Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top 57 Online Startups Meets Technology Meets Product Posts for November 2010

I continue to collect great content that is the intersection of startups, products, online and technology.  It turns out that I missed October but here are some previous posts in this series:

This month there are some amazing posts.

  1. How to Take Down Facebook -- Hint: It Ain't Twitter. (aka: An Open Letter to the Next Big Social Network)- 500 Hats, November 1, 2010

    I've held off writing this post for a long time, because I couldn't quite get my head around all the issues. It wouldn't be accurate to say there's something "wrong" with Facebook, and it's not like I don't spend a shitload of time ego-whoring around on Twitter too. but: Something is Still Missing.

  2. When It’s Darkest Men See the Stars- Steve Blank, November 24, 2010

    When It’s Darkest Men See the Stars. Ralph Waldo Emerson. This Thanksgiving it might seem that there’s a lot less to be thankful for. One out of ten of Americans are out of work. The United States is now a debtor nation to China and that the bill is about to come due. It may be that all the doomsayers are right. But I don’t think so. At once. 

  3. Equity-Only CTO and Equity-Only Developers- SoCal CTO, November 1, 2010

    I had a recent email dialog with the founder of a company looking for a CTO for their startup. We had several emails back and forth where he provided basic details on the concept. And I tried to evaluate the idea and figure out: What did the founder really need here? Was it a Startup Founder Developer Gap ? Was it a case of needing Homework?

  4. 20 Recommended Quora Threads for Startups- ReadWriteStart, November 1, 2010

    The Q&A site Quora has become an indispensable trove of knowledge and expertise when it comes to the tech industry. Ask a question and get an answer - that is, after all, what all Q&A sites offer. Want to know, for example, why Foursquare uses MongoDB to store check-in information? Who better to answer than the company's engineering lead. Sponsor.

  5. Five Reasons You Haven’t Launched- Software By Rob, November 10, 2010

    Photo by stevendepolo. This post is an accusation. call to arms. sharp stick that says “get off your ass and make something happen.&#. But I didn’t write it for you; I wrote it for myself. Every one of these reasons has haunted me at one time or another over the past 10 years. Give yourself a month. Keep the day job. Become a lifer.

  6. How To Land a Job at Google (or elsewhere)- FairSoftware's Blog, November 9, 2010

    It’s been 11 years now that the obvious hit me: the best way to land a job is to do the job , not talk about it. It’s 2010 and that idea has not graduated to mainstream yet. So let’s be very specific: let’s assume your dream job is product manager at Google, working on the Analytics product. By doing the job. Where is it?

  7. I'm Tired of Creating Your Content- Babbling VC, November 12, 2010

    Jeff  triggered  this post in regards to his Check-in Fatigue on Foursquare. Surprisingly, I was thinking the same thing today about user-generated content, which basically check-in's are too. myself am a bit tired of Qype  (German version of Yelp ) and Tripadvisor. These are probably the two sites where I've posted the most reviews.

  8. The Scene Will Kill You- Brad Hargreaves, November 7, 2010

    If you’ve taken a deep dive into tech startups, you know about the scene. The scene is the siren song of the innovation community. The scene will kill you. The scene is building sexy things that gain the approval of a certain (small) group of people. Sexy things get lauded, and celebrities coalesce out of the blogosphere’s protoplasm.

  9. Build your own Startup Death Clock- A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks, November 1, 2010

    A few months ago I created a fun device at WPEngine to focus everyone's attention the most important thing. If nothing changes, when will you run out of money? Sometimes fear is a good motivator. Clearly it'd be more accurate to say "sometime in Q1 2011.". But the goal here isn't accuracy, it's motivation and focus. Maybe you could get v1.0 Try it!

  10. Timing your startup- Chris Dixon, November 7, 2010

    I never had the opportunity to invest in YouTube but I have to admit that if I did I probably would have passed (which of course would have been a huge mistake). I’d been around the web long enough to remember the dozens of companies before YouTube that tried to create crowdsourced video sites and failed. This should not deter you.

  11. Storm Clouds- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, November 12, 2010

    We have enjoyed an amazing run in the web startup and investing space over the past five or six years. In this sector of startupland, company creation is up, investment is up, there are plenty of success stories, and not all of them are based on quick flips and takeouts. However, there are a few storm coulds out there that we need to be watching.

  12. The 11 Harsh Realities Of Being An Entrepreneur- OnStartups, November 1, 2010

    There's always talk about the end game in the form of an acquisition, funding announcement, or eventual flame out. Hollywood has even made a movie about the founding of Facebook that glamorizes startup life instead of showing what it really is: a day in day out marathon of work with very little glamor. Your First Iteration of an Idea Will Be Wrong.

  13. Creating Startup Success – Customer Development + Business Model Design- Steve Blank, November 15, 2010

    In previous posts I’ve talked about what the combination of Business Model Design, Customer Development and Agile Methodologies mean to startups and intrapreneurs in large companies; it’s the beginning of entrepreneurship as a science with its own rules and methodologies. think his slides are great (and by far much easier on the eye then mine.).

  14. Internet Apps And Native Apps: Why Neither Is Going Away, But The Coming Years Will See A Tremendous Power Shift- ArcticStartup, November 29, 2010

    People love a good story, no matter what form of content it is they're consuming. No matter how enticing it may be to remove the complexity of the battle for consumer's hearts, minds and wallets in order to make the story easily digestible, reality is often quite different. Remember those buzz words? billion. How about them apples? That's it.

  15. It’s Easy to Be Great…It’s Hard to Be Consistent- Software By Rob, November 4, 2010

    No link from TechCrunch, write-up on Mashable, mention by Leo Laporte, or Tweet by Ashton Kucher is going to make your business.

  16. How to Enchant Your Customer- How to Change the World, November 23, 2010

    I love to do business with small businesses—in-store, online, for myself, for others, for pleasure, for work—it doesn’t matter to me. love to find great products and services made by entrepreneurs who are trying to change the world. Put likable, competent and passionate people on the front line. This doesn’t make sense.

  17. 10 Tips for Enterprise Software Startups- ReadWriteStart, November 16, 2010

    I started my career in enterprise software in the 1980s and after some years working in other areas (outsourcing and online media) I am back in the enterprise software game. This post is my reflection on what is different and what remains the same. have focused this as advice to entrepreneurs building enterprise software ventures today. Sponsor.

  18. Investor Pitches – Do’s and Don’ts- StartupCFO, November 19, 2010

    After many years of pitching, it’s been fun (and surprisingly normal) to be on the other side listening to pitches. Over the last few weeks, the Real Ventures team has met with easily 50 companies. took some notes on some great things to do in pitches and some things to avoid. Here they are: DO. What burning need did you see? Know your space.

  19. Anything is Possible (in a Startup)- This is going to be BIG., November 11, 2010

    I know you're out there. can feel you now—corporate recruiters at career fairs, sending offer letters to work at banks and consulting firms. know that you're afraid. Google is. You're afraid of startups. You're afraid of change. don't know the future. didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. Career. What truth? There is, however, hope.

  20. The interoperability of social networks- Chris Dixon, November 10, 2010

    Google recently added a caustic warning message when users attempt to export their Google Contacts to Facebook: Hold on a second. Are you super sure you want to import your contact information for your friends into a service that won’t let you get it out? If network B has 20 users than it’s value is 400 (20*20).

