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Why A Startup Needs 16 Lawyers
For detailed show notes and links go to MarkWKing.com/6 In this episode, I distill some positive and negative lessons about why a startup might need multiple attorneys. The short answer…lawyers are like doctors, they specialize. One size does not fit all situations. Equally important, entrepreneurs need to be careful about who an attorney has a duty of loyalty to. A lawyer that represents a company's best interest does not by default represent the founder. Also in this episode, I reintroduce the Venture Capital Coroner's Report. Previously, I did an entire podcast focused on lessons from failed, VC backed companies. The show failed (I know, ironic, right?). I just couldn't get enough interviews. However, there's more than enough material for an occasional segment of this show. The autopsy of VATLER provides an important lesson about disrupting entrenched players (and a resurrection story in the founding of SpotAngels). Lawyers or Insurance Salesmen? Naval Ravikant - Angel List In a very short post Naval lays out six important lessons he learned about hiring lawyers. He learned these the hard, expensive way. A Startup Lawyer is Not a Founder's Lawyer Jose Ancer -  Miller, Egan, Molter & Nelson Often lawyers are like that coach in the corner of a boxing ring. They're an experienced, voice of reason in a life or death struggle. Jose Ancer points out, however, that you need to be sure the lawyer in your corner owes his highest allegiance to you. It's not always obvious. Jose does a great job explaining how attorney loyalty works. Inside Story of VATLER's Shut Down Hamza Ouazzani Chahdi - Now at SpotAngels.com Founders ran head first into a wall called entrenched city government. Follow @HamzaOuazzaniC to track the story of SpotAngels, Hamza's new attempt to disrupt urban parking by helping you avoid parking tickets. Bonus Material – More About Naval Ravikant Naval says this about himself: "I am the CEO and co-founder of AngelList. I previously co-founded Epinions (which went public as part of Shopping.com) and Vast.com. I'm an active Angel investor, and have invested in dozens of companies, including Twitter, Uber, Docverse and Jambool (both sold to Google), and Mixer Labs and Fluther (both sold to Twitter)." Background article from PE Hub on why Naval feels so strongly about lawyers: His Brand Burnished, Naval Ravikant Plans New Fund with Babak Nivi Blog StartUp Boy Web Site Angel.co Twitter @Naval LinkedIn Naval Ravikant (little dated)  I'd love to connect at any of the following: Twitter: @TheMarkWKing LinkedIn: Mark W King Facebook: The Mark W King Old School Email: MarkWKing.com/social
Is A Startup Co-founder Essential?
When you read about startups or startup accelerators, you almost hear about teams of co-founders. That’s because there most often, having co-founders is the right way to go. But can a solo founder succeed? What’s a poor startup founder to do if s/he can’t find the right co-founders? Just hang-out and wait? In this episode of Distilling Venture Capital, I look at these questions. Below are some of the articles and resources that I mention. For the detailed show notes and bonus information about Nic Brisbourn go to MarkWKing.com/5 Startups Are Hard. Don't Go It Alone - Satay Patel, Homebrew Ventures Building The Right Founding Team - Nic Brisbourne, Forward Partners How Solo Founders Beat The Odds and Got Into Top Accelerators - Lora Kolodny for the Wall Street Journal I'd love to connect at any of the following: Twitter: @TheMarkWKing LinkedIn: Mark W King Facebook: The Mark W King Old School Email: MarkWKing.com/social  
How Do VCs Make Decisions?
VC decision making is one of the great mysteries of the business world. In this episode we look at the range of decision making models used by VC funds.  Elizabeth Yin of 500 Startups wrote a great blog post on the topic.  She was also generous enough to record some follow-up thoughts for this episode. The secret behind VC partnerships… The take home point is that venture capital funds fall on a spectrum with champion based decision making on one end and consensus models at the other.  The key is doing your homework. Bonus Info On Elizabeth Yin Here's how Elizabeth describes herself:  Partner at 500 Startups; Investor in seed stage companies and run the Mtn View accelerator. Formerly CEO / Co-founder of LaunchBit (acq '14) and marketer at Google. BSEE from Stanford, MBA from MIT Sloan. Twitter LinkedIn Blog 500 Startups I can't thank Elizabeth enough for calling and leaving some answers to follow-up questions.  She has a great blog and is very active on Twitter.
How To Pitch Startup Investors
In this episode we look at advice from Hyde Park Angels and Rob Go of NextView Ventures about how to best pitch your startup to VCs or angel investors. We also look at what you can learn from a story Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures tells about an entrepreneur who successfully convinced Fred to invest without a pitch deck at all. Building The Perfect Pitch Hyde Park Angels As part of their educational series Hyde Park's team created a great outline for the story your pitch should tell. The flow they suggest may be different than you would expect. But, it syncs with the way most venture capitalists and angel investors evaluate opportunities. A Simple Approach To Startup Pitch Decks Rob Go - NextView Ventures Rob Go and the NextView team have created two amazingly helpful templates for startup pitches: one for email and smaller meetings and a second for larger group settings (e.g. a demo day).  I focus on the individual or small group format. Their format has tremendous versatility and does for startup pitches what responsive design and HTML 5 did for web sites. You can use content once and then adapt literally in the middle of a pitch to tailor it to your unique audience. Here's the PowerPoint template It's hosted on DropBox.  If you don't want to sign in there to get it you can go to SlideShare.net (just to manage expectations, they released it on SlideShare as a single PDF, not in an editable format for PowerPoint or Keynote) As a little extra bonus here are some early pitches from companies you probably know. (yes...I know. Some are probably bootlegged and incomplete, but they're interesting none the less.) LinkedIn Buffer YouTube FourSquare Best Seed Pitch Ever Fred Wilson - Union Square Ventures Do you even need a pitch? Sounds like heresy. No self-respecting entrepreneur would pitch a startup without a deck. Fred says you can and has the story to prove it. Bonus Information about Rob Go Rob describes himself this way: "Here’s a quick background on who I am: 1. My name is Rob, I live in Lexington, MA 2. I’m married and have two young daughters. My wife and I met in college at Duke University - Go Blue Devils! 3. We really love our church in Arlington, MA. It’s called Highrock and it’s a wonderful and vibrant community. Email me if you want to visit! 4. I grew up in the Philippines (ages 0-9) and Hong Kong (ages 9-17). 5. I am a cofounder of NextView Ventures, a seed stage investment firm focused on internet enabled innovation. I try to spend as much time as possible working with entrepreneurs and investing in businesses that are trying to solve important problems for everyday people. 6. The best way to reach me is by email: rob at nextviewventures dot com" Blog NextView Ventures Twitter @RobGO LinkedIn  
What Does A Co-Founder Actually Do?
