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Month: October 2012

10/30/12

10/30/12

Good morning, All,

The threat of a lot of wind and water – aka Hurricane Sandy - came along starting this past weekend and most of the Eastern seaboard was on put on high alert or shut down, including New York City, which came to a grinding halt. True: Halloween Week and NYC turned into a ghost town. In the midst of all this, California had an earthquake - as did Canada and Apple Computer (Massive Shakeup at Apple: http://tnw.co/WWh3mI).

We’re not used to natural disasters in New York City, especially here in Manhattan. The outer boroughs have had tornados here and there, but let’s face it: we’re not in Kansas. Not by a longshot, and with all due respect to Kansas, we mean that as a metaphor. Read More...

10/23/12

10/23/12

Good morning, All,

We debated whether to call this the ‘startup’ or ‘entrepreneur’ checklist. We opted for ‘entrepreneur’ since, when Web 1.0 began, newly-minted endeavors were not called ‘startups': they were called ‘companies.’ The idea was, and presumably still is, to build a business. To do what you set out to do, and to finish what you start up - which is to build a viable business. We’ve all seen the 10-slide investor decks. We know what investors are looking for. But what are the points entrepreneurs need to consider? Here are some things to keep in mind for your own internal slide deck/startup checklist:

In the beginning there is The Idea, but that's just the beginning… 1. Is there a real problem that needs to be addressed? 2. Do you have the right experience to address this problem? 3. Can you afford to do this? Can you afford not to? 4. Is what you are creating truly unique and necessary, or are you reinventing the wheel? What have you done to validate your idea? 5. What are your immediate plans for keeping the lights on? Keeping your day job for the time being? Are you self-funding and can you afford that? Friends and family can help - and can you afford that? 6. Are you the person who can build the product, the one who can get the customers, or the one who can convince the investors? It takes a team: figure out which one you are, then find the people who are much better at the other functions than you are - and don’t forget to let them do their jobs. 7. Who are your competitors and how do you differ? Really? Can you convince an investor or a customer of that? 8. Have you checked in with your customers/beta testers lately? What are their suggestions/opinions? Know your audience. And listen to them. 9. How are you going to reach your market? What if your product is a runaway hit: how will you scale it? What if it isn’t: what’s the Plan B to get to Plan A? 10. What are your major risks/pain points/fears and how do you plan on managing them? Hint: what keeps you up at night? 11. First mover advantage is nice, but how easily can your idea be replicated by a competitor? Do you have a Next Phase/feature that they won’t see coming? 12. If you’re getting no traction with investors/customers/buyers, are you talking to the wrong investors/audience, or does your product need refinement/rethinking? 13. Who are your mentors/subject matter experts/advisors? You do have them, right? 14. Is your product something that will help people to make money/save money/improve their lives so that they will want to spend money? Love and good press will get you just so far… 15. This industry is full of nay-sayers (aren’t they all?). Bad days aside, do you have the passion/fortitude/fire in the belly to keep going, and to keep the company going? 16. Is this something you need to attend to personally, at all times, or is it sustainable, even if you’re off on a beach somewhere? If the answer to the first part is ‘yes,’ you’re self-employed. If the answer to the second part is ‘yes,’ you’re building a company. 17. Is this something you really need to do, that you’ve thoroughly researched and thought out and damn the torpedoes, or has someone close to you suggested that you might be clinically insane and professional counseling might be a good alternative? Read More...

