Posted by jonnystartup on 2012-01-25
At the event, 8 companies competed on stage in a free pitch competition, and taking the Grand Prize was Michael Mayernick and Spinnakr - a service for displaying targeted messaging on your website based on the specific audience segments. Spinnakr graduated from the Washington D.C. Founder Institute, and is also in the current 500 Startups class. Here is the video of their winning pitch;
Coming in an extremely close second place was Kloudless, a service for managing all of your stuff across the cloud and devices. Their pitch can be seen below;
All in all, it was a very impressive slate of contenders. Others who presented include:
- Appsperse - Appsperse is a cross promotion platform for mobile applications.
- Gickup - An easy to use video chat gaming platform
- IndustryGraph - A local sales & support channel for B2B cloud services
- JetJaw - The proactive way to protect & promote your brand
- PetHub - Award-winning technology to keep pets safe
- Zoko - Kickstarter for parties
- Demo Table Competition Winner 1: ClientMagnet
- Demo Table Competition WInner 2: TagSeats
- Demo Table Competition Winner 3: Breezy
And of course, a special thanks goes out to our great Judging Panel;
Scott Hartley, Venture Investor, Mohr Davidow Ventures
Scott is a venture capitalist at MDV focused on mobile and consumer Internet. He has worked at Google, Facebook, and Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He is interested in disruptive platforms that can address issues he has observed working on five continents, and at the White House and United Nations.
Bruce Taragin, Managing Director, Blumberg Capital
Bruce has 20 yrs experience as a VC, entrepreneur, banker and attorney. Prior to Blumberg, he co-founded and held management positions within many companies, including Charles River Computers. Past investments include ZipZapPlay, eVoice, PureSight, IP Infusion, GO Networks, and Siperian - all of which were acquired.
Matthew B. McCall, Partner, New World Ventures<
Matthew McCall is a Partner at NWV and co-founder of DFJ Portage Venture Partners. His investments include Apptera, BrightTag, Cognitive Concepts, Facebook, Feedburner, Performics, Playdom, Siimpel and TicketsNow. He was an AlwaysOn Top 100 VC in the US, and writes the popular blog, VCConfidential.
George Zachary, General Partner, Charles River Ventures
George joined CRV in 2004, bringing more than 17 rs of operating and investing experience in computing and consumer technology. He focuses on building services and software technology companies, and he's led CRV's investments in Twitter, Yammer, Millennial Media, Cloudshare, Geni, SocialMedia, Metaplace, and Scribd.
Dave McClure, Founding Partner, 500 Startups
Dave McClure is a greedy venture capitalist & founding partner at 500 Startups, an internet startup seed fund and incubator program in Mountain View, CA. Dave has worked with companies such as PayPal, Mint, Founders Fund, Facebook, LinkedIn, SlideShare, Twilio, Simply Hired, O'Reilly Media, Intel, & Microsoft.
Thanks to everyone who attended! The next event will take place on April 24th in San Francisco, and tickets will go on sale shortly.PRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by jonnystartup on 2012-01-17
The 9th Founder Showcase is scheduled for January 19th in Mountain View, CA, and for the first time will feature TheFunded.com’s Entrepreneur Investor Awards, where we will celebrate the best investors of 2011, and see talks from Mark Suster, Mike Maples, Jr., and Dave McClure.
These Investor Awards are not your average popularity contest. In fact, the main criteria are the 2011 ratings and reviews investors receive from the 17,000+ Founder and CEO members of TheFunded.com – the web’s largest community to rate and review startup investors.
So, without further ado, here are the finalists for the 2011 TheFunded.com Entrepreneur Investor Awards;
- Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder and General Partner of Andreessen Horowitz)
- Brad Feld (Managing Director at the Foundry Group)
- Bryan Schreier (Partner at Sequoia Capital)
- Chris Dixon (Founding Partner at the Founder Collective)
- Dave McClure (Founding Partner at 500 Startups)
- David Skok (General Partner at Matrix Partners)
- David Sze (Partner at Greylock Partners)
- George Zachary (Partner at Charles River Ventures)
- James D. Robinson IV (General Partner at RRE Ventures)
- Jeremy Liew (Managing Director at Lightspeed Venture Partners)
- John Backus (Managing Partner at New Atlantic Ventures)
- John Doerr (Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers)
- Jon Callaghan (Founder and Managing Partner at True Ventures)
- Joshua Kopelman (Managing Partner at First Round Capital)
- Marc Andreessen (Co-Founder and General Partner of Andreessen Horowitz)
- Maria Cirino (Co-Founder and Managing Director at 406 Ventures)
- Mark Suster (General Partner at GRP Partners)
- Matt McCall (Co-founder and Managing Director at DFJ Portage Ventures and Partner at New World Ventures)
- Mike Maples Jr. (Managing Partner at FLOODGATE)
- Philippe Herbert (Partner at Banexi Venture Partners)
- Roelof Botha (Partner at Sequoia Capital)
- Ron Conway (General Partner at SV Angel)
- Shlomo Dovrat (General Partner at Carmel Ventures)
- Steven Arnold (Co-Founder and Venture Partner at Polaris Ventures)
- Yuri Milner (Founder and CEO of Mail.ru Group)
If you are an entrepreneur who has worked with any of the finalists, take a moment to give them a rating or review on TheFunded.com by clicking on their name above. Your ratings will help us select the awards.
The awards up for grabs are;
- Most Disruptive Investor: Reserved for an investor who consistently demonstrated an investment strategy in 2011 of supporting innovative companies with big aspirations to disrupt established markets.
- Top Rated Investor in the Americas: Reserved for an investor who demonstrated an impressive track record in 2011, and received the highest acclaim from TheFunded.com’s members in 2011 across North, Central, and South America.
- Top Rated Investor in Asia: Reserved for an investor who demonstrated an impressive track record in 2011, and received the highest acclaim from TheFunded.com’s members in 2011 across Asia.
