31 December 2012

Death is the default for startups - your little idea means nothing

Here's a little tough love--

Death is the default for startups, and your little idea means nothing
By Matthew Buckland: Publisher Death is the default for startups, reckons Amazon Web Services Technology Evangelist Simone Brunozzi. Apart from having a really cool Twitter handle @Simon, Brunozzi has founded a few startups himself, so speaks with some ...

Happy New Year!

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28 December 2012

Former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson at new startup

Former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson is on the trail to redemption at new startup - San Jose Mercury News: "But Thompson didn't just take his $7 million in walking-away money and retire; he's now running a tiny startup called ShopRunner, and spends his time schlepping around the country lobbying online retailers to sign up for his Amazon-like shipping services. In his first interview with this newspaper since being booted from Yahoo, Thompson said he's not trying to prove anything -- he's just "fascinated" by the challenge of whether he can grow a 60-person company into something big. Two-year-old ShopRunner offers what Thompson called "Amazon Prime for everybody else." Users, who pay a $79 yearly membership fee, get perks like two-click shopping and free two-day delivery from dozens of online retailers, ranging from Toys R Us and Anne Klein to smaller merchants. . . ."

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26 December 2012

Achieving success through accidental entrepreneurship

Achieving success through ‘accidental entrepreneurship’ | VentureBeat: "Being personally invested in solving a problem rather than solely growing the bank account imbues “accidental entrepreneurs” with a tenacity that other business leaders may lack.  It’s inevitable that all businesses will encounter roadblocks along the way, but when you’re committed to solving a problem, you’re more apt to meet new challenges with enthusiasm. A company centered on a personal desire to enact some sort of change also has implications for future business innovations. No matter how successful a company may be at solving problem X, it’s only a matter of time before a new problem emerges. I predict we’ll continue to see many more “accidental entrepreneurs” given how technology is changing how fledgling businesses communicate with potential customers and investors. Today, someone can identify the need for a niche product and use Facebook and Twitter to instantly connect with a target audience, as well as raise money through crowd funding . . . "

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24 December 2012

What entrepreneurs can learn from artists

What entrepreneurs can learn from artists - Fortune Management: "Andy Warhol knew it all along: "Good business is the best art." And lately, a number of business thinkers and leaders have begun to embrace the arts, not as an escapist notion, a parallel world after office hours, or a creative asset, but as an integral part of business -- from the management team to operations to customer service. John Maeda, the president of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and author of the bookRedesigning Leadership, predicts that artists will emerge as the new business leaders and cites RISD graduates Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, co-founders of Airbnb, as prominent examples. The author William Deresiewicz heralds reading as the most important task of any leader. John Coleman makes a compelling case for the role of poetry in business. Intel (INTC) named pop musician will.i.am as director of creative innovation. The World Economic Forum has been inviting arts and cultural leaders to its events for several years and this year added the 'Role of the Arts' to its Network of Global Agenda Councils. Indeed, the "art" of business has become more important as the "science" grows ubiquitous. As Big Data and sophisticated analytical tools allow us to make our processes more efficient, intuition and creativity are fast becoming the only differentiating factors among competitors. Like any "soft asset," these qualities cannot be exploited, only explored. And like artists, innovators must cultivate creative habits to see the world afresh and create something new. . . ."

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21 December 2012

Non-Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting Startups

The Non-Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting in Startups - Forbes: "A few weeks ago I spoke to thirty undergrads interested in entrepreneurship. While the questions varied, one theme was consistent: Where do I start? It’s something I hadn’t thought about in a while and provoked me to generate the following list of resources organized by type. The sections are organized by time and monetary cost, with Twitter being the least costly and events being the most costly. . . . "

Richard Branson on Being Richard Branson | Entrepreneur.com: "Entrepreneur: Small-business owners around the world look up to you. Is it hard for you to remember those early struggles, connect with them, and give relevant advice? Branson: No, I remember them vividly. It's far more difficult being a small-business owner starting a business than it is for me with thousands of people working for us and 400 companies. Building a business from scratch is 24 hours, 7 days a week, divorces, it's difficult to hold your family life together, it's bloody hard work and only one word really matters -- and that's surviving. One of the best bits of advice I can give is, early on, when you're building a new business, try to find somebody to run it on a day-to-day basis to free yourself up to look at the bigger picture. But obviously you've got to get over the first hump."