10/16/12

10/16/12

Good morning, All,

First came the facebook movie, and remember, there are three sides to every story (his side, her side and the truth). Well, four, if you count Hollywood’s. We see Dennis Crowley in commercials. Techstars and Quirky with their own television shows. "Shark Tank," is a pitch panel by any other name and with higher-paying sponsors. Ashton Kutcher, Justin Timberlake, MC Hammer, Lady Gaga, Adrian Grenier, Justin Bieber, Natalie Portman and other celebrities are making their way to Silicon Valley to invest in technology startups. And now there’s Randi Zuckerberg’s soon to be aired startup show, which we like to call the Reel Houselives of Silicon Valley. It’s not shot in Silicon Valley, but rather in the much more scenic San Francisco (ever been to Sandhill Road? Next). As to the show’s stars themselves being representative of the Cali-based tech world, it seems anyone in the startup world who isn’t white, a millenial, camera-ready and who doesn’t look great in a bathing suit just didn’t get the email for the casting call. What can you do? The industry at large is up in arms about this show, which from what we’ve seen so far, is about a bunch of twenty-somethings boozing hard, taking off their tops at every opportunity, proclaiming that they’re inventing tomorrow, and doing anything but working on their startups (Sneak peek: 'Start-Ups: Silicon Valley' full of bikinis, booze and bawling http://bit.ly/Pw3vfr). According to the press release, the series supposedly will explore the "intertwining lives of a group of (six) young entrepreneurs on the path to becoming Silicon Valley's next great success stories." Sucesses they may be, but most likely not in tech. Reality check: the producer is Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, and this is television. Bravo, in fact, not the Discovery Channel, so get over it. In short, “Startup: Silicon Valley” is not representative of startup life as we know it anywhere in the known universe. If you want to know who the real tech stars are these days, as always, follow the money (Revenge of the Nerds, the Sequel: Silicon Valley Wallflowers Now Hot. As Web Darlings See Stocks Fall, Spotlight Hits Business Tech; 'Sexy Again'. Spoiler alert – most are over 30 and don’t wear hoodies: http://on.wsj.com/VyEkrv). In TV land and the media, young techies are the new rock stars. Nerd is cool. Geek is chic. And with reality television now covering everyone and everything, we all want our 15 minutes in the spotlight, and do make sure to get my good side. Since this is "Startup: Silicon Valley," can "Startup: Silicon Alley/Prairie/Roundabout/Falafel" be far behind? Boozing, brawling and looking good in a bikini - that may be how you make television. But building something that changes lives for the better, or that somehow helps to move the human race forward – that's how you make history. Stay tuned or stay focused. Either way - onward and forward.

Deadlines: Read More...

10/9/12

10/9/12

Good morning, All, First, our next SOS gathering is next week, October 18. Register here: http://sosoctobermixer.eventbrite.com/ There were two events of note on Friday: First, it’s official - 1 out of every 7 people on the planet has a facebook account. (We are aware of the at least 8.7% bogus accounts - Facebook officially passes 1 billion monthly active users: http://tnw.co/StamXY). It was also a year since the death of Steve Jobs. Facebook is one of the largest countries in the world, based on population, and Apple one of the wealthiest, based on GNP. We work in an industry where a premium is placed on number of registered users. While FB literally’s got a billion of them, last time we checked, the stock was still well below its IPO price, although slightly up from previous weeks. One more thing happened on Friday: a friend pinged me to tell that his company had just been funded. Sans business plan. What he did have was a vision, a team, potential partners in place, an addressable market, a clear path to revenue. And a real pair on him. There are no hard and fast rules in this industry (see Business Insider’s Digital 100 below). True visionaries are few and far between – and seldom readily recognized. You don’t need to be one, but having a vision is helpful – and we mean a ‘vision’ rather than a willingness to fall back on/retrofitting the same old models we’ve seen before. Failing that, always good to have a plan, or at the very least, a strategy. By sheer numbers, Facebook is an extraordinary achievement which could potentially forge something transformational, and hopefully in a good way. How to do that? To paraphrase Steve Jobs, quoting Wayne Gretzky, skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. With all due respect to the puck, having balls helps, too. Don't just create - invent. That's how the future is built. Onward and forward. Deadlines: 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/ NEW NYU-Poly Incubator Accepting Fall Applications, deadline unknown. At the NYU-Poly Incubator we understand the needs of early-stage startups. We focus on providing our startups with the key resources that they need to be successful. This fall, we are excited to accept a few more startups at our DUMBO location in Brooklyn. Our incubator is looking for energetic and innovative startups that want to be apart of the bigger NYC Tech Community. For more information and to apply: http://bit.ly/Q85fbI LeWeb'12 Paris, deadline October 21st. We are looking for the most exciting and innovative startups and of course if your company or your product is in the "Internet of Things" space (LeWeb12 theme) this will be even better (but not compulsory!). If that sounds like your startup, entry is free and to apply: http://bit.ly/SrYhl2 DreamIt Ventures inaugural Austin accelerator program, deadline October 26th. The details are here: http://bit.ly/OVWQ8y. Demo Day will take place during SXSW. To apply: http://dreamitventures.com/apply/apply-now/ . NEW NYC SeedStart Enterprise-Focused Accelerator, deadline November 9th. NYC SeedStart: Enterprise is looking for software and web-based teams with technical co-founders launching companies in the enterprise software area. The program will take place in New York City from January to March 2013. Particular areas of interest are SaaS, Real-time Analytics, Security, Cloud Services and Consumer-enabled Enterprise Products. Up to ten teams will be selected to participate, with each company receiving $20,000 in funding in exchange for a 5% equity stake in the business. For more information and to apply: http://www.nycseedstart.com/Or contact us @ info@nycseedstart.com AWS Global Startup Challenge, deadline November 9th. The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Global Start-Up Challenge is a way for promising start-ups to get noticed and compete for an opportunity to win some great rewards. This year’s challenge offers prizes such as $100K in combined cash and credits for multiple winners, VC introductions, PR support, and more. If your start-up is built using AWS, we want you to apply! Meet Tier One Investors: Finalists will be flown to San Francisco where they will meet 1:1 with top VCs More Winners, More Prizes: This year we will award winners in four categories, and award each of the four winners $50,000 in cash and $50,000 in AWS credits Press and Attention for Your Start-Up: Past winners have been covered by top tech news outlets, and AWS offers other free promotion to top teams as part of the contest. For more information and to apply: http://bit.ly/OwE8ny

