US Economic Risks (Sept 2010): Impact on Investors & Entrepreneurs

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2010 has been a great year for startup fund raising: Let’s face it, 2010 has been “the year of the super angel / seed funds&# that was arguably first popularized by First Round Capital but has gathered steam with the success of great firms like Floodgate , Founder Collective , SoftTech VC and more recently Felicis Ventures , 500 Startups and incubators like YCombinator & Betaworks. between June and July 2010 (and 25% from a year ago).

This Week in NYC Innovation - February 22, 2010

This is going to be BIG.

RSVP: [link] Friday, February 26th 7PM NY Tech Cares about Haiti An organization of many groups with presence in the NY global hub who devote it's activities and profit raised to registered 501(c)3 organizations (Oxfam America) which support Haiti in 2010 or who focus on disaster affected areas.Mission:In light of the heart wrenching devastation that has struck Haiti, The NY Tech community has come together in a collaborative effort to launch and host a disaster relief and fund raising effort.

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This Week in the New York Innovation Community – February 1st, 2010

This is going to be BIG.

What are the most significant education technology trends of 2010 and beyond? Welcome to Social Media Week --the one week out of the year where we get to tweet and blog about social media! Hopefully, you can find a way in to some of these events as most are sold out. Try the waitlists. I think you'll have a good shot at getting in. If not, just try to slip the dude at the front door a few Twitter followers.

This Week in the New York Innovation Community - March 1st, 2010

This is going to be BIG.

6PM: Job Hunting for Software Product Managers in 2010. If you'd like to receive this events list by e-mail every Monday morning, just sign up here. You know, if I was the kind of guy that pimped out his own firm's newly redesigned website on a weekly community newsletter that goes out to over 1,000 people, I might include a link to the new FirstRound.com. Tuesday, March 2nd. 5PM NY Tech Meetup Student Mingle #2. RSVP: [link]. 7PM NY Tech Meetup: FinTech and more! Back to demos. No choirs.

This Week in the NYC Innovation Community – January 25, 2010

This is going to be BIG.

8AM Regulatory Scrutiny of Social Media: The Impact on PR Communicators in 2010 and Beyond. We're kicking off 2010 with demos from four exciting new local startups. Crisis Camp Haiti NYC will take place January 30 & 31, 2010 joining together with technology volunteers at Crisis Camps in three countries and 10 cities to provide local opportunities for citizens to assist in crisis mapping, data management, and RSS feed aggregation.

Invest in Lines, not Dots

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Everyone seems to be in such a rush to get shacked up these days. In normal times investors will look for “traction&# before investing. We want to make sure we’re in love. This sometimes frustrates entrepreneurs who just want to “get back to running the business.&# But if you understand it you’ll see that it is perfectly rational and it should also influence how you form relationships with investors. And remember, if we get married you’re stuck with us, too.

Please go see “Waiting for Superman.” Here’s Why:

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Having teachers unions in 2010 is so archaic and leads us to have public school systems where the best teachers are paid the same as the worst ones. Yesterday I went to see the film Waiting for Superman. It’s the story of what’s broken with the education system in the US. It’s an important film and the most important topic of our generation if we as a country want to remain competitive in a world that has globalized.

Angel Investing: Skill 3 – Relationships with VCs

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I know that in late 2010 it’s not as popular to say this because we’re in the era of “super angels&# and feel-good startups. Let’s call these cards 1996-99, 2005-08 and 2010+. If 2011 & 2012 look like 2010 then the current crop of angel investments will look great. This is the third article in a series on what it takes to be a great angel investor (and why this should matter to entrepreneurs). Part 1 – Access to Great Deal Flow – is here.

Want to Know the Difference Between a CTO and a VP Engineering?

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I recently did a post for startups on understanding sales people. A few people have asked me to try and define the perfect startup organization chart. I don’t believe that one exists. Every team configuration is different. But I do have more insight into understanding your startup team. This time I thought I’d try and address engineering talent. Often I’m asked by startup CEO’s about how to best build an engineering team. I have much experience in this domain.

What Tech Entrepreneurs Could Learn from Chamillionaire

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On why you should be an entrepreneur, “A lot of people do what they have to do. You want to get yourself to a position where you can do what you want to do&# (Chamillionaire). Last night I co-hosted a dinner at Soho House in Los Angeles with some of the most senior people in the media industry with executives from Disney, Fox, Warner, media agencies and many promising tech & media startup CEO’s. The topic was “the future of television & the digital living room.&#.

How to Not Suck at a Group Presentation

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Most people suck at presenting to big groups. It’s a shame because the ability to nail these presentations at key conferences can be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to influence journalists, business partners, potential employees, customers and VCs. This was evident at the Twiistup pre-event company pitch last week at UCLA.