Satya Patel of Homebrew, Steve Blank of lean startup fame and Aaron Harris of Y-Combinator wrote three amazing posts about founders, co-founders, founding teams and founding CEOs. In this episode, Mark W King explores their best thinking and explains what you need to know. Start-ups Are Hard. Don't Go It Alone by Satya Patel, Partner at seed fund Homebrew Ventures Satya does a great job explaining why founders need co-founders both for their own sake and the sake of their start-ups. Building Great Founding Teams by Steve Blank, author of The Start-up Owners Manual Lean start-up pioneer Steve Blank provides useful definitions for founder, co-founders and the founding CEO. Co-founder Management by Aaron K Harris, Partner at start-up accelerator Y-Combinator Small teams working in close quarters in high pressure situations always creates challenges. Aaron offers practical advice for how teams can be successful working together. Bonus Material - More About Satay Patel How he describes himself:  "Currently Partner at Homebrew and guilty of tweeting food porn. Previously, VP Product at Twitter leading product management and support. Co-led seed and early stage Internet and digital media investing as Partner at Battery Ventures. Joined Google in 2003, working on various product management and partnership initiatives for AdSense. Senior product manager at DoubleClick, VC with two NY-based venture capital firms and a strategy consultant. Penn educated. Vegas raised. Married with children. Optimizing for happiness."  Blog: Venture Generated Content Website: Homebrew Ventures Twitter LinkedIn
How Do Venture Capitalists Really Make Money?
If you really want to understand a business figure out how it makes money. That's true for every kind of business.  It's especially true in venture capital.  Most people think about venture capital in terms of single deals.  A VC's job is to essentially buy low and sell high.  That takes a ton of work. In future episodes we'll take a look at how an individual VC deal makes money. Ultimately, however, venture capitalists make their money by managing a fund of venture investments for other people.  So that begs the question: How do venture capital funds make money?  VCs get paid with a management fee (1-3%) that should cover the costs of keeping the lights on.  It's a nice living, but not the reason someone becomes a venture capitalist.  Venture capital funds get "carry" which is a share of the upside, usually 20% of profits.  Carry is the brass ring. The lion's share of the money. The economic motive for VCs is to make a huge amount of money for other people and share in that success. In this episode we look at three articles by venture capitalists that explain how the math works for a VC fund to be successful.  The math is somewhat non-obvious.  Take a listen and find out how it works. Cem Sertoglu, Early Bird Venture Capital - VC Fund Economics Cem Sertoglu provides a brief Cliff Notes style guide to venture capital fund economics.  (HUGE apology to Cem for butchering the pronunciation of his name. My Turkish is non-existent and I couldn't find any pronunciations on the web.  Sorry!) Mark Suster, Upfront Ventures - How to Build a Startup & Understanding Venture Capital Mark Suster goes more in-depth than Sertoglu.  As part of his pitch at venture conference, Suster explained three things: the right mindset for founders, understanding how venture capital works and how to build a great team. His slides on how venture funds make money summarize beautifully. He's also very clear about why this matters to founders raising capital. Benedict Evans, A16Z - In Praise of Failure Evans lays out a PhD level class for understanding how venture capital funds really make money, and don't.  The data he presents from Horsely Bridge blew me away.  Not because of any surprise outcome, but because of the vast data set.  There's not a lot of arguing about the conclusion: "Go way way beyond big or go home."  I could not love this post more, unless we got to see the names of the 50%, (yes half!) of the funds in the data that failed to return 1X their investors capital.  Bonus Content - More About Mark Suster How he describes himself:  2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to @salesforce). Now @UpfrontVC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs. Blog Company Website LinkedIn Twitter
Know When To Fold ‘Em - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
My interviews with venture capital's most successful failures have proven that the sage old advice from Kenny Rogers still applies: "Ya gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run." It's not time to run, but it is time to fold up the Venture Capital Coroner's Report. I just can't get a steady enough supply of guests to keep going. If you want to hear the three reasons people declined to come on the show, listen to this six minute episode. You might be surprised. I'm going to leave the shows up on iTunes and move them to my new website markwking.com You can share them with a friend or catch-up if you missed any episodes. You'll also find my new blog and podcast about impact investing and how lessons from the venture capital industry can change the world for better. Lastly and most importantly, I want to again thank all my guests. The difficulty in getting people to say yes greatly heightened by appreciation of the people who did. You were gracious with your time, patient with the interview process and honest about your experience. THANK YOU!! Mark W King The post Know When To Fold ‘Em appeared first on Venture Capital Coroner's Report.
