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

Both Sides of the Table

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 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.

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.

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.

Invest in Lines, not Dots

Both Sides of the Table

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.

Delicious Closing Leaves a Bad Taste in My Mouth

This is going to be BIG.

This was the first time I had ever heard about del.icio.us (I still like to use the old naming convention)… note the date. This was about three months before Union Square Ventures closed an investment in the company—and a month before I actually joined them fulltime. As I look at my e-mail archive, I had already started to do some project work before my start date, looking into companies, doing some competitive analysis.

Building a company that people want to work for

This is going to be BIG.

I just had the pleasure of sitting in on a SinglePlatform team development session—where everyone in the company (they have about a dozen people at the moment) sat down to work through personal styles of work and communication. They sat around a table talking personality types, how they prefer to interact with others, etc. Everyone was having fun because it was clear that they were all working towards making a better and more successful working environment. I loved the energy in the room.

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What Diaspora Should Do with their Newfound Fuckyoufacebook Money

This is going to be BIG.

By the time of this post is done, Diaspora, the web decentralization play from four NYU/Courant students in New York , will undoubtedly have $100,000 raised on Kickstarter. Over and above that, it seems like they’re on a clear path towards a million dollars. Think I’m poking the bear? I’m dead serious. You watch. A week from now, they get to seven digits. Because the ire over Facebook’s privacy issues, platform aggression , etc. is real.

Product Friday: Monetizing Content is a Product Problem

This is going to be BIG.

They say people won't pay for content. They say that paywalls are stupid and that its just not monetizable. Remember when they said that people wouldn't pay for music? What Apple proved, and what I suspect is the issue with web content, is that monetization was a product problem. I never would have paid for music back in 1999 or 2000 when I was sporting my 64mb Creative Nomad, powered completely ilegally by Napster. Because it was a tremendous pain in the ass.

Should every startup get funded?

This is going to be BIG.

First off, let me be clear that the opinions expressed here are solely my own and not that of my employer, or anyone else. The other day, Ron Conway said at an event that “ he hopes that any entrepreneur that has “the guts” to start a company gets funded.” ” Fred Wilson seconded that opinion , citing that “We need more entrepreneurship, not less.”

Business Development for Early Stage Startups

This is going to be BIG.

If you’re a non-technical founder, while your team is building and refining your product, you’ve got to figure out what to do with your time. I find that first time CEOs often find themselves doing two things, neither of which is productive. First, they spend time throwing product ideas over to your tech team like grenades—blowing up carefully laid and simple product roadmaps, scattering them with feature creep shrapnel.

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

Both Sides of the Table

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.

Tips on Pitching in Person

This is going to be BIG.

Personally, I find pitch events to be a little bit contrived. It’s not how I want to encounter a company—I’d rather just sit across the table from someone and chat about their business and their vision. However, the innovation community seems to be in love with this format, so you can’t be a VC without watching a bunch of them. For the most part, while the companies may be interesting, the actual pitches are usually so-so. A few of them are just awful—and very few do an amazing job.

Understanding How The Innovator’s Dilemma Affects You

Both Sides of the Table

One of the most influential books of my career is The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clay Christensen. I cannot recommend it enough for people in the technology or media sectors. Many people bandy about the definitions of “disruptive technology&# or “the innovator’s dilemma&# without ever having read the book and almost universally misunderstand the concepts.

In Cloud We Trust: First Round invests in Backupify

This is going to be BIG.

I am excited to share the news of First Round Capital 's recent investment in cloud-to-cloud backup service Backupify. This is the first deal I've closed for FRC and I've also joined the board of the company. Josh Kopelman will be working closely on this investment as well. Joining our investment in the $900k round were General Catalyst, Betaworks, Jason Calacanis, and Chris Sacca. The origin of this company is pretty interesting.

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

Both Sides of the Table

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.

This Week in VC with Dana Settle of Greycroft Partners

Both Sides of the Table

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.

What Tech Entrepreneurs Could Learn from Chamillionaire

Both Sides of the Table

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.&#.

Announcing First Round’s Investment in GroupMe

This is going to be BIG.

