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How to Win the #FounderShowcase Pitch Competition

TheFunded.com News

Posted by Nilay Patel on 2012-10-03

PUBLIC:

This guest post was written by Nilay Patel, Co-Founder & CEO of Selligy, who won the Grand Prize at the 11th Founder Showcase. Selligy is a mobile service for salespeople. Learn more at selligy.com.

The secret to winning the Founder Showcase is this: focus on your product. At Selligy, we’re focused on building a great product for salespeople. To win, we spent a year researching our user and building a product that solves their problems. That gave us the two things that were the heart of our pitch: great user stories, and a great demo. 

So the good news is, winning didn’t involve some hypnotic presentation trick. The bad news is, well, it took a year!

But enough on the big picture - how did we boil down a year of passion into just a 180 second on-stage pitch?

1. Establish credibility.
You are going to spend 3 minutes on stage painting a vision for a future that does not yet exist. Why should the audience take you seriously? What makes you an expert in your subject matter? Do this fast and efficiently.

2. Make an eye-popping demo.
Nothing better demonstrates what you’ve accomplished than a live demo. The demo has to be a great story about your user, NOT about you, the product, or the design. Don’t waste time describing your design decisions, or touting a list of secondary features. Don’t describe how the product works - instead describe how it makes the user feel.

Also, take the time to build a self-contained and bullet-proof demo mode. We showed our real product, but a version that doesn’t rely on a network connection and resets the demo data each time it starts. We built this for demo competitions, but I’m amazed at the number of times it remains handy - to show a potential partner, user, or VC. Unlike the real product, this demo always works, whether on a plane or 30 minutes after an inevitable gremlin broke the latest build.

Optics also matter. Our demo was given with my real iPhone. Even though receiving a phone call or text message could have been fatal. We didn’t use an iPod Touch or switch on airplane mode. The audience would immediately notice you were giving a staged demo and discount everything you say. The first question from a VC would be, “Was that staged? How does your real product work?” We took the time to disable all notifications and forward phone calls - all to keep the AT&T logo on the top left corner of the status bar.

3. Answer questions confidently and authentically.  
Since you know your space, you know your user, and you know why your problem is important to solve – you have nothing to fear! I got asked a couple questions I didn’t have answers to and just said, “I don’t know. I think this is how we’ll find out.” Don’t try to BS your way out of questions. It probably won’t work, and if you do know your stuff, you don’t need to! 

4. Hook ‘em with the essentials, but leave ‘em wanting more.
You only have three minutes, so you can’t get to everything. If you get them interested, they’ll ask for the rest later. We focused on establishing (1) our credibility, (2) the user problem, and (3) the huge market this user problem presents, and then dove into the demo to show how we would delight the user.  We did steps 1, 2, and 3 in fewer than 8 sentences. So, to put it mildly, we barely touched the ‘go-to-market’ and other topics. But, since we hooked the audience, they actually asked about the rest during Q&A, or at our demo table. 
Bonus Tip: By purposefully omitting key facts, you can correctly predict the questions you will get on stage - and prepare some really great answers.

5. Listen to Adeo. And don’t listen to Adeo. (Boom!)
He has seen some of the best pitches ever – and, more importantly, he has seen presenters crash and burn. When he said our pitch had an issue, we stopped and fixed it. Full stop. 
But, we did something different than our competitors – we focused on all demo, and didn’t use slides. You need to stand out in a series of pitches, and this stood out. From the start, Adeo cautioned strongly against doing live demos, for many good technical reasons. We listened to the reasons, created a resilient demo to mitigate against the technical risks, and forged ahead. I believe this approach really set us apart. 

We’re a company founded by salespeople, building a great product for salespeople. So, maybe refining a pitch comes naturally to us. But ultimately, like any great sales pitch, it started with a year of gathering great user stories and building our product that got us to the top of the heap. That’s key to building a great company too, not just a great pitch.