NEW BlueprintHealth Accelerator, deadline November 19th. The program is geared towards healthcare companies that want an intensive three-month program to help find customers and capital. Selected companies range from two founders with an idea to businesses that have customers, investors and are generating significant revenue. The foundation of the program is a community of over 150 healthcare entrepreneurs, investors and industry executives that are committed to helping you build and grow your business. We have the largest network of mentors with healthcare expertise of any accelerator, which can provide you with warm introductions and the strategic and tactile advice you need. If you are accepted to the accelerator program, you will receive $20,000 in cash, over $50,000 in perks, office space at our SoHo office, and a community that is dedicated to seeing you succeed. For more information and to apply: http://bit.ly/Q926Y5

ER Accelerator Winter Session, deadline November 30th. ERA one of the top accelerators in the country, if not the world. Get $25k in funding; free office space in the heart of NYC; access to 200+ amazing mentors (http://eranyc.com/mentors/ and yes, Yours Truly happens to be one of them). For more information: http://eranyc.com/ To apply: http://eranyc.com/apply/ Take the HELM, deadline November 30th. The Take the HELM (Hire & Expand in Lower Manhattan) Competition will select up to 20 finalists that best meet the goals of the competition and seek to open an office in Lower Manhattan. Finalists will each receive a $10,000 cash grant, an opportunity to interview with the distinguished Take the HELM Selection Committee, and will participate in two days of exclusive business development programs in Lower Manhattan. Up to four Take the HELM winners will receive an additional $250,000. At least one $250,000 prize will be reserved for startup applicants. For more information and to apply: http://www.takethehelmnyc.com/ THE NEW ENGLAND VENTURE SUMMIT Call for Top Innovators, and it’s not too late to apply to present. http://bit.ly/OVZQBF. The New England Venture Summit provides an unparalleled opportunity for startups to meet, network and showcase their innovative investment opportunities to a leading group of investors. This exclusive venture summit will feature over 40 leading VCs on timely panel discussions; presentations by 50 cutting edge companies and high-level networking opportunities. It happens in Boston on December 5th. If you plan on attending, register now and save 50%: http://bit.ly/LjlttK Follow us on twitter powered by Movable Ink For you edification this week: BusinessInsider’s DIGITAL 100: The World's Most Valuable Private Tech Companies. Caveat: BI states that rankings are based on several metrics, including revenue, users, market opportunities, growth rates, and the perception of investors and tech gurus. It’s that last bit that always gets us: http://read.bi/SyjOr9 For inspiration, lest we forget, Here Is Apple's Tribute To Steve Jobs, Who Died A Year Ago Today: http://read.bi/SxzWLo Keeping with the theme: Facebook, a Company without a Vision. http://bit.ly/U1RfVP Why Zynga Failed. Short answer: no strategy. http://tcrn.ch/QSKSh3 Spotify Financials Deemed Unsustainable. Again, no strategy. The idea is to make sure the numbers work so that you’re revenue positive. See iTunes. http://bit.ly/QSL9Rj Startup Funeral: Honoring The Lessons Of Failure [Video] http://rww.to/PzEF8P Too Much/Too Little Money. The challenge for the entrepreneur is to for each financing to find the Goldilocks amount to raise: http://bit.ly/ThgfHl Top 10 reasons your business plan blows chunks… http://bit.ly/Q82AyL 10 Ways Startups Can Deal With Patent Troll Demands. It’s no fun receiving a patent demand, but rest assured, you are not alone. http://tcrn.ch/TgS6Rp The Top 10 Types of Douchebags in Tech and How NOT to Be One. This one’s been around for a while, but some things never get old: http://bit.ly/f8YLT4 Goodies for you - BestVendor helps you save time finding the best software, apps & tools: http://www.bestvendor.com/ Special for SOS Members: JOIN US FOR THE #1 BUSINESS TRADE SHOW on October 17th! Admission is free! Register now: http://bit.ly/PQPDb Promo Code: EXPO15 10,000 Business Owners • 40+ Seminars • 200 Exhibits • Unlimited Networking * 50+ Speakers And BonnieFoods will be there, so stop by and try some! Startuponestop.com is proud to partner with the LARGEST business expo and networking event in the Northeast. We invite you to pre-register for the 8th Annual New York Business Expo and Conference for FREE ADMISSION. This is a MUST-ATTEND if YOU want to network with peers, purchase discounted products & services, identify NEW B2B resources and attend cutting-edge seminars that deliver actionable strategies. Date: October 17th 2012 Location: Javits Center Hall 1A - 655 West, 34th Street, New York, NY 10001 Website: www.EventManagement.org/newyork NY Expo offers over 40 business seminars designed to SHARPEN YOUR SKILLS in social media, sales, advertising, technology, accessing capital, healthcare, mobile, global trade and MORE! Attend one of our cutting-edge HANDS-ON WORKSHOPS and walk away with fresh techniques and indispensable takeaways. This is the MUST-ATTEND event for entrepreneurs, small business owners and executives who want to gain a competitive advantage, network with peers, purchase discounted products, engage with vendors and deepen their business education. This is the ONLY conference in New York where you can access a world of fresh ideas in one place - SAVING YOU TIME & MONEY! Register now: http://bit.ly/PQPDb Promo Code: EXPO15 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! That's it from us this week and hope to see you at theNew York Business Expo and Conference and our SOS gathering October 18th: http://sosoctobermixer.eventbrite.com/ Until then, always, help is on the way... Read More...