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This Week in VC with Dana Settle of Greycroft Partners

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Founded in November 2007 in New York City by Alexis Maybank and Kevin Ryan (co-founder of DoubleClick); CEO is Susan Lyne (ex-CEO Marta Stewart Living Omnimedia) Revenue estimates: $50mm in 2008; $170mm in 2009 (versus budget of $150mm); $450mm forecasted for 2010. Monetization: virtual goods (1/3 of total revenues); Partnerships with major brands (currently partnered with H&M and Travel Channel); forecasted to hit 6mm users by end of Summer 2010.

Embrace Losing – It Will Make You Stronger

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I decided to put both of those issues to bed in 2010. This is an updated post from my ongoing series on Startup Advice that I learned from founding two companies. . I HATE LOSING. I hate it. I really, really, really hate it. It chaps my hide. It rips at my core. I don’t get over it easily. I lose sleep. I fucking hate losing. It’s not so much the actual outcome that I hate – it’s the process. The fact that I lost when I should have won.

Startup Sales – Why Hiring Seasoned Reps May Not Work

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A while back I wrote a bunch of posts on Sales & Marketing and have been meaning to get back to that theme for a while. Even if you don’t have “direct&# sales I would tell you that “everything is a sale&# including fund raising, hiring, getting press and doing business development. So I hope these posts will be useful to all and not just those who need road warriors.

Embrace Losing – It Will Make You Stronger

Both Sides of the Table

I decided to put both of those issues to bed in 2010. This is an updated post from my ongoing series on Startup Advice that I learned from founding two companies. . I HATE LOSING. I hate it. I really, really, really hate it. It chaps my hide. It rips at my core. I don’t get over it easily. I lose sleep. I fucking hate losing. It’s not so much the actual outcome that I hate – it’s the process. The fact that I lost when I should have won.

What the Past Can Tell Us About the Future of Social Networking

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Yes, social networks of 2010 have much better usability, have better developed 3rd-party platforms and many more people are connected. I know in 2010 this doesn’t seem obvious to everybody but it’s my judgment. I know that in 2010 it seems ridiculous to say anything other than “Facebook has won – the war is over&# and I know that it feels that way right now. A bit laughable in 2010, just 12 years later.

Want to Know How VC’s Calculate Valuation Differently from Founders?

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Back in 1999 when I first raised venture capital I had zero knowledge of what a fair term sheet looked like or how to value my company. Due to competitive markets we ended up with a pretty good term sheet until we needed to raise money in April 2001 and then we got completely screwed. It was accept the terms or go into bankruptcy so we took the money. Those were the dog days of entrepreneurship.

Angel Investing Skill 2 – Domain Knowledge

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Yet the truth is that I see angels with great deal flow & great instincts whom I believe will only perform well in times that favor angel investors (like 2010) where there are early exits. This is the second article in a series on what it takes to be a great angel investor (and why this should matter to entrepreneurs). Part 1 – Access to Great Deal Flow – is here. I have talked extensively about “social proof&# in fund raising in the past.

What Angel Investing & Florida Condos Have in Common

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I was very active in 2009 / early 2010. It’s really hard to zig when the whole world seems to be zagging. One of my favorite quotes I learned in high school was: “Nonconformity is the Highest Form of Social Attainment&#. It was written as the yearbook quote of the smartest seniors as I was finishing my freshman year. It has always stood with me. I have had a low bullshit meter.

Why You Should Make Your Competitors Your Frenemies

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Yesterday I wrote about how to talk to investors about your competitors. In short, acknowledge they exist, be transparent about strengths & weaknesses and use your differences to talk about how you want to position yourself in the market. But forget talking about them, how should you actually treat your competitors?

Want to Work in VC? Here’s How

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I’m often asked by people, “how do I get into VC?&# and I normally respond by saying, “there is no easy path. It’s often a combination of luck, relationships & timing. Often these jobs aren’t even publicized.&#. Well, I know 3-4 VC jobs that are publicly available. GRP Partners is looking to hire two analysts (maybe even three) to join our practice in Los Angeles.

How to Run Better Presentations & Improve Results

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I sit through a lot of presentations. It’s usually people wanting to raise money and/or persuade me of something. Many of these are not as effective as they could be. Understand Personality Types – One of the benefits of working for a big company (Accenture) was that we had lots of speakers come in and train us in topics like leadership, creativity, presentations, strategy, etc. Most of them sucked. But there were some that broke through and made an impact on me.

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What I *Would Have* Said at TechCrunch Disrupt

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But I wrote about one other point that I wrote back in March 2010 so it’s clear I didn’t just dream this up after today’s panel. So here it is, your moment of zen, from March 2010 … “Hogging minutes – The other annoying thing on panels is the “over talker” or the person who always has to answer the question first (the way that annoying kid did back when you were in elementary and high school).

Design for the Novice, Configure for the Pro

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Even in 2010 I think most companies err too much on the side of complexity. I recently wrote about my philosophy of minimalism that “ less is more &# with the mantra “when in doubt, leave it out.&#. I’ve had a long-standing rule of thumb in product design, which I call “design for the novice, configure for the pro.&# I started saying this back in 2001/02, long before the era of Web 2.0, lean startups or even the advent of AJAX.