Thanks for the great advice Nilay! You can see a video of Selligy's winning pitch (as well as all previous competition-winning pitches) here

If you would like to participate in the 12th Founder Showcase Pitch Competition, applications are due this Sunday, October 7th. Previous presenters have raised over $45 million in funding, and all companies less than 2 years old with less than $250,000 in funding are eligible to apply. Click here to apply now

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Startups Can't Borrow Their Way to Success

TheFunded.com News

Posted by Adeo Ressi on 2012-12-24

PUBLIC:

This post was written by Adeo Ressi - Founder of the Founder Institute and TheFunded.com. Special thanks to TechCrunch for releasing the news.

Over the past few years, Founders and investors alike have flocked to convertible debt, loaning billions of dollars per year to insolvent startups. The great irony is that nobody expects this debt to be repaid, and the debt comes with a lot of unwanted consequences.

Does ballooning debts, unsophisticated lenders and no ability to repay sound familiar? How did this happen and what are we going to do about it?

Let's start with some history. After the dotcom crash in 2000, hundreds of venture- funded companies took "bridge loans" to raise capital from existing investors while they fought unfavorable market conditions to raise a new round. These convertible debt bridge loans became fairly common in venture capital. I personally did at least four during this period. Investors, Founders and lawyers became comfortable with loans.

By the middle of 2010, the bridge loan had made a jump from successful venture-funded companies to the most promising new startups, and, by the beginning of 2011, most new startup fundings were being done as loans or convertible debt. The loans caught on because they were fast and cheap, and startups could borrow as much money as they could get investors to commit. Seasoned angel investors started to push back, in some cases demanding equity versus debt, but the inertia kept the debt coming and coming and coming nonetheless.

Now entering Q4 of 2012, there is tens of billions of dollars of debt held by tens of thousand of startups, and many of the debt deals are starting to hit their maturity dates, when the money needs to be repaid. Of course, the startups have no intention of repaying the debt, so most of the notes will be extended. The larger question is: why are we issuing debt in the first place? Frankly, it's marketplace stupidity.

So, I started working on this problem about nine months ago with Yokum Taku of WSGR. We batted around a few ideas about changing debt terms when I saw some deals being done with the involvement of Sequoia Capital called "capital contribution" rounds. These deals are equity investments in the present with the valuation set at a future round, much like convertible debt. That was my "ah ha" moment - Why don't we just take the "debt" out of convertible debt? And so was born "Convertible Equity".

Convertible Equity has all of the benefits of convertible debt. It's fast. It's cheap. It's flexible on the amount raised. Convertible Equity can have a discount, a price cap, forced conversion events and all of the other popular terms of convertible debt. It actually has less terms, since you don't have to think about repayment or an artificial interest rate mandated by the IRS.

Investors in Convertible Equity will likely get a lower capital gains rate by having their investments treated as "qualified small business stock." And, investors don't worry about chasing down insolvent companies to repay their debts by "repossessing the furniture". Instead, they can shoot for the big ideas where more favorable capital gains tax rates really matter.

Companies that take Convertible Equity will not be burdened with debt on their books that they have to renegotiate every 12 to 18 months. They don't have to worry about a lone disgruntled or struggling investor calling in a note and bankrupting the business. They can get a line of credit for equipment, or share their balance sheet with big partners without appearing insolvent.

It's ridiculous that the primary way to "invest" in startups is to straddle them with debt through short-term loans. We are bankrupting the future out of the gate, and it's time that we change this.

Here are free Convertible Equity documents to use in your next angel round.


Download the Term Sheet Template



Download the Security Template



Download the Purchase Agreement Template


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#Founder Showcase Adds @KevinRose as Keynote Speaker

TheFunded.com News

Posted by jonnystartup on 2012-06-26

PUBLIC:

We are happy to announce that Kevin Rose, Venture Partner at Google Ventures, will join as a Keynote Speaker for the 11th Founder Showcase event on Wednesday, July 25th in Mountain View, CA. Kevin will join Aaron Levie (Co-Founder & CEO of Box) and Hiten Shah (CEO of KISSmetrics) onstage for what may very well be our most impressive lineup of speakers ever. Get your tickets today.

