certainly go back to my childhood and the DNA there. Both my parents own their own business. I had family members who owned businesses and were successful at it,” he said. “But on a granular level for me, I didn't realize until college how special it was that my parents can attend everything that I did, right? Every basketball game or baseball game or a school event, they could be there because they had the flexibility within their schedule to have someone cover the store and they could go there. And then, once I got out of school and into the real world, there were a couple of pivotal moments for me that really drove me to say, ‘You know, I want to do my own thing.’”


That mindset came to a head when, on the cusp of his backpacking trip to Europe, he walked into the bank and said, "I'm out. I can't sit in this office anymore. I have to go.”


Watch Mercadante’s full discussion with Osborne by clicking here.

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