Spend 2012 on the Right Side of the Haimish Line

Both Sides of the Table

The first day of 2012 seems the perfect day to do so. So in 2012 you’ll see me a lot more often at the Launchpad LA offices. Happy 2012 to all of you. Occasionally on this blog I break away from industry commentary and write more broadly. One of the most important articles I read during the entire year was David Brook’s op-ed article on “ The Haimish Line.” ” In it Brooks talks about his recent trip to Africa with his 12-year-old son.

How VCs, Accelerators, and Coworking Spaces Put Communities in Buildings vs. Buildings in Communities

This is going to be BIG.

I'll bet you don't know where the Center of NY's Tech Community and Center of Creativity is. Give up? It's in the Financial District--right at 55 Broad Street. It says so right on their website. In fact, it is "well-known internationally as the original home of New York's technology community.". I'll bet you didn't know that--mostly because it never was. Back in the late 90's, a lot of money and real estate brokering went into trying to make it so, however.

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Startup Map & Trends Analysis – September 2012

Gust

September’s Startup Map showcases the latest trends in startup profiles created on Gust between September 1 st and September 30 th. Some of the entrepreneurs chose to keep their startup profiles private and therefore are labeled as unpublished in this month’s map, and were not included in the trends analysis. In September the US has once again shown the highest concentration of startups, even though there was a decline when compared to the month of August.

2012 Valuation Survey of Angel Groups

Gust

The results of the 2012 survey are shown in the table below, with groups listed by median overall pre-revenue, pre-money valuation from the lowest to the highest. 2012 Valuation Survey. Here are comparisons with earlier surveys and with current data collected elsewhere : The pre-money valuation of pre-revenue companies in the 2012 survey (median = 2.75, average = 2.96) increased significantly over the data from the survey in 2011 (average = $2.1

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The Gust-DEMO Fall 2012 Scholarship

Gust

Following the huge success of the Gust-DEMO scholarship earlier this year, Gust and DEMO have teamed up again to offer Gust start-ups a full scholarship opportunity for DEMO Fall 2012. The deadline to apply for the full scholarship is August 17, 2012. DEMO Fall 2012 takes place October 1-3, 2012 in Santa Clara, CA.

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Startup Map & Trends Analysis – November 2012

Gust

For November 2012 we are noticing an interesting trend of product ready companies declining, while concept stage companies are rising. This trend is mostly led by a decrease in product ready internet web service companies in the US, Canada, Spain and the United Kingdom, and with an increase in concept stage companies in Spain, India, Brazil and the United States. The top four US states with the highest concentration of new startups are still California, New York, Florida and Texas.

Anatomy of an Innovation-friendly School

This is going to be BIG.

University research is a big business for many schools. It certainly worked out pretty well when Stanford licensed the search technology that Larry and Sergei had been working on back to them at Google. They netted more on that deal than Fordham has in it's whole endowment (but still, go Rams!). On top of that, most of a school's major donors are likely to be entrepreneurs in some way. You just don't wind up with $25 million to name a dorm unless you've gotten equity upside in something.

The Future of Brick and Mortar

This is going to be BIG.

As we prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I think a lot about the future of the physical retail landscape. As I walk around my neighborhood in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, I count every storefront whose products or services could be better delivered over the internet. The count is unfortunately high. Pretty much anywhere you buy items that aren't food, you could probably get them cheaper on the web, with a wider selection. Left and right, small retailers are closing their doors.

Technology Trends: 10 Areas of Innovation to Watch for 2012

This is going to be BIG.

What types of things might happen in 2012, as opposed to needing another 3-5 years to come to fruition. That aside, here are ten areas I think you'll see some interesting things happening in 2012. Tweet. One of the best things any investor can do is to pull back from the day to day of getting pitches and think about high level trends. What areas are going to change? What areas need to be disrupted?

Special Attendee Rate for DEMO Fall 2012

Gust

We are delighted to present a special rate to attend DEMO in Santa Clara, California on October 1-3, 2012. Please apply the registration code ‘DF12ANL’ to receive 50% off the published rate. During the two-day conference, DEMO provides an environment for companies to secure venture funding, establish critical relationships, influence early adopters, and meet with top tier press.

