Thoughts on startups by investors that
fund them & entrepreneurs that run them

Blog Archives

The Discipline of Execution Defines an Entrepreneur

When entrepreneurs come to me with that “million dollar idea,” I have to tell them that an idea alone is really worth nothing. It’s all about the execution, and investors invest in the people who can execute, or even better, have a history of successful execution. Execution is making things happen, and for startups it usually means making change

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Is it possible for an idea to be funded by a VC?

While anything is technically possible, the reality is that venture capital firms do not fund “ideas”. There are many wonderful ideas, and even many people having the same idea in the market at any given time. So what VCs fund is execution. Indeed, VCs only invest in one out of every 400 fully-formed companies that approach them for funding…let alone someone with a

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Startup Execution Transcends the Idea From Day One

A startup begins with a great idea, but all too often, that’s where it ends. Ideas have to be implemented well to get the desired results. Good implementation requires a plan, and a good plan and good operational decisions come from good people. That’s why investors invest in entrepreneurs, rather than ideas.

People and operational excellence have to converge in

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Market Opportunity From Customer Hostility, Exhibit 802.11: Airline WiFi

Entrepreneurship is often born of founders’ sheer frustration with the status quo.  One class of clear business opportunity, which wouldn’t exist in an ideal world, is created by the service that seemingly makes it as difficult as possible for potential paying customers to make it take their money.  This sort of chronic customer dissatifaction flies in the face of both

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Veering Off the Beaten Path Into Murky Legal Waters

Path, a high-profile San Francisco social media startup, ignited a firestorm this week with the revelation that its mobile application uploads users’ entire iPhone address books to the company’s servers without their knowledge or permission.  The practice, discovered by Singapore developer Arun Thampi, provoked outrage within the user community and was broadly condemned by the tech business press.  Jon Mitchell at ReadWriteWeb wrote

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Do You Know When To Bootstrap and When Not?

A couple of days ago a friend asked me whether I’m in favor of startups getting angel investment. He pointed out this post on this blog, which is me writing about five good reasons not to seek investment. My answer is that – like so much else in this field – it depends on the specific situation. A business that

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IP & crowdfunding: are 1,000 NDAs better than none?

Angels and venture capitalists will not sign non-disclosure (confidentiality) agreements just to listen to an entrepreneur’s funding presentation, or even to read the entrepreneur’s business plan.  Serial entrepreneurs understand this and write their plans without describing the “secret sauce.”  Investors will eventually want to validate the intellectual property (IP) prior to investing, but not just to hear about the opportunity. 

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Sisyph.us? Fighting an Unwinnable Domain War

One of the best values a young entrepreneur can absorb early on is the value of learning from mistakes, both your own and those of others.  I’m constantly amazed at the extent to which experienced entrepreneurs and angels are willing to share their accumulated knowledge and wisdom, including some painful battle scars, with others.  This bedrock of Silicon Valley culture

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The Startup Clock Starts When You Incorporate

The official start date for your startup is the date you incorporate the business. This is obviously important for tax purposes, but may also dramatically influence how potential investors, customers, and competitors look at you.

My rule of thumb expectation is that it should take two months to set up the legal entity, six months to finalize the business plan,

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Cohort Analysis

Don’t mean to disappoint you, but this idea isn’t nearly as devious or dark as the name implies.  It’s just a straightforward, really smart, thing to do.

The term derives from sociology: groups of people who share certain characteristics are “cohorts”.   Instead of focusing on average behaviors of a large population, cohort analysis looks to find and understand patterns among

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