Jeff Novich On What Made His Start-up Fail At Launch - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
As a serial entrepreneur Jeff Novich could spot a problem that meant opportunity.  His Dad had one of those problems in his medical practice.  Doctors' offices were drowning in paper and inefficient communication.  Jeff and his dad saw an opportunity to disrupt how medical offices operate and at the same time improve patient care and satisfaction.  It was a massive home run for Jeff's dad.  But in less than a year Jeff walked away in frustration. Listen to this episode to find out who made him fail fast. My Guest Jeff Novich describes himself as a "product manager who codes."  He's worked on a variety of digital products including VocabSushi.com, FareShare, GroundLink and Grocket.  He's applied his product expertise to educational technology, early ride sharing apps, medical communications and his current role is with ClassPass.com in the fitness space.  He's also has the unique experience of having been through not one, but two, accelerator programs. Jeff's credentials have that entrepreneurial quirkiness that lead to success.  He started out with a degree in Physics and Computer Science from Johns Hopkins and then moved to the softer side of academics and got a Masters in Broadcast Journalism.  For fun and relaxation, he's a regular hackathon participant. The Take Home Lessons Jeff and I had a wide-ranging conversation about product market fit and product market timing (the distinction is a key lesson), incubators and co-founders. Jeff's a classic product guy who learned a lot about the difference between a great product and a great company. Fortunately, he was able to fail fast and learn some valuable lessons. He also shares candidly about what worked and didn't work in his two different Tech Stars accelerator experiences.  Finally, the need for and value of a co-founder was crystal clear to Jeff and he shares his perspective on why the relationship worked so well at Patient Communicator. Resources & Links JeffNovich.com Jeff on Twitter - @JeffNovich Jeff on LinkedIn Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share With Entrepreneurial Colleagues & Friends Connect With Me Why a Venture Capital Podcast About Failure? From early childhood you've always heard the saying “Learn from your mistakes.” In the venture capital industry you frequently hear “Fail fast” to learn and get to the right idea.  Great advice. So, for this venture capital podcast I interview venture capital backed entrepreneurs about what they learned when their start-up didn't go as planned. I hope you can learn from their valuable experience. The post Fail Fast! Jeff Novich On What Made His Start-up Fail At Launch appeared first on Venture Capital Coroner's Report.
Co-founders, Paparazzi & Family...Oh My! Nikki Durkin on Start-up Relationships - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
What were you doing when you were 18? Nikki Durkin was finding co-founders, doing the Y-Combinator thing, raising venture capital, dealing with reporters, replacing co-founders, raising more venture capital and otherwise trying to grow her start-up. Listen in to find out what she learned when it all collapsed. My Guest Nikki Durkin hails from Sydney, Australia.  At the ripe old age of 18 she launched 99Dresses, an online exchange for used fashion. After starting in Sydney, she moved to Silicon Valley to participate in Y Combinator.  While 99Dresses got its fair share of press, Nikki attracted more press than most entrepreneurs both because of her age and her gender.  When 99Dresses ultimately failed, Nikki took the courageous step of posting two long articles on Medium.com, one about being a woman in the tech industry and the other about the emotions of failing.  She discusses both with me on this episode of the podcast. The Take Home Lessons Unlike a lot of my conversations, Nikki and I spent less time on the lessons she learned about raising venture capital and managing and growing a start-up.  She spoke candidly about her relationships with her co-founders and her family.  She also offers a very balanced and candid perspective on being a young woman in the start-up tech game.  Lessons she learned about these things in her late teens and early 20's are often missed or ignored by people twice or three times that age.  Nikki's story reminds us that the people in our lives are ultimately what make any start-up story a success or failure. Resources & Links Nikki on Twitter Nikki's article about closing down 99Dresses Nikki's post about Why I'm Sick To Death of Being A 'Woman In Tech' Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share With Entrepreneurial Colleagues & Friends Connect With Me Why a Venture Capital Podcast About Failure? From early childhood you've always heard the saying “Learn from your mistakes.” In the venture capital industry you frequently hear “Fail fast” to learn and get to the right idea.  Great advice. So, for this venture capital podcast I interview venture capital backed entrepreneurs about what they learned when their start-up didn't go as planned. I hope you can learn from their valuable experience. The post Co-founders, Paparazzi & Family…Oh My! Nikki Durkin on Start-up Relationships appeared first on Venture Capital Coroner's Report.
When Should You Pivot? Gard Mayer On Making Critical Decisions - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
Gard Mayer's path as an entrepreneur has more twists & turns than a back road through the mountains. In this venture capital podcast he talks about huge success, complete failure & everything in between, pivoting his start-ups when reality set in My Guest Gard leads Invodo’s sales team, driving growth through expanding the client base and revenue while also growing relationships with existing clients. As one of the original founders of Invodo, Gard brings over 14 years of entrepreneurial experience to the company. Previously, Gard founded and operated SmartHockey Inc., where he established the initial manufacturing and distribution relationships as well as the management team. Gard earned a BA in English from Cornell University. SmartHockey transformed off-ice hockey training with the introduction of the C|Saw Chassis (a.k.a. Bauer TUUK Rocker Chassis), SmartHockey Training Ball and a series of DVDs and Training Guides. SmartHockey products are used throughout the world by top professional teams and universities as a way for ice hockey players to train when they don't have access to ice. The Take Home Lessons Gard's path as an entrepreneur twists and turns as ideas succeed, fail and morph into new ones.  Whether working as a solo inventor or as part of a venture capital backed team, Gard's story demonstrates that a large part of entrepreneurial success comes from responding to what's not working in a creative way and from seeing your start-up's pain points as opportunity. Don't let early success give you a false confidence. Understand what external resources, relationships and market factors your start-up is dependent on.  Two of Gard's products failed because they depended entirely on Google and Apple. Test your ideas, but use data and deadlines to make help decisions to avoid analysis paralysis. As start-ups evolve, don't underestimate the challenge of evolving the team.  As Invodo evolved, numerous team members had to leave, including Gard's two co-founders. The perspective of new team members, in Gard's case a new CEO brought in by his venture capital investors, can seem radical.  But that fresh, alternative perspective may be the key to success. Resources & Links Invodo SmartHockey Gard on LinkedIn Gard on Twitter Gard's 1st Patent for a "Roller skate with brake" Gard's hockey ball patent Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share With Entrepreneurial Colleagues & Friends Connect With Me Why a Venture Capital Podcast About Failure? From early childhood you've always heard the saying “Learn from your mistakes.” In the venture capital industry you frequently hear “Fail fast” to learn and get to the right idea.  Great advice. So, for this venture capital podcast I interview venture capital backed entrepreneurs about what they learned when their start-up didn't go as planned. I hope you can learn from their valuable experience. The post When Should You Pivot? Gard Mayer On Making Critical Decisions appeared first on Venture Capital Coroner's Report.