  21. Competing To Win Deals- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, November 7, 2010

    The venture capital business is highly competitive. There is more money out there chasing good deals than most people imagine. It is also true that there are good deals and good entrepreneurs that can't find anyone to invest in them. That is a failure of the system. But this post is not about that. Let them see the full picture early.

  22. 14 Reasons Why You Need To Start A Startup- OnStartups, November 15, 2010

    This post has been ruminating with me for a while. It's not a sudden "a-ha" moment that made it form, but a collective group of "a-has!" over the past few months. Consider this the uplifting post to counter last week's "The 11 Harsh Realities Of Entrepreneurship". Just because it's a harsh reality, doesn't mean you shouldn't be an entrepreneur.

  23. Code icebergs- Gabriel Weinberg, November 6, 2010

    A lot of good products have features that appear somewhat trivial to replicate, but in reality would be quite complex to do so. In my experience, the iceberg part of a code iceberg often involves handling of a lot edge cases. These edge cases are sometimes actually created by making the user interface simpler, e.g. less or free-form input fields.

  24. No Business Plan Survives First Contact With A Customer – The 5.2 billion dollar mistake.- Steve Blank, November 1, 2010

    At $5.2-billion Iridium was one of the largest, boldest and audacious startup bets ever made. Conceived in 1987 by Motorola and spun out in 1990 as a separate company, Iridium planned to build a mobile telephone system that would work anywhere on earth. And Iridium would do this without building a single cell tower. and China.  What went wrong?

  25. The Ultimate Combination of Startup Business Development Methods- ArcticStartup, November 16, 2010

    I've been a huge fan of Steven Blank's Customer Development methodology for a long time. I've also read his book The Four Steps to the Epiphany, where he outlines this in great detail. few years ago I also started following Alexander Osterwalder in his blog about his Business Model Generation -mantra. Some time ago I thought these guys should meet!

  26. Meet the New Enterprise Customer, He’s a Lot Like the Old Enterprise Customer- Ben's Blog, November 15, 2010

    Meet the new boss. same as the old boss. The Who, Won’t Get Fooled Again. Cause hustlers hit the block when police change shifts. New York, California different toilet, same s#@t. The Game, Let Us Live. So what gives? Are all these smart people out of their minds? Has nothing changed since the early days of IBM? Consumers. Finance, IT, Legal).

  27. Facts, Facts, Everywhere, But Truth is Scarce- Tim Berry's Blog - Planning Startups Stories, November 16, 2010

    Tweet I’ve got a new business idea for anyone who wants it: become a paid data liar, by offering to find facts to fit any point of view your clients want to put forth. Call it facts for hire. It would be a bit like the hired gun in the old west, but more suited for today’s times. For example, your client wants to say that eggs are unhealthy?

  28. Risk-takers and Strategists: Jeremiah Owyang on Long-Term Social Media Planning- ReadWriteStart, November 10, 2010

    Two years ago, 93% of Americans believed companies should have a social media presence. Today, brands are hiring social media specialists for customer support, crowdsourced product development, promotions and even leads generation. Sponsor. The Proof Is In The Revenue. Hiring The Right Candidate. The conversation shouldn't end after conversion.

  29. The 30 Steps to Mastery- Ben Casnocha: The Blog, November 29, 2010

    The commenter Onjibonrenat, on my post How to Draw an Owl , adds a few more steps to the process of achieving mastery: 1. Start 2. Keep going. You think you're starting to get the hang of it. You see someone else's work and feel undeniable misery. Keep going. Keep going. You feel like maybe, possibly, you kinda got it now. You don't. Keep going.

  30. Freemium 101: Customer Conversion- Venture Chronicles, November 18, 2010

    At Get Satisfaction we have had a freemium model from day 1, at then it was just free, no premium offerings existed so we’ve lived through a couple of key transition points and now are optimizing a model we know works. The latter part of the business is what I am responsible for. Our trial process is 15 days and that is not arbitrary.

  31. Pacing Yourself- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, November 21, 2010

    I've been pretty clear as of late that I think the market for investing in web startups is getting overheated. When I talk to some people about this, they say "you should shut down and ride out the bubble on the beach." 34; To which I say "we don't think we can time markets." So I prefer to focus on pacing ourselves.

  32. 10 Ways To Deliver Awesome Schwag For Your Startup- OnStartups, November 24, 2010

    First off, Dharmesh and I would like to announce a contest for the official OnStartups T-Shirt. We're looking to choose a design put together by one of our readers as the official t-shirt for OnStartups. The design should be unique, include a slogan related to entrepreneurs, and something stylish. We don't want "Yet Another Startup Shirt". t-shirt.

  33. Are you in a startup career path or are you one and done?- Gabriel Weinberg, November 2, 2010

    Sometimes peoples' first startups are successful. More power to them. I've been pretty lucky, but not that lucky. had a bunch of startup failure before success. But that was OK because I was in a startup career path , which enabled me to think a bit more long-term. Repeat until success. And then repeat some more. I've made that mistake.

  34. Hubris Versus Humility: The $15 billion Difference- Steve Blank, November 8, 2010

    Describing your product as “new and “never been done before” instead of “we’re just like those others guys, but better” could cost your company billions.  RIM and TiVo are two examples of getting it right and wrong. Research in Motion (RIM). That year the two founders decided to get serious about being a company, and hired a CEO. You got it. Hubris.

  35. Venture Bonsai Takes Crowdfunding To A New Level- ArcticStartup, November 22, 2010

    Venture Bonsai is a new crowdfunding platform that is in private "invitation stage" as the co-founder of the company, Antti Hannula, states. Venture Bonsai enters the increasingly active market of enabling new methods to fund startups. Naturally, a big part of the go-to-market includes partnering with other players in the market.

  36. The 10-Step Google Login from Hell- FairSoftware's Blog, November 15, 2010

    Last week, I wrote about how to land a job at Google , and it attracted 9,000 readers in one day! So let’s talk about something else Google could fix: logins. How many steps does it take to login to my YouTube account? Just watch and cry along with me… 1. Go To That should be an easy 1-click experience… 2. Try Again.

  37. How to Get Funding From Friends, Family, and Fools- Startup Professionals Musings, November 28, 2010

    Most entrepreneurs have learned that it’s almost always quicker and easier to get cash from someone you know, rather than angel investors or professional investors (VCs). In fact, most investors “require” that you already have some investment from friends and family before they will even step up to the plate. Be upbeat and respectful. Don’t be one.

  38. What Percentage of 2010 Seed Deals Won’t Raise The Next Round?- Feld Thoughts, November 16, 2010

    There have been a number of thoughtful "early warning sign" posts in the past few days including one from Fred Wilson ( Storm Clouds ), one from Mark Suster ( What Angel Investing & Florida Condos Have in Common ), and Roger Ehrenberg ( Investing in a frenzied market ). We'll do follow on investments in 10 of them. Who knows?

  39. Small Business Jobs Act Includes Short-Term Full Exclusion from Gross Income of Gain from QSBS- Recent Buzzes - VC Experts, Inc., November 23, 2010

    By Julia D. Corelli and Laura D. Warren of Pepper Hamilton LLP Introduction. On September 27, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (H.R. The 100 percent exclusion is an attempt to encourage investment in new ventures, small businesses, and specialized small business investment companies. 17, 2009 and before Jan.

