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

Blog Archives

Start With a Strong Team. (Or Not at All)

Picture a meeting room with a lot of windows, early evening, early Spring, the Oregon landscape darkening outside. Twenty or so angel investors (me included)  sit on tables arranged like a big U, with a table in the middle for a projector, and a screen in front.

An entrepreneur has just finished his pitch. He’s a man about 50, clearly

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Red Flags To Avoid When Talking About Competitors

One of the most important questions you will be asked by potential investors is how your solution beats the competition’s, not just today, but over the three to five year life of their investment. There is no perfect answer to this question, but there are many wrong answers which will immediately jeopardize your credibility.

A Startup’s First Steps: What’s In A Name?

Having taken stock of the main legal documents and actions involved in forming and operating a new startup, let’s crack open the “case” (disregarding the warnings about voiding your warranty) and examine a few of the steps, documents and key decisions to be made in getting a new startup ready for business.

Most startup lawyers have checklists (at least in

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Investors Like Ideas, But Measure You On Execution

After the idea, it’s all about execution.  I often hear from investors that a great idea is necessary, but not sufficient. The most important thing is a proven team, meaning one who has built a startup before, and has experience with the execution process in this domain. I’ve talked before about the best personality traits for a good entrepreneur, but

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Do It Right The First Time, Part II: Visit the Doctor or House Call?

In Part I, I gave a quick summary of the who, when and why of forming and documenting a new startup company. This week we’ll delve into what, exactly, is necessary or desirable to lay a solid legal foundation for a startup to build upon.

The Care and Feeding of Advisory Boards

Sure, you want investors.  But sometimes the outsiders most capable of helping your business are those who invest time, not money.  And I don’t mean because they lend a credible name to an investor pitch: way too many entrepreneurs look at names on Advisory Board as just a way to expedite a raise.  If that’s all you really expect of

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Do It Right The First Time: Avoiding “Janitorial” Legal Work

What is a startup really?  When meeting with early stage entrepreneurs for the first time, after reviewing a demo or hearing their pitch, I often ask them to articulate what they’re most focused on building.  In most cases, the answers are (1) an outstanding product or technology; (2) a successful growth business built around that product; and (3) a top-notch

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Startup Dream Teams & Fundability

Every investor is looking for the “dream team” of executives to put his money on. Often I find that experienced investors flip to the management page of a business plan, even before they read the product description.  That’s how important the people are. What are investors looking for in the CEO and the rest of the top executives?