Rebuilding the Web We Lost - Anil Dash: "Another essential step for breaking out of the current tech industry's predictable patterns will be for entrepreneurs and creators to educate themselves about the true history of the tech industry and its products. Our business tends to follow a few simple, repeating cycles, like moving from centralization to decentralization and back, or from interoperable communications to silos and back. But as we've discussed, you can't trust the tech press to teach you about the tech industry, so you'll have to know your shit. Fortunately, a lot of us old-timers are still around, and still answer our emails sometimes, so it's possible to just ask. Imagine if Instagram had simply asked the folks who used to work at Flickr, "Did you ever change your terms of service? What freaked people out?" And even better, we can blog our own progress, because if you didn't blog it, it didn't happen. In that way, we form our own community of practice, our own new peer review process for what we learn about making the web work the right way. . . ."

LONDON: UK retailer Comet shutting down, 6,900 jobs lost - Business Breaking News - MiamiHerald.com: "As in many parts of the world, retailers have struggled to respond to the host of retailers online, including Amazon.com, that often offer big discounts. In Britain, retailers have also struggled in the face of a nine-month recession that only ended in the third quarter of 2012, largely because of a summer boon related to London's hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games. Most forecasters think the British recovery will be patchy over the months and years to come as the country's main trading partners in Europe struggle in the face of a debt crisis and the government continues to cut costs and raise taxes in order to get the public finances back into shape. . . . "

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19 December 2012

Investors and entrepreneurs at AVCC Miami

Miami in spotlight at AVCC, other entrepreneurship events - Business - MiamiHerald.com: "Entrepreneurs and investors shared advice, made connections and talked about deals at the Americas Venture Capital Conference and other Innovate MIA events."Entrepreneurs from around the world took the stage during this packed week of entrepreneurship events in Miami: Florida International University’s Americas Venture Capital Conference (known as AVCC), HackDay, Wayra’s Global DemoDay and Endeavor’s International Selection Panel. The events, all part of the first Innovate MIA week, also put the spotlight on Miami as it continues to try to develop into a technology hub for the Americas. “While I like art, I absolutely love what is happening today... The time has come to become a tech hub in Miami,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, who kicked off the venture capital conference on Thursday. He told the audience of 450 investors and entrepreneurs about the county’s $1 million investment in the Launch Pad Tech Accelerator in downtown Miami. “I have no doubt that this gathering today will produce new ideas and new business ventures that will put our community on a fast track to becoming a center for innovative, tech-driven entrepreneurship,” Gimenez said. . . ." read more here
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/14/3142734/miami-in-spotlight-at-vc-confab.html#storylink=cpy

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17 December 2012

Startup beats Best Buy in Court

Sometimes the "little guy" wins--but startups beware--

The defunct startup that beat Best Buy in court - The Term Sheet: Fortune's deals blog Term Sheet: "Best Buy found liable of stealing corporate secrets, in a case funded by venture capitalists - . . . Fast forward a few months and many more meetings in Minneapolis. Best Buy abruptly tells Techforward that it is not moving forward with them – but rather, they are moving forward themselves. They launch a Super Bowl commercial staring Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber to promote their program. And Best Buy goes on to generate over $140 million in revenues through this program. Now imagine the scene in the Techforward board room. Although the company had been providing services for other retailers (like Radio Shack and Dell), the company had invested well over a year's effort to get the Best Buy deal underway. And Best Buy's last minute actions posed a fatal blow. Techforward sued Best Buy – but it would take a very long time before the case made it through trial. And since Techforward had invested so much money working on the Best Buy deal, the cash position of the company was not looking good. The board ultimately had to make a horrible choice – they sold Techforward's assets to a third party. BUT – they did not sell the lawsuit. . . . after 18 months in court, a nine-person jury found Best Buy liable for misappropriation of TechForward's trade secrets and breach of contract, and returned a verdict of $22 million in favor of TechForward. And the jury also found by clear and convincing evidence that Best Buy did so willfully and maliciously, so the judge awarded an additional $5 million in punitive damages. . . ."

