Steve Case: Remember, even the internet was once a tough sell

While AOL’s success seems obvious now, Case said it took “more than a decade before [AOL] really got traction.”

“You have to have perseverance because if you’re really trying to have an impact, trying to change the world, that doesn’t happen overnight. It takes some time,” he said.

“Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes there’s an overnight success. Usually it’s a slog over many years,” he said, adding that sometimes young entrepreneurs underestimate the amount of time it takes to launch a business and become frustrated when things don’t happen quickly.

At investment firm Revolution, Case spends a lot of time listening to entrepreneurs pitch their businesses. His advice to founders is to “be really crisp about the idea” and “explain the team because entrepreneurship really is a team sport.”

Case also tells entrepreneurs to be aware of the market and the context within which they expect to operate and compete. This is where people can easily make the mistake of coming off as arrogant or presumptuous.

“Sometimes you’ll hear they have no competition,” Case said. “My view is when somebody says they have no competition, either they’re lying because they do or they’re ignorant because they do and don’t know about it.”

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