  40. D&O insurance is a “cost of respect” for board members.- Berkonomics, November 8, 2010

    Whenever there are outside shareholders, and when there is a product in release, there is a chance, no matter how slight, of a lawsuit against members of the board as well as against the corporation itself.  In that regard, even the lowest amount of D&O insurance available, $1 million, provides for legal defense costs to be covered. 

  41. Build Your Own Silicon Valley? | Vivek Wadwha- Campus Entrepreneurship, November 19, 2010

    Vivek Wadhwa, a leading entrepreneurship researcher at Duke University, offers a piece explaining why so many well intentioned attempts to copy Silicon Valley fail. He focuses on connections between and among motivated people. In other words the culture and social institutions of the place.  It simply doesn’t work that way. Absolutely.

  42. Vision Synching in a Lean Startup- Startup Marketing Blog, November 12, 2010

    In the age of the lean startup , we often forget about the importance of vision.   A big audacious vision is critical for attracting venture capital and for getting the early team to “take the leap.”  It also stimulates the emotion/passion needed to fuel your team’s persistence to blast through inevitable hurdles. Vision Needs Traction.

  43. The end of the (startup) world as we know it- Market by Numbers, November 11, 2010

    If you follow high tech startups, it was virtually impossible to have missed all the discussions this summer regarding disruptions occurring in the startup environment, including the role of investors , the wisdom of “Lean startups, &# and bemoaning the fall of the “big win&# mentality. there is no going back. Third, startups are social.

  44. 6 Things You Need to Learn To Build Your Own Prototype- Vinicius Vacanti, November 1, 2010

    This is the fourth part of a series on becoming your own technical co-founder. In 2008, we couldn’t find a technical co-founder for  Yipit. m writing about how I became our technical co-founder. Hopefully, I’ll encourage other entrepreneurs with a dream but no technical co-founder options to take their destiny into their own hands. Learning Python.

  45. The truth about small fish- Start Up Blog, November 29, 2010

    When starting out or chasing new customers on an existing business it makes sense aim for smaller players first, to build confidence, and get a few small wins on the board… right? The problem with thinking like this is that it makes life harder and less profitable. The truth about small fish, is that they are harder to catch than big fish.

  46. Online Video on Lies About Business Planning- Up and Running, November 19, 2010

    Business plans are a waste of time? Don’t bother? Nobody’s going to read it anyhow? Do you think setting goals and steps to implement them are a waste of time? What about establishing how to measure progress and performance, setting it down, and then tracking it, so you can optimize your management? As if managing were a waste of time.

  47. Understanding How The Innovator’s Dilemma Affects You- Both Sides of the Table, November 4, 2010

    One of the most influential books of my career is The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clay Christensen. I cannot recommend it enough for people in the technology or media sectors. Professor Christensen uses real data from the disk drive industry to make his points. It is not a beach novel to be sure. I’ve characterized it in a chart below.

  48. Primal Instincts, How Body Language and Personality Dictate Success- Will Price, November 9, 2010

    Want to be successful, well-liked, effective? Want to make more money, receive the lion's share of promotions? Want to raise money? Well, according to Amy Cuddy of HBS , it is vital that you understand how our primal psyches process personality traits and non-verbal behavior. do you feel good or bad about this person." His findings? Now you know

  49. Engage with Customers to Shape Business Model- The Entrepreneurial Mind, November 22, 2010

    When launching a new business, relying too heavily on the details of your business plan can actually lead to failure. The research that goes into formulating the business plans that I typically see comes from sources such as industry reports, census data and other government-generated historical material, plus articles from business periodicals.

  50. Innovation in a Nutshell, aka “No BS” Innovation- Gregg Fraley, Author of Jack's Notebook, November 9, 2010

    Am off tonight to do a Pecha Kucha presentation at an event organized by Simon Strong of Human Zoo. It looks like a fascinating line-up of tasty Pecha’s. It’s good fun to create something as scaled down as 20 slides at 20 seconds each. It forces you to get to the essence of things.

  51. Why do we do this?- Startup Lessons Learned, November 25, 2010

    On April 1, 2008, I was as nervous as I have ever been in my life. It was just minutes before I was supposed to go on stage for the very first time and present The Lean Startup to a large audience, at a big conference. To that point, I’d been talking about Lean Startup concepts only on a seldom-read blog and with people in my immediate network.

  52. How I Build Mockups- Ash Maurya, November 15, 2010

    A basic Lean Startup technique is doing the smallest thing possible to learn from customers. Applied to the product, this often times translates to a visual mockup of some sort to stand in-place of the actual product. use mockups quite heavily both before and after launch but not all mockups are created equal. The mockup needs to look real. Model.

  53. How to Hold Kickass Virtual Meetings- The Product Guy, November 21, 2010

    Guest Post by Saeed Khan. One of the core activities for Product Management is to get out of the office and gain first hand understanding of needs of customers and partners, and other issues in the market There’s little that can substitute for good field research. Here’s how we did it. Holding the virtual meeting. Not a good sign.

  54. Positioning is Yours; Perception is Theirs- Life Beyond Code, November 12, 2010

    What triggered this was a simple question from a friend – “ How do I change how people perceive me? &#. You can’t control how people perceive you – but you can control how you position yourself. It’s a little bit convoluted if you think about it. How do you do that? Well for starters, you can LISTEN!!!! All the best.

  55. HR as a core competency- Seth Levine's VC Adventure, November 18, 2010

    In the world of start-ups, HR is at the bottom of the bottom of the heap of priorities most companies are working on. The vast majority of companies think about HR as a process and compliance function, outsource it to 3rd party providers (payroll, benefits, etc.) and doing their best to forget about it. failure.

  56. Attackers and Defenders- Seeing Both Sides, November 9, 2010

    I met with a senior executive at a top 5 bank last week and he said something that has stuck with me all week. When I asked him why he was interested in pursuing entrepreneurial activities after a nearly 20 year career at one firm, he replied, "I've decided the world is divided between attackers and defenders. I want to be an attacker again.".

  57. Do Investors Invest in Ideas, People or Markets?- Instigator Blog, November 10, 2010

    Investors often say that they invest in people first, then the market and lastly, the idea. I’d say that’s generally true, but it’s also very difficult not to triage and make judgment calls in reverse. Instead it’s always, “What’s your idea?”

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Web Designers vs. Web Developers

Funny graphic by @shanesnow that captures the difference between web designers vs. web developers:


Like the issue of Startup CTO or Developer, often startup founders who are less technical have this same question.  Do I need a designer or a developer?

I need to come back to this issue and write more in the future – spectrum of what designers vs. developers cover.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Google Code API Console – Nicely Done

Google Code just release the API console. It better organizes Google’s APIs and I even discovered a couple new APIs.