- Top Rated Investor in Europe, Middle East and Africa: Reserved for an investor who demonstrated an impressive track record in 2011, and received the highest acclaim from TheFunded.com’s members in 2011 across Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
- Best New Fund Manager: Reserved for a new investor in 2011 that received the highest acclaim from the TheFunded.com’s members, and who has immediately demonstrated savvy and a willingness to help promising entrepreneurs succeed.
Posted by Adeo Ressi, Founding Member on 2011-12-30
2011 was an amazing year for startup financing.
While traditional sources of investment declined, such as venture capital and angel groups, tens of billions more capital was still invested in private companies through a variety of new sources. A completely new financing landscape started to take shape in 2011, making 2012 the year that the “playbook” changed for startup financing.
Just a few years ago there was one startup playbook that was fairly consistent worldwide;
- Step 1: A promising startup looking to change the world would pitch a local angel group and raise a few hundred thousand dollars.
- Step 2: If everything went well and they were able to get traction, they could raise a $1 to $5 MM Series A from hundreds of venture funds spread throughout the world.
- Step 3: When the revenue model of the company was proven out, the startup, now classically called an upstart, would raise a $5 and $15 MM Series B or Series C from dozens of later stage VCs.
- Step 4: As the company scaled the revenue and the team, they would arrange a mezzanine round with a few strategic firms, a bank and a private equity firm to share up their balance sheet before going public.
This has been the playbook for the 18 years that I have been running technology companies, but it is quickly starting to look like ancient history.
What has taken its place? Dozens, if not hundreds, of varying financing options now entice and confuse the startup entrepreneur. There is a complex tapestry of capital sources, vehicles and deals for every stage, including liquidity. There are so many options, that 2012 could be called the year of optionality, but the outcome of many of these financing routes are uncertain. So, in 2012, I predict that we will start to see some of these options group together into new viable funding paths for startups.
Let's take a look at just a few of the new options available today that, for the most part, did not exist just a few years ago. How do they work, and what viability questions will be answered in 2012?
Almost overnight, crowdfunding has emerged as a viable financing option - especially for companies who produce a premium offering. Startups usually pre-sell access to media, hardware and software through crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter.com, which allow the public to contribute different levels of funding based on access. The success of this model has been so dramatic that there are two proposals in the US House and Senate to formally legalize the practice. But can a single crowdfunding round be enough, and can crowdfunding expand beyond movies and hardware accessories?
Incubators and Accelerators
Hundreds of incubators and accelerators have sprung up to the point where there are now several in most major cities worldwide. Startups can trade a small amount of equity, normally less than 10% of the company, for some cash, usually less than $20,000, and some services, such as facilities, guidance or launch promotion. Incubators, which tend to be earlier stage and have more services, and accelerators, which tend to be later stage and provide more capital, have replaced many of the angel groups that serve a similar function. But can the hundreds of copycat programs in various markets around the world re-create the success of the early pioneers?
AngelList has grown over the last 12 months to become "the" social network for startups and angels to connect. A startup with a credible lead investor can use the added exposure from AngelList to create a "snowball effect," sometimes turning a five-figure round into a seven-figure one. But what are the regulations that apply to these networks, if any, and can the communities maintain the quality of participants as they expand?
Competitions and Prizes
A number of "demo day" competitions have emerged with large attendance, pitch guidance, strong media exposure and cash prizes, such as SeedCamp, TechCrunch Disrupt, and the Founder Showcase. Successful companies have won tens of thousands in prize money, secured extensive press coverage and raised millions following such events. But can these competitions be scaled to bring success to multiple companies in multiple locations?
A number of secondary markets, specialty brokers, and secretive funds have emerged to purchase the stock of private companies in both "on the books" and "off the books" transactions, including SecondMarket and SharesPost. Shares in high profile upstarts are sold to private individuals, providing both growth capital and employee liquidity. There is even a vehicle for employees to borrow money on their employee stock options, pledging the options as collateral. But how will these markets be legitimized, accepted and regulated over time?
The Mega Round
A few late-stage investors, such as DST (now Mail.ru), venture capital firms and investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs, are doing mega rounds - otherwise known as the "IPO replacement" rounds. The fastest growing startups are skipping Series B funding and raising hundreds of millions of dollars at multi-billion dollar valuations. But are these mega rounds sustainable, and will they grow to replace the IPO?
Most of the remaining 200 venture funds that still operate worldwide have moved into stage-agnostic investment, participating in deals from incubation to mega rounds. Today, startups can pitch most venture capitalists at any stage in their lifecycle, and there are opportunities to raise anything from a hundred thousand dollars to millions. But can stage-agnostic funds be successful with such a diverse approach to funding?
Super Angels/ Micro-VCs
Prominent regional angels around the world have amassed $5, $10 and $20 MM funds to make dozens of local investments. Startups pitch these super angels to receive tens of thousands of dollars in investment plus instant exposure to the local angel funding ecosystem. But can this model work outside of Silicon Valley?
Governments around the world have been trying to jumpstart local versions of Silicon Valley with a wide variety of programs, such as Startup Chile, Skolkovo Russia, and the IDA in Singapore. With these initiatives, there are usually conditions to receiving capital, such as using the money to hire locally. Are these programs short-term stimulus or long-term value creation?
As if all of these new options were not enough, there has been an explosion in corporate investments, new university funds, philanthropic funds, sovereign wealth funds, industry-focused incubators, prize programs, and multiple other sources of capital.
In general, choice is good for entrepreneurs, but as I outlined above there are still some serious concerns. First, many of these new sources of capital are unproven, and, in some cases, their legal and regulatory future is uncertain. The party can end very quickly. Second, there are no best practices, transparency or guidelines for all these new vehicles - so hiccups and failed experiments are to be expected. Lastly, there are some looming structural problems that could bring the whole boom crashing down - specifically, the billions of unsecured convertible debt issued throughout late 2010 and 2011.
