Entrepreneurial Commitment Group (ECG)

The Entrepreneurial Commitment Group (ECG) is a carefully screened peer network exclusively for leaders of early-stage high-growth ventures. It is one of the best-kept secrets in Silicon Valley.

All great companies start with an idea and a resolute entrepreneur who dares to believe that he or she can overcome a stream of apparently insurmountable obstacles. The ECG serves as each member’s personal board of peers where they can share the most difficult issues that they confront in the early stages of their journey. We help each entrepreneur stack the probabilities of success in his or her favor by helping them exercise better judgment with regard to key decisions they face while in the entrepreneurial “arena.”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” —Theodore Roosevelt, “The Man in the Arena,” speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, France, April 23, 1910

The Impact

By sharing those issues that entrepreneurs typically never share with anyone, the group co-creates valuable content that is not found elsewhere.

Many entrepreneurs who joined during the early years of our twelve years of existence have built market-leading companies. In addition, many current members are on their way to building equally significant and market-disrupting businesses.

Examples: Early Members
Pete Flint and Sami Inkinen redefined the online real estate space with Trulia
Lars Dalgaard was an early pioneer in SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) and cloud computing when he co-founded SuccessFactors
Randy Hetrick took the sewing skills that he picked up as squadron commander of SEAL Team Six to create a new modality for exercising with TRX
Examples: Current Members
Keith Kitani is redefining they way companies engage with their employees with a SaaS offering as he leads GuideSpark
Monisha Perkash leads Lumo which helps individuals make small yet powerful changes that improve their lives through the use of sensors and tools that provide actionable feedback
Ajay Prakash co-leads Rinse which is bringing the dry-cleaning industry to the mobile age
Dawoon Kang is attempting to re-invent online dating by focusing on providing a quality experience to single women as she co-leads Coffee Meets Bagel
Lani Fritts co-leads Trumpet Behavioral Health, which provides behavioral treatment to children and adults with autism, a nascent and rapidly growing market, through its growing chain of treatment centers

Member Commitment

Members come together at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business for a 3-hour dinner once a month from as far away as New York City.

Member Renewal

Members commit to come together once a month for a full year.  At the end of each year, typically more than 90% of the members elect to re-apply for another year.

Member Requirements & Composition of ECG

The ECG typically has 18 entrepreneurs leading ventures from the pre-revenue early stages up to less than $30 million in annual revenue. Roughly one-third of our members are entrepreneurs who are in the early stages of their ventures and could be characterized as still trying to perfect product/market fit. Another third of our members have product/market fit and are dealing with early growth issues; the last subset are entrepreneurs dealing with scaling issues as they rapidly ramp up their companies. 

Three behaviors define the culture of the group and an individual’s expected contribution to the group:

  • Taking personal risks by sharing gut-wrenching issues that an entrepreneur is normally not comfortable discussing openly
  • Being a coach by knowing when to be supportive, when to challenge, when to ask and explore, and when to re-frame an issue (instead of simply informing and prescribing)
  • Creating a safe environment for others to take risks

Each ECG is formed with diversity in mind, including first-time versus serial entrepreneurs, a variety of industries and stages of venture development, members’ personal backgrounds, and a balanced mix of female and male entrepreneurs.

Application Process

To join the ECG, members must make a commitment to meet at a pre-set date every month for one year (date is set by the group during the first meeting) and not to miss more than two meetings. Membership is frozen during the twelve months. The longevity and frequency of interactions then encourages trust, which is necessary for risk-taking.

Membership to the ECG is considered on a case-by-case basis. Membership applications and interviews by our moderator as well as existing members are typically conducted towards the end of each annual cycle. If you are interested in joining, please contact Nancy Gross.

This is a forum exclusively for active entrepreneurs who are in the “arena;” it is not appropriate for consultants, service providers, aspiring entrepreneurs, and/or investors.