Right now (more are expected soon) it provides:
  • Buzz API - Google Buzz provides developers with a powerful set of API endpoints for searching, reading, and updating post content and metadata.
  • Custom Search API - Google Custom Search enables you to search over a slice of the web, such as your own website, or a collection of websites. You can harness the power of Google to create a search engine tailored to your needs and interests, and you can present the results in your website.
  • Diacritize API - With the Diacritize API, you can add missing diacritics to the text of certain languages (currently only Arabic).
  • Feed API v2 with Push - The Google Feed API v2 with Push is a JavaScript library that allows you to embed Google Feeds with feed updates pushed automatically to the user's browser.
  • Latitude API – The Google Latitude API lets websites and programs integrate with Google Latitude, enabling users to update and read their current location, their location history, and more!
  • Moderator API – The Google Moderator API lets websites and programs integrate with Google Moderator, a tool for collecting ideas, questions, and recommendations from audiences of any size.
  • Prediction API – The Prediction API enables you to make smart applications that respond to all the streams of data that flood through your apps by providing quick and easy access to Google's powerful machine learning algorithms.
  • Translate API - The Google Translate API lets websites and programs integrate with Google Translate programmatically.
You login with your Google Account and can track exactly how you use each API, and you can get stats on API usage for your app or site, such as specific rate limits, which pages are making the most API calls and graphs of API usage over time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Equity-Only CTO and Equity-Only Developers

I had a recent email dialog with the founder of a company looking for a CTO for their startup.   We had several emails back and forth where he provided basic details on the concept.  And I tried to evaluate the idea and figure out:
  1. What did the founder really need here?  Was it a Startup Founder Developer Gap?  Was it a case of needing Homework?  Did they really need a Startup CTO or Developer or both?  Did they have a Weak Development Team?  And do I fit as a Part-Time CTO, Technology Advisor, CTO Founder, Acting CTO?
  2. Understand where they were in terms of being able to pay or was this equity-only (sweat equity only).
I thought it was a pretty reasonable dialog with this founder and we quickly arrived at some answers.  He had a partially built product.  He needed some kind of CTO and as well Developers.  And he was still in the process of raising additional capital, so it was equity only.  However, when I told him that the level of engagement (number of hours) required from me and the fact that equity-only development was required that I couldn't take the engagement, he seemed to be a bit offended.  The very last email I got from him told me the following:
Thank you for your time Tony, I understand everyone wants a huge salary, no risk and a cut of the profits.
For some reason there’s a stigma around cash vs. equity conversation and it seems to offend some founders that people have limits for what they will do on an equity-only basis.

I would think that if you are trying to attract people on an equity-only basis you wouldn’t want to get too far into the conversation without raising the issue.  Otherwise, you’ll end up spending time with people who are not going to be interested.  And I personally thought the reaction above about me seemingly wanting a huge salary, no risk and a cut at the profits sounds a bit over the top when all I said is that the level of commitment would mean that I would need some cash compensation.

There are cases where I will do equity-only deals.  Normally it’s when I’m in an advisory role – a few hours per month.   In a few cases it’s where I’m a co-founder of the business.  For me to do either of these, I certainly need to really believe in the idea and it has to be something that won’t consume all of my time.  And let’s be honest, most employees, advisors, etc. who start with small equity percentages don’t end up making very much from startups.  Likely the effective hourly rate as an equity-only CTO Advisor is pretty low.

Once things get into more significant time commitments, i.e., a part-time CTO role, I need to work on some combination of cash and equity.  And certainly, if you are looking for Development, you can theoretically find equity-only developers and get things done, but that won’t be me trying to do that.  Consider  what Ryan Waggoner tells us How to Find a Technical Cofounder:
When I was doing freelance development, I had about one pitch per week for an equity-only opportunity. I fell for a couple, learned my lesson, but now I never accept these kinds of deals, even though a lot of the ideas and even teams seem solid. There are usually several reasons, but mostly it comes down to them not offering enough equity. These “startups” are almost always mostly-non-technical founders offering 1-2% premoney for a “lead developer” position. In my view, the very fact that they feel that the technical development of a web startup is only worth a couple percent speaks volumes.
That’s a pretty common experience.  Unless you are a co-founder of the startup, a developer is probably not going to do all that well working on sweat equity alone.  For me, that means that I would be burning bridges and losing relationships with developers that I brought on that way.  Of course, if you are a good developer looking for equity-only positions in very interesting startups, please drop me a note.  Bottom line, if there’s significant development, you need capital or a founder needs to go source the equity-only developers. 
I would caution any founder that finding and being successful with equity-only developers is tough.  It can be done, but it’s hard.  Here are a few perspectives on it:

Building a sweat equity team
You simply need to network. Go to user groups. Go to tech (or other relevant industry) events. Refine your elevator pitch. Eventually you'll catch the ear, the vision, of someone who would like to jump on board, and has something you need in return.
Brad Feld in Places to Find Developers in Exchange for Sweat Equity
While finding a developer to work for sweat equity is an option, I’d assert that you’d be better served by hunting for a technical co-founder that is passionate about creating the company you envision.  In my experience, it’s naive to think you can just “get developers to build the product” although it does sometimes work. Most of the great software startups that I’ve been involved in have at least one technical co-founder (and many have more than one.)
How To Find A Programmer To Build Your Startup Idea
Another option is sweat equity. It is important to realize that most people who are willing to work for sweat equity are not a) the best, b) in demand, and c) going to put their heart and soul into your project. Motivation to work for sweat equity is something else that founders tend to take for granted. Sweat equity is usually best applied in the case where you are working with someone you know who already trusts you and who you know will put up a solid effort. Sweat equity is also applicable for someone who is very interested in the subject that you are working on. What sweat equity is not good for is for people who you don’t know at all. You should avoid spending your time here and instead focus on finding a way to generate revenue or to attract investors so that you can afford to hire someone.
Recruiting Startup Engineers
Engineers are humans, we have bills to pay, families to take care of, friends that we want to spend time with, and on occasion indulge in the latest tech gadget.  Contrary to the way we carry ourselves we’re not robots (although I do enjoy being called a machine - but I’m not Summer Glau).  So before you ask someone to even spend an hour of their time writing code or reviewing specs make sure you can pay them in some form (coffee, dinner, laptop, etc.), and if you can’t then you better start thinking of ways to raise enough funds to be able to pay them something.  Don’t expect someone to work for nothing endlessly.
Bottom line: I’m willing to have a conversation with most any founder, just don’t get offended when I suggest that capital is required for me to be involved.