Did The Check Clear? Peter Schlegel on Needing Multiple Plan B’s - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
Peter Vilsholm Therkildsen Schlegel had a path. Get seed capital. Launch start-up. Join incubator. Finish program. Get capital from incubator's loan fund to build start-up. Sounded good to everyone...except one person at the loan fund. And did I mention the letter from the Danish immigration authority? I'm Moving! Well sort of...just a new Twitter handle. I'm phasing out @VCCoroner and focusing on my personal handle @Mark_W_King. Click here for tweets about the podcast and other insights from venture capital's most successful. My Guest Peter has founded several companies, raising money from international venture capital funds and leading companies to international expansion and growth.  As a consultant, he worked as a strategic adviser in four consulting firms, aiding clients grow their businesses globally. He led teams across domains and geographies, hiring and growing people of more than 15 different nationalities. From 2008 to 2011 he was Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer for Agillic, a digital marketing agency.  Then in June 2011 he left to launch Admazely.  Admazely had an innovative technology that allowed small and medium businesses to take advantage of digital ad retargeting in a cost effective way. After Admazely closed, Peter moved on to work with Magnetix, a digital marketing agency in Copenhagen for about two years.  Recently, Peter began working with Responsive, an agency that specializes in creating digital experiences for its clients' customers. The Take Home Lessons Need for plan B - Peter notes that while he'd carefully nurtured relationships with Accelerace's loan committee, he still got blind sided by their decision. No matter what people are telling you, you must have multiple alternatives for venture capital. Need for speed - During the very early product development phase, a rapid feedback loop is crucial. Peter believes hiring people with a somewhat longer time frame in mind, slowed Admazely just enough to cause problems. Need for clear view of personal trade-offs - Realize that blending being a start-up founder with family life can be super challenging. Need for a start-up founder's management skills - Peter has found that the value of entrepreneurial drive and vision in more mature companies is huge.  Driving vision and momentum in a mature company can reap huge benefits. Resources & Links Peter's email PTS [AT] responsive [DOT] dk Peters new company www.responsive.dk Peter on Twitter @pschlegel The blog post that led me to Peter Peter on LinkedIn Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share With Entrepreneurial Colleagues & Friends Connect With Me Why a Venture Capital Podcast About Failure? From early childhood you always hear the saying “Learn from your mistakes.” In the venture capital industry you frequently hear “Fail fast” to learn and get to the right idea.  Great advice. So, for this venture capital podcast I interview venture capital backed entrepreneurs about what they learned when their start-up didn't go as planned. I hope you can learn from their valuable experience. The post Did The Check Clear? Peter Schlegel on Needing Multiple Plan B’s appeared first on Venture Capital Coroner's Report.
Shut-up and Listen! Rachel Chalmers Explains the Biggest Mistake You Can Make - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
Rachel Chalmers knows your Achilles heel. After two plus decades sitting in Silicon Valley's front row watching start-up technology companies, she has a very clear idea of the single biggest cause of start-up failure.  Rachel was kind enough to sit down for a few minutes at the Montgomery Summit and talk about it. Listen in to hear what she sees as most critical for entrepreneurial success. My Guest Rachel Chalmers has been a long time observer and analyst in the world of technology.  She describes herself as a failed English teacher.  She received a BA degree in English from the University of Sydney and a master’s in philosophy, with a focus on Anglo-Irish literature, from Trinity College, Dublin.  But her time hanging out with engineering students pointed her towards technology writing. She started her career writing for MIS Magazine and Computerwire during the mid-late 90's.  In 2000 she moved to the 451 Group and focused infrastructure computing for the enterprise.  As she puts it she covered: "tools for programmers, power systems administrators and data center operators...and virtualization. Lots and lots and lots of virtualization." Then in mid-2013 Rachel joined Ignition Partners as a principal investing in enterprise software companies such as BlueData, Carmelo Systems, StreamSets, StrongLoop and Wit.ai Since 201 Rachel has been an adviser to the Ada Initiative, a non-profit that supports women in open technology and culture. Resources & Links Rachel's email:  Rachel [AT] ignitionpartners [DOT] com LinkedIn Twitter: @rachelchalmers Ignition Partners website The Ada Initiative I also mentioned a presentation by Bill Gross of IdeaLab from the Montgomery Summit.  Here's his slides for the same presentation at a different conference. The whole thing is good, but slide 20 is the key factors in failure. There's also a 15 minute video of his presentation from a conference in Europe. Bill Gross CEO of Idealab from Vator Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share With Entrepreneurial Colleagues & Friends Connect With Me Why a Venture Capital Podcast About Failure? From early childhood you always hear the saying “Learn from your mistakes.” In the venture capital industry you frequently hear “Fail fast” to learn and get to the right idea. Great advice. So, for this venture capital podcast I interview venture capital backed entrepreneurs about what they learned when their start-up didn't go as planned. I hope you can learn from their valuable experience. The post Shut-up and Listen! Rachel Chalmers Explains the Biggest Mistake You Can Make appeared first on Venture Capital Coroner's Report.
