29 December 2013

Building a Business, or Winning a Contest?

How many "competitions" did Google, Facebook, and Apple compete in, much less win?

Winning is great. But don’t let those opportunities sidetrack you from actually building a great company and validating its value through customer acquisition. Paying customers are the ultimate validation. (source infra)

Entrepreneurship competitions should build your business, not sap energy - Business Monday - MiamiHerald.com: "...The real winners are the entrepreneurs who may never get press or raise a lot of money but create successful, sustainable businesses...."

Wise advice.

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26 December 2013

Venture capital, investing, startups, Florida

Going forward, the Sunshine State may be the best place for startups and venture capital --

Venture capital investing up in Florida - Business - MiamiHerald.com: "In the past year, venture capital investments in Florida businesses increased by 45 percent . . . Seventy-eight percent of the $318 million invested in Florida in the year ending in September went to businesses in the biotechnology, information technology services, media and entertainment and software industry sectors. Nationally, venture capital investments declined by 1 percent to $27.5 billion. ..." (read more at the link above)

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22 December 2013

Venture Capital, Startups, Minimal Capital Costs

VCs can now see 1000 experiments rather than just 5-10 startups --

James Somers – Web developer money: " . . . start-ups have gotten cheaper. A web start-up today has almost no fixed capital costs. There’s no need to invest in broadband infrastructure, since it’s already there. There’s no need to buy TV ads to get market share, when you can grow organically via search (Google) and social networks (Facebook). ‘Cloud’ web servers, like nearly all other services a virtual company might need — such as credit-card processing, automated telephone support, mass email delivery — can be paid for on demand, at prices pegged to Moore’s Law. You can see why I’m in such good shape. In this particular gold rush the shovel is me Which means that these days the cost of finding out whether a start-up is actually going to succeed isn’t hundreds of millions of dollars — it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s the cost of a couple of laptops and the salary you pay the founders while they try stuff. A $100 million pool of venture capital, instead of seeding five or 10 start-ups, can now seed 1,000 small experiments, most of which will fail, one of which will become worth a billion dollars. And so there is a frenzy on.. . ."

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19 December 2013

Cultural literacy, doing business overseas

Culture, customs, relationships --

South Floridian businessman’s struggles highlight changing cultures, business practices - Business - MiamiHerald.com: " . . . To stay abreast of shifting market conditions, Rifkin and other South Floridians who regularly manufacture products in Asia advise making regular visits to suppliers and on-site supervision of factories. “Get your butt over there and learn about the factory that makes your product,” Rifkin said. Before he sold his company, Rifkin set up shop in China, Vietnam and Bangladesh, where he worked with multiple factories to make a variety of hangers for high-end retailers, hotels and individuals. Rifkin made it a point to conduct foreign business face-to-face, which often forced him to learn the history of the country and the customs of its citizens. . . . But for Rifkin, cultural literacy still holds more weight than any other factor. “You literally have to give yourself a history lesson on how a country was born and what their struggles were,” he said. “That way you can go into a conversation and understand who they are and what they’ve been through.”

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15 December 2013

Kleiner Perkins Strategy, A Shift After Rough Decade

Venture funds returned 35.7 percent annually in the decade ending in 2000, but they lost 1.9 percent annually in the decade ending in 2010, according to data compiled by Cambridge Associates for the National Venture Capital Association.

Kleiner Perkins Shifts Strategy After a Rough Decade - NYTimes.com: " . . . The 1994 fund delivered 32 times the investors’ money, the 1996 fund 17 times, and 1999, six times. But since then, they note, funds raised in 2000 and 2004 have been unprofitable. A $1 billion fund raised in 2008 devoted to clean technology is also showing losses, one investor says. “They had stellar returns for years, but their reputation has been tarnished by performance of late,” said Nancy Lambert, a former private banker at Citigroup who is now an independent adviser to wealthy families and foundations. “It doesn’t seem like investors are turning away, they’re just more cautious.”. . . "

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12 December 2013

Entrepreneurs are Different

Steve Jobs - Think different --

Nolan Bushnell’s Finding the Next Steve Jobs Reviewed by Molly Young | New Republic: " . . . A certain filtering of the self is a condition of working in an office, and it is a rejection of this notion that our iconic entrepreneurs, with their hoodies and nocturnal habits, represent. Entrepreneurs succeed by ignoring the advice of their predecessors. The fact that so many of them go on to publish advice for future entrepreneurs is a puzzling contradiction . . ."

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10 December 2013

Working Intelligently, Paying Better, Tradeoffs

Make your choice, it will affect your business model . . . and your success . . .

A Defeat for Demagogy - WSJ.com: ". . . .  a trio of chains that pay wages well above average: QuikTrip, Trader Joe's, and Costco operate on a different model . . . "They start with the mentality of seeing employees as assets to be maximized," she says. As a result, their stores boast better operational efficiency and customer service, and those result in better sales. QuikTrip sales per labor hour are two-thirds higher than the average convenience store chain, Ton found, and sales per square foot are over fifty percent higher. . . . The approach seems like common sense. Keeping shelves stocked and helping customers find merchandise are key to maximizing sales, and it takes human judgment and people skills to execute those tasks effectively. To see what happens when workers are devalued, look no further than Borders or Circuit City. Both big-box retailers saw sales plummet after staff cutbacks, and both ultimately went bankrupt .... There are also trade-offs to investing in employees. Businesses that spend more on their workers have to cut costs elsewhere. Trader Joe's streamlines operations by offering a limited number of products and very few sale promotions. Costco stocks products on pallets, as a warehouse would. And the QuikTrip model requires the fortitude to accept possible short-term drops in profits...."

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08 December 2013

Silicon Valley VCs Don't Want Kanye West, DONDA

Kanye West Courts Silicon Valley Investors, But VCs Don't Want DONDA: ". . . . West's efforts to drum up tech money for DONDA have not been fruitful."I think he's getting frustrated. People are enjoying meeting him because he's Kanye and they want to take him around, but then they're not actually investing," said one source. Investors like the coolness by proxy, just not his pitch style. "If you see his behavior, it's so erratic, he's not focused and kind of all over the place," the source added. West's caustic public criticism of investors has also left VCs a little gunshy...."

Ya think?

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05 December 2013

Investors, Startups, Crowdfunding

Investors in Startups, what are your expectations? I hope it matches reality--your investment is illiquid, subject to dilution, complete failure and loss, and in the meantime, you will get very little information about what is really going go -- welcome to world of investing in startups:

.@EdGrapeNutZimm: What McDonald's Coffee and #Crowdfunding Have in Common - The Accelerators - WSJ: "...So here’s the bottom line: The ways in which people and funds invest in startups differ significantly from how people and funds invest in public company stocks. The expected hold period is dramatically different (I expect seven to 10 years of illiquidity for each startup I back) and the need to follow on is significant in startups (I expect that my initial investment will be a third or a fifth of my entire investment in the company over time). If you want to dip your toes into the water with a public company, you can track things on the Web and get in and out with relative speed. Not true with startups...."

So are your EXPECTATIONS realistic? Illiquidity, Dilution, Little Information, High Risk of Complete Loss?

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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

Both Sides of the Table

Venture Capital Dispatch

Startup News

Entrepreneur News

Angel Investor News

Venture Capital News

Venture Capital Survey

Business - SiliconValley.com

silicontap.com - Silicon Valley High Tech News

DealBook - NYTimes

You're the Boss - NYTimes

Bucks - NYTimes