Paul G. Silva

How to Come up With Great Ideas

Paul G. Silva

If your startup/organization/team struggles with ideation (the process of coming up with ideas), you fall into one of two camps: Those who struggle to come up with any ideas. Those who come up with plenty of ideas but struggle to identify which ones are worth pursuing.

What Should Founders Be Focusing On? SSRL Can Be Their Guide.

Paul G. Silva

Entrepreneurs and investors used to rely on strictly qualitative/gut methods of assessing progress and deciding what their next steps should be. In 2014 the great Steve Blank gave the startup world its first widely-respected quantitative assessment system: the Investment Readiness Level (IRL).

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Honored! Sigma Nu Tau

Paul G. Silva

The entrepreneurship faculty of Western New England University kindly inducted me as an honorary member of Sigma Nu Tau , the only academic honor society dedicated to entrepreneurship. My sincere thanks to WNE, and especially Mary Schoonmaker. Innovation Accelerator

A Canvas That Tells a Story: KISS Canvas (v3)

Paul G. Silva

[This is part of a series on the KISS Canvas ]. 30-page business plans are great for established businesses and terrible for startups that need to iterate quickly.

The Seven Flavors of Capital (for Startups)

Paul G. Silva

Startups need capital to launch and grow. What many entrepreneurs don’t know is that startup capital comes in many different flavors. Each flavor has its own pros and cons and is appropriate for different situations.

RVI, Launch413, Innovation Accelerator – Growing and Thriving

Paul G. Silva

For all my friends who kindly track the progress of my ventures, I have a short update :). Launch413 (the post-accelerator) – We’ve invested in 13 companies in just under 3 years, expanded our team of kick-ass Venture Advisors, and are starting to see some real results from our top companies. It is still early days, but the model seems to be scaling and our ability to deliver impact is growing.

Startup Pitching 201

Paul G. Silva

This is the 2nd post in the “Startup Pitching” series. In this post we’ll go over intermediate-level (201) techniques. Front load credibility. Investors are cynical. They have to be because about half of all angel/VC investments lose every penny invested.

Startup Pitching 101

Paul G. Silva

As a mentor once told me… It doesn’t matter if you have the best opportunity in the world, if you can’t communicate it you’re dead. This is obvious. Yet… I’ve seen thousands of presentations and the vast majority of them were confusing as heck.

Selecting the Top Angel Deals in the Northeast… on Google Sheets

Paul G. Silva

I am told that the angel groups of the Northeast have one of the best systems for syndicating deals in the country. There are many parts to making that happen. I have the privilege of running the nomination, application, and selection processes.

A Taxonomy of Customer Pains and Benefits

Paul G. Silva

Your company’s value proposition must provide benefits that perfectly match your customers’ pains. First-time entrepreneurs asked to document their hypotheses about Pains and Benefits often experience “blank canvas” paralysis , the inability to get started because of a lack of a clear starting point. This blog post aims to provide a set of categories and examples to guide an entrepreneur to find the relevant pain hypotheses. Each heading lists a category of Pain/Benefit.

Best Distillation of Exit Strategies I’ve Seen

Paul G. Silva

Marty Zwilling recently published a blog post with the most concise distillation of the possible exit strategies a for-profit startup can take and why an entrepreneur should be thinking about them from very early on. Hat tip to Paul Nicolai for sending me the article! Innovation Accelerator

Startup Pitching Checklist

Paul G. Silva

This is the checklist / boil down of the techniques listed in the pior 3 posts in the “Startup Pitching” series. After you complete a draft of your pitch, go over this list to make sure you’ve applied as many of the techniques as possible. Beginner (101). One rehearsed presenter – Pick one person to deliver your presentation, don’t tag team your pitches.

RVI’s first virtual angel group meeting a success, here is how we did it

Paul G. Silva

The River Valley Investors angel group just ran our first virtual meeting today. In case anything we learned can be valuable, below is a copy of a blog post we just published on our blog showing what we did to make it work. I know several other groups already ran virtual, so I’d love to hear any other best practices people have patched together.