Not So Fast! Nag Palavalli on the Perils of Easy Capital Raising - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
Can you raise venture capital too easily? Nagarjun "Nag" Palavalli, my guest on this episode, thinks you can.  Nag's journey from dropping out of college in India to the fast paced start-up culture at the Alchemist Accelerator in Silicon Valley illustrates the pitfalls of quick success.  Nag also discusses why the romantic notion of the lone entrepreneur building a start-up can actually kill a great idea.  And Nag identifies the one person he wishes he'd talked to before launching. My Guest Nag Palavalli is that guy in your dorm that not only talks about dropping out and starting a tech company, but actually goes through with it.  As a student Nag was frustrated that his school lacked a decent learning management platform.  So he quit and started Eduora. After doing initial development work in his hometown of Bangalore, India, Nag moved to Silicon Valley to participate in the Alchemist Accelerator.  Nag shares his experiences launching on a shoe string and then swimming in deep end of the venture capital pool. The Take Home Lessons Raising capital quickly and easily isn’t necessarily the best thing for a start-up. Nag believes pretty strongly that he would have benefited from the objective feedback off experienced investors. Getting critiques from investors with very broad experience would have helped Nag avoid a number of mistakes. Talk to customers before you design a product. The urge to build something based on your assumptions must be suppressed. Nag was selling to large universities without understanding how they made decisions about purchasing. Never underestimate how complicated sales is when there’s a group decision involved. “Be a frolicking deer.” Don’t hunt the venture capitalists, make them hunt you. The solo entrepreneur is a myth.  “When you’re on your own your mind will let you agree with whatever you want to agree to.” Resources & Links Nag's email:  me AT nagarjun DOT co Nag's Blog:  Nagarjun.co Twitter - @Palavalli Linkedin Facebook Alchemist Accelerator Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share With Entrepreneurial Colleagues & Friends Connect With Me Why a Venture Capital Podcast About Failure? From early childhood you've always heard the saying “Learn from your mistakes.” In the venture capital industry you frequently hear “Fail fast” to learn and get to the right idea.  Great advice. So, for this venture capital podcast I interview venture capital backed entrepreneurs about what they learned when their start-up didn't go as planned. I hope you can learn from their valuable experience. The post Not So Fast! Nag Palavalli on the Perils of Easy Capital Raising appeared first on Venture Capital Coroner's Report.
Nigel Grierson on 3 Fatal Mistakes Your Venture Backed Start-up Must Avoid - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
Nigel Grierson has been investing in start-ups for quite awhile, first by launching Intel Capital Europe and then as co-founder of Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures.  To say he's learned a few things about venture capital success from failure is an understatement. In this episode he shares three of those lessons that apply to any start-up. My Guest Nigel Grierson co-founded the Doughty Hanson Technology Fund in 2000 and currently serves as co-Managing Director. His specific areas of expertise include financial venture investment, high technology marketing and organisation development. Previously, Nigel was the Group Director for Intel Capital Europe, managing a team responsible for making strategic equity investments and developing new business opportunities throughout Europe. He and the team together originated and invested in over 35 technology start-up companies and had a number of notable exits.  Nigel started his career as a chip engineer and worked at AT&T in the Communications Product Division leading a team developing high performance silicon processors. Nigel actively participates in the European Venture Capital Association. In this episode he shares some of the things he teaches other venture capitalists about healthy boards of directors in his EVCA seminar. The Take Home Lessons Nigel talks about three major factors that can make or break a venture capital  backed start-up.  These apply to any start-up regardless off business model. You are pioneering a future that doesn't exist.  So entrepreneurs need to create the best decision making processes possible.  In Nigel's experience team decision making is superior to the Lone Ranger model of entrepreneurial leadership. Two heads are better than one.  Or as Nigel puts it, two in a box is the key to success.  Start-ups need a leader who can provide a vision of the future and a second leader who doesn't visualize the future, but can get you there. You must make time for the important issues because the urgent ones will always find a way onto your desk.  Venture capital investors need to consciously spend board time on longer term issues and not get pulled into the day to day grind. Resources & Links Nigel on the Doughty Hanson web site LinkedIn Doughty Hanson on Twitter Nigel mentioned David G. Thomson's book Blueprint to a Billion: 7 Essentials To Achieve Exponential Growth Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share With Entrepreneurial Colleagues & Friends Connect With Me Why a Venture Capital Podcast About Failure? From early childhood you've always heard the saying “Learn from your mistakes.” In the venture capital industry you frequently hear “Fail fast” to learn and get to the right idea.  Great advice. So, for this venture capital podcast I interview venture capital backed entrepreneurs about what they learned when their start-up didn't go as planned. I hope you can learn from their valuable experience. The post 3 Strikes You’re Out: Nigel Grierson on 3 Fatal Mistakes Your Venture Backed Start-up Must Avoid appeared first on Venture Capital Coroner's Report.
Help Wanted: Jeanette Cajide on Finding the Right Team and Investors - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
Nobody was better prepared for leading a start-up than Jeanette Cajide.  She had a solid academic foundations in public relations, communications, business and finance.  She'd done technology consulting and turn around management.  When a friend pulled her into launching a start-up app company, she was primed and ready.  Listen in as Jeanette shares the struggles of getting Blurtt off the ground, pivoting and most importantly get the right people on board. My Guest Jeanette Cajide currently works at Dialexa, a technology design and engineering firm and leads their Northeast business development efforts out of Cambridge, MA. Jeanette serves in a multitude of capacities at Dialexa working across business development, strategy, product and finance.Most recently she has been helping the company launch Dialexa Labs, Dialexa's internal start-up incubator. The first company to launch in September 2014 is called Vinli, an Internet of Things platform for your car. Prior to Dialexa, Jeanette co-founded Blurtt, an iPhone app that let people create and share anonymous visual statements. Blurtt was featured in TechCrunch and named Mashable's named Top 6 Apps to Download for the Week. Jeanette also spent several years on Wall Street in the investment banking program at Merrill Lynch where she closed over $4 billion in municipal finance, M&A and LBO transactions. She also worked at Goldman Sachs, investing the firm’s capital in software and digital companies. She has a MPA from Harvard, an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School and a Bachelor of Journalism in Public Relations from the Univ. of Texas at Austin. The Take Home Lessons Jeanette talks about her journey from the world of business school, Accenture and Goldman Sachs to moving back home with her folks and crashing on friends' couches.  Along the way she found out a few lessons that every aspiring entrepreneur should keep in mind. Team is paramount.  If you remember nothing else from this conversation, remember that teams get funded more often than ideas get funded. You can have the right idea...or not.  