But in the end, we are in the largest startup funding boom since the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, but with probably more money being thrown around. After all, nobody really knows how much capital is being poured into startups since many of the new vehicles are not tracked.
2012 is looking to be a bright year. It’s the Wild West in startupland, and 2012 will be a wild ride. Hold on tight!PRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2012-01-10
The 9th Founder Showcase is scheduled for January 19th at the Microsoft Campus in Mountain View, and for the first time will feature TheFunded.com’s Entrepreneur Investor Awards, where we will celebrate the best investors of 2011. All in all, this will be our most exclusive event yet - with just 175 tickets available to the general public.
Applications to the FREE Pitch Competition are open until December 31st, 2011, at http://foundershowcase.com/apply. Over $30mm has been raised by previous presenters, so apply now and start collecting votes.
These Investor Awards are not your average popularity contest. In fact, the main criteria are the 2011 ratings and reviews investors receive from you, the members of TheFunded.com. You could call it the "People's Choice" awards - but we prefer to call it an "Entrepreneur Investor Awards."
The awards up for grabs are;
- Most Disruptive Investor: Reserved for an investor who consistently demonstrated an investment strategy in 2011 of supporting innovative companies with big aspirations to disrupt established markets.
- Top Rated Investor in the Americas: Reserved for an investor who demonstrated an impressive track record in 2011, and received the highest acclaim from TheFunded.com's members in 2011 across North, Central, and South America.
- Top Rated Investor in Asia: Reserved for an investor who demonstrated an impressive track record in 2011, and received the highest acclaim from TheFunded.com's members in 2011 across Asia.
- Top Rated Investor in Europe, Middle East and Africa: Reserved for an investor who demonstrated an impressive track record in 2011, and received the highest acclaim from TheFunded.com's members in 2011 across Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
- Best New Fund Manager: Reserved for a new investor in 2011 that received the highest acclaim from the TheFunded.com's members, and who has immediately demonstrated savvy and a willingness to help promising entrepreneurs succeed.
We'll be announcing the finalists shortly, so stay tuned.
Second, as part of the awards, we will have on-stage, interactive discussions with three of the top investors of 2011. These discussions will leverage input from attendees, and address critical new trends in startups and investing for 2012. So far we've confirmed:
- Mark Suster, General Partner at GRP Partners, and Writer at Both Sides of the Table
- Mike Maples, Jr., Managing Partner of FLOODGATE and investor in Twitter, Digg, Chegg, and ng:moco
- Our third speaker will be announced shortly.
Finally, the stakes for both our Pitch Competition and Demo Table Competition have been raised as well. Only 8 companies will compete in this Pitch Competition (versus the usual ten). And, there will now be three winners to the Demo Table Competition, who will each get to speed-pitch one of the Keynote speakers on stage in front of the audience. Get your Demo Table today at http://foundershowcase.com/tables.
It all adds up to this being the most exclusive Founder Showcase ever. We hope you'll join us.PRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by jonnystartup on 2011-12-12
Last week, TechCrunch reported that the Founder Institute has now helped launch 415 companies. In terms of graduates and companies launched, this makes us the world's largest incubator - and we have done it just 2.5 years.
So, how have we done it? In order to describe our model as easily as possible, we created an infographic. It's a bit too long to post on TheFunded's blogroll, but you can check it out on the Founder Institute site here.
Members of TheFunded have played a crucial role in our growth, and for that, we thank you. Incorporated in April of 2009, it was originally named "TheFunded Founder Institute." In fact, we crowdsourced the program's company-building curriculum by polling TheFunded's membership, and also utilized our database to recruit our original Founder and CEO Mentors as well. Now we have over 715 Mentors, are operating in 21 cities across four continents, and are on pace to launch an average of two companies per day.
Rather than bringing talent to Silicon Valley, we are going to different markets, gathering their best startup leaders, service providers, and most promising founders, and building local, sustainable, teamwork-based startup ecosystems. This model is working, and our vision of globalizing Silicon Valley is starting to take hold.
For more information, visit http://fi.coPRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by donAdeo on 2011-10-13
This post was written by Adeo Ressi - Founder of the Founder Institute and TheFunded.com, and board member of the X PRIZE Foundation. Read the full post on the Founder Institute Blog here.
When you ask a successful entrepreneur how they did it, you are almost guaranteed to hear them cite “luck” as a prominent factor. Why? Because most major decisions in a startup are "life or death," and to succeed you need to make the correct call on many of these decisions. In such a context, survival and success appear lucky. Well, it's not.
With startups, being fast is actually better than being right. A founder needs to make hundreds of critical decisions, and any indecision can literally grind all progress to a halt. Hesitating, over-analyzing, or 'waiting to see what happens' are all forms of indecision, and when you are indecisive you let the world decide the outcome for you. Indecision leaves the outcome to chance, and your chances as a startup are bad to begin with.
Making decisions that are both fast and correct is no small feat, and is a skill that will develop over time, but here is a simple decision-making framework that I use to make decisions quickly. Indecision is death for a startup, so here's how you can avoid it;
1. Boil it down to a binary decision.
The first thing to do is boil your decision down to a simple binary statement. For example, if your development is slow, there are a lot of things that you could do. There may be seemingly hundreds of options. Simplify it. You can choose to (1) replace or (2) fix your development organization. Hoping the problem will go away is not a decision. Any complex problem, decision or opportunity can be boiled down to a binary statement. Try it with a tough decision that you are facing now…
2. Make the decision quickly.
Next, just pick. Flip a coin. Throw a dart. Pull a card. Draw a straw. Whatever. Just pick. If you're lucky, when you pick one, you'll feel a sigh of relief that indicates you picked the one your "gut" likes. Sadly, in many cases, both options suck, and your gut will resist both. On the bright side, with the life or death decisions, you still have a 50/50 chance of getting them right.
