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Open Letters

This section is for entrepreneurs and investors with a Certified Profile to post Open Letters about how to improve the fundraising process. Postings should discuss the terms, the treatment, the model, and the practices of venture financings. Here is your chance to share your views on how to make the fundraising process better.

Sign-up for Membership Write an Open Letter to VCs

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Consumer Green Product Investors

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Anonymous on 2014-06-19

PUBLIC:

We are a GREEN, consumer product, design driven manufacturer with real traction, real product and innovative ideas.
We are located in the Bay Area, and we need consumer product investors to help us scale BIG. Can you recommend investors who are interested in CP?

Posted by stevebiggs on 2014-06-20 10:53:05

Urban.Us makes seed investments into sustainability and safety focused products that are at the validation stage. http://urban.us/apply

Posted by crunkykd on 2014-06-20 12:11:19

Domestically, if it is software, Angel.co; If it is hardware, PCH/Highway1 and Lemnos Labs. Depending on your stage and manufacturing plans, you may also wish to approach China-based investors.

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Is There a VC Directory Indexed by Investment Focus?

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by raul_oneredcar on 2013-12-03

PUBLIC:

How would we know which VCs to pitch once we have a proof-of-concept in Storage and/or Networking?

Posted by akraemer on 2013-12-03 15:21:36

Try the VCPro Database. You can filter by industry preferences (among many other filters). Once you have it filtered you may still want to go to the VCs website and check if they are a fit. But is a good start and not too expensive.

However, with a proof-of-concept your list might be quite small. Despite what everybody wants you to believe, VCs don't like risk. They do like momentum and traction. In other words, for the majority of VCs you are too early.

Posted by raul_oneredcar on 2013-12-14 10:53:20

Good pointer and feedback, thanks.

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Now It Gets Personal...

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Anonymous on 2012-08-17

PUBLIC:

In what other industry can you pay $80 to attend a pitch event, pitch your business, and then be told your pitch is the worst one they've ever heard? (nevermind that I took first place of 10 companies 2 days prior with the same pitch)

Now it's just getting rude. But I got thinking about it - what is the agenda behind someone saying it's the worst they've heard? Ok, SHE is a judge (strike one - a woman VC has to prove she's smarter than everyone else in the room - be careful with them). As a judge, she can tell me where I need to improve, etc. However, by judging it as the 'worst' she's ever heard, doesn't that say something about her? Is she trying too hard? Is she trying to prove something? How is that helpful feedback from a professional?

The funny thing about the evening is that it didn't matter anyway - the 2 intelligent people in the room that I WANTED to talk to "got it" and I got meetings with them. So the joke is on them and their little pitching competition. Laugh at me, but I got through to the ones I needed to.

I'm damn near on the verge of crowdfunding this business. I think I want to start a massive grass roots campaign to get this funded and get some attention. If only I knew how to make something viral and get the whole country behind it. I still think I'd be better off trying to make that happen than trying to raise money from "the valley".

Posted by Livu on 2012-08-17 02:45:00

You did her a tremendous favor. She is going to sleep well knowing that she put you in your place.

Posted by LeeHenshaw on 2012-08-17 03:55:39

What a vile post. He can't talk about a woman like that. Who moderates these posts? Good comment Livu.

Posted by bryanrimmer on 2012-08-17 10:31:48

A childish rant, that's all - thrown the toys out of the stroller - bet he (assumed male ?) feels good about his outburst.
Grow up and get into business like an adult

Posted by Garfield on 2012-08-17 10:42:50

I didn't take this post as vile or an attack on women. It is true that many times women in the workplace feel like they have to compensate for being a woman in a man's world. I didn't think the poster was being insulting - s/he just didn't adjust his/her pitch to account for a female audience.

I do agree that an investor has no place telling someone that it's the worst pitch they've ever heard. That's just being mean. If this person won a pitching contest, certainly they can't be the 'worst' pitch someone has ever heard.

I say keep going and maybe next time adjust for women in the room. There IS a different pitching to them. Her being nasty like that doesn't mean you needed to be put in your place nor is the post attacking women (unless that's how you meant it).

Posted by MedTech Expert on 2012-08-17 11:11:41

I agree with post that the VC calling his pitch "the worst ever" is at best, immature. Top flight VCs would provide constructive criticism offering suggestions for improving a presentation. Many VCs, today, have never been in the trenches, performing the extremely difficult task of raising money and building a company. They cannot relate. They know spread sheets but not the nuts and bolts of creating, nurturing, and growing a new entity. As a result, there is a big disconnect between many of those I call "spread sheet" VCs and true entrepreneurs. This problem is not a "female" problem but a pervasive problem throughout the VC industry...and it is one of the factors many VC funds are in trouble.

Posted by Thor on 2012-08-17 21:31:46

The OP is still in the dream stage and the judge was probably right. Honesty is the second best thing that an entrepreneur can get.

Instead of focusing energies on an immature attack on the judge (trying to elevate himself by attacking her... classic), the OP should ask himself why the judge would have that opinion. Notice he's not doing that. Fail.

When the OP says "I'm damn near on the verge of crowdfunding this business. I think I want to start a massive grass roots campaign to get this funded and get some attention. If only I knew how to make something viral and get the whole country behind it. I still think I'd be better off trying to make that happen than trying to raise money from "the valley".", it proves to me that he's immature and new at this game. If his venture were good enough to get funded by such a strategy, that's where he should have started in the first place.

To the OP: Grow up and learn to listen. There is no such thing as bad feedback.

Posted by jplunkett on 2012-08-18 09:18:08

I agree with Thor. Make your pitch bulletproof. DSon't try and staify yourself ...satisfyt those that are critiquing and you will win

Posted by htroche on 2012-08-19 03:51:56

We are seeing a lot of posts from people going to pitching events expecting too much. Here are a few notes about pitching events:

- Never, ever, ever pay to pitch, not even $80.
- You will not find an investor in these events.
- The reason to pitch at these events is to polish your pitch.
- Don't take the feedback you get personally and take it with a grain of salt. Only act on patterns you see on the feedback.

Posted by magiclifestyle on 2013-08-12 08:08:05

Investors trashing pitches is completely unnecessary but unfortunately very common.

To judges and investors I say: If you don't have something positively helpful to say, keep your opinion to yourself. Someone else may see what you don't.

To entrepreneurs I say: Expect the worst and you will be less inclined to feel angry and frustrated. Learn what you can and move on, there are other investors waiting.

Crowdfunding may be an easy way to avoid the hard questions but the hard questions are necessary and helpful when designing a new business.

Posted by Sharky on 2013-08-13 09:14:55

I had some similar feedback one time from a dumb third tier VC. Most of them are just clueless and they judge entreprenuers just by their p"rofessioanl ass kissing skills". Because that's how they got their job.
They are the reason why most VC's have negative returns or they fare worst that the stock market.
Entrepreneurship is hard she oviously does not have any entrepreneurship experience. You could have answered that's the worst/useless feedback I have received for my pitch so that's a double record then :)) . You can make a VC look pretty stupid too if they are nasty.
I remember at a conference I asked a VC why it took 2 years to set up a team in a new country :-p.
It seemed he has made some hiring mistakes/was clueless about business in general. Just move on they don't matter :-).

Also this startup ecosystem is way to much tailored to massaging the egos fo some politicians (aka VC's).
If a VC is dumb and treats you like an asshole you make him look like that. No asshole rule works everywhere.
If a business women is usually more agressive it's he problem and more specifically the VC company culture's problem - they should have not hired her.
And yes it is a well known fact that in general busienss women tend to be more agressive than business man. I am sure if 50% of VC's would be women that would not be the case - but the hiring selection criterias are probably the wrong ones.

Posted by Sharky on 2013-08-13 09:15:58

NEVER PAY FOR:
- "experts" advice
- attending an event
- pitching
- BP review
etc..

Posted by carlwimm on 2014-06-24 15:24:30

All

A funny thing happens when money gets involved. The first is that Logic gets invoked. IRR, net cash, probabilities, risk, etc.

The whole discussion is couched in terms that are almost scientific.

But it covers up a Great Truth. All money is intensely personal. here is what I mean.

Money is an extension of the person who has it. It is his/her money. The numbers suggest that all money is the same. The personalities suggest that all money is different.

Cognitive dissonance, gone wild. A contradiction for the gods themselves.

The issue is not about a man or a woman here. I have met people of both sexes and a dozen colours and a hundred backgrounds who have money or front themselves as if they have money (including real estate agents and VCs, who are really just brokers/clerks for other people’s money).

The “worst ever” proclamation is merely one of a hundred different kinds of responses. Few will be honest and straightforward and helpful to you in your start up. Most of the hundred are some form of statement in the following form ...

“I have money, therefore I am a better person than you, therefore I know more than you, therefore you must genuflect to me”.

Don’t upset at this sort of person. It won’t be the last time you pay real money to be abused. It won’t be the last time you encounter this sort of insecurity and low self esteem.

A start up founder is a better man/woman than most of the people that he/she will ever encounter.
A start up founder raises his head above the crowd. He invites people to take a free shot at him, insult him, belittle him, denigrate his work and his project.

His is the nail that stands up and invites the fearful and the unworthy to “hammer him back down”. He is the future.

If a two year old said these things to you, would you be upset? No, of course not. You would understand immaturity and forgive it.

That is my technique. When I meet them, I look on all people with money as badly mannered 4 year olds. I invite them all to impress me with their wisdom, understanding and sense of live and living. If they meet my standards, we can go forward and explore mutual areas of interest.

If they cannot, they disqualify themselves form dealing with me and are left, by me, to wallow in a meaningless existence of their own making.

Try it, you will like it.

Best wishes.

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An Example of the Madness

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Garfield on 2012-08-12

PUBLIC:

In the interest of putting my money where my mouth is (so to speak), I am including in this post a link to a YouTube video of my last pitch. Let me set the stage for you:

There is no shortage of pitching contests and groups that will take your money and promise you to put you in front of VC's and angels. They'll tell you that they will help you with your presentation; that rubbing shoulder with other entrepreneurs is somehow an advantage or a worthwhile way to spend your money; they'll even give you "access" to free "coaching" from 'best in the word' coaches and people (that turn out just to be their buddies).

Here was the forum of this particular circle jerk: You have to demo your product to 'the crowd' that attends. They all have fake money and they can invest in you. The top 5 of the top 10 startups that get the most crowd money get to pitch to a panel of VC's for 4 minutes.

When you sign up to do this, they give you a sheet that gives you some pointers on what kinds of things to cover in 4 minutes. This includes who you are, the problem, your product, your team, the business model, the channel/partners...I think that's it. Yeah, in four minutes. Ok.

Then, after the 4 minutes, they ask you questions for 2 minutes and then give you feedback for 4 minutes. THERE IS A FUNDAMENTAL FLAW IN THIS!!!!! I'm here to pitch you! I don't want your opinion of my pitch - I want you to say "yes I'm interested in learning more" or "no, take a hike". Argh. I'll proceed to show you why it's NEVER enough for these guys. Ever.

So I pitch (http://youtu.be/3lTxsv-CyoA). I included everything they asked. I did it in under 4 minutes (because if you go over, THAT'S what they'll criticize - they need to find something). After my pitch, they ask me a couple of questions (that demonstrated to me they didn't listen much). Then they gave me feedback for 4 minutes. During this feedback, I can't respond.

HAD THEY GIVEN ME THE 4 MINUTES THEY SPEND CRITICIZING ME, I COULD HAVE EXPLAINED THE BUSINESS TO THEM BETTER!!!! How is it possible to explain my business in 4 minutes in such a way that you won't have ANY questions?! This format is grossly flawed. I don't even think THEY understand it. As you can see in the video, they were not interested in learning more. They all said "that's very interesting, and I like what you're doing. But I would have liked to hear more about demand/security/privacy/team. OK THEN - GIVE ME AN APPOINTMENT AND I'LL TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT! WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

In case you didn't get it above, here is the link: http://youtu.be/3lTxsv-CyoA

Let me expand on my business really quick: I believe that I have figured out what people have been trying to for decades. I have found a way to make "online receipts" a reality for consumers (so you never have to worry about saving your receipts from your brick and mortar shopping). This reality enables a whole new game for merchants: We can look at consumer behavior at the LINE ITEM level across MULTIPLE merchants. This CANNOT be done today to this level of detail and accuracy. It is a massive game changer and we have been working with people like Walmart, Eddie Bauer, Capital One, American Express, BBDO, NRF, Experian, etc. It's not like we're sitting in a garage with an idea. But still, EVERY VC tells us that we're "too early". Never mind our channel development, team development, legal/patent work, market positioning, partners, and $500k invested thus far. We're too early?

What the hell does "early stage" mean then?!?!?!

Anyway, here I am. This is my pitch and my story. And it's not good enough. I'm convinced it doesn't matter what I have. If they don't know me or my team, they're not interested. They can't think for themselves enough to look at the market, truly look at what you have (for more than 4 minutes), and see if you really got it figured out.

However, look up Blippy.com. It's a great example of a company that got $13M before they had a product or a single customer. They essentially closed down. Look at Lemon.com - they got $12M before they had a product or any customers. They're our competitor but they have massively inferior technology and a terrible value prop.

We've nailed it for the consumer, the merchant, the credit card company, the bank - everyone that touches our solution is a winner. We spent 3 years developing it and we JUST started hitting the market to sell it. But it's not good enough. "Go get Walmart or Target and we'll look at what you have" says the VC. Wow. You guys are the biggest idiots in the room and don't even know it. I'm done with San Fran - you don't deserve me or my business.

(Except for this week. I have 2 more circle jerks to attend and I decided I'm TOTALLY changing my approach. It's going to be quite fun - I'm going to give them something they probably have never seen before. I'll let you know how it goes, but as far as traditionally pitching my business: no more.)

Posted by Garfield on 2012-08-12 11:27:47

...dammit I can't spell when I get typing fast...

Posted by CloudCEO on 2012-08-12 12:48:28

Why not stop with the dog and pony shows and pitch to real investors?

Posted by Anonymous on 2012-08-12 13:16:18

Pitching is more art than science. Could be receipts aren't sexy right now. Could be you aren't explaining it right. Hard to say what makes an idea fundable, but you need to figure it out. There is much anger in your post and while I understand it can be frustrating, you need to calm down and keep at it.

Posted by Garfield on 2012-08-12 17:02:53

A couple of fair points. But before you start tearing into me, I shared this to demonstrate my experience and what others are going through as well in this particular space. This is real world experience and they are 'real' investors. They're the ones putting on a dog and pony show. These guys are representing some of the top VC's in San Fran. But for those of us that don't have warm intro's to these guys, these pitching events are the only means we have to get any attention. It just turns out they don't work.
The reality is that you can only explain so much in 4 minutes, and that is really only enough time to get someone interested, not explain the whole business.
Whether receipts are sexy or not: I know they're not. I really do. And that is a problem when we're compared to flashy cool technology. But there is NOTHING more game changing than collecting analytic data at the line item consumer level. All merchants, analysts, and marketers get this. So the question I have for investors is: Do you want something sexy, or do you want to make a shit-ton of money?
It's a fair question, because there are a lot of things that aren't sexy but make a tremendous amount of money. My pitch - all 5 versions of it - are more than enough to get interest from people if they were really interested. When I pitch, I get a lot of feedback from marketers, analytics, and other people that want to help make connections, get involved, blah blah blah.
But when it comes to the people with money (or the ones that pretend they do), they have shiny object syndrome and don't put much thought into what is in front of them. So maybe my pitch sucks, or it's my fault for not explaining it just right.
I would rather spend my time with potential customers and big merchants. Money can help with that effort, but i'm spending company resources, time, and most importantly my mental health (I'm not an angry person) trying to get interest from these guys. I just encourage other startups to FIND a way to get to their own money or fund through customers.

Posted by htroche on 2012-08-12 19:52:09

First, make sure you are pitching to real early stage VCs. Many VCs firms say they do early stage, but by that they mean they give seed money to their EIRs and people they have worked with in the past, they don't mean that they give seed money to people they don't know, even if you have a warm introduction. On the other hand, there are funds that do invest in early stage deals they get via a warm introduction.

With this in mind, here are a few funds that I personally know did seed investments in companies they meet via a warm introduction: Andreesseen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures, True Ventures, Redpoint Ventures and Lightspeed.

One more note, it is highly unlikely you will get any serious traction with investors you meet at the type of shows you are going to.

Posted by Garfield on 2012-08-13 00:30:13

Thank you for the continued feedback. It's hard to throw yourself out there and let people see you in action, but (for better or worse) I want to help others struggling with the same thing. So what if I sacrifice a little of my dignity...

Posted by Livu on 2012-08-13 00:31:35

VC CJ = Venture Capital Circle Jerk. It fits.

While I can appreciate your frustration and desire to stick it to them, make certain that you don't spend precious time & energy...they're just one more roadblock thrown in your path.

Posted by jplunkett on 2012-08-13 10:41:53

If you have a deck I can forward it to some people that have interest in this area jim dot plunkett at gmail

Posted by pogo on 2012-08-13 11:22:02

I watched your video - all of it - and thanks for posting it. I'm not a tech guy (I'm a medical device person), but I like your idea and understand your frustration. For what it's worth, "sexy" isn't the be all and end all for deals. Ask Zynga's IPO investors how their sexy company worked out...

It is unclear to me if this group is meant to provide a critique or meant to find you money. Perhaps both. But these are their rules - 4 minute presento, 2 minutes of questions, 4 minutes of critique - and that's what you get. No, it's not representative of a "full pitch" to a major VC firm, but it is a decent indicator and a good way to distill your central ideas down to their most essential elements. In any event, experience is always good - I'm sure your last pitch was far better than your first.

I do not think you should give up and keep pitching.

Posted by nkannan on 2012-08-13 11:23:03

I am a bit perplexed. As I understand your business model requires large institutional adoption of your solution for scaling up rapidly. If they are truly excited then one or two key players such as the credit card companies or the big box retailers can provide you traction and possibly even your financing. They are constantly looking for ways to lower the cost per transaction and derive more business intel. Why do you need VC investors?

Posted by svinnovator on 2012-08-13 13:01:48

I've been to bunches of those pitch festivals from Silicon Valley north to SF. They are a form of entertainment and all types of attendees can sometimes get a useful idea for their own project. Be selfish. These events are for you to get stage experience and you may find ideas from the VC's or other presenters. I've found those ideas for my projects can be more valuable than money. (I do not mean stealing other entrepreneur's projects.)

I prefer industry money for early stage. You get involved with people with a clue and that is a big help. You do not want dumb money until you have nailed your concept and need only money for rapid growth.

Of course try Angel List. Also, I've found that the right email pitch to carefully targeted VC's will often get their attention with no warm introduction at all.

Posted by carlwimm on 2012-08-13 13:22:13

All:

There are about two dozen topics and sub topics in this post and in the ten or so comments.

Let me try and get to a few of them:

1) the circle jerkers - get over yourself.
I have developed project sin more than 6 industries and, like bad weather, the CJs are always with us. They talk about your deal and other deals and yesterday's deal but never their own.
Advice : enjoy the coffee, learn that they CJ because their own efforts are "limp" and move on.
Tactic : use them to find out who the real movers are. They will know because they talk about them all the time.

2) the bait and switch - so what else is new
Baiting you in with a "chance to pitch your project to real investors" and switching it to some, warm and fuzzy, CJ is a time honoured tradition. It, like all such events, does not have to be a total loss.
Express some real interest in the opinions of the CJers on the panel, I will bet you that when you reflect on their comments, they will have let a nugget through - without knowing that they did so. Perhaps they name dropped and exposed a real "man of influence". and so on.
Just take the bait and switch as an operational loss. Philosophy helps when despair beckons.

3) make damn sure that you have a patent app on file before you explain anything to anyone - trust no one.

4) Get Walmart, etc. etc - okay, you met a first class moron
It won't be the last. One of the nice things about money, once you are massively liquid or appear to broker it (as a VC does) is that it is a great life. You sit, on high - just like a Supreme Court Judge - and watch the multitudes scurry in front of you in supplication. And then, you get to drop "pronouncements" which are the last word on the subject.
For a 32 year old MBA who is a junior, assistant, deputy partner at some VC firm, this is heady stuff ... hubris on steroids.
He is an idiot. If the VCs that I have heard speak are right (that there are ten good projects a year in the whole USA) then this clown just pushed away a promising lead until it was totally de risked ... which means he becomes about as important as the fourth guy from the left, in the second row, of the road production of Guys and Dolls.
If you have a great lead, jump on it. It will not wait until all the ducks line up. Only an inexperienced idiot would not know this.

5) having fun while CJing - beautiful, now you got it.
It is very hard to take a V C seriously. Smile when he lathers up the conversation with generous dollops of VC BS. Ask intelligent questions such as "No problem getting WalMart AND Target. After I have them, and a profit of 20 million a year, no problem with just giving you the company for free, along with a personal cheque of mine for 5 million, just for taking it".
Smile, laugh, thank him for his "wonderful advice". Have some fun.

6) QUOTE, from you - So maybe my pitch sucks, or it's my fault for not explaining it just right. END QUOTE.
Actually this is not true. You just have not found the right people. Someone with years in the business who is well attuned to industry issues, would see what you have developed and know instantly just how valuable it is.
If he is also an "influencer" or has access ot them, you are almost there.

7) from htroche - make sure you are pitching to real early stage VCs
If the VC fund is over 25 million (or max 50 million) they are NOT an early stage anything. Period, full stop, no question about it.

Just some thoughts - best wishes

Posted by 1seriesfan on 2012-08-13 13:44:29

I only watched the 4 minutes of pitch.

I get that you have smart people on your team and that you've identified a market.

What I didn't get was:

Competitive advantage.
Barriers to entry.
Pipeline.
How quickly will you be in the market to test your product.

And while you talk about Blippy, Lemon, etc., you totally missed the elephant in the room -- Square. In my mind, that's your real competition (not to mention that at least one addtional company, Flint Mobile, has raised that "impossible" VC money and could be in this space)

But Square specifically with their wallet product is aimed right at your idea -- and they have a LOT of traction.

In the end, though, your 4 minute pitch lacked the key bullet points to raise it above "smart guys with a good idea" which is a lot different than "guys that have a good idea they can execute on."

But first work on answering the four weak spots in your pitch and I think -- assuming you have good answers there -- you will get a lot more success talking to VCs.

Posted by Garfield on 2012-08-13 15:08:12

....and this is why I struggle with this kind of venue. Many people don't understand the difference between the payment industry and the retail POS industry. Square 'can' be a competitor, just like Visa, MC, and the rest. But getting at P.O.S. data is a retailer-by-retailer ordeal. NO ONE entity has access to it. Square can make headway into this space using their version of a POS system, but they're not going after Home Depot's receipts, Kmart's receipts, or McDonald's receipts.

I get the same questions over and over and YES a good presentation should be able to address all of them, but I can't do it in 4 minutes. I have a double sided business - I have to answer the MERCHANT value proposition, the CONSUMER value proposition, the technology issues surrounding it, the IP around it (which I did mention in the Q/A part that we have a patent pending on how we identify you in our system without your interaction at the point of sale), AND we have to cover privacy, security, and various regulations.

AND most people don't understand retail, let alone the difference between retail and payment systems. I'm not whining, but I'm learning I can't explain crap in 4 minutes - I can barely touch on the problems we're solving.

I have a 2 minute pitch tonight and a 2 minute pitch on Thursday. I've changed my approach, and we like it better, but it's kind of a "less is more" pitch. We'll see.

Posted by anonymous on 2012-08-13 16:05:06

In evil Hollywood, pitching is a notorious art form. Not all great pitches lead to great movies, i.e., "Snakes on a Plane." Keep it simple, raise a mystery, play your listeners like they are a 20 lb. Bass on 5 lb test fly line.
When "Sesame Street"'s producers were drafting their first grant proposal, they'd take turns reading it aloud to find holes in it. That's where we got "one of these things is not like the other."

Posted by Anonymous on 2012-08-13 16:06:03

Keep at it, you're close to raising your round.

Posted by Garfield on 2012-08-14 13:46:49

***UPDATE****

For those interested, here is a video of my updated pitch at last night's event: http://youtu.be/7xNkuTeqPYI Sorry for the sound quality, but it should come through.

I totally changed my approach. I recognized what they were really interested in and focused on those 2 things: 1) Is this a viable and highly scalable business? and 2) Can this guy do it/is he worth writing a check to?

The point of the 2 minute pitch (in this particular forum) was to get their interest, although they kept trying to turn it into an academic pitching lesson. You'll notice I didn't let them do that in this video. I was much more comfortable. This was my FIRST pitch that was unscripted. I KNOW my business better than anyone, and can articulate it very well. I just get nervous I'll forget something and so I memorize my pitch, which sounds mechanical and not as good. So there's a good lesson: Be yourself and just present. I did better having a few points to talk off of than memorizing 2 minutes worth.

Anyway, of 10 presenters I won first place. I did get some leads and people were interested in learning more, and I'll follow up with those, but i'm still not confident I'm talking to the right people.

I just wanted to share with others the evolution of how this works and my journey to raise money. I wish I could have seen stuff like this before I started raising money, so I hope this is helping someone.

Posted by Anonymous on 2012-08-14 16:34:16

I agree that one has to be careful about what companies "CAN" get in a space but aren't in it. One can argue that Google could get into any space, for example.

But when you ignore things like Square's POS inroads with Starbucks, and PayPal's drive into Home Depot and try and make the argument "they aren't doing it today" you scare off a lot of people because, honestly -- and this is just my viewpoint -- you are not being honest about the market you are involved in.

Posted by Garfield on 2012-08-14 18:50:23

#18: Fair, but here's more information: Square and Paypal are in the payment space. Their model is to make money on transactions, and they are retailer agnostic: they care about swipes, not merchants. I have friends at paypal (in the group that is pushing into Home Depot and the 20 others) and I know their strategy. They're not going after our space.

Another note: merchants are afraid of these companies collecting their data, because they know that these companies want to own the relationship with the consumer. They don't care about the merchant. That is not a talking point: one of the largest retailers in the country told us that is why they prefer our solution to what's out there now. (yes, I'm working on getting them onboard....geesh....it takes time...)

The BEST thing that could happen for me is that Square and others penetrate the space and get merchants talking about mobile/online receipts. Yes, our spaces touch, but we are not after the same thing. Square doesn't have an offering that integrates with NCR POS systems, or IBM, or NEC, Fujitsu, Microsoft RMS, Quickbooks, Magento, GSI Commerce, etc.

No one here is interested in my entire business, but I want to at least address the points made. We're on our game, we know the market, we know the trends. Our solution is the best, but we suffer from not being able to get it out there. Classic startup problems, but we're still fighting...

Posted by Garfield on 2012-08-14 18:54:22

..dang it, one more thing:

When a merchant emails a receipt to a customer, it is a security breach for them. That is why I said it is great for Paypal and Square to force the issue down the merchants throat. They are paving the way for a secure delivery system (which is us).

Here's why: The merchant sends a receipt to the consumer (that is, IF he cared enough at the time to give his email address). The customer gets an inbox full of receipts, most of them unimportant. THEN a company comes along and says "hey, we'll organize those for you if you sign up for our email-reading service." Now that company can screen-scrape the data the merchants are sending out. They have free data from the merchant with ZERO restrictions on how they use it.

This is what prompted many of the large retailers we've spoken with to say "We'll NEVER email receipts. It's a massive security hole."

But if Square, et. al., gain traction, they won't have a say in the matter. They'll have to do *something*, and we're a better alternative.

Posted by innovator94086 on 2012-08-15 02:52:39

I think that these pitch events have their purpose, but that purpose is not really to raise money -- it is to provide opportunities to practice your pitch and try out different ways of talking about your business and getting exposed to the kind of random questions that do come up in real pitches. Think of it as like doing practice interviews when looking for a job. You can get some good feedback from 4 minutes of practice interviewing in front of a random group of hiring managers, but chances are that random group doesn't have a job fit for you. Occasionally you might get lucky and someone knows about an open offer for your skills, but you aren't likely to get a job on the spot. If you want a particular job, you are more likely to find it by pinpointing what you want and finding companies that do that, and targeting specific managers. But your practice may help you prepare for the unexpected questions.

Similarly, doing public pitching because you don't know individuals to reach out to (for more than 4 minutes of time), is not only lazy it is not likely to deliver the investors you want.

Team is a huge part of what creates trust for people -- far more than "a good idea". If one of the members of your team has a pre-existing relationship with an investor prospect, chances are good that you can get more than 4 minutes with them without participating in a public pitch event. If you have people on your team with a track record of success in the industry, that should carry weight too -- and if they have been successful, they people they made richer before are usually likely to want them to do it again.

If you are doing pitch events and expecting more, you might find the best solution is to add someone to your team who has connections and a track record with some investors.

Posted by bpflug on 2012-08-15 13:26:44

I watched both videos and disagree with the VC comments downplaying your value proposition to consumers.

You have a solid sounding concept that is attractive to consumers, at least those who:
1.) Don't want to manage a sea of electronic and paper receipts -and-
2.) Cannot or don't want to subsidize their:
a. Merchants when it's time to return / exchange
b. Employers when it's time to reimburse (see Neat.com)
c. Governments when it's time to deduct

Isn't Web 3.0 (data portability + attention economy + semantic Web) inherently two-sided? Consolidating information about "me" from the corporate silos that generate most of it has difficult to refute value. But it must also have clear value to the vendors, hence the two-sided situation.

Sure two-sided is hard. But don't pioneering software providers and financiers need to go there in order to create attractive-enough value to the consumer masses, especially considering our overwhelmed lives and waning attention?

So my opinion about your consumer value prop is this. Please don't ask me to join 50 value-card clubs, memorize 50 account logins only to get bombarded with waves of mail, email, texts and phone calls. Even if I didn’t mind those attention-pulverizing activities, and I do, it's infeasible to expect me to do the heavy lifting of consolidation. I'd really rather not stitch-together my paperless receipts across sites.

I'd rather stick to the shoebox, or use your receipts aggregating / consolidating service. I'd even pay a couple bucks a month for it.

Posted by Iggy on 2012-08-18 21:15:04

Interesting thread, Garfield. A little bit of a rant in the original post, but your willingness to interact in the comments made it more useful.

I have a few comments:

1. You wrote "If they don't know me or my team, they're not interested." I believe that to be 90%+ true. That still leaves the 0-10%. Keep plugging.

2. All angels and most VCs will evaluate a pitch for a consumer business from the perspective of the end consumer. If they are not in your target demographic, you have to tell them that over and over again... and you still face an uphill battle. My advice to all entrepreneurs is to pick businesses for which angels and VCs are the primary demographic (wealthy, ego-centric, pampered, somewhat lazy). Your chance of funding will go way up.

3. I would use your product and I would pay for it, but it took me too long to figure that out. Refer to my previous point (2) and make it personal. The potential investors NEED your service to make their sheltered lives easier. It's all about THEM. You're going to save them TIME and hassle, which is worth just as much to them as money. I would sell the investors on that first. Then, you can explain why the service provers and retailers also benefit so everybody makes lots of money.

Posted by hiddenfounder on 2012-08-23 02:16:23

The problem is your fanny pack.

Posted by wiseleo on 2012-08-27 07:09:55

I watched your pitches very intently with pauses and multiple rewinds. I shouldn't have to do that. :)

My feedback is more on delivery.

Your #1 problem is that you are speaking too fast to understand what you are saying. You must slow down.

I have that same problem, but I learned to slow down when I am in my "presentation mode".

Your Ignite pitch was a disaster. The first 5 seconds are impossible to understand. It was apparently about how the idea came to you. That is not really relevant. You slowed down at 11 seconds, then sped up to unintelligible level until you started talking about toilet paper. Umm... What the...??? Your pitch starts at around 33 seconds where you calm down and start defining the problem. I don't think I would be discussing the data sales aspect of the deal. For one thing, that immediately sets off privacy alarms. I am not squeamish about privacy, but others are.

What you could have done is mentioned specific merchants who agreed to "pilot" your solution today.

You started talking extremely fast. Thankfully, you slowed down later, but you immediately lost people as you started your pitch.

You don't have time to talk about yourself. None at all. Those who believe in your product will ask you about your personal credentials later. You mention that you are from Idaho and you are talking about motorcycles. That is not relevant to your product.

I did a 1-minute pitch at TechCrunch Disrupt, so I am a little familiar with the pressure of having only 4 minutes. ;)

You answered a question that was very difficult to hear with "the merchant pushes receipts to us". I can promise you that no one except your competitors understands what that means. Your answer should have been more like "When the merchant's cash register generates a receipt, a copy of information printed on that receipt gets transmitted to our servers without slowing down the checkout process. The customer's credit card number never gets sent to us." Your answer to "how many customers you have now" was too evasive. Answer it next time with "We have a regional chain consisting of 10 stores in pilot phase of deployment".

Looking at your second pitch to VC Taskforce, we have a different scenario.

You opened with the fact that you have a viable and scalable business. That shouldn't need to be said. I could not understand what you said about the second issue. That was too fast.

The second pitch did not convey the value proposition at all. I tried really hard to listen to it a few times and it was still not possible to understand.

My advice to you is to spend about 3 months at Toastmasters to get better at public speaking. 3 months should be enough to see a substantial difference, based on my experience observing our new members.

Secondly, distill your presentation to 1 minute. Eliminate every unnecessary word. Have an 8-second, a 30-second, and a 60-second version of what ReadyReceipts is all about. When you can do it in 1 minute, 4 minutes will seem like luxury. That is very tough, but it is a necessary skill.

My presentation would be something like this.

"Today, whenever I want to return a microwave that's not working back to Target, I need to bring my receipt. Even though they have a sophisticated system that theoretically permits them to look up my purchases, they still want this piece of paper. Target has a 90-day return policy. How many of you can find your receipt after 3 months? What about returning a dress to Nordstrom? How about bringing back a laptop back to Costco, which has a 90-day return policy for laptops?

[At this point, that is about 30 seconds] - establish consumer pain associated with early failure of products within relatively long return periods of time.

Ready receipts seamlessly integrates with the merchant's existing electronic cash registers without slowing down the checkout process. The merchant informs the consumer their receipt is now available online and the consumer can sign up to be a member of ReadyReceipts at any time after the transaction is complete.

[At this point, I am at 50 seconds] - explain ease of integration without using technical jargon and lack of disruption of existing processes. The speed of checkout is vital to merchants. Since the consumer can signup after the purchase, they don't clog the line.

The consumer no longer needs to keep track of their receipts. We provide the merchant with valuable purchasing behaviors intelligence that they desperately want.

[By now, I am at 60 seconds] - quick summary of two benefits for both parties.
"

This is a quick draft. I would probably revise this a lot more for an actual pitch.

Notice that I am not bothering with "Hi, my name is ______. I am from ______". You don't have time for that. Focus on the core message.

Look me up if you want to practice some more. I am wiseleo at gmail. :)

P.S. Tell your videographer to hold the phone horizontally, please. If possible, wear a wireless lavaliere mic. It looks like these events are setup by someone who is clueless about audio. :(

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Founder Insight 7/27/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-07-27

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

'Aaron Levie’s #Startup Journey' - Aaron is the co-founder and CEO of Box - a secure cloud content management and collaboration tool. In this talk, he discusses his previous startup failures, and the transformation of Box from launching with a few users in his dorm room, to ultimately "crossing the chasm" to a product used by 82% of Fortune 500 companies.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Gust? Do You Really Want Your Information on There?

How Much Equity for CTO?

Recommended Resources:

VCs Pump $2.1B into Early Stage Startups, Biggest Haul in More than a Decade [GeekWire]

Before Your Startup Goes to Bootcamp, Read This
[WSJ Blogs]

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Stop Playing Games and Be Real

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Garfield on 2012-07-21

PUBLIC:

Dear V.C.'s -

I am only speaking to Silicon Valley today. First, let's start with your track record: whatever you're doing, IT ISN'T WORKING! What's your average return over the last 10 years? How many articles and blogs detail your failing at really picking winners? So whatever you're doing today is not really hitting home runs. That said...

INNOVATION COMES FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY! It isn't just in Silicon Valley! This is an incestuous area, where you all want to hear a big name or some big initial investor. So much for "venture capital" investing in "seed stage, high risk, high reward" ventures. Whatever - show me a fund that actually does that.

I am a nobody from the middle of the country. I had an idea and worked for 3 years on it (still am). I have solved the problem I set out to solve, and it is big and it is national. When Walmart agrees, YOU SHOULD AT LEAST LISTEN TO ME! How sad it is that you want to hear all the ideas, be in on what's going on, sit on your high horse, and laugh at us for trying.

Here is a perfect analogy my fellow entrepreneurs will understand: It's like I'm in a marathon. I filled out the paperwork, trained, pulled a support team together, and I'm about halfway through and AHEAD OF EVERYONE. Then I meet you and say "I need a sponsor to finish this race and win."

Then you say "Hmmm...have you ever run a marathon before? Have you ever won one like (Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, Brad Feld, blah blah blah)? Has your team ever supported a winner before? Do you know how to run across the finish line? Here...let me see your stats....and look at your team....and check your shoes and the car you drove to the race....."

I stand there in disbelief. I say "uh, I'm IN the race. And I'm winning. And my team helped get me this far. And, uh, I could win this with some help."

Then you come back: "Hmm....well, we agree you're ahead. And we agree you could win this. But I haven't heard of you before. And I haven't heard of anyone from your team. And you're too old. And you don't live here where the cool people live. And you don't have 100,000 users on your site or $5M in revenue (we call that "traction"). I like what you've done, and you should be commended for getting this far (which they'll follow with some BS story about how they understand and were once where you are now), but I just don't think this is the right team. You may be ahead now, but I just don't think you can sustain the pace. I think you'll make a left turn when you shouldn't, I think your team won't be able to keep up, and frankly, I'D FEEL BETTER INVESTING IN LAST YEARS WINNER EVEN THOUGH THEY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THIS KIND OF RACE, LET ALONE SPENT THE LAST 3 YEARS RUNNING IN IT!"

Mr. VC investor reading this: Get real. How many success stories have there been where people like me get pissed off, tell you to go to hell, and build the business anyway? Ohhhhh....THEN you want in....THEN it looks like a good business you would invest in.

So stop saying your're seed stage. Bullshit. Stop saying that you don't make your decision based just on the team. Bullshit. Stop saying that you were once where I am now. Bullshit. I call bullshit on your entire industry - you've become an inbred trigger-shy self congratulating group of people that live to watch us squirm and treat us like crap. Like taking phone calls or texting WHILE WE'RE PITCHING YOU.

I do have a good idea. And I'm going to go sell it myself. I'm going to go get that 'traction' you want to see. And guess what? When I do, F### YOU. I'll build this in spite of you and your ilk. You can't think for yourself. You have rules and guidelines and formula's and a profile you want me to fit before you invest in me. Guess what? That's fair for later stage investors. But you people that say you invest in seed and early stage? Guess what? STARTUPS ARE SLOPPY! I've taken this idea and I've got Walmart saying they like it and VP's in the industry agree and the trends are all pointing to this. EVEN YOU SAY IT'S A GOOD BUSINESS AND WE'VE BROUGHT IT A LONG WAY.

So what are you shy about? How can you say we've done a good job, we've got it figured out, then spit on and insult me by telling my I'm not good enough to fund to continue on with it? That my team isn't strong enough to move it forward? We've taken it this far - what is your problem? I get that it's your money. BUT STOP WASTING MY TIME MAKING ME DO A SHOW AND TELL FOR YOU WHILE YOU PRETEND YOU'RE INTERESTED IN EARLY STAGE. I'd be better off taking that $1,000 I spent to fly out to see you and go talk to Walmart or Target and put this together myself.

So why don't I do that myself then? Because growth costs money! Because I'm coming to you to help me hit an artery! Because when the retailer says yes, I'm screwed and won't be able to execute because I'm not funded (..oh, but then I could come running to you to get funded only to get screwed because I'm excited and desperate and you know it). Because I'll open the door to competitors as soon as I have some succes. Because running a business (even close to) right takes time and money. Because my team can't keep working for free. Because my wife is wearing the same bra as 3 years ago and barely can pay the mortgage. Because my kids need braces. Because I need to put gas in my tank. I'm not some 23 year old naive kid that can live on beans, sleep in my mom's house, and be your indentured servant until I make something of value that you take credit for and somehow finagle out of my control.

So run your business your way - that's ok and totally fair. But stop building it on the backs of those of us that don't have the time or money to play your game. I know you don't think of yourself as this way, but you and your industry are. And I smile EVERY time someone builds a business right around you. We all laugh at you. Hail to the Americans that build businesses despite you and the government doing your best to suck the life out of entrepreneurship and dreams.

Posted by rktsci on 2012-07-21 01:58:42

I've done just what you described. And I'm still here 13 years later with 40% annual revenue growth and the best customer list in my industry. In other words, I created a *real* business that impacts *real* people.

Posted by Dr. Steve on 2012-07-21 11:46:49

A nasty rant - but quite accurate! That's why I have never taken one cent from a VC even with three term sheets. They do not comprehend what they are purporting to accomplish and that's one of the fundamental reasons why they are disappearing rapidly. PE is far better.

Posted by scorcher14 on 2012-07-21 12:55:40

I have to say nothing bothered me more than pitching a VC who was constantly typing on his or her phone the whole meeting. Unfortunately, that was the norm, not the exception, in the many pitches we did.

I always think of the saying, "Nothing succeeds like success." You have an easier time when you or someone on your team has already had a hit before. However, most hugely successful companies (Apple, MS, Google, FB, etc.) don't have founders that fall into that category, so you ask yourself what gives.

Anyway, it's like the old saying goes. The banker won't give you money unless you can prove you don't need it!

Posted by Garfield on 2012-07-21 13:51:16

#3 (scorcher14):
I've decided that I don't buy the premise the a successful team with necessarily be successful again. If that were the case, would you bet me $5,000 that last year's superbowl team will win again this year?

There are so many variables to a startup, and a good strong team is only ONE. It seems very logical that someone that has done it once successfully will be successful again. But I really don't think that applies in the startup world. Startups are so unpredictable, full of crazy things and variables and issues you can't control, no matter how good you are.

You know what I've noticed? I've noticed that people that HAVEN'T made it try harder, fight longer, and give up less. On the other hand, the people that start companies with millions in their pockets "really" don't need it to succeed or work. And many times some dumb company will acquire that "successful" person's company just because their name is on it, regardless of whether it's sustainable or has value.

So I encourage all of you to politely push back on V.C.'s: a previously experienced team will be successful managing a large company, or 'running' a business. But to start a business - to give birth to something that hasn't been done before - to create value out of thin air - THAT my friend takes passion, drive, desperation at times, and sheer fight. Successful people lose a small part of that, and even more quickly if they get big heads about it. Don't accept it folks - otherwise take a bet on next year's superbowl...

Posted by VenturiSaeculi on 2012-07-21 16:39:29

You might want to look into Angel List (www.angel.co) as a source of funds. It sounds like you've made enough progress to interest people who actually invest at the earliest stages, but you're not meeting them. Angel List might help with that.

Posted by bryanrimmer on 2012-07-21 17:18:10

I feel some sympathy for this - we are at the beginning of our search for funds, and we too have a great concept, good initial clients, good initial cash flow : and we felt that traditional VCs had no clear understanding of our needs - or even the will to understand. Not through having a bad story or making a bad pitch. They just seem to have an irrelevant position in the "food chain". Betting on horses after they won the race is easy. Where is the risk in that ?
The comment above about AngelList - I have resisted continuing wiht my pages there, because I felt the same attitudes would be prevalent. Does AngelList really work ? Or is it the same old story ?

Posted by Anonymous on 2012-07-21 17:22:40

Hey Garfield, good on ya! Very accurate encapsulation of oft-repeated concerns - and with a tone which very appropriately points the finger in the face of those who have generated less than 2% annual returns for ten years. Just for a little historical perspective, in the early days of VC (I mean REAL early, like when KPCB was just K ...), any VC worth his salt would only take on associates who had actually successfully operated a business - imagine that! High time to return to an age of sensibility. So, who has an UBER-disintermediation model to totally cut out the venture crapitalists? Sign me up.

Posted by Ikea2011 on 2012-07-21 20:35:09

I'm sorry, but I wasn't aware that the investor community owed you anything Garfield. Was that listed somewhere on this site, or perhaps you read that somewhere else?

Was there an implicit agreement that if you created a product that Walmart liked (but obviously hasn't funded), that term sheets would be forthcoming?

Of course not. You knew that when you started on your journey, and your success or failure as an entrepreneur is now predicated on selling to investors - whether they're on the left coast, in Chicago, NY wherever. You've had to sell to others all through this process - your wife, your team, perhaps even your dentist. Get back in the game and make it happen.

Look for ways to succeed here - if they really like the product, get a Letter of Intent from Walmart...or someone else. Use this as leverage. It's frustrating, but that's a large part of what makes a successful entrepreneur - getting what needs to be done, done.

And if you don't like investors texting or emailing while your talking - say so; then get up, pack your bags and leave.

Good luck; hang tough.

Posted by jendrina on 2012-07-22 08:08:56

Completely agree with much of Garfield's message, but must say that VC's are not in the business of funding startups; they're in the business of generating returns for their private investors. Anything and everything they do is focused on this core purpose. So instead of thinking 'how can I get money from this VC?', perhaps the approach should be 'how can I show that my opportunity can help this VC meet its ROI targets?' VC's are not necessarily entrepreneurs but they are business people, and if we show them how our business can help their business succeed, maybe we can eliminate some of the miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Posted by Garfield on 2012-07-22 14:38:40

#8: You are absolutely - and pointedly - correct. Good feedback, and very fair. After thinking about it, here's my response/where my thinking comes from:

Investors don't owe us anything, true, but when they SAY "come on in and we'll take a look", you expect at least that much. After self-analysis, I think this is the heart of my problem with the industry and where the frustration/expectation comes from: IT'S NEVER ENOUGH.

We had investors tell us early on "good idea - you need to put a team together and come back." So I did. Then they say "good idea - you need to make a business model out of it." So I did. Then they say "good idea - but you need to make a working prototype." So I did. Then they say "good idea - but you need to get interested customers. So I did. Then they say "good idea - but you need to raise some money. The first $10,000 is the hardest..." So I did. Then they say "good idea - but you need to raise more money. The first $100k is the hardest." So I did. Then they say "good idea - you need to raise more money. The first $500k is the hardest." So I did. Then they say "you need LOI's from channel partners - get those." So I did.

Anyone noticing a pattern here? IT'S NEVER ENOUGH. And when I say "they", it really is a collective When you talk to these people, they all start to sound the same They almost finish each other's sentences. My question is "how much further can I de-risk the business before I've made it enough of a business that I don't need funding?" I THOUGHT that was teh gap that V.C. filled. The 'expectation' I have/had is the false thinking that "if I just did X or Y, THEN they'll listen. THEN they'll help me. They even said so." It's getting told you haven't done enough when you've done everything they've asked, only to come back and be asked for yet more. At some point, you realize they're just not going to take the risk, and I'd appreciate knowing that earlier than later...

Posted by baracuda on 2012-07-23 01:34:32

I don't understand, why some folks keep writing rants. Just do not get engaged, then there is no need to rant. This is in my humble opinion serves no purpose.

Posted by kscruzen on 2012-07-23 09:45:38

I feel your pain and so does my wife. She made the 'bra' comment over the weekend without reading your posting. One point...make sure you are talking with VC's that are funding. Most of the Sand Hill road VC's have not been able to raise funds. So, although they take the meetings, they have no capacity to invest. Instead, they make comments like the ones you mention and waste our time.

Posted by Anonymous on 2012-07-23 13:28:58

Everyone gets pissed at some point in the funding game.
These tirades are funny, but predictable.

BTW, we are on our third round of funding, this time fro $2M, and all from individuals. No VCs.

Posted by goodform on 2012-07-23 19:50:59

On the one hand - ill bread, arrogant, self important . . . On the other hand - a systemic problem. Technology is global. Entrepreneurs are global. Validation is global. Funding is global.

All startups need both funding and validation.

What is needed is an open and transparent global marketplace that serves the self interest of all of the members of the Early Stage community.

Static demo - www.earlystagemarketplace.com

All comments, thoughts . . . .welcome

Posted by akraemer on 2012-07-25 14:59:10

While I don't agree with the choice of words, I can certainly relate to the frustration.

Given that only a fraction of companies seeking investment get funded by VCs, I am asking myself if there is a flaw in the system. Is the system itself efficient?

There are a lot of businesses out there that do not receive funding, yet they have viable business models that could potentially generate attractive cash flows. They are just not the next Google and might not be attractive IPOs or M&A candidates down the road, however create lots of cash and make some investors/owners mighty happy.

Without the public markets or a trade sale as exit, these companies will not be looked at by VCs. I do not see how else these companies can get funded. What, if anything, can be done to help young companies get funded that have a good business model, yet are not VC candidates because, for whatever reason, they are not prime IPO or M&A candidates? I am talking about businesses that can be valued (in the future) using EBITDA and not Revenue multiples because they are profitable and generate cash. Solid companies, not pie in the sky mirages. I'd be quite content with a $50-100m business down the road that generates a lot of cash for the owners every year, and that remains private. A lot of these potential businesses are not being looked at by VCs, however they could be a boost to the economy if they had access to other types of funding.

Posted by carlwimm on 2012-07-27 02:07:30

All of you know my views on VCs and the systemic dysfunction brought about by the conflict of interest that always obtains when you have a "2 and 20" compensation scheme for a VC. I do not need to repeat that here.

I am interested in the requirement of (seemingly all) VCs to only deal though and introduction and then only fund someone who has had a success before.

Garfield's comments that he has a company with all the ingredients yet cannot get serious consideration would be solved if he (Garfield) were one of the "already successful" that VCs seem to treasure.

But, upon reflection, there is a dysfunction here as well. First of all, the success record of hundreds of VCs, investing with their acceptable "jockeys" (instead of the horse) have an abysmal record of generating winners. It is like 1 in a thousand.

Why?

That rate of failure (an almost assured destiny, it seems) happens in spite of all the things that VCs say:
1) we (the VC) can sport winners
2) the deal had traction
3) the incoming CEO had a success record

How can this fail. How can it fail at all , let alone about 100% of the time?

There has to be a systemic dysfunction in the standard VC structure that guarantees failure on such a consistent basis.

So ... I did a little thinking. I had a thought.

Let us suppose that I was one of the "pre approved jockeys". My last deal put a nice 30 million in my account. Now I am back with a new deal.

Well. first of all .... with 30 million .. what do I need with some pain in the back passage VC?

I can afford it myself. And who knows better how to spend every penny of my money since I did so well the first time.?

But here I am, back again, at the VC's door all ready to step in and take a VC term sheet.

I do that because I will be goddamned if I spend one penny of my money on this Hollywood storefront deal. My money is invested in T-bills.

And, not only would I not put myself in the trenches again personally, but I realize something the VC does not realize. The reason that I succeeded was that I got bit , big time, by the Butterfly of LUCK.

500 social networks out there and mine was the one that got bought out.

I realize that my reputation as a "winner" is a little bit shaky. So I want a no risk deal where there is enough money to float things for 24 months and I can pay people to do all the work. My job is to drink coffee and give advice (and attend industry conferences, first class, of course).

The result of combining a winner VC form, a project that is willing to take a VC term sheet and a superstar "jockey" who will not risk himself is a deal that looks absolutely great. A winner VC firm puts a flavour of the moment project in play, gives it money and signs up a name Valley superstar.

And everyone hopes that when it comes to box office time, it works.

Just like the movie business (another business with name superstars, and a well worn procedure for packaging a film so that it attracts funding) the VC business has about the same success record, 1 in a thousand..... (the rest of the VC tech deals end up in the Valley version of "it went straight to video disk").

In Hollywood, the system tries to break this logjam and creates a new studio every once in a while. In 10 years the new studio looks just like an old studio where people have forgotten how to bet on themselves and try to de risk by "packaging" a film.

In the Valley, there is a lot of kerfuffle about Mark Andreessen and his partner who are the "new type of VC". I guess they are the "new studio". Let us see if they can stay "new".

Summary

My point is that not only is the funding from LPs brought in on a basis that introduces a conflict of interest but the VC habit of screening projects by the introduction protocol AND insisting that a project can only go ahead with the addition of a pre approved "jockey" ends up as a recipe , not for success but for disaster.

The ones that do work out, seem to have a bit of the "stopped clock is right twice a day" flavour to them.

So what does that mean for us?

It means ... don't waste your time. Don't run your project trying to get their attention and then their money. You are better off buying lottery tickets.

best wishes

Posted by carlwimm on 2012-07-27 02:22:42

I just noticed that our comments are viewable by the public on this thread.

I will bet you (my colleagues on TheFunded) that those who do read this thread are going to ask themselves, who are these lunatics who try to be entrepreneurs.

To explain entrepreneurship to civilians, I recently stole the line from Pretty Woman where Richard Gere talks about the opera. Paraphrased for entrepreneurship, it can be revised something like this:

"The first time you come in close contact with a start up is very interesting. You either love it or you hate it. If you love it, you will always love it. If you hate it, you can learn to like it but it will never be part of your soul."

The start up people are the real "1%" in this and any other country. The future of each country is entirely in their hands. Don't believe me ... then stop to ponder this .. everyone of the 99% is replaceable. once something has been explored, people can be trained to do the work.

But a start up person has to explore and discover new territory. He has to do "the impossible with the unavailable". He must risk himself, profoundly risk himself, to finish his exploration.

And, like all great explorers , he must be prepared to die lost.

And that need to explore, that need to hold the reins in his/her own hands is what sets him/her apart from the other 99%.

And that is why we take all the guff from the peripheral people, flitting about our flame. Dealing with those who cannot and will not understand is what frustrates us.

I hope that helps any civilians who cannot accept that life to at least understand why.

best wishes

Posted by htroche on 2012-08-01 05:15:12

I share the frustration with the original poster. Having just gone through a seed fund raising round, all I can say is, I feel your pain.

On the other hand he is forgetting or not admitting the number one characteristic of VCs:

They are followers! The only way to get them to invest is if somebody else is already investing. There is no point in trying to fight the fact they are followers or to try to change their mind. You could be the greatest startup ever with a rock star team, traction, growing revenues and good press and still most VCs will sit on your deal until they feel somebody else will do it.

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Founder Insight 7/19/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-07-19

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

'Trends Hiten Shah is Seeing in #Startups and #VentureCapital' - Hiten Shah will be a Keynote Speaker at the 11th Founder Showcase, coming up on July 25th in Silicon Valley.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Change Funding Size of Private Placement

Convertible Notes

Recommended Resources:

Vinod Khosla: Maintain the Silicon Valley Vision [New York Times]

5 Things I Learned the Hard Way with Startups.com [The Next Web]

Upcoming Events:

11th Founder Showcase
Date/Location:July 25, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: The Founder Showcase is a quarterly startup pitch and networking event that gathers over 300 top technology CEOs, investors, 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 is scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus. Guests will be treated to an entertaining Pitch Competition featuring 8 promising seed-stage companies, as well as talks by Aaron Levie, Co-Founder & CEO of Box, Hiten Shah, CEO of KISSmetrics, and Kevin Rose, Founder of Digg and Venture Partner at Google Ventures.
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Founder Insight 7/12/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-10-03

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

'Building a Painkiller Product, Not a Vitamin' by David Jones - In this talk from the Sydney Founder Institute, David gives actionable advise as "hindsights and axioms" when searching for a product market fit with his past companies.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Cash Infusion by Founder

Clean Tech Brokers

Recommended Resources:

7 Things I Wish We Knew Before our Seed Round [TheNextWeb]

How to Prepare your Team for Investor Due Diligence [StartupPro]

Upcoming Events:

11th Founder Showcase
Date/Location:July 25, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: The Founder Showcase is a quarterly startup pitch and networking event that gathers over 300 top technology CEOs, investors, 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 is scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus. Guests will be treated to an entertaining Pitch Competition featuring 8 promising seed-stage companies, as well as talks by Aaron Levie, Co-Founder & CEO of Box, Hiten Shah, CEO of KISSmetrics, and Kevin Rose, Founder of Digg and Venture Partner at Google Ventures.
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Founder Insight 7/5/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-07-05

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

'Shifting from #Entrepreneur to Investor' by Kevin Rose - In this talk from TechCrunch, Kevin Rose discusses his shift from serial entrepeneur, to angel investor, and to Venture Partner.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Acquisition Value

Crowdfunder Valuations

Recommended Resources:

5 Trick Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Answer Before Asking for Money
[Forbes]

How to Build a Successful Company from the Ground Up
[Jay Fulcher via TechCrunch]

Upcoming Events:

11th Founder Showcase
Date/Location:July 25, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: The Founder Showcase is a quarterly startup pitch and networking event that gathers over 300 top technology CEOs, investors, 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 is scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus. Guests will be treated to an entertaining Pitch Competition featuring 8 promising seed-stage companies, as well as talks by Aaron Levie, Co-Founder & CEO of Box, Hiten Shah, CEO of KISSmetrics, and Kevin Rose, Founder of Digg and Venture Partner at Google Ventures.

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Founder Insight 6/28/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-06-28

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

'Do Not Swim Upstream to Find Revenue' by George Deeb - In this talk from the Chicago Founder Institute, George discusses business planning, revenue modeling and financial projections, in a conservative and credible way that should help startups attract investors. He provides high level guidance on: (i) how to make money; (ii) how to build a financial model; (iii) how to scale expenses; (iv) how to attract investors; and (v) how to set key metrics for ongoing success.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

FinTech VCs

Option Plan

Recommended Resources:

How Many Investors are Too Many? [Both Sides of the Table]

The 7 Ways Dropbox Hacked Growth to Become a $4B Company [KISSmetrics]

Upcoming Events:

11th Founder Showcase
Date/Location:July 25, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: The Founder Showcase is a quarterly startup pitch and networking event that gathers over 300 top technology CEOs, investors, 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 is scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus. Guests will be treated to an entertaining Pitch Competition featuring 8 promising seed-stage companies, as well as talks by Aaron Levie, Co-Founder & CEO of Box, Hiten Shah, CEO of KISSmetrics, and Kevin Rose, Founder of Digg and Venture Partner at Google Ventures.
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Founder Insight 6/21/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-06-21

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

’How to Create a #Startup Brand that is an Asset’ by Anke Corbin - In this talk from the Denver Founder Institute, Anke explains how to build a brand that is an asset for a company.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Sharing Agreement on Future Profits with Advisor/Mentor

What did You Know and When did You Know It, & the Facebook IPO

Recommended Resources:

The 11 Risks that VCs Evaluate [Tom Tunguz]

Always Swim Downstream [Uncrunched]

Upcoming Events:

11th Founder Showcase
Date/Location:July 25, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: The Founder Showcase is a quarterly startup pitch and networking event that gathers over 300 top technology CEOs, investors, 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 is scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus. Guests will be treated to an entertaining Pitch Competition featuring 8 promising seed-stage companies, as well as talks by Aaron Levie, Co-Founder & CEO of Box, Hiten Shah, CEO of KISSmetrics, and more TBA.
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Founder Insight 6/14/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-06-14

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

’How to Echo and Amplify your #Startup Story’ by Jeff Dachis - In this talk from the Silicon Valley Founder Institute, Jeffrey discusses how to use the media and your network to echo and amplify your startup's story at every stage.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

VC Intros from Fellow Entrepreneurs

Company Naming and Domains

Recommended Resources:

8 Angels Investors that Entrepreneurs Should Avoid
[Marty Zwilling via RockThePost]

What it’s Like to be the CEO: Revelations and Reflections
[Paul DeJoe via OnStartups]

Upcoming Events:

Gamification Summit
Date/Location:June 19-21, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: Gamification is radically changing the way companies do business, driving unprecedented engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders. Find out how your organization and marketing strategy will be transformed through the power of engaging design, and leverage these powerful new techniques to exceed your goals and beat the competition. GSummit is the only event that brings together leading thinkers in the gamification, loyalty and behavioral engineering space. Over three days, you’ll experience hands-on workshops, share best (and worst) practices, see new products & ideas, disseminate data, inspire each other and network to create a more fun & engaging world. Insight readers save $200.

Structure Conference
Date/Location:June 20-21, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: GigaOM presents the 5th Annual Structure Conference, as we bring together the leaders innovating, shaping and defining the ongoing cloud computing evolution. The shift to the cloud isn't just a change the way IT is organized and delivered, but is also the impetus for a new way of building chips, servers, networking and the other building blocks of the computing industry. The cloud allows us to think and do things never before possible. Find out how the cloud is affecting the way you work and do business around the world. TheFunded readers receive a 20% discount.

11th Founder Showcase
Date/Location:July 25, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: The Founder Showcase is a quarterly startup pitch and networking event that gathers over 300 top technology CEOs, investors, 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 is scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus. Guests will be treated to an entertaining Pitch Competition featuring 8 promising seed-stage companies, as well as talks by Aaron Levie, Co-Founder & CEO of Box, and others. Reduced-Price tickets are available until Friday, June 15th.

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Founder Insight 6/7/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-06-07

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

’Performing Startup Market Research on the Cheap’ by Dan Shapiro - In this video from the Seattle Founder Institute, Dan walks through a tactical step by step framework to research a market on a shoestring budget using Mechanical Turk, Surveymonkey, Google Adwords, and Excel. He explains how to build and optimize surveys, ways to evaluate ideas, and analyzing results.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Crowdfunding for Startups a Bad Idea

Recommended Resources:

How to Run a Successful Campaign on Kickstarter [Shopify]

What Startups Can Do If (When?) Facebook IPO Affects Valuations [Forbes]

Upcoming Events:

Gamification Summit
Date/Location:June 19-21, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: Gamification is radically changing the way companies do business, driving unprecedented engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders. Find out how your organization and marketing strategy will be transformed through the power of engaging design, and leverage these powerful new techniques to exceed your goals and beat the competition. GSummit is the only event that brings together leading thinkers in the gamification, loyalty and behavioral engineering space. Over three days, you’ll experience hands-on workshops, share best (and worst) practices, see new products & ideas, disseminate data, inspire each other and network to create a more fun & engaging world. Insight readers save $200.

Structure Conference
Date/Location:June 20-21, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: GigaOM presents the 5th Annual Structure Conference, as we bring together the leaders innovating, shaping and defining the ongoing cloud computing evolution.
The shift to the cloud isn't just a change the way IT is organized and delivered, but is also the impetus for a new way of building chips, servers, networking and the other building blocks of the computing industry. The cloud allows us to think and do things never before possible. Find out how the cloud is affecting the way you work and do business around the world. TheFunded readers receive a 20% discount.

To receive this every Thursday as an email, click here to subscribe

Posted by VenturiSaeculi on 2012-06-08 00:56:18

Dan Shapiro's presentation is the best shoestring market research analysis I've ever seen--really useful. Thanks for posting it!

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Founder Insight 5/31/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-05-31

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

’Define Your Development Priorities’ by Phil Libin - In this talk from the Silicon Valley Founder Institute, Phil discusses an approach to product development he uses with Evernote. He explains product planning, balancing conflicting development priorities, and how to prioritize feature development.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Private Placement for Your Startup

Crowdfunding/Passage of the Jobs Act

Recommended Resources:

The Art of Raising Seed [TechCrunch]

It’s Morning in Venture Capital [Both Sides of the Table]

Upcoming Events:

Gamification Summit
Date/Location:June 19-21, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: Gamification is radically changing the way companies do business, driving unprecedented engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders. Find out how your organization and marketing strategy will be transformed through the power of engaging design, and leverage these powerful new techniques to exceed your goals and beat the competition. GSummit is the only event that brings together leading thinkers in the gamification, loyalty and behavioral engineering space. Over three days, you’ll experience hands-on workshops, share best (and worst) practices, see new products & ideas, disseminate data, inspire each other and network to create a more fun & engaging world. Insight readers save $200.

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Founder Insight 5/24/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-05-24

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

’How to Hire Methodically for Your #Startup’ by @apatzer - In this talk from the Silicon Valley Founder Institute, Aaron Patzer, Founder and former CEO of Mint.com, outlines a rational methodical process to repeatedly hire great talent.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Advice on What to Offer VP of Biz Dev (Minimal Experience)

How to Put KPIs in for a Founding Management Team

Recommended Resources:

A Framework to Think About: Pricing Seed, Angel, and Venture Capital Rounds
[Charlie O’Donnell]

The 100 Rules for Being an Entrepreneur
[James Altucher]

Upcoming Events:

Silicon Valley Information Session
Date/Location:May 30, 2012 at 6:30 PM: Palo Alto, CA
Description: Learn about the Founder Institute from its founder and CEO Adeo Ressi, at this free event.

Gamification Summit
Date/Location:June 19-21, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: Gamification is radically changing the way companies do business, driving unprecedented engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders. Find out how your organization and marketing strategy will be transformed through the power of engaging design, and leverage these powerful new techniques to exceed your goals and beat the competition. GSummit is the only event that brings together leading thinkers in the gamification, loyalty and behavioral engineering space. Over three days, you’ll experience hands-on workshops, share best (and worst) practices, see new products & ideas, disseminate data, inspire each other and network to create a more fun & engaging world. Insight readers save $200.

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Founder Insight 5/17/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-05-17

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

’Contrarian #Startup Ideas Lead to Big Impacts’ by @rafer - In this talk from the Vietnam Founder Institute, Scott Rafer, CEO of Lumatic and Co-Founder of Mashery explains the importance of riding the “wave” of big markets while having a contrarian view.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Fail Fast: Selling the Team?

Negotiating the Board of Directors

Recommended Resources:

How to Raise a $1M Seed Round
[Sunil Rajaraman via TechCrunch]

How Eric Ries Coined "The Pivot" and What Your Business Can Learn From It
[Fast Company]

Upcoming Events:

Gamification Summit
Date/Location:June 19-21, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: Gamification is radically changing the way companies do business, driving unprecedented engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders. Find out how your organization and marketing strategy will be transformed through the power of engaging design, and leverage these powerful new techniques to exceed your goals and beat the competition. GSummit is the only event that brings together leading thinkers in the gamification, loyalty and behavioral engineering space. Over three days, you’ll experience hands-on workshops, share best (and worst) practices, see new products & ideas, disseminate data, inspire each other and network to create a more fun & engaging world. Insight readers save $200.

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Founder Insight 5/10/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-05-10

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

’How to Raise the Right Money for Your #Startup HR’ by @m_evans - In this talk from the Founder Institute in Chicago, Mike Evans, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of GrubHub, shares his learned expertise in how to approach and engage with investors as well as how to view the benefits that come with every deal.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Early Adopters / Beta Sites

Health Grants

Recommended Resources:

If You Build It, Will They Come?
[Peter Thiel]

The Venture Capital Model is Broken and this Damning Report Explains Why
[GeekWire]

Upcoming Events:

Gamification Summit
Date/Location:June 19-21, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: Gamification is radically changing the way companies do business, driving unprecedented engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders. Find out how your organization and marketing strategy will be transformed through the power of engaging design, and leverage these powerful new techniques to exceed your goals and beat the competition. GSummit is the only event that brings together leading thinkers in the gamification, loyalty and behavioral engineering space. Over three days, you’ll experience hands-on workshops, share best (and worst) practices, see new products & ideas, disseminate data, inspire each other and network to create a more fun & engaging world. Insight readers get a $200 discount.

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Founder Insight 5/3/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-05-03

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

’#Startup HR’ by @jimfranklin - Last week in Silicon Valley we hosted the 2011 Startup Mentor Awards, to celebrate the Founder Institute mentors who go above and beyond to help our companies succeed. The Highest Overall Rating Award went to Jim Franklin - CEO of SendGrid, and Co-Director of the Denver Founder Institute. To honor Jim's award, we've included a video and slidedeck from one of his Denver mentor sessions on Startup HR.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Non-Equity Funding with Bad Credit

The Reputation Impact of Failing

Recommended Resources:

The Scarcest Resource at Startups is Management Bandwidth
[Both Sides of the Table]

A VC Explains How to Build a Killer Value Proposition
[Michael Skok via VentureBeat]

Upcoming Events:

Gamification Summit
Date/Location:June 19-21, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: Gamification is radically changing the way companies do business, driving unprecedented engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders. Find out how your organization and marketing strategy will be transformed through the power of engaging design, and leverage these powerful new techniques to exceed your goals and beat the competition. GSummit is the only event that brings together leading thinkers in the gamification, loyalty and behavioral engineering space. Over three days, you’ll experience hands-on workshops, share best (and worst) practices, see new products & ideas, disseminate data, inspire each other and network to create a more fun & engaging world. Insight readers get a $200 discount.

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Founder Insight 4/27/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-04-27

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

'FI Graduate Itembase Wins the 10th Founder Showcase' - The 10th Founder Showcase featured a great lineup of eight promising startups, however it was Itembase that took home the Grand Prize. A Graduate of the Berlin Founder Institute, Itembase is a personal inventory service that helps consumers track, manage, and sell the products they own.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Non-Equity Funding with Bad Credit

Fraud and Crowdfunding

Recommended Resources:

The Power of AngelList Revealed in it’s New Look [TechCrunch]

Vesting is a Hack [Dan Shapiro]

Upcoming Events:

Gamification Summit
Date/Location:June 19-21, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Description: Gamification is radically changing the way companies do business, driving unprecedented engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders. Find out how your organization and marketing strategy will be transformed through the power of engaging design, and leverage these powerful new techniques to exceed your goals and beat the competition. GSummit is the only event that brings together leading thinkers in the gamification, loyalty and behavioral engineering space. Over three days, you’ll experience hands-on workshops, share best (and worst) practices, see new products & ideas, disseminate data, inspire each other and network to create a more fun & engaging world.

To receive this every Wednesday as an email, click here to subscribe

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Founder Insight 4/19/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-04-19

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

’Two Years of Great #FounderShowcase’ - We are looking forward to the 10th Founder Showcase on Tuesday, April 24th at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco. But, before we enjoy the event, let's pay homage to the amazing speakers who have graced our stage in the past.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Need Advice about Expiring Convertible Notes

Recommended Resources:

VC Signaling Coming Home to Roost [Elad Gil]

CEO Bloggers: To Blog or Not to Blog [Ashkan Karbasfrooshan via TechCrunch]

Upcoming Events:

10th Founder Showcase
Date/Location:April 24, 2012: 1:00 PM - 8:00 PM: San Francisco, CA
Description: The 10th Founder Showcase is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24th at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, and will be our largest event yet. Guests will be treated to talks from Kevin Hartz, founder and CEO of Eventbrite, and Dan Shapiro, founder and former CEO of Sparkbuy (acquired by Google within 6 months of inception) and Ontela (merged with Photobucket), a global entrepreneurship panel, as well as an entertaining Pitch Competition featuring 8 promising seed-stage companies. Use discount code "insightful" for 25% off tickets.

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Founder Insight 4/12/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-04-12

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

’Leveraging Partners to Get Big Fast’ by @jimfranklin - In this talk from the Denver Founder Institute, Jim Franklin, CEO of Sendgrid, discusses how to effectively leverage partners and outsource as a startup to get big fast.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Big Name Venture Law Firm Wants to Take my Company as a Client for Equity and Fees

What is the Jobs Act Really Going to Mean to Early Stage Companies?

Recommended Resources:

The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs [Harvard Business Review]

The Rat Race [Justin Kan via TechCrunch]

Upcoming Events:

10th Founder Showcase
Date/Location:April 24, 2012: 1:00 PM - 8:00 PM: San Francisco, CA
Description: The 10th Founder Showcase is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24th at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, and will be our largest event yet. 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. Use discount code “friends_of_thefunded” for 20% off tickets.

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Founder Insight 4/5/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-04-05

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

’How to Find your #Startup’s Addressable Market’ by @jkonowe - In this talk, Josh Konowe, founder and CEO of Uppidy.com, discusses an approach to search for the right businesses in a way that will make you different enough to not just survive but thrive. He explains an ideation process, researching the competitive landscape, and the importance of identifying the actual addressable submarket.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Profitable/Growing Company, Should I Speak to a VC?

Does AngelList Really Work?

Recommended Resources:

Some Thoughts About Selling at Startups [Both Sides of the Table]

Ready, Set, Crowdfund [TechCrunch]

Upcoming Events:

10th Founder Showcase
Date/Location:April 24, 2012: 1:00 PM - 8:00 PM: San Francisco, CA
Description: The 10th Founder Showcase is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24th at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, and will be our largest event yet. 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. Use discount code "friends_of_thefunded" for 15% off tickets.

To receive this every week as an email, click here to subscribe

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Founder Insight 3/22/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-03-22

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

'How to Grow and Track your #Startup Revenue' by @jasonnazar - In this talk from the Los Angeles Founder Institute, Jason Nazar, founder and CEO of Docstoc discusses how to generate, grow, and track online revenue.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Why do VCs Co-Invest?

What’s the Difference Between a Pivot and a New Venture?

Recommended Resources:

How Startups are the Key to Economic Recovery [Justin Moore via TechCrunch]

Overly-Direct Feedback to VC Pitches [David Beisel]

Upcoming Events:

Introducing Windows 8
Date/Location:April 4, 2012: 12:00 PM - 7:00 PM: Mountain View, CA
Description: Microsoft is inviting the Silicon Valley startup community to a full-day, knockout, deep dive event taking place at their Silicon Valley Campus. Developers and designers alike will take the stage to show you how to take advantage of this new platform opportunity. Several startups will demo their brand new apps and talk about their early experiences developing for Windows 8, while the Microsoft team will provide attendees the opportunity to play with the platform and the tools needed to get started. Sessions will cover designing for the new Metro UI, building for the platform, and monetizing your apps.

10th Founder Showcase
Date/Location:April 24, 2012: 1:00 PM - 8:00 PM: San Francisco, CA
Description: The 10th Founder Showcase is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24th at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, and will be our largest event yet. 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. Use discount code "friends_of_thefunded" for 15% off tickets.

To receive this every Wednesday as an email, click here to subscribe

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0
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Founder Insight 3/14/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-03-14

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

’Build Your Product #UX with Empathy for the User’ by @dweekly - In this talk from last year's San Francisco Founder Institute, David Weekly, Founder of PBworks and the HackerDojo, explains that the you need to build products with empathy for the user to create something that resonates.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Compensating Bridge Investors at a Sale (Prior to a Round)

A Nightmare Cofounder Experience

Recommended Resources:

Selling or Funding a Startup? Tips on Surviving Technical Due Diligence [OnStartups]

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann’s Lesson for Startups: Go Your Own Way
[All Things D]

Upcoming Events:

10th Founder Showcase
Date/Location:April 24, 2012: 1:00 PM - 8:00 PM: San Francisco, CA
Description: The 10th Founder Showcase is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24th at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, and will be our largest event yet. 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. Use discount code "friends_of_thefunded" for 15% off tickets.

To receive this every Wednesday as an email, click here to subscribe

0
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0
Disagree

Founder Insight 3/7/12

TheFunded.com Open Letter

Posted by Gopal Kamath on 2012-03-13

PUBLIC:

Founder Insight is a weekly newsletter that provides global insights from the people building great startups. Each week we’ll send you an exclusive training video from inside the Founder Institute, as well as other helpful resources from startup communities around the globe. Click here to subscribe

Video of the Week

'How to Create #Startup Metrics that Matter' by @davidskidder- In this talk, David Kidder, CEO of Clickable, discusses a process to identify critical company goals and create metrics to monitor and accomplish them.

Great Discussions on TheFunded:

Experience with Revenue-Based Financing?

Negotiating Compensation

Recommended Resources:

What Early-Stage Investors Really Want [GeekWire]

Eric Schmidt, Ben Horowitz, and Others Share their Thoughts on the Current State of Tech IPOs [TechCrunch]

Upcoming Events:

Budapest Pitch Bootcamp
Date/Location:March 8, 2012: 5:30 PM-7:30 PM: Budapest, Hungary
Description: In just three hours the Founder Institute will help you improve your startup ideas, improve your pitching skills, and recruit potential cofounders. Best of all it's free, and many local CEOs will be in attendance - including Salim Ismail and Balázs Vinnai.

Lisbon Ideation Bootcamp
Date/Location:March 15, 2012: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM: Lisbon, Portugal
Description: Improve your startup ideas, and more. It's free, and Francisco de Almeida and Jose Luis Pinto Basto will speak.

Los Angeles Ideation Bootcamp II
Date/Location:March 20, 2012: 6:00 PM-9:00 PM: Los Angeles, CA
Description: Improve your startup ideas and meet a co-founder, for free.

Chicago Ideation Bootcamp
Date/Location:April 3, 2012: 6:00 PM-9:00 PM: Chicago, IL
Description: David Culver and George Deeb will speak, and it's free.

Washington DC Ideation Bootcamp
Date/Location:April 18, 2012: 6:00 PM-9:00 PM: Reston, VA
Description: Jeff Bonforte and Jill Stelfox will speak, and it's free.

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