A couple of Blurtt's product iterations have since been launched by other start-ups and established tech companies.  Facebook couldn't even pull off a couple of Blurtt's concepts.  On the other hand, the idea of anonymous image sharing has taken off with several start-ups. Jeanette points to her experience in turn around consulting as some of her most valuable for the start-up environment.  Knowing how to make hard decisions about what to do when resources are scarce proved essential on a daily basis. Keep telling your story.  Jeanette shares some funny examples of angel investors who just "didn't get it."  And also points to one critical conversation with someone who did get it. Lastly, she talks about the emotional issue of letting go and moving on.  An excellent reminder that you can't let your last failure torpedo your next success. Resources & Links "Shutting Down Blurtt" - TechCrunch.com article by Jeanette Dialexa, Jeanette's new firm Vinli - Dialexa's connected car company Jeanette on LinkedIn, Twitter, and about.me Email - Jeanette (AT) dialexa (DOT) com Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share With Entrepreneurial Colleagues & Friends Connect With Me Why a Venture Capital Podcast About Failure? From early childhood you've always heard the saying “Learn from your mistakes.” In the venture capital industry you frequently hear “Fail fast” to learn and get to the right idea.  Great advice. So, for this venture capital podcast I interview venture capital backed entrepreneurs about what they learned when their start-up didn't go as planned. I hope you can learn from their valuable experience. The post
Herding Cats: Rick Faulk on Merging Start-ups - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
Rick Faulk knew what it took to ramp sales for a venture backed software company. He'd done exactly that for WebEx prior to its sale to Cisco. Then he was asked to do the same thing as co-CEO for three merged social software companies. Listen in as Rick shares what he learned from this cat rodeo about M&A diligence, merging corporate cultures and decisive leadership. My Guest Rick Faulk has more than 30 years of experience in executive management, sales and marketing in the software industry. He's worked for some of the world’s most successful SaaS and technology companies, including Lotus Development, j2 Global, Cisco, WebEx, Intranets.com and PictureTel. Currently Rick is the Chairman and CEO of Intronis, a provider of white label cloud storage solutions.  Prior to Intronis, Rick was General Manager of Cloud Services for Sales & Marketing at j2 Global. As President & co-CEO of Mzinga, Rick worked to merge two learning management software companies with a social networking software company. Immediately prior to Mzinga, Rick was Chief Marketing Officer of WebEx Communications and President of WebEx Small Business, where he was responsible for the company’s worldwide go-to-market and customer acquisition strategies. Rick currently sits on the boards of Yodle, SkillSurvey, Bidding4Good and BatteryCorp and is an advisor to other start-up businesses. Rick holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Bowling Green State University. The Take Home Lessons My conversation with Rick centered on his experience at Mzinga. The Company is still operating, but did not achieve the market success that Rick and the venture capital investors had hoped for.  It's a strong niche player in social learning and customer communities, but all involved had hoped for much greater growth and market presence. Rick boiled down the lessons he learned into a few headlines: You've really got to dig in and do your own diligence when companies are being merged. Ask the hard questions and search for the skeletons in closets. While it seems obvious, there needs to be real clarity about the future direction of the merged company.  Leadership then has to step up and make the hard decisions to move in that direction, i.e. goals, responsibilities, compensation all have to be in alignment.  Compromise isn't necessarily a good thing. Co-CEOs and merged management teams can make alignment particularly difficult. Approach this organizational structure with great care. Financial systems and a quality CFO are critical. Mzinga ran into trouble when financial reporting wasn't timely and accurate.  You can't steer a business with bad data.  Further more, cleaning up financial systems creates a huge distraction. The ultimate lessons "buyer beware" and "change is really hard" are somewhat obvious. In our conversation Rick dives deeper into these and looks at the nuances and signs of trouble. Resources & Links Rick's company Intronis Rick on LinkedIn Rick on Twitter Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share With Entrepreneurial Colleagues & Friends Connect With Me Why a Venture Capital Podcast About Failure? From early childhood you've always heard the saying “Learn from your mistakes.” In the venture capital industry you frequently hear “Fail fast” to learn and get to the right idea.  Great advice. So, for this venture capital podcast I interview venture capital backed entrepreneurs about what they learned when their start-up didn't go as planned. I hope you can learn from their valuable experience. The post Herding Cats: Rick Faulk on Merging Start-ups appeared first on Venture Capital Coroner's Report.
Learn To Take A Punch: Barry Weinbaum on Entrepreneurial Toughness - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
Entrepreneurship is not for wimps. It's a good thing Barry Weinbaum learned how to take a punch when he was a kid growing up in the Bronx. He got socked by a massive telecom market meltdown, an over-sized, cash burning lab and factory, a founder law suit and a divided board. Oh yeah, and he had a few competitors as well.  Barry lived to fight another day, so listen in to hear the valuable lessons he learned. My Guest Barry Weinbaum became a serial entrepreneur after a 20+ year career at Lucent Technologies.  With his rich telecom infrastructure and technology experience, he left Lucent to lead NanoOpto Corp.  After selling NanoOpto, he headed into the lighting sector as CEO of Renaissance Lighting, a venture capital and angel backed LED company.  Renaissance was acquired by Acuity Brands and Barry took on corporate marketing, strategy and coordination across Acuity Brands' 22 lines of business.  Investors then recruited Barry to head back into the start-up world to try and turn around LUMEnergi, a lighting control company.  He managed a successful sale of the company's assets and investor exit.  Currently Barry is launching Social Learning and Payments, Inc. (aka SLAP).  The Slap platform provides self-service tools for identifying and driving desired real-world and online actions among communities, and then providing rewards (a “slap on the back”) when those actions occur. Along the way Barry has been issued three patents in both telecom and lighting.  He originally hails from the Bronx New York and has degrees in Computer Science from Union College and Columbia University. The Take Home Lessons Barry was recruited out of a corporate career to take over as CEO in a founder led company. The transition did not go well. Barry ended up putting a lot of effort into dealing with the founder and making sure the Company had a firm foundation of its own intellectual property. As the telecom industry collapsed, the Company had to pivot and start selling into the consumer electronics sector.  "Design wins" were easier to come by because of the large number of mobile phones being released.  Sales were not guaranteed for any particular model and this creating forecasting problems. NanoOpto's founder had built out a large R&D and manufacturing facility. Without sales this overhead became a monster that needed to be feed. Barry describes the facility has hardware collecting a pension that you can't afford to pay. Board Size - The Company's board grew to 15 people with 9 members and 6 "observers".  This got unwieldy and dysfunctional.  