The Power of Twitter in Information Discovery

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It surprises me how many really smart people I meet still doubt the power of Twitter. It seems the urge to be a naysayer of Twitter is really strong for some. I think some of this stems from the early days of Twitter when it was presumed that it was a technology to tell people what you ate for lunch. Twitter never seemed to really take the offense in PR and marketing. I guess it wasn’t in their DNA.

The @TWTFelipe Story – A Tale of US Visa Policy Gone Awry (#startupvisa)

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Friedman again in this weekend’s (Apr 3, 2010) NYTimes: “Between 1980 and 2005, virtually all net new jobs created in the U.S. “Staple green cards to the diplomas of foreign students who graduate from any U.S. university in math or science&# (Thomas Friedman). I’ve been meaning to write this post since September of last year when Brad Feld first wrote about the The Founders Visa Movement.

I Want My CIC! … The Benefits for Startups to Be Co-Located

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[if you're not old enough to get the reference between this image and the title you can click on the image for a prompter]. This past December I spent a week in Boston to try to get to know some of the local VC’s and entrepreneurs a bit better. One of the meetings I had (organized by my good friend Jeff Yolen ) was with New Atlantic Ventures held the at the CIC, aka the Cambridge Innovation Center (no prizes for guessing where it’s located).

Hacking Innovation Education in New York

This is going to be BIG.

Business plan competitions are the air guitar championships of the startup world. This is the case when the requirements of these events don’t actually include building a real business or product. I mean, you don’t have to build an actual business—you can just mimic the movements and demonstrate something that looks like a startup on paper, without any of the necessary risk taking, lessons learned or even a fraction of the effort—all the stuff that investors like to see.

What’s Really Going on in the VC Industry? What Does it Mean for Startups?

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Lots of discussion these days about the changes in the VC industry. Here’s my take: 1. The VC industry grew dramatically as a result of the Internet bubble - Before the Internet bubble the people who invested in VC funds (called LPs or Limited Partners) put about $50 billion into the industry and by 2001 this had grown precipitously to around $250 billion.

Angel Investing (1): Dealflow – Are You Sitting at The Right Poker Table?

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Executive Summary. I believe the rise in angel investing is here to stay and the professionalization of this class (aka “super angels&# or “micro VC&# ) is a good thing for the VC industry and for entrepreneurs. It is basically a return to the type of VC that was done 20 years ago long before the craziness of the Internet boom that skewed things so greatly.

Entrepreneurship: Nature vs. Nurture? A Religious Debate

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Nature vs. Nurture. You’ve all heard the question before. Let’s talk about kids for a moment. I grew up believing that human behavior was 20% nature, 80% nurture. Now that I have two boys (4 and 7) I’m convinced it’s the other way around. There’s no question that both factors are involved. There have been many studies done on the topic including looking at twins raised in separate families.

Do you Suffer from the Urgency Addiction? It’s More Common Than you Think

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I suffer from the “urgency addiction.&# I know it sounds like one of the falsely humble things like telling somebody in a job interview that your weakness is that you’re too much of a perfectionist. But the urgency addiction is a bad thing that I’m fortunate enough to get away with. When I first discovered the concept I found it enlightening. Here’s what I learned.

Advertising Wants to be Measurable – An Investment Thesis

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One of the investment themes I’ve been focused on in the past 3 years has been Performance-Based Marketing. When I started investing the US advertising market was $300 billion with only 10% of it ($30 billion) of it being online and measurable. One recession later and the US advertising market is about $245 billion – but still only 10-12% is online and measurable.

Talking to a VC About Your Competitors

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Competition. Unless you’re Microsoft selling an OS for a PC you probably have some. And even then Microsoft has substitute products as anyone who has taken Econ 101 will tell you. So if you’re raising money – from angels or VCs – you’re going to have to address the question of whom you’re competing against. And the reality is that if you have no competition it will likely be perceived as a negative, not positive.

The Four Main Things that Investors Look for in a Startup

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I obviously don’t speak for all investors. But in my experience as an entrepreneur and now spending my time amongst investors I can generalize that almost all VC investments in early stage technology & Internet investments come down to just four key factors. And they’re easy to remember because they all begin with an M: management, market, money and above all else momentum. This post was prompted by an email exchange I had with a young entrepreneur.

Social Networking (the Shorter Version) Past, Present, Future

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I know that in 2010 it seems ridiculous to say anything other than “Facebook has won – the war is over.&# In a complete return to where we all began with AOL – the world is “closed&# again as Facebook has become this generation’s walled garden. So … November 2010 and Facebook has 500 million users. This blog post originally appeared in serialized form here on TechCrunch. This version is the shorter, ADHD version.

73.6% of all Statistics are Made Up

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How to Interpret Analyst Reports. The headlines in the media are filled with that latest stats. Stats sell. The stats are often quoted from the latest reports. People then parrot them around like they’re fact when most of them are complete bullsh*t. People throw them around at cocktail parties. Often when they do I throw out my favorite statistic: 73.6% of all statistics are made up. I say it deadpanned.

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