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14 December 2012

Venture industry shifting - boutique firms launched

Venture capitalism is changing--

With venture industry shifting, some high-profile investors launch their own boutique funds - SiliconValley.com: "An ongoing, once-in-a-generation shift in the venture capital industry is consolidating more money into fewer hands but creating new opportunities for some Silicon Valley startups. As pension funds and university endowments, unhappy with a decade of relatively flat returns, make fewer bets on venture, the number of big firms continues to shrink: From more than 800 nationwide in the wake of the dot-com bubble to roughly half that today. Yet recently, a small but growing handful of VC veterans have launched their own boutique firms. Some industry experts call it a hopeful sign for better days ahead. . . . "

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12 December 2012

UN passes resolution "Entrepreneurship for Development"

Surprising, but welcome, to see the UN embracing entrepreneurship--

U.N. General Assembly passes Israeli-proposed resolution | JTA - Jewish & Israel News: "The resolution calls on governments to foster entrepreneurship and include all interested parties, according to Globes. The resolution also says that forming partnerships between the private and public sectors also creates jobs and promotes investment, and advances economic growth in a country. . . "

UN document

" . . . Entrepreneurship is a powerful engine that can propel the global agenda forward. It is a major tool for reducing poverty, improving social conditions and confronting environmental challenges. It empowers people and generates solutions that help communities overcome old problems with new ways of thinking. It is an important driver of economic development, job creation and expanding opportunities for women and youth. Indeed, eight years ago, the Commission on Private Sector Development of the United Nations Development Program stated in a report that, "It is about realizing that the poor entrepreneurs are as important a part of the private sector as the multinational corporation. ... It is about unleashing the power of the local entrepreneur to reduce poverty in their communities and nations." But the benefits of entrepreneurship go beyond pure economics. As individuals become more self-sufficient and empowered, they are more likely to seek higher levels of education and better living conditions for themselves and their children. As President Paul Kagame of Rwanda put it, "entrepreneurship is the surest way for a nation to meet its goals and to develop prosperity for the greatest number of people."" (Beverly Schwartz in CNN.com)

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10 December 2012

What's It Like To Be Startup Founder?

What's it like? Read the full article (excerpt below):

What Is It Like To Be A Startup Founder? - Forbes: " . . . You wake up in the middle of the night and start fixing it. At the end of it, you don’t feel any resentment that you have lost your sleep, just sheer tiredness and a sense of mild satisfaction. While monetary aspects are not important, you are constantly trying to plot ways to make your baby really worthy for all the stakeholders involved. You want this baby to be something you can proudly call upon. While you are jealously guarding your baby, you are also getting the kid a lot of good company. The team grows bigger. The baby slowly grows up, and you start realizing that it no longer listens to some of your commands. You realize that you cannot keep micromanaging, and you let the kid evolve with a life of its own. You still act like the guide and the mentor, but you stay away from micromanaging. Someday, the baby grows so big that you can no longer hold it. It wants to go places, and you are no longer its main friend. So, you get external management or get your baby acquired. That is the teary part of your entrepreneurial day, but you also know that you have succeeded. You know how many people long to have a kid who grew so perfect and now gets a life of its own...."