Whatever you do, don’t hesitate. Not too long ago I was running a fast growing business and we acquired a foreign subsidiary that took over technology development. When product releases began to slow dramatically, I had a simple decision to make: (1) replace them or (2) fix them. Instead, I was indecisive and waited to see what would happen, hoping the problem would fix itself. When that didn’t happen, I ultimately was forced to sell the business for less than I felt it was worth. Meanwhile, better organized competitors launched multi-billion dollar businesses. I hesitated, and it cost me. It will cost you too.
3. Execute and observe.
Now execute. Immediately. Just do it. You'll know very quickly if it's the wrong decision. In fact, have your sensors on high alert to look for clues to whether you were right or not. A lot of decisions are so hard that they will feel wrong, but look for empirical clues to measure the success of the decision. You may even want to try and outline a couple conditionals up front, which we'll cover in a moment.
4. Adjust if necessary.
The moment there is clear evidence that you are wrong, whether it be a bad hire or a poor product release, drop everything and fix it. In at least half of the cases, you will be able to recover. So, even when you make a life or death decision quickly, your odds of survival are in excess of 75%, so just decide.
For the toughest decisions, introduce conditionals.
Now, some decisions are really brutal, such as the need to cut significant staff, take a pay cut, or sell your home. This is the life of a founder. When things get really tough, I personally use conditionals to help with the decision making process. Conditionals are simple if / then statements that help to take the sting off the toughest decisions. Here's an example.
Back in the 90's I was running a fast growing business that had cash-flow issues. A major customer owed us nearly a million dollars, and we had a couple weeks of payroll in the bank. My binary decision was to (1) cut staff and survive until we were paid, or to (2) win some new business to cover the period until we could collect. So, I introduced a conditional: if I could not get two months of cash-flow from new business within two weeks, then I would cut the staff as needed.
If I failed to get new business, then I would have to cut much deeper than if I cut right away. However, the identification of a conditional trigger point for the tough decision acted both as a motivator and as a calming agent. I had a target to shoot for, which we eventually hit. That business sold for approximately $100 MM.
There you have it: a simple decision-making framework for startups. (1) Boil it down to a binary decision. (2) Make the decision quickly. (3) Observe the outcome. (4) Adjust if necessary. And, introduce a conditional for the toughest decisions. Whatever you do, don't hesitate.
Good luck!PRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-09-30
We are happy to announce yet another great Founder Showcase Keynote Speaker: Michael Arrington. In addition to founding TechCrunch and being one of the 'World's 100 Most Influential People' (according to Time Magazine), Mike has also been an active angel investor since 2006. His new CrunchFund is backed by a list of impressive investors, including Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, the founding partners of Andreessen Horowitz, Ron Conway, Yuri Milner, Kevin Rose, and more. We are really looking forward to his talk, because if there is anyone who has their hand on the pulse of Silicon Valley, it's Michael Arrington.
The 8th Showcase is scheduled for Tuesday, November 8th, in San Francisco. We are offering a 20% discount to TheFunded readers - just use the code 'TFmembers' at http://foundershowcase.com/tickets. Reduced price tickets are available until October 16th.
Applications to the free Pitch Competition are also due by next Sunday, October 9th. To submit your startup or vote for others, visit http://foundershowcase.strutta.com/. Over $20m has now been raised by previous presenters.
In addition, we are giving away one free Demo Table ($375 value) to someone who helps us spread the word. Just Tweet a message with the hashtag #FounderShowcase and the URL http://bit.ly/9OlVo8, and, on Friday, November 4th, we will randomly select one winner, announcing the person on our @founding Twitter account. If you've already purchased a table you are eligible for a full refund with this contest. A sample message is below.
- Join me at the #FounderShowcase on Nov 8th with @arrington - http://bit.ly/9OlVo8. Silicon Valley's Leading Pitch & Networking Event.
We hope you'll join us for another great event!PRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by donAdeo on 2011-09-27
As originally reported by our partner Women2.0, a global media company for aspiring and current female entrepreneurs to launch scalable, innovative ventures;
Last February, the Founder Institute unveiled a new program named the Female Founder Fellowship, in an effort to grow the number of female technology founders by providing free Course Fees for our best female applicants. At the time, 16% of Institute graduates were female, and our stated goal was to double that number and ultimately graduate 175 female-led companies a year.
Well the results are in. The FFF program helped spur a 30% increase in female graduates globally in just a few months time. We have now graduated nearly 100 female founders, which account for about 21% of our total. This is roughly twice as high as most other incubators, so, in one respect we can call this program moderately successful. However, our original goal was to double the number of female graduates and get to over 30% globally, so we are still short.
To continue our drive towards 30%, and then ideally even higher, we are doing two things;
1. Global Call for Female Mentors
Despite active recruitment, only 10% of our 650+ global mentors are female. Founder Institute Mentors provide invaluable insight, feedback and support to our companies in the critical early stages, and we believe more female mentors can positively impact the long-term growth of female graduates in our program.
If you know any experienced female Founders or CEOs, please have them contact us at mentor [at] founderinstitute [dot] com for more information. Being a Mentor is both a fun and rewarding experience.
2. Announcing Female Founder Fellowship program for Fall 2011 Semesters
The Institute will subsidize the Course Fee for the most extraordinary female applicant to each of our ten Fall Semesters, listed below. Any female who applies to one of these semesters (including those who have applied already) is automatically eligible. All of the deadlines are approaching in October, so apply today at http://founderinstitute.com/join.
This is not about providing special treatment - the majority of applicants to the Founder Institute do not get accepted, and this will always be the case because we employ a quantitative Predictive Admissions Test in our application process. This test was specifically designed, and is constantly calibrated, to identify entrepreneurial personality traits and remove all forms of subjective bias. The program is simply designed to grow the number of female applicants, which will ultimately lead to more female-founded technology companies across the globe.