Favorite Longreads of 2012

abovethecrowd.com

Jeff Bezos on Charlie Rose, November 16, 2012. Over the past several years, I have become a huge fan of Mark Armstrong’s web service, Longreads. For those of you that don’t know, Longreads is a Twitter handle ( @longreads ), and a web service ( www.longreads.com ) that points to the best long form content on the Internet. At its core, it’s an amazingly effective editorial and discovery engine.

Minimum Viable Team

This is going to be BIG.

You have a million things to get done at your startup, yet you only have a handful of people to do them. How are you ever going to get it done? Who should you hire? What should be the makeup of a founding team? What is the Minimum Viable Team, if you will, for a startup? To make life simpler, I'll take a page from George Carlin, who masterfully widdled down the Ten Commandments down to two simple rules. I can break down all the things a startup needs to do into three ideal people.

A Seed Fund Grows in Brooklyn: Announcing Brooklyn Bridge Ventures

This is going to be BIG.

Tweet. I am ecstatic to announce the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures --my new seed investment fund. It is the first venture capital fund based in Brooklyn--the city’s most exciting and creative borough. It is home to cool startups like Etsy, Makerbot, Pontiflex, HowAboutWe, Energyhub, and Loosecubes. Gilt Groupe maintains a significant presence there, as does scores of creative agencies and design firms.

Why Docracy is the Most Revolutionary Company of Our Time

This is going to be BIG.

Tweet. Note: I led First Round's investment in Docracy in 2011, but I do not have any financial ties to the company and will not benefit or suffer, other than emotionally, based on the outcome of that investment. Docracy, born out of Techcrunch Disrupt's 2011 Hackathon, just brought legal negotiations into the cloud with their new Super Signing feature release.

How to Be a VC: Being Open

This is going to be BIG.

I always get asked how to get into VC and so I think a lot about what it takes to do the job well. I'm way early in my career, so I won't say I've perfected anything yet, but after 8 years on the investing side and 3 in startups, I've come up at least one thing: Be open. In venture capital, you say "no" a lot. When you say no a lot, you get good at it. It comes off the tongue fast and in lots of different ways. It is your default response.

Want to get in front of a VC? Be a little creative--human even.

This is going to be BIG.

Since I launched my fund , I've gotten around 50 offers to work with me. For some reason, everyone wants to be a VC. Instead of responding, I decided to sit on them. The way I figure it, how someone approaches me is indicative of how they'd approach an entrepreneur. Since the best entrepreneurs are busy running their business and get pinged by VCs all the time, you're not going to wind up getting a deal if all you do is e-mail once, give up, and walk away. So what happened?

Admitting that you have no idea what you're doing

This is going to be BIG.

Most entrepreneurs aren't qualified for their jobs--including about 100% of the first timers. Many times, they get backed just because they're smart people working in an interesting area. Sure, they had a demo or a prototype or something, but investors know the product will change. What they're really betting on is your ability to learn--and that starts with your willingness to admit the following: "I don't know what to do.".

The Problem with Startup Advice

This is going to be BIG.

I'll show up generally anywhere I get invited to speak. I love public speaking, teaching and generally being helpful. I'm often the last one to leave an event, held back by the most persistant of entrepreneurs trying to squeeze as much advice as they can out of me. It's totally fine--except when I really really have to go (as opposed to when I just said I really had to go, ten minutes ago). But the truth is, you probably shouldn't listen to me. I mean, what do I know?

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If NYC is going to be a real innovation hub, we can't have our own senators supporting SOPA/PIPA

This is going to be BIG.

Tweet. I haven’t spent much time talking about SOPA and PIPA , the two twin bills trying to make their way through Congress right now. When I saw folks like Fred Wilson, who has a much bigger reach than I do, and all the major internet companies lining up against it, it’s easy to think, “Well, what more can I do to add to the volume… they’ve got it covered.”