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07 December 2012

Lack of investors hampers Tech City

Lack of investors hampers Tech City - Telegraph: "A detailed study of technology start-ups found that London has the strongest “cluster” in Europe, but ranks just seventh in a global league behind Silicon Valley in California, Tel Aviv in Israel and a number of other US cities. Data supplied by 50,000 start-ups around the world to Telef√≥nica Digital and the Startup Genome, a research project, revealed that London firms raise 81pc less later-stage venture capital than their counterparts in Silicon Valley. The researchers said this was down to a lack of venture capital funds as well as of so-called “super angels”, wealthy individuals who make significant equity investments in young companies. The study also found that London start-ups tackle smaller markets than their American peers, are less likely to work full time on their start-up until they have “proved” their business model and are more focused on peripheral activities such as consulting. Rajeeb Day, founder of London-based recruitment start-up Enternships.com, said: “A lot more needs to be done to improve access to early stage financing. Generally investors [here] are more risk averse, require far more validation and are less generous with valuations compared to those in the Valley.” However, the researchers identified London as the “European capital of innovation”, with job creation per start-up as high as firms in Silicon Valley . . . The challenge is that there is no Sand Hill Road [the heart of the US investment industry] in Europe. We need to have a critical mass of venture firms to build a more robust start-up ecosystem.”. . . The research said Silicon Valley remains the world’s largest and most influential start-up “ecosystem”, but added that clusters of new businesses in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East are now beginning to “challenge [its] domination”. The ranking, which is based on factors including revenues, a business model analysis, experience of the founders and market information, was as follows:
1. Silicon Valley
2. Tel Aviv
3. Los Angeles
4. Seattle
5. New York City
6. Boston
7. London
8. Toronto
9. Vancouver
10. Chicago
11. Paris
12. Sydney
13. Sao Paulo
14. Moscow
15. Berlin
16. Waterloo (Canada)
17. Singapore
18. Melbourne
19. Bangalore
20. Santiago

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05 December 2012

Seed stage investing

You can learn a lot just by reading the text of VC/angel/investor websites:

OATV"WHO WE ARE - Seed Stage Investor - Seed stage investing sits between angels (who tend to commit $10k to $100k per company) and traditional venture capital ($3-$5M Series A investing along with the occasional Series B-D round). We view seed stage investing as the space between the two. Seed rounds can range from between $250k up to $2M. There are some traditional venture funds who do seed investing, but we believe it’s a distinctively different form of capital which is more complex than simply tacking it onto an existing investment strategy. As a class, seed investments are decidedly neither fully baked companies nor are they back of the napkin ideas. Seed stage companies typically have a product or prototype in search of a market. As seed investors, our focus is to help founders find clarity around their product and market in the most cash efficient way possible. This is a critical stage of development and one that can easily be misguided should a company raise too much or too little capital. At OATV, we believe a seed round should give a company around 18 months of cash runway with no revenue. The larger the seed round, the longer the runway - which is why we tend to favor larger seed rounds between $1M and $2M. We think 18 months of experimentation, while tweaking and testing assumptions, allows entrepreneurs to de-risk their opportunity - putting them in a position to accelerate with a larger round of funding, find an acquisition partner, or achieve profitability and not require any further funding. This experimentation and optionality is core to our investment strategy and why we believe seed investing is a stand-alone asset class fully distinguishable from angels or other types of more traditional venture capital financing. It’s all we do at OATV."

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03 December 2012

How To Innovate Like A Startup

How To Innovate Like A Startup - Global-cio - Executive insights/interviews - Informationweek: "What makes you a startup is that you're trying to create something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. So we're in a situation where we're not building something that's not fundamentally the same as what we've built before. It's something new. It's something that serves new customers that we've never served before. It's a new kind of product that's never been built before. It's taking a technology from one market and moving it to another . . "

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre Entrepreneurs | TechCrunch: " . . . . persistence is not the self-help cliche “Keep going until you hit the finish line!”. The key slogan is, “Keep failing until you accidentally no longer fail.” That’s persistence." - James Altucher

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