Recently I had the opportunity to interview Nolan Bushnell and Jason Crawford, co-founders of Modal Systems, a LA based virtual reality start-up company.  Nolan is a serial entrepreneur who has founded many companies, but you probably recognize Atari and Chuck E. Cheese as his most notable.  My full interview is available on iTunes here.

The most notable lessons for entrepreneurs from the interview:

1. Leaders are always learning.

I had an outline of issues to discuss with Nolan and Jason, but the interview quickly moved away from any planned discussion.  Soon we were discussing base reality and philosophy.  The discussion covers philosophy, management issues, and what are common traits of creative people.  As the discussion illustrates, both Nolan and Jason are constantly learning.

2. Entrepreneurs are creatives that have interests in many different areas.

Both Nolan and Jason have interest in many topics.  Jason comes to the VR world from a music background.  Nolan’s an engineer by training, but is responsible for founding the video gaming industry as we understand it today.

3. Chance plays a role in entrepreneurship.

The background of how Jason and Nolan connected an eventually formed Modal is interesting.  It also shows that there is an element of chance that comes into play for entrepreneurs.  Entrepreneurs have to be flexible, and opportunities arise unexpectedly.

However, while chance plays a role, entrepreneurs take advantages of opportunities.  The discussion with Nolan and Jason illustrates that they are always thinking about the opportunities presented to them.  They are always thinking about how to improve the status quo, and when chance opens up an opportunity, they act on it.

4. Being good in school does not equal success as an entrepreneur.

I’m a strong believer in a good education, but simply because an entrepreneur is in the top of his or her class does not predict success in business.  Nolan is a prime example of this, he almost brags about the fact that he was close to the bottom of his engineering class in college.

5. LA’s startup-eco system is strong.


Enjoy the interview.  The first part of the full interview is posted on my YouTube channel as well: