Good morning, All,
It’s that time when everyone is making prognostications about the new year, and it’s something we tend to studiously avoid. This year, we’re making an exception, given what we’ve been seeing lately:
– Fred Wilson touting the enterprise as the New Black
– Fred Wilson pointing out that he’d made no investment in 2012 (his associates did)
– The claims that Series A is dead – or at least a lot harder to get to (The Series A Crunch Survivor’s Guide. Just in case: http://bit.ly/WpO5WW)
This will be the Year of the Entrepreneur and we’ll explain: For years, VCs have invested in companies that have gotten high market awareness/traction in a very short amount of time and were seeing huge valuations on their investments, never mind that the companies were not making a dime, or at best, barely enough to cover operating costs. Fine, but at some point, entrepreneurs must realize that a startup is a company; a company is a business, and the purpose of a business is to make money, usually by selling something, be it goods or services. Henry Ford sold cars and you could get one in any color you desired, as long as it was black. For those of us who live in New York – like that would have been a problem. Back to our story: Facebook is under pressure to turn the behemoth into a business, so what did they do? Instagram changed their terms of service and gave themselves the right to sell your pictures, whether you liked it/agreed to it/were aware of it or not. Of course, there was a great hue and cry, not to mention something of an exodus from the service, so they back peddled: it seems we just all ‘misunderstood’ and that was never their intention at all and lest we forget, facebook owns instagram and facebook has always held itself to the very highest ethics. The era of eyes-only, referring to the ‘importance’ of gaining huge traction in a short amount of time, is over. There are feet attached to those eyeballs: piss off your users, and they’ll walk.
Speaking of having exclusive rights to your photos: we all know what happened when Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Mark, posted a family picture to her FB page, and someone tweeted it. She went ballistic, as it was a private photo, not meant for general distribution (Yes, Randi Zuckerberg, Please Lecture Us About ‘Human Decency’: http://bit.ly/RSw0W2). Then again, Facebook is a study in bad/shady behavior: Facebook Under Siege: Will It Ever Grow Up? Why Can’t Mark Zuckerberg’s Aging Startup Learn to Play Well with Others? http://bit.ly/XfMXru
For years we’ve been marveling at the quick ascensions of the ubercompanies headed by wunderkinds who couldn’t get served at McDonald’s without being carded. But have you noticed that some of them are tanking even more quickly then they rose? Fast in/fast out, the expression goes, but VCs have long been focused on the quick payout: they don’t want to leave their money languishing for years while the entrepreneur does the slow and steady build, even though it is slow and steady that traditionally wins the race.
Which is why we’re positing that this will be the Year of the Entrepreneur and that the Day of the Dilettante may well be done. Build a company with a product that people will pay for, in some form or another. You may not even need a Series A – or better, the investors will come to you.
One last point as we all go forward into this new year: if you do have a successful business and paying customers, don’t change the model/features. We use linkedin as a prime example. Some time around the end of the year, they changed their look – and a number of their features. We know that technologies change and upgrades are par for the course, but this was not about that: We are personally a paying linked member, and lately we’ve been beseeched with offers to upgrade. Given its latest iteration, not something we’re likely to do any time soon or ever. Linkedin is not what it used to be, and we are much more likely to downgrade, if anything – which means it might be time for disruption in their vertical, namely, a social network targeting business.
Pivots are not always necessary and change is not always good. Ford is still in business and still selling a number cars and trucks – in black. And someone still has yet to build a better mousetrap. Or a truly workable, profitable social network. The economic outlook is not rosy and bright: people are looking for ways to save money. Online is all about disintermediation. And entrepreneurs will always push forward, no matter what. Remember: Google launched in a space that Yahoo absolutely owned at the time, and did so in a bad economy, no less. It’s a new year and clean slate and no better time to go onward and forward.
The list of Startup Weekend Upcoming Events
The Awesome Foundation wants to give you $1000 for your best idea – almost anywhere in the world. We give micro-grants each month to projects that are inspiring, delightful, and elegant: in a word, Awesome. To apply in NYC: http://bit.ly/NWueRO For more information and the complete list of chapters all over the world: http://www.awesomefoundation.org/
Techstars NYC, deadline January 18th. We invest $118K in each company we fund through $18K in seed funding and an optional $100K convertible debt note. TechStars itself is backed by over 75 different venture capital firms and angel investors. We also provide three months of intensive top-notch mentorship, incredible perks, and the chance to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists at the end of the program. Our companies average over $1M in outside venture capital raised after leaving TechStars. To more information and to apply: http://bit.ly/TNP5Cz
LLGA | Cities Pilot the Future: Global Cities invite urban & social innovators to pilot their solutions. Deadline: January 31st. 21 cities are participating, each with their own pitch to companies, entrepreneurs, innovators, consortia, research centers, organizations and experts. For more information: http://bit.ly/tm2hxS
NEW Startup Grind 2013, February 5-6, Mountainview, CA – 20% sos discount
Join us for Startup Grind 2013, a worldwide 2 day community event bringing together entrepreneurs and founders from every continent across the globe. Where better to host it than the heart of Silicon Valley? Not only will we have great Startup Grind networking and fireside chats, but we’ll also learn from the best and brightest entrepreneurs around the world as they educate and inspire us to push through 2013. Some things you can expect:
Be inspired by people and products we use and believe in.
Make the lasting friendships needed to survive our journey.
No panels. No startup booths. No pitching. Just founders helping founders.
Speakers will include Clayton Christensen (Innovator’s Dilemma), Mark Suster (Both Sides of the Table), George Zachary (Charles River Ventures), Brad Feld (Foundry Group), Bing Gordon (KPCB), Steve Blank, Ben Huh (Cheezburger Network), Jeff Clavier (SoftTech VC), Leah Busque (TaskRabbit), and many more being announced soon. SOS member Perri Gorman will be on of the moderators – and she’s very good. That we can tell you from personal experience.
For more information and to register: http://sg2013.eventbrite.com/?discount=SOS4532#
DreamIt Health, deadline February 8th. This is the first-ever Philadelphia-based health care accelerator. Powered by IBC and PennMedicine, this collaboration marks the first time a leading health insurer and a leading health care provider have come together in an accelerator to deliver the resources entrepreneurs need to capitalize on emerging health care opportunities. DreamIt Health’s 4-month program provides selected companies with a stipend up to $50,000 and office space, plus in-depth mentoring (which are uniquely assigned in a one-to-one fashion to each company), coaching from industry experts, and access to other critical health care-specific resources to rapidly develop and test its product. For more information and to apply: http://bit.ly/RQRqTc
Call for Top Innovators! The 1st Annual Venture Summit | West. 1st annual conference will showcase 50 of the hottest early stage and emerging growth technology, life sciences and clean-tech innovators. If you are a Startup seeking capital and/or partnerships, submit your plan for the opportunity to present at The 1st Annual Venture Summit | West, the premier venue connecting emerging growth companies with active Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors, Corporate VCs and Investment Firms. Presented by youngStartup Ventures, Venture Summit | West 2013 provides an unparalleled opportunity for startups to meet, network and showcase their innovative investment opportunities to a leading group of investors. And it all happens in San Francisco on February 13th.
Apply to Present:
To be considered for one of the Top Innovator slots, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for an application.
To nominate a company please forward: company name, main contact at firm, contact details and why you think they should present to email@example.com.
So mark your calendar and click here to take advantage of the “early bird” registration savings before they expire. This is the event of the year you won’t want to miss! Click Here to Register Now! SOS members also get 10% off on attending. Discount code: sos10
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For you edification this week:
Managing Startups: The Best Posts of 2012. A lot of great topics and useful information. It’s a keeper: http://platformsandnetworks.blogspot.com/
The party is over: Practical startup advice for surviving an austere 2013. Fiscal cliffs. Series A crunches. Down-rounds and startup deaths.. It’s yet another “new normal” in an ever-changing startup environment. The good news is, good entrepreneurs will win in any environment. Here’s some advice/steps to take: http://bit.ly/U4Hu9K
I don’t care about crowded markets. Online search was crowded before Google showed up. Anyone remember Geocities or Ask Jeeves? MySpace was ruling social networking till Facebook came along. It’s how much better you are than alternatives that matter: http://bit.ly/106ehhq
Business Plans Are An Historical Artifact. So says Brad Feld. “Show me, don’t tell me.” Fine print: show me the customers, too: http://bit.ly/V4aiZK
Plans are nothing, but planning is indispensable. Eisenhower said it. Chris Dixon writes about why writing the plan, if nothing else, is a good exercise in thinking through issues: http://bit.ly/UtzWYZ
Hiring old people: The dangerous but necessary steroids of the startup world. Yeah, ageism doesn’t exist in this industry. Notice the word choice: ‘Old?’ It should be ‘experienced,’ and they can be a life saver. Or a company saver: http://bit.ly/ViZuI2
How to Fundraise: A Generic Lesson From a Lady Who’s Had Some Success but is not at all an Expert Part One; I’m Scared. Advice from a newbie, in two parts, and PS: she got funded: http://gogetemgrl.com/how-to-fundraise-pt-one/
Elevator Pitch/Member News
Hint, hint: Feel free to tell us what you’re working on, or if you’ve been featured in the press…Share, and we will, too!
Application are now being accepted for 500 Startups Coworking in NYC. You don’t have to be a portfolio company. Desks are $500/month. For more information and to apply: http://bit.ly/UQYRIM
That’s it from us this week Working on scheduling our first event of the year and should have that information to you next week, so stay posted. And yes, we will tweet it as well, once all is finalized. Until then, as always, help is on the way…