Posted by donAdeo on 2011-09-22
One of the biggest problems that Founder Institute companies and our 600+ Mentors have is forming an advisor agreement. We have gotten literally hundreds of advisor agreements to review - and every one is different. We see letter agreements, employment agreements, option agreements and everything imaginable to set-up a framework around a simple desire for Mentors to lend a hand, and for startups to get help. The terms surrounding these agreements are also one of, if not the most, discussed topics on TheFunded.
Today we’re publicly releasing a standard advisor template agreement, named “FAST” (Founder/ Advisor Standard Template), which outlines standard terms and allows an advisor agreement to be set by simply checking a few boxes and signing the dotted line. The goal is to encourage more collaboration between experienced and new Founders.
See the template below, and read the full article on TechCrunch here. We're asking for everyone's feedback before we finalize the agreement later this month.
Posted by donAdeo on 2011-08-11
It's hard to not get a sinking feeling in my stomach as I watch the stock market drop, and as I hear smart people talk about a 25% correction. We are all too familiar with the next few chapters of this story: First, angels see their net worth shrink, so they start preserving capital and stop investing in risky startups. Second, limited partners in venture funds stop investing as they allocate assets to safer investment vehicles. Lastly, venture capitalists slow down and back the strongest from the last standing.
However, If you look closely, there is a new reality today. There are reasons to be cautiously optimistic.
Let's start by looking at the modern angel. The angels fueling today’s technology startups are no longer the rich doctor or lawyer looking to have fun with a small piece of their retirement account. Rather, today’s angel works in a startup and has pulled money off the table through a sale, IPO or, more likely, the secondary markets. They are skeptical of public markets after the debacle of 2000 and 2008. Therefore, while a 16% decline in the public markets may drop the aggregate amount of angel investment, the modern angel will continue to invest in what they know: startups.
Second, let’s look at the Limited Partners. Long before this correction many of them already fled the venture capital asset class, and they are not coming back. As a result, hundreds of VC firms have already folded over the past few years, and the ones left standing are not as dependent on LPs as they were before. Smarter VCs have adjusted by tapping sovereign wealth funds and other alternative capital sources - including the wealth of the partners themselves. In the end, the tectonic changes in the limited partner landscape are so significant that any market correction is irrelevant.
Third, the VCs themselves have already been doing less and less deals since the end of 2008. Even as the markets recovered, venture investments into new seed and Series A companies for the first half of 2011 is down at least 10% from the same period in 2007 and 2008, according to the NVCA. Entrepreneurs have already adjusted to a world where venture capital is a scarce source of capital (AngelList, for example), so a change in deal volume should not significantly change startup financing.
Finally, the M&A market is better positioned than it has been in the past. Large corporations are sitting on enormous cash reserves, and it is only a matter of time before we see a greater number of acquisitions. The thousands of angel-backed startups being launched each year represent attractive acquisition targets. And, because they typically don't have unrealistic valuation expectations forced by venture capitalists, a $10m - $50m acquisition can yield great returns for all of the shareholders.
To get to the point - even if the correction continues and startup financing shrinks, we’re not facing a post-party “sober up” similar to 2000 and 2008. The reality is that creating meaningful and enduring technology companies is not a zero sum game. In a world of nearly seven billion people with 30% internet penetration and nearly two thirds of the global population using cell phones, there is room for thousands of new technology companies each year. And, if everything does go to hell again, the true entrepreneurs make their own luck.
I for one maintain a healthy dose of cautious optimism: startups will come out ahead.
- Adeo Ressi , Founder of TheFunded.com and the , Founder InstitutePRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-07-15
Founder Feedback gives you insights from the startup trenches. In a guest blog post that ran on Women 2.0 yesterday, Steffany Boldrini (Founder of Ecobold) shares five crucial lessons she learned while starting her company, in addition to tips she discovered in the process.
Read the full story on Women 2.0 here. Below is an excerpt:
- "Lesson #1: It takes time to find the right co-founder. Try this: Focus on meetups specific to where your ideal co-founder would be, if you’re building a gaming starup, try to find them at a gaming event or meetup...
- Lesson #2: N-e-v-e-r give up. Try this: When things are going wrong, take a break and think “How can we get over this?” instead of “Why is this happening to me again?” You’ll be amazed at the ideas you’ll come up with...
- Lesson #3: Welcome the opportunities that knock on your door. Try this: When someone asks if anyone has any announcements to make at the end of a meetup or event, always go say something. You will be shocked at the number of people who will remember you, who will come talk to you and the things that will come out of that simple move...
- Lesson #4: An incubator is a must. After graduating from the Founder Institute, I highly recommend that anyone serious about their startup joins an incubator. You will learn what you’d learn by going through 2 or more startups...
- Lesson #5: Being a woman doesn't make a difference. Once someone asked Kim Polese if she has ever felt that there were problems or discrimination throughout her career because she was a woman. She said something like “as long as you do your work, you won’t have any problems”. I agree with her 100%."
Ecobold, a marketplace for natural, non-toxic and sustainable products, is a Graduate of the Silicon Valley Founder Institute. Follow Steffany Boldrini and Ecobold on Twitter at @Ecobold. PRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-07-14
Inside FI gives you exclusive access inside the training sessions of the Founder Institute. To stay updated, follow us on Twitter.
Most startups don't have much, if any, money to spend on marketing and growing their audience. However, as Rajesh Setty explains in the video below, startups do have one asset that they can market for free - knowledge.
Rajesh Setty is an author, investor, and serial entrepreneur, and below is his lecture on "Thought Leadership Marketing" at the Silicon Valley Founder Institute. In the talk Rajesh explains how he stumbled upon thought leadership marketing while running sales at a cash-starved startup, and how the low conversion cost and barrier to entry makes this method particularly useful for early stage companies. He also provides a clear, step by step path to "becoming the default" thought leader in your market in order to grow your audience.
Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-07-08
Inside FI gives you exclusive access inside the training sessions of the Founder Institute. To stay updated, follow us on Twitter.
One of the early topics in the Founder Institute curriculum is "Startup Research". Below are the video and slides of a Startup Research lesson to the Silicon Valley program by Adeo Ressi, Founder of the Founder Institute.
The talk provides an overview of how the character of different markets affects the reality of operation, how good research is critical to helping a founder understand both the journey and the destination, and how founders cannot escape the realities of the market that they are in. It is a very informative lesson and provides many practical tips for performing diligent market research before diving into a market.
Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-06-21
As a Co-Founder of several companies, an angel investor in several more, and Co-Maintainer of two great resources for entrepreneurs - AngelList and Venture Hacks - Naval Ravikant has a unique view of the startup and investing landscape. That's why we asked him to speak at our Founder Showcase event last week in San Francisco to almost 500 founders and investors, and he did not disappoint.
In a great speech appropriately titled "The Anatomy of the Fundable Startup," Naval broke down the 5 main qualities of an "exceptional startup,” in the following order: (1) Traction, (2) Team, (3) Product, (4) Social Proof, (5) Pitch/ Presentation. And while all these qualities are important, Naval explained, the most important thing is to understand that “investors are trying to find the exceptional outcomes, so they are looking for something exceptional about the company. Instead of trying to do everything well (traction, team, product, social proof, pitch, etc), do one thing exceptional. As a startup you have to be exceptional in at least one regard.”
Naval’s talk is a must watch for any technology entrepreneur or angel investor. Click here to watch the full video at the Founder Institute website.
And remember, Applications for the Summer 2011 Silicon Valley Founder Institute, which is led by Adeo Ressi, are open until Wednesday June 22nd. If you could benefit from expert training and support to launch a technology company, apply today. Participants are not required to quit their day job.PRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-06-24
At our 7th Founder Showcase on Wednesday in San Francisco, Mark Suster, Partner of GRP Partners and Writer of Both Sides of the Table, gave a great Keynote Speech titled "Getting Funded in a Frothy Market."
In the talk he goes on record saying that, "Duh, we're in a bubble," and that entrepreneurs need to get funding now so they can survive the cycle. In normal funding cycles, it can take 3-5 months to raise capital - but in this cycle "it seems like that's the number of days it takes." And, "When the hor dourve tray is passed, take two, and put a third in your pocket... You don't know when it will be back around." He goes on to describe the best methods to raise capital in this "frothy" market, because, "When the party ends, everybody goes home. But that's the most awarding time to be an entrepreneur - provided that you have money."
Some other notable quotes;
- "Nobody at the party likes the sober guy telling everybody how stupid they're being... I don't want to tell you that the party is going to end, but it is."
- "We're in a bubble, and you can quote me on that."
- "The best thing that's happened in our industry is the emergence of micro-VC's, or seed-stage funds. This the best source for most early stage companies."
- "There is no such thing as a "Super Angel." That is marketing BS. You're an angel is if you're investing your own money. You're a VC if you're investing other people's money. VC's have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize value for their investors. As an angel you have a right to have passion projects."
- "It is a myth that you are going to raise $500k and build a billion dollar company. I'm not saying it can't happen, but you can also win the lottery."
- "In the era of social networks, if you can't figure out how to get access to a VC, hang up your cleats now. You don't pass the IQ test."
- "VC's want the 4 Ms: Management, Market, Money (we want to own enough of your company to make a difference), and Momentum."
- "The decreasing number of VC's is a ticking time bomb... or a better analogy: a brick wall."
- "Go get yourself funded... In the last 3 cycles the companies that didn't raise money were not the ones still around to tell the story."
You can watch the full video at the links below:
The Founder Showcase is hosted by the Founder Institute, which is accepting applications to the Silicon Valley program until next Wednesday, June 22nd. Click here to apply.PRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by jonnycombust on 2011-06-05
Mark Suster, General Partner at GRP Ventures and Writer at "Both Sides of the Table", is keynoting our upcoming Founder Showcase event on June 15th. Today he previewed his talk with an editorial published on TechCrunch. Here is an excerpt from his bullish article:
"It’s OK to try and shoot for the “top end of normal” for the market conditions. In 2011, as a startup company, if you can generate lots of demand you can definitely raise an A round of capital (say $3 million) at a $7 or 8 million pre-money valuation or slightly higher, whereas just two years ago you would have struggled. That’s fine. That’s the deal you get when you’re raising in a good market for startup financing....
So my advice: go ahead and ask for a valuation that 2 years ago wouldn’t have been likely. Use competition to make sure you get a fair price. Raise a slightly higher round than you would have previously, but keep some amount as a strategic reserve. Make sure that when you need to raise your next round of funding that you are able to show an uptick in valuation that is important for new investor confidence, and to maintain great relations with your early investors."
Tickets will sell out this week - click here for more information.PRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by donAdeo on 2011-05-28
A number of articles and programs have come out proclaiming a peak age for entrepreneurship and romanticizing the young entrepreneurs: http://fndri.com/kRgxiL, http://fndri.com/jFy8dJ, and http://fndri.com/kwBAhy, among others. See our full analysis here: http://fndri.com/lKSY0Q
It does not take but one minute to look around the world and prove any thesis of a peak tech founder age incorrect. There are countless entrepreneurs over the age of 30, including Reid Hoffman (age 35 in 2002), Evan Williams of Twitter (age 35 in 2007), Mark Pincus of Zynga (age 41 in 2007), Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post (age 54 in 2005), among many others.
In order to identify the traits of successful entrepreneurs, the Founder Institute has conducted a battery of proprietary personality and aptitude tests on over 3,000 applicants worldwide, and then carefully tracked the progress of our nearly 1,000 enrolled founders and 350 graduates. Research scientists employed by the Institute have examined the results of the successful founders and the less successful cases.