Be the Startup I Want to Fund

This is going to be BIG.

The other day, I'm in a meeting where someone told me an industry magazine that would be relevent to one of my companies. I texted the founder and got the following response: " Yeah. We were in their last issue.". Oh, umm. well, carry on. A lot of times, I take meetings with companies that feel a lot more like they're on the outside looking in than they should. They're raising money to try and make the connections to clients they don't have yet.

Massaging the Octopus: Jiro Dreams of Startups

This is going to be BIG.

The other day I want to go see Jiro Dreams of Sushi --a documentary about an 86 year old sushi chef working out of a 10 seat restaurant in a Ginza subway station. Oh, did I mention that the restaurant is rated 3 stars by the Michelin folks? This guy is like a throwback to another era. He doesn't feel as if he's gotten to the pinnacle of his craft yet. Forget Gladwell's 10,000 hours. This is a guy that has been making sushi for 75 years and he doesn't feel like he's quite gotten there yet.

Instead of sticking a fork in the venture market, realize. there is no fork

This is going to be BIG.

The other day, I noticed an eye-catching headline: "Internet Funding Boom Ends as Fast as It Began". It was from the Wall Street Journal--a publication I count on for emphasizing quality journalism over empty linkbaity headlines above hollow stories. Perhaps I need to rethink that. How else can you explain this headline matching a story about a professional social network still trying to explore revenues raising $17mm on an $80mm valuation?

The Unified Theory of Food Investing for Tech VCs

This is going to be BIG.

One of the aspects of running a venture fund that I am most excited about is turning over rocks that other VCs might not. I'm less likely to get excited about the next big photo sharing app coming out of YC, and more into going "where no VC has gone before.". Whatever I do, it needs to be in big enough spaces. What are the biggest opportunities? To be really basic about it, everyone on the planet eats, sleeps, and poops--so you could start there.

In Which We Pay Attention to Something Else

This is going to be BIG.

I'm watching CNBC right now and they're featuring two top stories: Facebook's 30% drop since the IPO and SpaceX completing the first commercial space supply mission. Could it be that the future of innovation lies in driving mankind forward and not getting people to click more ads? Does the Facebook IPO mark the end of our eight year infatuation with social networking that began with Flickr and del.icio.us?

Tips on Approaching a VC

This is going to be BIG.

Raising money is hard. VCs give out money for a living and put their email address next to it, so that should give you a sense of what their inboxes look like. So how do you get in front of them? Once you do, how much badgering is ok? Is it persistence or annoyance? Here are a few things I recommend but remember that every investor is different so there may be some disagreement. 1) Please stop introducing yourself in self-effacing ways.

Thinking About Berlin: Unleashing a Creative Opportunity

This is going to be BIG.

On Saturday morning, I stepped onto continental Europe for the first time in just over 20 years. I hadn't been here since I was 12, when I did a week long exchange program in Italy. I'll admit to not being particularly well travelled--I've never lived outside the five boroughs. I don't know any other languages. It's not that I don't like new places--I've just spent a lot of time diving pretty deep into my own city and going all in on a career based off of being rooted in NYC.

5 Tips for New Angel Investors

This is going to be BIG.

Now that Facebook has gone public, there's a lot of newly created wealth on the scene. History has shown that newly creates wealth shops the startup scene like a kid in a candy store. Over the course of the lifetime of a new angel investor, they'll do 70% of all of the angel investments they'll ever make in year one. Then they realize that some of these companies will hit a wall, demand a lot of time, and that it's all fun and games until someone gets an eye poked out--or so the saying goes.

Entrepreneur’s Don’t Think Enough. Here’s What You Can Do About It …

Both Sides of the Table

Every so often I find myself caught up in a really hectic 3-4 week schedule where it seems like I float endlessly betweens meetings. Pitches. Intros. Board Meetings. Conferences. And I get flooded with legal docs, end-of-quarter financial administration, recruiting, whatever. I get sucked up in “Do” mode. Startups Are for Doers. Now, I’m pretty on the record that being an entrepreneur is about being great at The Do. With an emphasis on the “D” in JFDI.