The Founder Showcase, hosted by TheFunded.com, is Silicon Valley's Leading Seed-Stage Pitch Event. The 11th Founder Showcase event is now scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus in Mountain View, CA. We are expecting over 300 founders, investors, and press in attendance.

Are you a seed-stage startup looking for funding or exposure? Then apply to the Founder Showcase Pitch Competition, where previous presenters have raised over $40 million without ever being required to pay a dime. Any company less than two years old with less than $250,000 USD in funding is eligible, but time is running out.

To apply for your chance to present on-stage, click here. The Application Deadline is next Friday, June 29th, but the sooner you apply, the longer you have to collect votes. 

For more information, visit http://foundershowcase.com.

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#Founder Showcase Pitch Applications Due June 29th - Apply Now for Free

TheFunded.com News

Posted by jonnystartup on 2012-06-22

PUBLIC:

Are you a seed-stage startup looking for funding or exposure? Then apply to the Founder Showcase Pitch Competition, where previous presenters have raised over $40 million without ever being required to pay a dime. Any company less than two years old with less than $250,000 USD in funding is eligible, but time is running out.

To apply for your chance to present on-stage, click here. The Application Deadline is next Friday, June 29th, but the sooner you apply, the longer you have to collect votes. 

The Founder Showcase, hosted by TheFunded.com, is Silicon Valley's Leading Seed-Stage Pitch Event. The 11th Founder Showcase event is now scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus in Mountain View, CA. We are expecting over 300 founders, investors, and press in attendance. Confirmed as our first two Keynote Speakers are Aaron Levie (Co-Founder & CEO of Box), and Hiten Shah (CEO of KISSmetrics).

Don't miss this opportunity to apply to this 100%, free pitch competition.

For more information, visit http://foundershowcase.com.

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11th #FounderShowcase Scheduled for July 25th, with Aaron Levie

TheFunded.com News

Posted by jonnystartup on 2012-06-07

PUBLIC:

The Founder Showcase is TheFunded.com's quarterly startup pitch and networking event, which gathers over 300 investors, founders, and seed-stage companies in Silicon Valley to hear talks from leading CEOs, and help launch a promising startup to greatness.

The 11th Founder Showcase event is now scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus in Mountain View, CA. Reduced-Price tickets are available until Friday, June 15th: Purchase your tickets today.

Confirmed as our first Keynote Speaker is Aaron Levie, Co-Founder & CEO of Box. Aaron is one of today's most impressive young entrepreneurs, having spoken at other events such as Web 2.0, SXSW, and more. Aaron originally created Box as a college business project from his dorm room in 2005, and since then has raised nearly $160 million in venture capital, and has secured more than 8 million customers using its secure cloud content management and collaboration tools. We look forward to hearing his story on stage at the event.

Are you a startup looking for exposure? Then enter the free Pitch Competition for your chance to present on stage. Any company less than 2 years old with less than $250,000 in funding can apply to pitch here. Get your applications in now - previous presenters have received over $40 million in investment, but applications are due on June 29th, 2012. 

Want to win a free Demo Table?  Help us spread the word by tweeting a message with the hashtag #FounderShowcase and the URL http://bit.ly/9OlVo8, or RSVPing for the event on Facebook, LinkedIn or Plancast. On Friday, July 20th, we will randomly select one winner, announcing the person on our @founding account.

We hope you'll join us.

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The Story Behind TheFunded, by @Founderly [Video]

TheFunded.com News

Posted by jonnystartup on 2012-06-01

PUBLIC:

Our friends at San Francisco-based FounderLY specialize in deep-diving the stories behind company founders, and last week they did just that in a series of video interviews with TheFunded.com's Founder, Adeo Ressi.

In the video below, Adeo describes the beginnings of TheFunded.com. In particular, he says that, after the dot bomb of the late nineties, "investors had lost so much money that they rebounded to an extreme where they squeezed entrepreneurs and mistreated them to a large degree." After being treated poorly by his investors, Adeo realized there were systemic issues underlying entrepreneurship that made it impossible to successfully build companies as a profession. So, "TheFunded was designed to clean up something that had become abusive and set it straight."