In hind site,keeping the board down in size and limiting observers (who ended up participating, not observing) would have prevented a lot of wasted energy. Smart Money - Barry notes that in the later stages, NanoOpto took investments from funds that didn't understand the business or add any strategic value.  When things started going sideways, they created numerous problems. CEOs must understand that venture capitalists have a tough conflict of interest to reconcile. When the going gets tough, investors will almost without fail do what's in the best interest of the fund, not the Company.  The venture backed CEO that doesn't understand is in for some confusing interaction with board members. Of course you have to over communicate and treat people like adults. Especially when things are going badly.  The same goes for industry partners outside of the company. Lastly, Barry advises entrepreneurs to manage their mood and emotions carefully.  Don't get too high and don't get too low.  People are always watching and they'll either be overly optimistic or overly pessimistic if that's the vibe you send out. Resources & Links Barry on LinkedIn Barry's current company SLAP Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share With Entrepreneurial Colleagues & Friends Connect With Me
Two Tours of Duty: Kevin Naughton on Returning To A Troubled Start-up - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
Kevin Naughton had done the start-up thing and moved on.  Then came the call: "We're in trouble. Can you come back and help us sell the company?" Kevin answered the call and returned for a second tour of duty at GTess, a Dallas based healthcare claims processing start-up.  Listen in as Kevin explains what he learned about hiring too fast, customer consolidation, following industry norms down the wrong road  and flying blind without proper financial and business metrics. My Guest An entrepreneurial CFO, Kevin Naughton has worked with four different venture backed companies over 20 years.  He's raised over $60M of capital from a wide group of venture capital firms.  Currently, he's part of the senior team at Prodea Systems.  Prior to that he was twice the CFO of GTess. Kevin earned a BS and MBA from Bentley College.  While he's lived in Texas for many years, he's a native New Englander and a life long Cape Cod junkie. The Take Home Lessons During his two tours of duty at GTess, Kevin saw a number of key factors that led to the company's demise. All B2B start-ups have small customer bases almost by definition. GTess' customers began to consolidate which drove down both the number of customers and revenue. GTess also faced a classic pricing challenge. To gain early acceptance, discounts were given. This evolved into a longer term lack of pricing discipline. Understanding how to price the value that you provide is crucial. Start-ups are not normal. So using industry norms can take you down the wrong path. Kevin notes that sales people insisted on compensation plans that matched those of mature companies. This approach didn't emphasize new account growth which should have been the top priority. Pressure to hire faster and accelerate growth, however, creates its own problems. Kevin explains that rapidly expanding your sales team before you understand the sales model and cost structure creates huge problems. Lastly, like any good entrepreneurial CFO, Kevin worked to create financial metrics to understand the business. Without these a start-up is flying blind. In a distressed company, these metrics become critical to stopping the bleeding and communicating with potential acquirers. Resources & Links Kevin on LinkedIn Prodea Systems Anousheh Ansari - Kevin's boss and the first private female space explorer Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share With Colleagues & Entrepreneurial Friends Connect With Me & Other Listners Why a Venture Capital Podcast About Failure? From early childhood you've always heard the saying “Learn from your mistakes.” In the venture capital industry you frequently hear “Fail fast” to learn and get to the right idea.  Great advice. So, for this venture capital podcast I interview venture capital backed entrepreneurs about what they learned when their start-up didn't go as planned. I hope you can learn from their valuable experience. The post Two Tours of Duty: Kevin Naughton on Returning To A Troubled Start-up appeared first on Venture Capital Coroner's Report.
Waiting For Uncle Sam: Mark Redlus on Gov’t Created Markets & Capital to Pivot - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
It was a matter of when, not if. Global forces were pushing Mark Redlus' company ImageTree towards a huge opportunity.  ImageTree's technology would be the gold standard for validating forest assets being used for carbon emissions off sets.  Mark and his venture capital backers had already pivoted once.  Listen in and find out what prevented them from pivoting a second time to save their company. My Guest Coming out of the Univ. of Pennsylvania's Wharton School with a BS in Management, Mark jumped right into the entrepreneurial side of the technology industry.  He launched Red Sector A which was acquired by CoreTech.  At CoreTech he rose to become the CEO.  From there he moved on to ImageTree as employee number one.  After almost five years at ImageTree, Mark moved Yallingup BioEnergy where he worked on a variety of clean tech investment projects.  Shifting out of clean tech, Mark moved to MemVu to become their CEO. Most recently, Mark has joined Polaris Health Directions.  Polaris Health Directions develops and markets behavioral health outcomes assessment and management systems to help deliver better health outcomes at a reduced cost. Polaris systems are designed for use by health care providers, managed care organizations, government agencies and pharmaceutical companies, and focus on addressing the impact mental health conditions have on physical health and an individual’s welfare. Mark is an avid outdoors man and spends as much time as possible snowboarding, whitewater kayaking and surf kayaking. Highlights & Take Home Lessons Mark's company, ImageTree, was built to pursue two markets that failed to mature. First was the forestry management application. Potential customers faced a serious economic penalty if ImageTree's product showed that their prior data was significantly wrong. Better, faster and cheaper doesn't sell well if it exposes potential users' prior failings. The second target market, carbon cap and trade monitoring, assumed that long-term change mandated and enforced by government policy was certain. Mark highlights that lots of smart people believed cap and trade was a certain future. It wasn't. Entrepreneurs must understand what's often referred to as "stroke of the pen" risk. Policy makers can eliminate a markets as rapidly as they create them. Entrepreneurs must be sensitive to the pace at which their markets are ascending. If your market isn't ascending, you need the cash to be flexible and pivot. Mark emphasized that awareness of market development must inform capital raising. ImageTree took on debt prior to having a firm footing. This along with venture capital fund dynamics greatly limited ImageTree's options. On the operational front, Mark explained how he and his team underestimated the complexity of operating internationally as a small company. Finding local partners makes or breaks entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur, Mark leans on a group of three advisors that can objectively filter his ideas and assumptions. He believes the natural tendency is for entrepreneurs to fall in love with their ideas and businesses. Success requires objective, blunt assessment of ideas and options. With that feedback, entrepreneurs need the courage to pivot their business or abandon Resources & Links Mark Redus on LinkedIn Email is M.Redlus [at] PolarisHealth [dot] com PolarisHealth.com Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share With Colleagues & Entrepreneurial Friends Connect With Me & Other Listners The post Waiting For Uncle Sam: Mark Redlus on Gov’t Created Markets & Capital to Pivot appeared first on Venture Capital Coroner's Report.