The Most Critical Startup Talent Crunch: Great Leaders at Growing Companies

This is going to be BIG.

A lot of people have talked about the need for NYC to have a PayPal--a multi-billion dollar exit that scattered on the rest of the community a bunch of experienced startup talent that scaled a company over time, as well as a host of new angel investors. The key to this, of course, is that PayPal had over 200 employees when it was acquired. As Shai points out , if you sell for a billion dollars and have 13 employees like Instagram, you're really not going to do much for the ecosystem.

Don't ask "Why Brooklyn?" Ask "How?"

This is going to be BIG.

Since I launched Brooklyn Bridge Ventures , a lot of people have asked me why I put the fund in Brooklyn. Even to those who said it was "obvious", all of them seem to have different reasons why they believe that was a good idea. To me, there are a couple of basic reasons: 1) If nothing else, it's geographically closer to more startups than midtown firms like RRE, Greycroft, and Firstmark.so, *why not* put my office here?

It’s Morning in Venture Capital

Both Sides of the Table

But in 2012 a visit to any major college in America will show you the massive increase in aspirations of our young talent to become the next Mark Zuckerberg and build a future Facebook. So it is unsurprising that an over-funding environment and the commensurate returns hangover would have lasted until about – well – 2012. Fast forward to 2012 and none of these conditions hold. As of January 2012 consumers were watching 4 BILLION video views per day on YouTube.

When good things happen to good people: SinglePlatform acquired by Constant Contact

This is going to be BIG.

The news just came out that SinglePlatform is being acquired by Constant Contact--up to $30 million of the $100 million deal in incentive based awards. If you've ever met Wiley, you know you can bank on him maxing out that additional $30 million. You don't give a sales team like that a target without expecting him to crush it. I first met Wiley Cerilli on April 23, 2010. I biked down Broadway to his temporary office space at SoHo Haven.

The Last Coder

This is going to be BIG.

If anything has held true about the progress of technology over the last 150 years, it is that one generation's bread and butter tasks become automated and the skill level requirement for participating successfully in the workforce is forced up. We've seen disruption by machines among all sorts of human labor, particularly in the area of "making stuff". So will that hold true for ones and zeros?

The Screwy Logic of Crowdfunding and Venture Fund Regulation

This is going to be BIG.

Fact: Thanks to the new crowdfunding legislation, it will soon be easier for any entrepreneur trying to build Instagram for Cats to raise $10 million than it is for an experienced investor to raise a fund to invest in the next 25 new businesses as well as support their growth with strategic advice, help with hiring, PR, business development, and connections to future capital.

Build Your Own World

This is going to be BIG.

I did the NYC Century Tour yesterday--a 100mi bike ride around the city sponsored by Transportation Alternatives where thousands of riders are circumnavigating the far reaches of the boroughs on two wheels. It was a great day and the weather couldn't be better. One thing that struck me is how diverse the cityscape is outside of Manhattan. Biking through the streets of Far Rockaway, it could not have felt further removed from dodging traffic down Broadway.

Is Going for Rapid Growth Always Good? Aren’t Startups So Much More?

Both Sides of the Table

I think I’ve read Paul Graham’s post on “ Startup = Growth ” three or four times now. And of course on Twitter I’ve seen the Tweets, ReTweets and superlatives on what a great post it is. Viewing the article through the lens of a venture capitalist there’s much to agree with under the mantra of “growth!” ” And when you read the article carefully it allows for a period of discovery in your business. For example.

The Art of NYC Cycling for Entrepreneurs #bikenyc

This is going to be BIG.

A lot of people ask me about cycling in NYC. They ask me about startups, too. As I was biking around the other day, I realized that they have a lot in common and so the advice I have to give about both is pretty similar: 1. Cycling is a *higher* risk activity, but it doesn't have to be dangerous. If you're going to start a company instead of working for someone else, you're definitely putting something at risk--current income, opportunity cost, some social capital perhaps.