The research shows that an older age is actually a better predictor of entrepreneurial success, and that three other traits also correlate strongly to success: strong fluid intelligence, high openness and moderate agreeableness.
Anybody at any age can break any molds put forward by “experts." We have romanticized the idea of a young founder because, well, it’s a great story, but these stories are not the norm. In the end, classic biases of gender, race, and age need to be discarded for a real science of success.
Full Story on TechCrunch: http://fndri.com/lKSY0QPRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-05-12
With the investment and startup landscape quickly changing, we're excited to announce that our next Founder Showcase, scheduled for June 15th in San Francisco, will feature Keynote Speeches from two of today's most influential voices on venture capital: Mark Suster and Naval Ravikant.
Mark Suster is a General Partner at GRP Ventures, founded and sold two large companies, and writes a very informative blog on the investor/ entrepreneur dynamic called Both Sides of the Table. In addition, he hosts the great weekly webcast This Week in Venture Capital, and is a very highly rated investor on TheFunded (check out his profile here).
Naval Ravikant is a Co-Founder of AngelList - an angel investment platform that our last Keynote Speaker, George Zachary, called "the next NASDAQ." Naval also Co-Founded VentureHacks, Epinions.com, and Vast.com, and has invested in companies such as Twitter, FourSquare, Plancast, Heyzap, and Disqus.
The 7th Founder Showcase will be our largest event to date – with over 400 in attendance. In addition to food, drinks, and our great speakers, ten startups chosen by members of TheFunded.com will compete in an entertaining pitch competition. There are 60 companies vying for the 10 pitching slots right now - so head over to the Showcase Section of TheFunded and vote for who you think deserves to get on stage. Voting ends this Sunday, May 15th.
We hope to see you at the event. The last four Showcases have sold out, so register today at http://foundershowcase.com/tickets. Use the discount code 'friends_of_funded' to get 15% off.
We're also giving away a free Demo Table ($375 value) to somebody who helps us spread the word. Simply tweet or FB a message with the hashtag #FounderShowcase and the URL http://bit.ly/9OlVo8, and, on Friday, June 10th, we will randomly select one winner, announcing the person on our @founding Twitter account.PRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-04-15
Last year's Denver Founder Institute graduated 15 strong companies, thanks in large part to great Mentors like Jim Franklin (CEO of SendGrid). Jim is taking a larger role in the 2011 program, co-leading the semester with Jon Nordmark (Founder of eBags.com).
Below is a video and slidedeck from Jim's training session on Startup HR. In it, he describes the ideal roles that need to be filled in a startup, how to divide founder equity and options across your company, and how hiring and firing based on values is key.
Learn more about the Denver Founder Institute, and recruit potential co-founders at our free "Denver Pitch Bootcamp" event this Tuesday evening, April 19th. Space is very limited - register today at http://denverpitchbootcamp.eventbrite...
Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-04-14
The Founder Institute will be hosting a free Pitch Bootcamp on Tuesday, April 19th from 6:00 - 9:00pm in downtown Denver. Join us for food, networking, informative talks, and pitch practice sessions with two of Denver's leading entrepreneurs;
- Jon Nordmark, CEO of UsingMiles.com and Founder of eBags.com
- Mike Stemple, CEO of Mosoro and Co-Founder of SkinIt
What is the Agenda?
This is a hands-on, intensive 3-hour workshop. The evening begins with talks by Jon Nordmark and Mike Stemple that are designed to help you refine your skills. Then, you pitch in front of both experts and your peers to receive constructive feedback, and make connections with other like-minded entrepreneurs. The evening format is based on the best practices of the Founder Institute, the largest pre-seed incubator in the world.
Who Should Attend?
- Anyone who has an idea or an early-stage company that wants to improve their pitch.
- Anyone that is interested in joining a new startup as a cofounder or early team member.
- Anyone interested in learning more about the Founder Institute.
Space is extremely limited, so register today at http://denverpitchbootcamp.eventbrite...
Applications to the Denver Founder Institute are also being accepted until May 1st. To launch your dream company in Denver, apply today.PRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-03-31
The Early Registration Deadline for the Founder Showcase is tomorrow, April 1st. This is your last chance to get half-priced tickets ($60) to the event and there are only about 15 left:
The 7th Founder Showcase is scheduled for Wednesday, June 15th, at Adobe San Francisco, and will be our largest event to date – with over 400 in attendance. This is TheFunded's quarterly startup pitch and networking event, and once again we are expecting a packed house of investors, founders, and press. The event is designed to democratize access to Silicon Valley, so tickets are affordable, and the Pitch Competition is FREE.
If you would like an opportunity to pitch on stage, enter the Pitch Competition at the link below. Over $3mm has been raised by contestants with investors they met at the event - including a $700k round from the last Showcase Champion, Topicmarks, which was led by a member of the Judging Panel, Aaron Patzer (read the story here). The competition is completely free, and any company less than 2 years old and with less than $500k in funding can apply at the link below.
Posted by donAdeo on 2011-03-05
TheFunded and the Founder Institute want to change the gender divide among startup founders. Today, most figures say that less than 7% of technology companies are founded by females, and some studies show the figure to be closer to 2%. Less than 10% of professional investors are female, and only about 11% of U.S. firms with venture-capital backing in 2009 had current or former female CEOs or founders (Dow Jones VentureSource).
It's time to balance the startup gender divide. 16% of the 290 companies launched by the Founder Institute have female Founders, and over 30% of the founders in the newest Los Angeles and San Francisco chapters are female. Great female founders will create opportunities for more female investors, more female team members, and greater female participation in the fast growing world of high-technology startups.
Again, less than 7% of technology startups are led by women. We are not going to sit on the sidelines. Our goal is to change this. Here are our plans.