Thirty more articles related to this:
  1. How To Calculate Sweat Equity- Get Venture: Venture Made Transparent, February 11, 2010
  2. How Much Equity a Technical Cofounder Should Get - Nathan Hurst, July 19, 2010
  3. When You Should Hire a Dev Shop (other than “never”)- Brad Hargreaves, March 7, 2010
  4. Make Sure Sweat Equity Vests- Get Venture: Venture Made Transparent, February 18, 2010
  5. Small Business Tip of the Week: Understand the Value of Sweat Equity- The StartUp Blog at PartnerUp, February 22, 2010
  6. Places to Find Developers in Exchange for Sweat Equity
  7. Top Startup Mistake 8: Misunderstanding Equity- Up and Running, February 5, 2010
  8. Why Andreessen Horowitz Invested in Foursquare- Ben's Blog, June 29, 2010
  9. Ten Tips for an Investment-Grade Business Plan- Startup Professionals Musings, April 22, 2010
  10. Ten Common Arrogance Traps for Startups- Startup Professionals Musings, January 24, 2010
  11. How To Find A Programmer To Build Your Startup Idea
  12. Eight Questions Every Startup Hopes You Won’t Ask- Startup Professionals Musings, August 20, 2010
  13. Bootstrapping a Lean Startup- Ash Maurya, March 23, 2010
  14. Founder Agreements – Vesting, Vesting and more Vesting- High Contrast, April 25, 2010
  15. Ten Tips for Business Traction to Attract Investors- Startup Professionals Musings, May 22, 2010
  16. How to bootstrap a Startup with less than $10k
  17. Finding a Technical Partner for Your Startup
  18. Think Your Start-up Is Venture Worthy? Think Again
  19. How to hire a programmer to make your ideas happen
  20. How Much Stock to Ask For When Joining a Startup- Startup Professionals Musings, June 20, 2010
  21. Guide to Evaluating Startup Ideas- Tony Wright dot com, May 27, 2010
  22. Eight Tips To Successfully Bootstrap Your Business
  23. Should Founders Be Allowed to Take Money off the Table?- Both Sides of the Table, September 2, 2009
  24. Guide to Finding a Technical Co-Founder | Vinicius Vacanti- Vinicius Vacanti, September 7, 2010
  25. Finding Your Co-Founders
  26. Software Startup Myths Debunked
  27. The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups
  28. Guy Kawasaki’s 10 Questions to Ask Before You Join a Startup
  29. How to hire a programmer to make your ideas happen
  30. From Nothing To Something. How To Get There

Friday, October 29, 2010

Caution 2.0

Just saw this tweet fly by:


Unfortunately, this CTO happens to be the CTO of a restaurant chain which was probably the reason that this was tweeted.

But the point is pretty simple. As a CTO, you need to always remember that you are a bit on stage and people notice what you do even when you don’t realize it. It’s important to bring a bit of caution to things as simple as going to the bathroom.

And with social media, your really need to think Caution 2.0. Anything you do can easily spread.

Oh, and if you want a bit more help on bathrooms for engineers, the following video probably will help (go to 2:32):

Monday, October 11, 2010

Goals Accountability and Social Support for Big Impact

Whoops - posted on the wrong blog. This is now on my eLearning Technology blog:

But I will highlight one thing from the post:
I believe that there’s a REALLY great business to be created around this.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Top 30 Startup Technology and Product Posts for September 2010

Great content again in September that meets at the intersection of startups, technology, product and being a Startup CTO.  This continues my series of posts:

Some great free resources listed this month that I thought were interesting.

  1. Why Every Entrepreneur Should Write and 9 Tips To Get Started- OnStartups, September 27, 2010

    "The best part of blogging is the people you will meet"- Hugh MacLeod repeating wisdom from Loic Lemeur to me at the Big Pink at 2 am in South Beach after the Future of Web Apps 2008. If you asked me to tell you a list of three of the best decisions in my life, I can certainly tell you that regularly writing is one of them. Why You Should Write.

  2. 10 Tips for Adding Game Mechanics to a Non-Gaming Service- ReadWriteStart, September 21, 2010

    Game mechanics have become a popular way of increasing user engagement and pushing user adoption, referral and retention, and many startups have sought ways to incorporate game mechanics into their sites. Your service: the game. Status / reputation. People want status. It's human nature," he writes. Gifting and reciprocation. Hybrid monetization.

  3. If you’re aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough.- Chris Dixon, September 12, 2010

    My most useful career experience was about eight years ago when I was trying to break into the world of VC-backed startups. I applied to hundreds of jobs:  low-level VC roles, startups jobs, even to big tech companies. I got rejected from every single one. Big companies rejected me outright or gave me a courtesy interview before rejecting me.

  4. Four Minutes In The Morning- Feld Thoughts, September 1, 2010

    Amy and I created a tradition about a decade ago we call “four minutes in the morning.&#  We try to – fully clothed – spend four minutes together every morning 100% focused on each other. Amy sleeps a little later (usually 6:30am). So – I often have around 90 minutes alone every morning, which I treasure.

  5. Job Titles That Can Sink Your Startup- Steve Blank, September 13, 2010

    I had coffee with an ex student earlier in the week that reminded me yet again why startups burn through so many early VP’s. And And after 30 years of Venture investing we still have a hard time articulating why. Here’s one possible explanation – Job titles in a startup mean something different than titles in a large company.

  6. The Right Way to Lay People Off- Ben's Blog, September 21, 2010

    “I’m tryin’ to right my wrongs, But it’s funny them same wrongs helped me write this song”. Kanye West. Shortly after we sold Opsware to Hewlett-Packard, I had a conversation with the legendary venture capitalist Doug Leone of Sequoia Capital. He wanted to hear the story of how we went from doomed in the eyes of the world to a $1.6B

  7. Coworking Spaces- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, September 2, 2010

    I've never been much of a fan of incubators. Some have made the model work. My favorite of the bunch is Betaworks , based here in NYC. Betaworks is more than an incubator, but they have shown that they can make the incubation model work with projects like and chartbeat. The term for this kind of work setup is coworking.

  8. Getting Your Startup Website Ready, Pre-Launch- ReadWriteStart, September 11, 2010

    Even if you're not quite ready to show the public your product, you can still create a good website and a solid online presence for your startup. want to sidestep the argument about whether or not it's good to be " stealth " or not, and work with the assumption that if you've purchased the domain name, you're going to put up some sort of website.

  9. How-to get that guy as your mentor- Gabriel Weinberg, September 20, 2010

    Forming a couple of good mentor relationships can help bridge the gap between startup failure and success, especially for first-time entrepreneurs. But how do you actually get the right people to be your mentors? previously explained that it usually requires some equity, but here is some more step by step practical advice. Let's recap.

  10. 23 Tweetable Startup Insights From Seth Godin- OnStartups, September 1, 2010

    Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a long-time admirer of Seth Godin. He’s one of those “big thinkers” that has the added talent of being able to articulate high-level concepts in an immensely approachable way. That’s a very rare, and dare are I say remarkable intersection of abilities. Enjoy. tweet]. tweet].

  11. You Negotiate Commodities, But You Seize Opportunities- Steve Blank, September 16, 2010

    It took losing something important to understand the difference between a commodity and an opportunity. Along the way I also learned yet another way entrepreneurs see the world differently from their investors. Advisory Board. He was having too much fun at Sun and turned me down.). knew he would bring immense value to me and the company. Carpe Diem.

  12. What Does a CEO Do, Anyway?- OnlyOnce, September 6, 2010

    What Does a CEO Do, Anyway? Fred has a great post up last week in his MBA Mondays series caled “ What a CEO Does. 8220;  His three things (worth reading his whole post anyway) are set vision/strategy and communicate broadly, recruit/hire/retain top talent, and make sure there’s enough cash in the bank. It’s great advice. 

  13. The Office Matters- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, September 18, 2010

    Eatsy at Etsy Originally uploaded by Etsy Labs. Our portflio company Etsy has a person who is focused on the office, company culture, and making the work space as comfortable as possible. They have a chef come in and cook a healthy lunch for everyone three times a week. They called that program Eatsy. took a photo and posted it to my tumblog.

  14. Never Mind the Valley: Here's Paris- ReadWriteStart, September 3, 2010

    If you're capable of seeing past the old stones of Paris and the picturesque rural villages, you'll realize that France is every bit as technologically advanced as any other Western country - more so in some areas. Not only does the country have a higher percentage of homes with high-speed Internet than the U.S. Sponsor. Want to start up in France?