10/2/12

10/2/12

Good morning, All,

We always see lists of the steps to take to succeed in technology. What about the things and people to avoid, sometimes at all costs. Starting with advice from the piece that inspired today’s newsletter: Why I got Fired from Facebook (a $100 Million dollar lesson): http://bit.ly/RqDgp1 Worth a read, and one of my favorites, yea, even as a networker. And blogger: “The BEST way to get famous is make amazing stuff. That’s it. Not blogging, networking, etc.” Make sure to read the note from Zuck – and see if you can find Waldo. Networking is important – but not to the exclusion of all else, or to validate your overwhelming desire to procrastinate. New rule: Check to see who’s going, or who’s hosting. Give yourself an hour to go and meet the people on your list. Also make sure to meet at least one new person. Once you get the feeling that your work there is done, leave. And don’t look back. One more lap around, just to be sure, is permissible, but just one, unless it was really worthwhile. After all, networking is part of your jobs, too (and yes, the next SOS networking event is October 18th. RSVP now for the early bird rate: http://sosoctobermixer.eventbrite.com/

You’re not the star – your product is. What we mean by that, well, once again, there’s the lessons of Color (and just for the record, Elvis has left the room - Bye Bye, Bill: How Nguyen Doomed Color from the Start: http://bit.ly/P4tAC3). It was a startup without a product. Or a plan to capture users (yes, we know you need a product first, but when investors throw $41 million at you, guess you don’t sweat the details. Bill Nguyen: The Boy In The Bubble: http://bit.ly/UAkutF As the article says, Bill Nguyen launches startups with haste, never researches the competition, and makes the same mistakes "again and again." So why do people keep giving him so much money? Hope the investors on the list are paying attention to this one and yes, there is such a thing as Silicon Snake Oil Syndrome, which is the concept that if you’ve hit it once, whether by pluck or luck, you’re destined to be a Successful Serial Entrepreneur, which might help to explain The Venture Capital Secret: 3 Out of 4 Start-Ups Fail: http://on.wsj.com/PDkx7z Read More...

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