Rubber Duckies by Gaetanlee

Paul G. Silva

My thanks to Gaetanlee for making this delightful rubber duckie picture (now the header image for this website) available for all to use! Innovation Accelerator

The Power of the Spa!

Paul G. Silva

Arguably the #1 customer discovery how-to guide is the book Talking To Humans. Here is a jem: One aspiring entrepreneur wanted to target mothers of young children. She had heard stories about talking to people in a coffee shop, but felt like it was too unfocused. So she tried hanging around school pickup zones, but the moms were too busy and refused to speak to her. Next, she tried the playground, where she figured moms would be bored watching their kids play.

RVI’s Guide To Running a Virtual Angel Group Meeting

Paul G. Silva

This post contains our up-to-date set of best practices on how the River Valley Investors angel group runs our meetings online. Last updated on: 4/9/2020. Technology of choice: Zoom. Before the event, we ask everyone to log in with a device with a camera so we can see each other. They all have been invited to a google calendar event with the link embedded in it. Created Breakout Rooms (Networking, Startup, and Scheduling) from the get-go.

Western Mass Demo Day! Wha who!

Paul G. Silva

Western Mass Demo Day Connects Local Startups to Investors. This is an invite-only event for active & accredited investors to hear pitches from startups with a connection to Western Massachusetts.

Facilitating AccelVT Energy 2019 Cohort

Paul G. Silva

I often talk about how startups are the ones out there saving the world. This summer I have the delight of facilitating the newest cohort of the AccelVT Accelerator.

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Congrats to a Former Student Making The World A Better Place

Paul G. Silva

So much food goes to waste in our country every year. So many people are hungry. It is literally cheaper to throw food away than to give it away… until now. A few years ago I had the honor of mentoring Maria Rose Belding when she and her partners at Means Database were in the Valley Venture Mentors startup Accelerator. Her social venture is organized and dreams like a high tech silicon valley startup – but all of that energy is directed to doing good, at scale.

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Launch413 Begins Phase 2, Investing in More Companies!

Paul G. Silva

Launch413 is itself a startup, and like all startups has lots of hypothesis to test. I’m proud to share that we just completed Phase 1 and validated all of our core hypothesis: With our help startups accomplish in months what would have taken them years to do on their own.

An Engine to Find Product/Market Fit

Paul G. Silva

Previously I shared Brad Feld & Neeraj Agrawal’s descriptions of how hard it is for a startup to achieve product/market fit… and the ramifications of that failure. Recently Jim Stanczak kindly shared an article identifying the solution : a numbers-based, systematic, empirical process for measuring product/market fit and iterating your product towards it. This article is pure gold. Highlights: 0) Anchor on a leading indicator.

Launch413 Completes Seed Round

Paul G. Silva

My thanks to the many people who put their faith in Rick Plaut and my new venture, Launch413. A special thanks to the many members of River Valley Investors who provided the pre-seed funding to get us started and then played a big part in finishing our seed round. For those that don’t know Launch413, we are an alternative venture fund that takes startups from Launch to their first $10 million in revenue.

Entrepreneurs give me hope when I need it most

Paul G. Silva

When I talk about politics I am filled with sadness and a sense of near powerlessness to make the world a better place. But when I talk to entrepreneurs, I am filled with hope. Where most of us see problems, they imagine solutions… and solutions that scale. Here are just some of the companies blowing me away, all local/ VVM companies making the world a better place! Immigration.

How Much Due Diligence Does An Angel Really Need To Do?

Paul G. Silva

Due diligence (AKA “doing your homework” on a startup to see if investing is the right call) should clearly take time… but how much? Marianne Hudson, executive director of the Angel Capital Association (the trade association for angel investors in the US) wrote an article on this topic. Her full article (with her permission) appears further below. One of the biggest debates in the angel industry is how much due diligence investors should do before they invest.

Do You Have Product/Market Fit?