  15. Sean Murphy on the first dozen enterprise customers- Gabriel Weinberg, September 8, 2010

    I recently did a Traction Book interview with Sean Murphy who runs a boutique cutomer development firm in Silicon Valley. We discussed (for ~1hr) how to approach getting the first set of enterprise customers. What follows is a slightly edited transcript of the full interview. yegg: Why don't you start by introducing yourself? My firm is SKMurphy.

  16. Lessons Learned From StartupBootcamp 2010- OnStartups, September 14, 2010

    /*. This is the first article from Jason L. Baptiste , a new writer at OnStartups and local Boston entrepreneur. You should follow him on Twitter ( @jasonlbaptiste ) or say hi via email. Expect to hear a lot more from him in the future. He's awesome. The tagline for the event was actually "Starting a company is easier than you think." Listen.

  17. Why Product Managers Wear Sneakers- Steve Blank, September 2, 2010

    I gave a talk last night to the Silicon Valley Product Management Association. It’s a San Francisco Bay Area forum for networking, jobs and education for over 500 Product Management professionals. The gist of the talk was to observe that: startups are not smaller versions of large companies. Except they won’t be called Product Managers.

  18. 5 great viral marketing campaigns (and what small businesses can learn from them!)- crowdSPRING Blog, September 13, 2010

    At crowdSPRING we talk a great deal about how we can leverage our limited marketing resources to drive traffic and revenues and build strong community. Some of the traffic-tactics we use involve good old fashioned payola: paid search, banner ads, affiliate programs, etc. That crazy chicken. Burger King’s brave new world. Yes we can!

  19. Top free resources for startups- StartupCFO, September 28, 2010

    It took me a while to warm up to it but I am loving Quora more and more. There is a wealth of information and connections on it. can’t believe how much time people devote to answering questions on it. How To Pick A Co-Founder , by Naval Ravikant (Venture Hacks). CompStudy 2008 Report on Equity and Cash Compensation at Technology Startups.

  20. Why Your Startup Should Be Involved in Open Source- ReadWriteStart, September 15, 2010

    Oftentimes, when you hear the arguments for "Why open source?", they are aimed at convincing companies to use open source software. But the other piece of the argument is, of course, an argument for why your company should build open source - why it should develop its technology in a community-driven, open sourced way. Building a Better Product.

  21. Consumer RSS: 1999-2010- Venture Chronicles, September 11, 2010

    paidContent made an interesting connection about Bloglines being shut down and the broader question of RSS in the age of Twitter. Today RSS is the enabling technology – the infrastructure, the delivery system. RSS is a means to an end, not a consumer experience in and of itself. The writing is on the wall.”. Simply put, there is no market for RSS.

  22. Why You’re Going to Hire the Wrong Designer- Tony Wright dot com, September 14, 2010

    “We are not UI experts but do know when we see a good design.&#. saw this on a mailing list I occasionally read, in a post where a company was looking to hire their first design employee/contractor. The challenge, of course, partially lies in the definition of “good design&#. Good Design = Beautiful/Cool Design. It’s simple.

  23. Collusion- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, September 22, 2010

    Mike Arrington posted about a secret meeting of angels and super angels in San Francisco the other night. In the post he suggests that they are colluding to keep valuations down, terms intact, and traditional venture capital firms, such as ours, out of their deals. It's the kind of blog post that Mike has become famous for.

  24. The segmentation of the venture industry- Chris Dixon, September 26, 2010

    Ford Motors dominated the auto market in the early 20th century with a single car model, the Model T. At the time, customers were seeking low-cost, functional cars, and were satisfied by an extremely standardized product (Ford famously quipped that “customers can choose it in any color, as long as it’s black&# ).

  25. Oh, Noes! Not Another Ex-Insiders Thoughts On Nokia! (Part I)- ArcticStartup, September 26, 2010

    As you all know, it’s been an interesting few weeks at Nokia - a new CEO, top executives leaving, the company stock wallowing at absurdly low values. When Ville Vesterinen asked me what I thought of the changes and the cultural and organizational challenges Nokia has to deal with to move forward, I knew I had a lot to say. Google, and Facebook.

  26. Using a Virtual Personal Assistant for Your Startup- ReadWriteStart, September 5, 2010

    ReadWriteWeb Co-Editor Marshall Kirkpatrick recently extolled the virtues of Amazon's Mechanical Turk for " rocking conference blogging." Sponsor. Lindsey Harper recently wrote about her experiences using Mechanical Turk to validate her startup idea. Her survey asked whether or not they'd use the service, example of how they might use it. How so?

  27. DuckDuckGo implements HTTPS Everywhere- Gabriel Weinberg, September 25, 2010

    " HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox extension produced as a collaboration between The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It encrypts your communications with a number of major websites." DuckDuckGo is one of these websites. And now when you use the encrypted version , the same ruleset in HTTPS Everywhere is now applied to DDG links.

  28. Ten Components of Startup Valuation For Investors- Startup Professionals Musings, September 6, 2010

    Once you have a potential investor excited about your team, your product, and your company, the investor will inevitably ask “What is your company’s valuation?” Many entrepreneurs stumble at this point, losing the deal or most of their ownership, by having no answer, playing coy, or quoting an exorbitant number. NewCo doesn’t have any of these yet.

  29. Where Good Ideas Come From- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, September 21, 2010

    I've been reading my friend Steven Johnson 's new book Where Good Ideas Come From. Steven gave me an advance copy of the book. It is available for pre-order at Amazon [ kindle here ] and it will be released on October 5th. hope Steven is not a stranger to any of you. He tells wonderful stories about science. Here it is.

  30. Web services should be both federated and extensible- Chris Dixon, September 4, 2010

    One of the most important developments of the web 2.0 era is the proliferation of full featured, bidirectional APIs. APIs provide a way to “federate&#  web services from a single website to a distributed network of 3rd party sites. Another important web 2.0 development is the proliferation of web Apps (e.g. Facebook Apps).

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Top 40 Startup Posts for August 2010

August was a slow month in terms of traffic and I was away for a lot of the month, but there were some really great posts at the intersection of startups, technology, product and being a Startup CTO.  This continues my series of posts:

Here they are:

  1. How to Minimize Politics in Your Company- Ben's Blog, August 24, 2010

    “Who the f@#k you think you f$&kin’ with. m the f%*kin’ boss.”. Rick Ross. In all my years in business, I have yet to hear someone say: “I love corporate politics.” On the other hand, I meet plenty of people who complain bitterly about corporate politics—sometimes even in the companies they run. clearly didn’t cause this.” How it happens.

  2. Pricing models, the freemium myth and why you may not be charging enough for your product- Seth Levine's VC Adventure, August 12, 2010

    I’ve been pulled into a number of product and pricing meetings recently (for reasons unknown I’ve become the Foundry pricing and productization guy). thought it would be helpful to put some of my thoughts into a blog post and hopefully spur some conversation in the comments and over email. More tiers = more complication = more confusion.

  3. How To Pitch A Product- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, August 4, 2010

    I've said a bunch of times on this blog that the perfect pitch is a very short intro to provide context followed immediately by a demo. Last night at the NY Tech Meetup, John Britton of our portfolio company Twilio showed how it is done. If you do a lot of pitches, spend the six minutes to watch this. Kudos to John for an excellent pitch.