Where’s The Exit? Dennis Clerke on Timing Exits & Investor Alignment - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
When should you sell your venture capital backed start-up? Entrepreneur Dennis Clerke joins me to discuss the start-up CEO's critical task of managing a company's path to an exit.  Dennis discusses how to monitor your company's market environment and internal investor dynamics, so that you can exit at the optimal time.  We also chat about promoting robust team debate while avoiding cancerous team dysfunction. My Guest As President of Monetization Dennis leads the content-monetization business at NetSeer, helping publishers derive greater revenue and user engagement from display and enhanced search.  He also continues to work with other emerging software companies through his advisory firm DaggerBoard Advisors. Dennis has worked with a number of software organizations on issues such as business strategy, implementation, market strategy, product development and financing. Clients include 3E Company, Alliance One, Bunkspeed, Netseer, RealGifts, Nirvanix, Captaris, SpectorSoft and TitleTrac. Previously, he served for three years as the CEO of Alignent, a venture-backed provider of collaborative business-strategy and product-planning software, acquired by Minneapolis, MN-based Sopheon in 2007. He was a co-founder and CEO of Cardiff Software, a market-leading provider of business process management and content capture software, acquired in 2004 by Verity and now part of Autonomy. He is on the Board of Directors/Advisors with MadCap Software, Mochila, EcoLayers, Dasko, and Pandimo. Clerke also is active with Connect, SDSIC and the University of San Diego entrepreneurial business program. He received his MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Business and a bachelor's degree in engineering from Boston University.  In his spare time, Dennis has a passion for sailing, spending time with family and enjoying the outdoors. Highlights & Take Home Lessons My conversation with Dennis focused on his experience at Alignent Software. Things got challenging when it became clear to Dennis that he was either going to need a lot more equity capital or they needed to sell Alignent.  The venture capital investors were split.  To make matters worse, it was clear to Dennis that his industry was beginning to consolidate.  Dennis talks about two of the start-up CEO's essential job: Monitor your industry to understand when the exit window is open. Understand the motivations and constraints of your investor syndicate Company alignment is a great buzz phrase.  Dennis shares his experience with just how important it is in reality.  Debate and open dissent should be expected and is positive.  Back channel dissent and unresolved conflict must be address and fast. Resources & Links Dennis on LinkedIn NetSeer DaggerBoard Dennis' email:  dclerke [at] daggerboardadvisors [dot] com Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share With Colleagues & Entrepreneurial Friends Connect With Me & Other Listners Why a Venture Capital Podcast About Failure? From early childhood you've always heard the saying “Learn from your mistakes.” In the venture capital industry you frequently hear “Fail fast” to learn and get to the right idea.  Great advice. So, for this venture capital podcast I interview venture capital backed entrepreneurs about what they learned when their start-up didn't go as planned. I hope you can learn from their valuable experience. The post Where’s The Exit? Dennis Clerke on Timing Exits & Investor Alignment appeared first on Venture Capital Coroner's Report.
Fail Successfully – A Manifesto - The Venture Capital Coroner's Report
What is The Venture Capital Coroner’s Report?  Why should you listen to it? And who is Mark W King? (and why does he use his middle initial?) Great questions that I answer in Episode Zero, The Prologue.  After 17 years in the venture capital industry, I felt it was time for a public forum to discuss what we’ve learned about entrepreneurship, start-ups, venture capital and business in general from the huge number of companies that have not ended in success.  In this prologue I explain my background in the VC industry and my plans for this podcast. My Background Since graduating from Wheaton College in 1988, I've been involved in entrepreneurial finance.  The theme to my career is loaning money to entrepreneurs who on the surface didn't look like they could pay it back. I started worked in international micro lending and urban development lending.  Then I took the plunge into Venture Debt.  Since 1997 I've had the privilege of working with the same core group of people.  We've moved firms a few times and experienced the peaks and valleys of the venture capital cycle together.  It's been a great ride. Along the way I picked up my MBA at Kellogg/Northwestern, majoring in Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Non-profit Management.  I also sat for and received the Chartered Financial Analyst charter. Here's where you can find more info on me:  LinkedIn Profile  Official Ares Profile What's up with the middle initial?  Blame Sergey and Larry!  If you Google Mark King you'll find the bass player for Level 42, a British Snooker player and a golf course painter.  If you Google Mark W King you'll find a lawyer in Fresno, but you'll also find me peppered through out the results (including our family's ice bucket challenge video).  My ego driven goal for The Venture Capital Coroner's Report is to beat out the lawyer in Fresno, but I'll need your help. Hopes, Dreams and Aspirations for This Podcast Over the years I've worked with some truly awesome venture capitalists and management teams.  Sadly some of them don't see the success they'd  hoped for.  But I've always learned from these investors and entrepreneurs, regardless of the outcome.  I've always wished others could also learn their hard-won wisdom.  I discovered lots of talk about learning from failure, but very little actually published.   So that's why I launched The Venture Capital Coroner's Report. In short...I want to celebrate the courage of entrepreneurs who didn't achieve the original goal, but grew professionally and personally from the effort.  You may not achieve your original goal either.  I hope, however, that you will build on their experiences and your own to grow as a person and an entrepreneur.  Teddy Roosevelt said it far better than I can: "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." Please listen, comment and suggest guests.  Let me know where I'm failing, so that I can get better.  And remember...everybody fails, make sure you do it successfully. Subscribe With Your Favorite App Share On Your Favorite Social Site Connect With Me & Other Listners The post Fail Successfully – A M...
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Podcast Details
Started
Sep 16th, 2014
Latest Episode
Apr 27th, 2017
Release Period
Weekly
No. of Episodes
21
Avg. Episode Length
28 minutes
Explicit
No

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