Paul G. Silva

Ran across these great blog posts ( The Illusion of Product/Market Fit for SaaS Companies , The SaaS Adventure ) by Brad Feld & Neeraj Agrawal respectively. Product/Market Fit is now, appropriately, a central concept in startups. But when do you have it? If you think you have it, odds are darn good you don’t. Is your data really robust enough for you to know you have it? If you do have it, odds are good you don’t have it good enough to scale!

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KISS Canvas 9. Cost Structure

Paul G. Silva

[This is a part of a series on the KISS Canvas ]. What are the major cost centers of your business? When do you have to pay? Do you have any options to pay differently? What costs can kill you? All of this is covered in the Cost Structure section of the KISS Canvas. Here is each sub-lesson: Intro. Capital costs. Fixed & Variable costs. Example: a family. Summary. Check out more KISS Canvas Content. Innovation Accelerator KISS Canvas

Prize Money=Nice | Funded Pilots=Amazing

Paul G. Silva

This summer I had the pleasure of facilitating the 2019 Energy (CleanTech) cohort for the AccelVT accelerator in Burlington, VT. At last week’s graduation they showed one of the critical differentiators between their accelerator and most others: funded pilots with utilities.

Grinspoon Foundation Championing Entrepreneurship Yet Again

Paul G. Silva

At t his year’s Grinspoon, Garvey & Young [Collegiate] Entrepreneurship Conference hundreds of students participated in an “Idea Madness” event to motivate them to Get Started.

Clearing a Path Toward Equity Through Entrepreneurship

Co Starters

CASE STUDY. Forward Cities + The Corner. New Kensington, Pennsylvania. By partnering with two collaborative national networks, community builders in New Kensington, PA were able to provide more equitable entrepreneurship opportunities for local residents.

Business and Entrepreneurship Will Play a Critical Role in Creating a Better World. Here’s How.

Co Starters

By Enoch Elwell. Open your phone, select your favorite feed, and start scrolling. If you think hard about what you are seeing and reading, one thing is abundantly clear: We are on the brink of an unfamiliar world.

Entrepreneurship is About Creation. Here’s Why We Need to Train Entrepreneurs to Create the Next Economy.

Co Starters

Part four of a series from our founder on exploring a new approach to economic development that places individuals, families, and entrepreneurs at the center. . By Enoch Elwell. If we’ve spent time together—or if you read my blog posts—you will know that I don’t spend a lot of time on small talk.

The Secret to Creativity Is Not What You Think

Co Starters

What do you get when you cross an entrepreneur, an angel investor, and a psychologist? You get our latest guest in our Straight Talk With Starters series—Dr. Shelley Prevost of The Big Self School.

Black Dreams Matter, Every Day

Co Starters

Meet Nine Black Business Starters Who are Paving the Way for Dreams. This month in the U.S. we marked Juneteenth, a day where we celebrate freedom and fight for progress.

Clearing a Path Toward Equity Through Entrepreneurship

Co Starters

CASE STUDY. Forward Cities + The Corner. New Kensington, Pennsylvania. By partnering with two collaborative national networks, community builders in New Kensington, PA were able to build toward an equitable ecosystem through entrepreneurial training and empowerment.

Good News from Small Business in the Time of COVID-19

Co Starters

Nevertheless, We Rise. We at CO.STARTERS are in the trenches right now with the entire small business support community, slogging through red bottom lines, loan application purgatory, and a constant barrage of not-so-good news. What keeps us going? The fact that it’s not all bad news.

Our Economy is Moving from the Industrial Age to the Connected Age. Here is What that Really Means.

Co Starters

By Enoch Elwell. Beneath the tragedy and turmoil of 2020, there is a clear cry for something new. There is a cry to remove the social infrastructure that makes getting quality healthcare and relief from a raging pandemic often impossible.

The Moments that Define Investor and Founder Relationships

This is going to be BIG.

In almost every single investment I’ve ever made, I can think of a singular moment in my relationship with a founder that, no matter what came before or what might come after, defined our relationship. Often times, it came in a very vulnerable and down moment for the founder—perhaps they just lost out on a big opportunity, had someone from the team leave, or they’re running low on capital before sales have come around.