  4. How a startup should leverage a personal assistant- A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks, August 30, 2010

    Rob Walling generously allowed me to reprint this excerpt from his new book, "Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup" available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon and in PDF and ePub from He blogs to 10,000 web entrepreneurs at Software by Rob and co-hosts the podcast  Startups for the Rest of Us.

  5. Product Friday: Monetizing Content is a Product Problem- This is going to be BIG., August 20, 2010

    They say people won't pay for content. They say that paywalls are stupid and that its just not monetizable. Remember when they said that people wouldn't pay for music? What Apple proved, and what I suspect is the issue with web content, is that monetization was a product problem. Because it was a tremendous pain in the ass. Same goes for television.

  6. The bowling pin strategy- Chris Dixon, August 21, 2010

    A huge challenge for user-generated websites is overcoming the chicken-and-egg problem : attracting users and contributors when you are starting with zero content. One Facebook executed the bowling pin strategy brilliantly by starting at Harvard and then spreading out to other colleges and eventually the general public.

  7. No, You CAN’T retire rich at 30 if you sell your startup- Tony Wright dot com, August 23, 2010

    I personally find the people who are in the software startup game just for the money to often be nearly delusional about their chances of success and the likely magnitude of it when it happens. Before I get into the details for founders, let me talk about options-hungry employees. Full stop. Do it because you love small teams. Congrats! Dying at 70?

  8. Why MOST smart people are better at solving other people’s problems…- Life Beyond Code, August 10, 2010

    And, not their own problems. am sure you have seen them and may be you are one of them. Smart people who can solve other people’s problems very easily but they can’t solve their own problems. As my friend Stuart Scott would say, most people have brilliant “outsight&# and all they lack is some “insight.&#. Dec 26, 2009).

  9. Productive Programming- Gabriel Weinberg, August 31, 2010

    BIG disclaimer: I'm not formally trained in computer science (aside from two classes at MIT in 2000) and I haven't worked closely with that many programmers or teams (maybe 10 or so). I've gotten to be a lot more productive as a programmer since I started casually 15+ years ago and seriously about 10 years ago. Say you want some code that does X.

  10. Paul Graham on trends for the future- Business of Software Blog, August 25, 2010

    Paul Graham spoke at last year's Business of Software conference. I’m going to try to do something for you guys that I’ve always resisted doing. One of the big questions, probably the biggest questions that I get from reporters, is 'what trends do you see? What’s going to happen in the future?' We had to write a CRM to keep track of them all.

  11. How I Think About Seed Investing As A VC- Feld Thoughts, August 2, 2010

    Last week saw an explosion of discussion around seed investing, including plenty of negative comments around VCs as seed investors. While I agree that many VCs are crummy seed investors, I think there are some that are excellent seed investors. They are: Fred Wilson: Lead Investors, Dipshit Companies, and Funding Every Entrepreneur.

  12. Taking the Mystery out of Scaling a Company- Ben's Blog, August 2, 2010

    “What you got a dollar in your pocket. twenty in your wallet? See me I’m stacking money. Matter of fact, I’ll let you watch it. Get big. Get big. Get big. Get big”. Dorrough. If you want to build an important company, then at some point you have to scale. Often board members give entrepreneurs two bits of advice regarding scale: Get a mentor.

  13. Has convertible debt won? And if it has, is that a good thing?- Seth Levine's VC Adventure, August 30, 2010

    Paul Graham, founder of Y-Combinator , sent out a tweet on Friday saying: “Convertible notes have won. Every investment so far in this YC batch (and there have been a lot) has been done on a convertible note.”. It’s an interesting data point on Y-Combinator companies, but is this truly a macro trend? Have convertible notes really won? equity debate.

  14. Start-Up Chile: $40k to Live There and Start a Company- Ben Casnocha: The Blog, August 14, 2010

    Governments round the world are trying to stimulate entrepreneurship. The Chilean government recently announced a bold initiative that stands apart from the usual innovation and start-up handwaving. They are seeking two dozen entrepreneurs who want to move to Santiago for six months to get their company off the ground. But I like its underratedness.

  15. Yes, but who said they'd actually BUY the damn thing?- A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks, August 9, 2010

    This is Part 3 of the series: 5 lessons from 150 startup pitches.? Of hundreds of startup pitches at Capital Factory , almost none had unearthed 10 people willing to say, "If you build this product, I'll give you $X.". all without identifying even ten measly people actually willing to pay for what they're peddling. Short-sighted, no? Fooey! 

  16. Teach Like You’re the Student- Steve Blank, August 10, 2010

    “I never have let my schooling interfere with my education.”. Mark Twain. Every time I see my graduate students try to teach for the first time, it’s usually so painful I bite my lip. Then I remember the first day I stood up in front of a classroom. You Hired. Long back-story here.) The Dry Run. didn’t sleep that night. was scared and nervous.

  17. We’re Living In The Dark Ages Of Social Media-, August 9, 2010

    If you believe the media and social media “experts&# , we’re living in the Renaissance of social media. Novel and creative campaigns like the recent YouTube campaign from Old Spice purportedly demonstrate the power of social in marketing.

  18. Rethinking “F@#$ You Money”- Tony Wright dot com, August 2, 2010

    Now that I’ve stepped down from RescueTime, I’m pondering my next thing (whether it’s a product role at a very early stage startup or spinning up my own for the 3rd time). figure it’s a good time to be introspective and consider my motivations. Why do startups? via Urban Dictionary ). Retirement Plans. Want to be Mercenary?

  19. Video From Business Of Software 2009: Building Great Software Businesses- OnStartups, August 23, 2010

    Of the several conferences I attend or speak each at each year, my favorite is the Business of Software conference organized be Neil Davidson (of Red Gate ) and Joel Spolsky (of Fog Creek ). There are several reasons for this. The speakers are great and have enough stage time to really get into the topic they’re passionate about. No panels.

  20. First-timer entrepreneur symptoms and cures- Gabriel Weinberg, August 12, 2010

    Previously I wrote about wannabe entrepreneur symptoms and cures. was once a wannabe entrepreneur, and then I was a first-timer. First-timers are not wannabes--they're actually out there doing stuff. And they can be successful their first time around. I've funded some myself. But it's not the norm. made all of these mistakes in my first companies.

  21. Alarming IT data points- deal architect, August 25, 2010

    I am grateful for plenty of positive coverage my book has received. The coverage, though, has focused mostly on all the innovators I profile in the book. That’s not surprising because the vast majority of the book focuses on innovations

  22. The Mac Won Me Over- Feld Thoughts, August 3, 2010

    On June 20th, I declared that I was going to try A Month of Mac. I took my Macbook Pro (an older model from about 18 months ago) up to Alaska, left my Lenovo x300 in Boulder, and went native Mac. I’m typing this on my brand new spiffy MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7 with 8GB RAM, with a 500GB solid state hard drive. That’s sweet.

  23. The Right Kind of Ambition- Ben's Blog, August 29, 2010

    “Some say that I’m they favorite. But I aint hearing none of that. m about my team ho. Young money running back”. Drake. Stay in your place. While I sit here and rule. m king of a cow. And I’m king of a mule”. Yertle the Turtle. In my last post, I mentioned that you should strive to hire people with the right kind of ambition. sales? Final Thought.