Watch the full 15 minute video below;

Adeo will be leading the upcoming Silicon Valley Founder Institute program. The Application Deadline is this Sunday, June 3rd. If you or somebody you know could use expert training and feedback to launch a technology company, then click here to apply today.

Special thanks to our friends at FounderLY for the interview. Be sure to check out www.founderly.com to see video interviews with other top entrepreneurs, or follow them on Twitter at @founderly.

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20% Off the 10th Founder Showcase

TheFunded.com News

Posted by jonnystartup on 2012-04-11

PUBLIC:

The 10th Founder Showcase is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24th in San Francisco. This is TheFunded.com's startup pitch and networking event, where we help early-stage entrepreneurs get exposure to Silicon Valley.

We are expecting over 500 startup founders, investors, and press in attendance, so get your tickets today before they sell out at http://foundershowcase.com/tickets. Use the code 'friends_of_thefunded' to get a 20% discount.

Guests will be treated to talks from leading startup CEOs and investors to discuss the current state of startups and venture capital. Our last event featured Mark Suster (GRP Partners), Mike Maples Jr. (FLOODGATE), and Dave McClure (500 Startups), interviewed by writers from The New York Times, All Things D, and TechCrunch. If you missed the event or didn't see the videos, check them out here.

As always, there is also an exciting Pitch Competition featuring 8 promising seed-stage companies. In fact, we're happy to report that over $35 million has now been raised by presenters in the history of this free competition.

We hope you'll join us for a great event.

For more information, visit http://foundershowcase.com.

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What Does the Instagram Acquisition Mean for Startups? a Lot

TheFunded.com News

Posted by Adeo Ressi on 2012-04-11

PUBLIC:

This post was written by Adeo Ressi - Founder of the Founder Institute and TheFunded.com. Special thanks to TechCrunch for reposting the story.

At the close of 2011, there was a lot of uncertainty for startups. Stock market fluctuations, underwhelming talent acquisitions ("acqui-hires"), and structural investment problems threatened the prospects for startups.

But what a difference a few weeks can make. The passage of crowdfunding legislation in the US, coupled with the $1 BN acquisition offer of Instragram, signals the beginning of a full startup boom. In preparation for the good times, Venture Capitalists have started to raise new fund money at their pre-crash highs.

Two and a half years ago, Mint.com was acquired for $170 MM, and everyone thought that was an amazing deal following the great recession. Now, a fledgling company with a small team gets acquired for $1 billion.

My best guess is that it is about to get crazy. And, only fools sit on the sidelines.

Many strong and older entrepreneurs that I know are wealthy today because they made intelligent decisions during the dot com bubble of the late 90's. Success was not easy then, and it will not be easy now, either. But, the likelihood of a great outcome is much higher in a boom. 

There are a lot of newly minted entrepreneurs that pursue their dream company in a half-hearted way. You may tinker with your idea while toiling at a day job. You may refuse to put in the work required to recruit the best talent. You might be afraid of launching an imperfect product. Or, you may put a mediocre effort into fundraising.

However, if you want to take advantage of a boom cycle and reap the rewards, you need to slide all of your chips on to the table. You need to go all in. And, you need to play smart. Every move that you take and every bet that you make needs to have the best odds of success.

You can't enter the game too late, either. If what I predict happens, very soon you will start to read about more and more crazy deals. When "crazy" becomes the new normal, the opportunity will have already passed you by.

So, let me get really specific. As an entrepreneur, you have a decision to make. Ask yourself, "is this my boom?" If your answer is "yes," then you have a lot of work to do.

Look around you. If everyone that you deal with is not top-notch, from cofounders to vendors, fire them immediately and bring on the best. Now. Right now. Seriously. Now. To really win during a boom, you need to play at the top level, and the winners in every boom always have the best talent. Always.

Is it your time? Is this your boom?

--

Adeo also hosts the Founder Showcase, a startup pitch and networking event coming up on Tuesday, April 24th in San Francisco. This event will sell out, so get your tickets today

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Founder Showcase Pitch Competition Applications Due Monday, April 2nd

TheFunded.com News

Posted by jonnystartup on 2012-03-31

PUBLIC:

Are you a seed-stage startup looking for funding or exposure? Then apply to the Founder Showcase Pitch Competition, where previous presenters have raised over $35 million without ever being required to pay a dime. Any company less than two years old with less than $250,000 USD in funding is eligible, but time is running out.

To apply for your chance to present on-stage, click here. The Application Deadline has been extended until April 2nd, 2012, but the sooner you apply, the longer you have to collect votes. 

The Founder Showcase, hosted by TheFunded.com's Adeo Ressi, is Silicon Valley's Leading Seed-Stage Pitch Event. The 10th Founder Showcase is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24th at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, and will be attended by over 500 investors, founders, and press. Guests will be treated to talks from leading startup CEOs and investors (TBA), as well as an entertaining Pitch Competition featuring 8 promising seed-stage companies. Appetizers and drinks will also be served in a networking hall full of other hot startups demoing their wares in the Demo Table Competition. This event will sell out, so purchase your tickets today. Reduced-Price tickets are available until Sunday, April 8th!

Confirmed Judges for the event already include Noah J. Doyle (Managing Director of Javelin Venture Partners), David J. Blumberg (Managing Partner of Blumberg Capital), Rob Coneybeer (Managing Director of Shasta Ventures), and Brian Ascher (Partner at Venrock)

We are also giving away a free Demo Table to someone who helps spread the word. Help us spread the word by tweeting a message with the hashtag #FounderShowcase and the URL http://bit.ly/9OlVo8, and, on Friday, April 20th, we will randomly select one winner, announcing the person on our @founding account.

For more information, visit www.FounderShowcase.com.

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Founder Showcase Videos with Mark Suster, Mike Maples Jr., and Dave McClure

TheFunded.com News

Posted by jonnystartup on 2012-02-29

PUBLIC:

The 9th Founder Showcase in January featured on-stage interviews with some of today's most respected startup investors and technology journalists; Evelyn Rusli of The New York Times interviewing Mark Suster of GRP Partners, Ina Fried of All Things Digital interviewing Mike Maples Jr. of FLOODGATE, and Alexia Tsotsis of TechCrunch interviewing Dave McClure of 500 Startups. Check out the videos below. 

The 10th Founder Showcase is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24th in San Francisco. Reduced-price tickets are available until this Sunday, March 4th - get your tickets now

Evelyn Rusli Interviews Mark Suster
In the video below, Mark talks about the funding boom, the Series A crunch, new investment trends, how Hollywood is ripe for disruption, and, most notably, his contrarian opinion on the carried interest tax issue. 

Ina Fried Interviews Mike Maples, Jr.
In the video below, Mike tells us the social networking wave has crested, his new investment strategy, and how the new "hypernet" is quickly emerging from the web, cellular, and WiFi.


Alexia Tsotsis Interviews Dave McClure
In the video below, Dave discusses the math behind 500 Startups' investment strategy, and his lack of concern over the "Series-A crunch."

A special thanks to All Things Digital and TechCrunch for posting these videos. 

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The Funded's Top Startup Investors of 2011: Awards Announced

TheFunded.com News

Posted by jonnystartup on 2012-01-27

PUBLIC:

At last week's 9th Founder Showcase, we celebrated the best investors of 2011 with TheFunded.com's Entrepreneur Investor Awards.

Anthony Ha of TechCrunch covered the awards here (including a video of the ceremony).

Here are the winners of the 2011 Awards;

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Most Disruptive



Ben Horowitz, General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz


Andreessen Horowitz modeled their fund off of the modern talent agencies to provide a big network of value to their portfolio companies, reinventing the VC firm.

Top Rated in the Americas



George Zachary, General Partner, Charles River Ventures


CRV has pioneered the seed-stage investing model that has been copied by most VC firms worldwide, and they continue to be one of the most prolific seed stage investors.

Top Rated in Europe, Middle East and Africa



Philippe Herbert, Partner, Banexi Venture Partners


Banexi is an active early-stage investor in the French startup ecosystem, supporting incubators and other new models to grow the success of European startups.