Founder Institute Announces the Female Founder Fellowship
More female applicants to the Founder Institute means that more female-led companies will graduate. The Institute is currently on pace to graduate over 600 companies in 2011 across our 17 locations. If we double our percentage of female founders to 30%, we will graduate 175 female tech founders in 2011. We have 35% female participation in San Francisco after announcing this program, and over 20% in Los Angeles.
In order to encourage more female applicants to the Institute, the Institute has announced the Female Founder Fellowship program, which will provide extraordinary female applicants the opportunity to launch their dream company with the Founder Institute's pre-seed incubation program, free of charge. The Institute will subsidize the Course Fee for the most extraordinary female applicant in each of our ten Spring Semesters, and any female who applies is automatically eligible.
Applications for San Diego, Berlin, Brussels, Paris are due this Sunday, March 6th at at http://founderinstitute.com/join/tf. Applications for Washington D.C., New York City, Boston, and Singapore are also being accepted. If you know a female who is interested in starting a technology company, or if you'd like to spread the word across social media, please use the link below;
Our partner Women 2.0 also covered this program at the link below. Women 2.0's mission is to increase the number of female founders in technology startups.
This is not about providing special treatment - the majority of applicants to the Founder Institute do not get accepted, and this will always be the case because we employ a quantitative Predictive Admissions Test in our application process. The Female Founder Fellowship is simply designed to double the number of female applicants to the Founder Institute, which should more than double the number of female graduates - getting us to our goal of 175.
Thank you for your support. Let's make some change, and mark this as the turning point.
- The Founding MemberPRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-02-18
Less than two years ago, we internally discussed different ways to help the many applicants to TheFunded that were not qualified for membership (~60%). Rather than create a separate, earlier-stage site, we decided to create a training program to help inexperienced entrepreneurs build a meaningful and enduring technology company. After crowdsourcing the initial curriculum from the CEO and Founder members of the TheFunded, the Founder Institute was born.
We’ve now launched over 250 technology companies in over 15 cities worldwide, and are getting ready to kick-off our first chapter in San Francisco. With the Founder Institute’s pre-seed incubator program, entrepreneurs can launch their dream company with the help of our expert training, feedback, and support – and they’re not even required to quit their day job. Confirmed Mentors for the San Francisco chapter include;
- Adeo Ressi, Founder of TheFunded.com and the Founder Institute
- David Sacks, Founder & CEO of Yammer and Geni
- Garrett Camp, CEO of StumbleUpon
- Jared Goralnick, Founder & CEO of AwayFind
- Jay Jamison, Blue Run Ventures
- Jonathan Abrams, Founder of Friendster and FoundersDen
- Justin Moore, CEO of Axcient
- Philip Kaplan, Founder of AdBrite, F’d Company, and Blippy
- Russ Fradin, CEO of Adify
If you know anybody interested in launching a technology company that could benefit from expert training and mentorship, please encourage them to apply at the link below. The deadline is this Sunday, Feb. 20th.
Posted by The Founding Member on 2011-01-21
From January 17th until January 21, there was a disruption in the anonymous Membership application system, and all Membership applications were lost as a result. If you applied for Membership during this period, you will need to re-apply.
My sincerest apologies for any inconvenience. I understand and appreciate that you are all busy CEOs. Thank you for your understanding.
- Adeo Ressi, The Founding MemberPRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-01-13
We're happy to announce that George Zachary, General Partner of Charles River Ventures, will be speaking and judging pitches at the next Founder Showcase on February 1st in Mountain View, CA. George is one of Silicon Valley's brightest investors, having led early investments in Twitter, Yammer, Scribd, Shutterfly, and more.
George recently did an interview on Daniel Odio’s blog (recommended, by the way), describing his journey as a young entrepreneur “living on uncooked pasta” and “pulling eviction notices off our door before doing demos,” to his new focus on seed investments and his thoughts on what lies ahead. You can watch the full video below, but here are some interesting nuggets;
- “Investors are not going to make a company. A lot of that is just marketing material. But investors can screw up a company.”
- “There are a lot of new angel investors, and they’re saying things that are very disturbing. They’re saying things that some venture investors said in 2000. Things like ‘someone will buy it – how will I lose money?’”
- “Probably 80% of all angel funded companies this year will go to zero in value (in 12-24 months) – they will return less than the amount of capital invested.”
- “If you want to be a successful angel investor, there are two real strategies. Go after high profile companies and only work on 2, 3, or 4 investments – or take an index fund strategy where you make 10-30 investments a year.”
- “Only 30 out of the 300 active venture firms have profitable returns… Eight of 4,000 venture backed companies a year product over 80% of all the return. If you’re not in with one of those eight, you’re not likely to have a good fund.”
- “AngelList could be building what becomes the next NASDAQ.”
The Founder Showcase is TheFunded's quarterly startup pitch and networking event, and once again we are expecting a packed house of over 300 investors, founders, and members of the press. The event is designed to democratize access to Silicon Valley, so tickets are affordable, and the Pitch Competition is free. TheFunded readers get 15% off using the discount code 'TF_members'. Register at the link below today - the last four events have sold out, and just a little more than 100 tickets remain.
Right now we have over 50 startups vying for a spot on stage. Take a moment to review their pitches, and vote for your favorites at the link below. Your votes can help a bootstrapping startup get invaluable exposure to investors and the press in Silicon Valley.
We are also giving away one free exhibit table at the event with two tickets ($350 value) to someone who helps us spread the word. Just Tweet a message with the hashtag #foundershowcase and the URL http://bit.ly/9OlVo8, and, on Friday, January 28th, we will randomly select one winner, announcing the person on @thefunded account. A sample message is below.
- #FounderShowcase coming up on Feb. 1 with @georgezachary. Silicon Valley's Leading Pitch and Networking Event. http://bit.ly/9OlVo8
We hope you'll join us for another great event on February 1st.