  24. The Expanding Birthrate Of Web Startups- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, August 22, 2010

    There is a general consensus that web startups are being created at a faster rate than ever. The impact of accelerator programs like Y Combinator, Techstars, Seedcamp, and dozens more are one factor. The expanding pool of angel, seed, and super seed funds is another. You can bootstrap your way into existence. believe that is certainly true.

  25. Making Money From Social Games- ArcticStartup, August 23, 2010

    Games Developer Conference Europe 2010 (GDCE) took place last week in Cologne, Germany. Social gaming was naturally one of the key topics, covered in many presentations. As most, if not all, of the games on social networks use the freemium business model (i.e. Requests - Expect 70% on request (e.g. 10 cents per DAU.

  26. The right way to position against competition- A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks, August 23, 2010

    This is Part 4 of the series: 5 lessons from 150 startup pitches.?? After seeing hundreds of startup pitches for this year's Capital Factory program, I can tell you that the two most common errors in positioning a company against competition are, strangely, opposites: Claiming you have no competition. There is no competition. Example: Netflix).

  27. Boys Rules, Girls Lose – Women at Work- Steve Blank, August 30, 2010

    My two daughters are now in college and have put their toes in the working-world with summer jobs. As they’ve grown older, they’ve heard their parent’s advice about women in the workforce. This post is not advice nor is it a recommendation of what you should do. It’s simply my interpretation of what I observed watching my daughters grow up.

  28. How #redgate hired 10 geeks in five weeks- Business of Software Blog, August 5, 2010

    In April, I wrote : Right now, we’re running a “Ten geeks in five weeks” project. The major thing that’s holding back Red Gate’s growth is our struggle to hire great people. So Alice, Mark and Nick are going to hire ten people over the next five (now four) weeks. m not entirely sure how they’re going to do it. know that iPads are involved. Enjoy.

  29. 20 Amazing Women Entrepreneurs- Blogtrepreneur | Entrepreneur Blog, August 18, 2010

    These days, it seems successful entrepreneurs are popping up everywhere.  And some of the most impressive entrepreneurial success stories are those of women who have accomplished amazing things in every area of business imaginable.  From IT to retail, and from marketing to inventions, women have shown they are a force to be reckoned with. 

  30. Converts versus equity deals- Chris Dixon, August 31, 2010

    There has been a debate going on the past few days over whether seed deals should be funded using equity or convertible notes (converts). Paul Graham kicked it off by noting that all the financings in the recent YC batch were converts. Prominent investors including Mark Suster and Seth Levine weighed in (I highly recommend reading their posts). While

  31. Rapid prototyping as burnout antidote- Gabriel Weinberg, August 24, 2010

    Sometimes I get burnt out. Who doesn't? I'm very sensitive to it though because I know it can be devastating to a startup, especially a single founder startup. Over the past several years I've learned that a burnout antidote, at least for myself, is rapid prototyping of something brand new. Recently I cleaned out and organized our basement.

  32. Big Tech is Broken - badly- deal architect, August 20, 2010

    Someone at a large outsourcer shares with me an email he sent to his CEO lamenting the while the annual report repeatedly talks about innovation, there is no budget in R&D/innovation at the firm - and he has been there

  33. Negotiation Tips For Small Businesses, Entrepreneurs and Freelancers- crowdSPRING Blog, August 10, 2010

    Not every entrepreneur, small business owner or freelancer is comfortable negotiating. Many dread the adversarial nature of negotiation. Even so, it’s difficult (and perhaps impossible) to operate a small business or startup and not negotiate agreements with employees, vendors, customers, and others. Know Your Objective. Prepare. We declined.

  34. How to Make and Flipboard Rock- How to Change the World, August 24, 2010

    In the last few weeks two companies have released services that enable you to take tweets and turn them into a newspaper or magazine format: and Flipboard. Alltop is a great source of information for both and Flipboard newspapers. If you’d like to learn how to do this for, click here, and for Flipboard, click here

  35. Some Thoughts On Convertible Debt- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, August 31, 2010

    Seth Levine has a long and thoughtful post on convertible debt vs equity. If you are an entrepreneur or active in the angel/seed sector, you should read it. He wrote it in response to Paul Graham 's tweet that said: Convertible notes have won. But since our firm does participate in select angel/seed rounds, this was interesting to me. In truth.

  36. Eight Business Processes Every Startup Must Have- Startup Professionals Musings, August 1, 2010

    Even when your startup is a one-man show, you will soon find that you are “out of control,” unless you start organizing and writing down how and when key things need to get done. Like it or not, you are now entering the dreaded realm of “formal business processes.” The right question is “What is the minimum that I need?” Develop your business plan.

  37. What the crazy name "Smart Bear" taught me about branding- A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks, August 2, 2010

    Every founder struggles to find a great name for her company. Often it's the first source of good-natured strife between co-founders. My name started as a whim, was almost changed for the wrong reasons, and ended up with a punch-line I would never have dreamed of. Storytime! Lessons at the end.). An inauspicious birth. It sounds like shareware.".

  38. Solving the Innovator’s Dilemma – Customer Development in a Big Company- Steve Blank, August 23, 2010

    One of the ways I learn is to teach. My students ask questions I can’t answer and challenge me to solve problems I never considered. My last session was with a passionate, smart, entrepreneurial team from a Fortune 100 company. And if I told you who they were I’d have to kill you.) That’s the good news. Do you agree?  Lessons Learned.

  39. The Magical Founding Team Mix For Web Startups- OnStartups, August 16, 2010

    At a startup dinner I had with a bunch of really smart software entrepreneurs in Austin, Texas during SXSW earlier this year, something really struck me. Of the 8 founders at the dinner, half of them had a design/ui/ux background. This got me to thinking: What would the ideal founding team at a web startup look like? Thanks.]. Developer.

  40. 7 angel investing tips in 7 minutes- Venture Hacks, August 3, 2010

    Last week, Naval and a slew of angel investors shared their investing advice with an audience of angels-in-training at AngelConf 2010. Here’s the video (each talk is 7 minutes long): Video: AngelConf 2010. Wade Roush at Xconomy took detailed notes on all the talks and published them here and here. angel investing tips. Ride on their coattails.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

More Web Events in Los Angeles

I’ve updated my earlier post on Networking Events Los Angeles with some great suggestions from Lorin Cha who I just met through LinkedIn. Here were the new ones:

  • LeanLA Startup Circle Meetup

    I’ve gone to a couple of these. Often the presentations are pretty basic because of a fair number of newbies in the audience. However, there are some great folks who have lots of experience also attending so the networking and discussion is generally pretty great. Especially if you are looking at early-stage start-up issues.

  • Social media week Los Angeles

    Runs week of Sept 20 - 24. Lots of scattered events around LA on social media.

  • SoCal Kanban/Lean software meetup

  • Coloft

    They have a line up of events there. Doing a good job of helping to make events happen. And for what it's worth, a few folks I know have used their space as a coworking space and say they really like it.

Don’t forget to check out Plancast. I sometimes find some interesting events through that system.

And take a look at Networking Events Los Angeles for the complete list. This also will help with the issues raised in Los Angeles Web Developer.