“Private Twitter for small groups” “BBM for every platform” “Reply-all for SMS” I could describe GroupMe in a lot of ways, but “really exciting” would have to be the most accurate one, and we’re very excited to announce it as one of our newest investments at First Round ( See the Techcrunch article here ). Personally, I’m incredibly psyched about the scope of the vision and feel very lucky to be working with such a promising young team.

How to Not Suck at a Group Presentation

Both Sides of the Table

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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Angel Investing: Skill 3 – Relationships with VCs

Both Sides of the Table

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.

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.

Creating an Awesome Conference: Brooklyn Beta

This is going to be BIG.

You probably didn’t hear about Brooklyn Beta before Fred wrote about it : “This is my kind of conference. There was one other VC in the room, Charlie O'Donnell, who makes it a practice to be everywhere something is interesting happening. The rest of the room was filled with designers, coders, and especially designers who code. That last group is a special breed and the heart and soul of many of our best companies.

Maximum Impact

This is going to be BIG.

Sounds like a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie doesn't it? Despite the fact that I'm a blackbelt in Tae Kwan Do (haven't practiced in a few years though), what I'm referring to has nothing to do with kicks or punches. I'm talking about innovation in New York City and a very basic thought exercise. As you may know, when I joined First Round, I was given the EIR title to kind of figure out what I wanted to do--while helping First Round get a better foothold in NYC.

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.

Startup Sales – Why Hiring Seasoned Reps May Not Work

Both Sides of the Table

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.

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

Both Sides of the Table

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.

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

Both Sides of the Table

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.

Everything I didn’t learn about startups as a VC (…or why VCs don’t make good entrepreneurs)

This is going to be BIG.

There are a lot of great venture capitalists who started out as entrepreneurs like Vinod Khosla or Josh Kopelman. Going the other way, however, seems to be a bit tougher. In fact, I don’t really know anyone who has successfully gone the other way. Many entrepreneurs turned VCs wind up going back, but to start out on the investment side and then successfully launch a company seems to happen much less frequently.

Five common misconceptions about building a startup in New York City

This is going to be BIG.

It’s really difficult for me not to get into the thick of discussions about whether or not you can and/or should build a company in New York City. I grew up here, went to school here, and have worked hard over the last 5+ years to help build up the NYC innovation community. I’m extremely passionate about the topic and so when my city gets picked on, I tend to respond confidently and with the same (and sometimes greater) force than I perceive the complaint to have.

A practical guide to a first board meeting: Advice from the pros

This is going to be BIG.

As I prep for my first Backupify board meeting, I asked more experienced pros for their take on setting the right tone and starting things off right for productive board participation. Here’s what I got back: David Hornick, August Capital : "Here's some anti-advice. When I first invested in VideoEgg I was really excited about the company and thrilled to be working with them. I was so excited about the company that I was overly-active in the board meeting, to say the least.

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Outflanked, Not Outspent: The Real Story of Recruiting for Tech vs Wall St in NYC

This is going to be BIG.

You've heard the arguments before--Wall Street sucks up all the best talent in NYC and that's why its so tough to recruit here. They've been able to outspend on any good candidate and that's also why things have eased up lately--because the financial industry just isn't what it was and the jobs aren't there anymore. It's also why there's a fear that when the economy turns, so will Wall Street, and so will the giant sucking sound from the south (of Manhattan).

Want to Work in VC? Here’s How

Both Sides of the Table

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.

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It's Just the Principal of It

This is going to be BIG.

A little over a year ago, I joined First Round Capital as an EIR -- with the goal of helping First Round root deeper into the community here after having already done almost a dozen deals, mostly out of their Philly office. Since that time, I’ve seen the whole firm mobilize in an effort to better support the NYC innovation community.

The Importance of Boredom

This is going to be BIG.

“Being bored is a precious thing, a state of mind we should pursue. Once boredom sets in, our minds begin to wander, looking for something exciting, something interesting to land on. And that's where creativity arises. My best ideas come to me when I am unproductive. When I am running but not listening to my iPod. When I am sitting, doing nothing, waiting for someone. When I am lying in bed as my mind wanders before falling to sleep.