Top Rated in Asia



Yuri Milner, Founder and CEO of Mail.ru Group


Mail.ru is renown for creating the “DST round,” where companies secure hundreds of millions at multi-billion dollar valuations, changing the entire late-stage market.

Best New Fund Manager



Dave McClure, Founding Partner at 500 Startups


500 Startups has done over 250 investments in less than two years since launching, with deals being done all over the world.

Other finalists included;


Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to everyone who attended!

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Spinnakr Wins the 9th Founder Showcase [Video]

TheFunded.com News

Posted by jonnystartup on 2012-01-25

PUBLIC:

Last Thursday, over 300 people gathered in Silicon Valley for the 9th Founder Showcase, hosted by TheFunded.com and the Founder Institute.

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.

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Who Were the Best Startup Investors of 2011? Finalists Announced...

TheFunded.com News

Posted by jonnystartup on 2012-01-17

PUBLIC:

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;


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.

There are less than 75 tickets remaining for the event, so be sure to get your tickets or demo tables today at http://foundershowcase.com/tickets. This event will sell out.

Congratulations to all of the finalists!

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2012: the Year the #Startup Playbook Changed

TheFunded.com News

Posted by Adeo Ressi, Founding Member on 2011-12-30

PUBLIC:

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?

Crowdfunding
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?

Online Networks
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?

Secondary Markets
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?

Multistage Funds
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?

Government Programs
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!

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Come to TheFunded's 2011 Investor Awards, at the 9th Founder Showcase

TheFunded.com News

Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2012-01-10

PUBLIC:

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;


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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How the Founder Institute Has Launched 415 Startups in Just 2.5 Years [#Infographic]

TheFunded.com News

Posted by jonnystartup on 2011-12-12

PUBLIC:

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.co

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Indecision Kills: a Decision Making Framework for Startups

TheFunded.com News

Posted by donAdeo on 2011-10-13

PUBLIC:

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!

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Michael @Arrington to Keynote the Founder Showcase on Nov. 8th

TheFunded.com News

Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-09-30

PUBLIC:

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!

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Calling All Females: Founder Institute Announces Female Founder Fellowship

TheFunded.com News

Posted by donAdeo on 2011-09-27

PUBLIC:

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.

  • Amsterdam - October 2nd Application Deadline
  • Brussels - October 2nd Application Deadline
  • Paris - October 2nd Application Deadline
  • San Diego/ Orange County - October 9th Application Deadline
  • Jakarta, Indonesia - October 9th Application Deadline
  • Chicago - October 14th Application Deadline
  • Hanoi, Vietnam - October 16th Application Deadline
  • Singapore - October 9th Application Deadline
  • New York City - October 30th Application Deadline
  • Washington D.C. - October 30th Application Deadline

    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.

    Read the full story on Women 2.0 here.

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    Standard Advisor Template - How Much Equity Should Advisors Get?

    TheFunded.com News

    Posted by donAdeo on 2011-09-22

    PUBLIC:

    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.

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    Cautious Optimism: Startups Will Come Out Ahead

    TheFunded.com News

    Posted by donAdeo on 2011-08-11

    PUBLIC:

    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 Institute

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    Founder Feedback: Ecobold's Startup Lessons Learned

    TheFunded.com News

    Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-07-15

    PUBLIC:

    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:


    1. "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...

    2. 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...

    3. 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...

    4. 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...

    5. 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

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    Inside the Founder Institute: "Thought Leadership Marketing" by Rajesh Setty

    TheFunded.com News

    Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-07-14

    PUBLIC:

    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. 

    If you like the talk, follow Rajesh on Twitter or check out his blog here as well.  


    SVFI August 24: Marketing & Sales - Rajesh Setty

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    Inside the Founder Institute: "No Competition = No Business" by Adeo Ressi

    TheFunded.com News

    Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-07-08

    PUBLIC:

    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.  



    SVFI June 15 Start-up Research: Adeo Ressi

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    Naval Ravikant: "The Anatomy of a Fundable Startup"

    TheFunded.com News

    Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2011-06-21

    PUBLIC:

    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.

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