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

Blog Archives

Entrepreneurs: Due Diligence on Investors is Smart

Due diligence should always be a two-way street. A while back, I published an article on “Startup Due Diligence Is Not a Mysterious Black Art,” describing what investors do to validate your startup before they invest. Here is the inverse, sometimes called reverse due diligence, describing what you should do to validate your investor before signing up for an equity

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Outside capital: do or die?

A gigantic percentage of startup literature concerns how to raise capital.  But before you start on that PowerPoint, let’s ask this: do you really have to? Or is it still possible to bootstrap and build a company organically?

Nuts & Bolts of Intellectual Property for New Startups

So you’ve chosen a name for your startup, product, or both. Having covered all the bases to ensure that your corporate name is available, the domain name can be acquired, and the name doesn’t infringe any existing trademarks (as we discussed here), now is a good time to look at the categories of intellectual property (IP) that are relevant to

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There Is Only ONE Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is a very special place – the nucleus of high-growth, high technology entrepreneurship in the US, indeed, in the world.  The Valley produces world-class entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists and successful high-tech companies – all growing and creating jobs on one relatively small peninsula.  The Valley has been a unique place for over half a century. It hosts

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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 long time ago in an economy far, far away. . .

Listen my children and you shall hear Of IPO dreams once held so dear Our forefathers’ jackpot, guaranteed to arrive Hardly a founder now alive Can remember that famous yesteryear

So begins, of course, one of the most famous poems of the entire startup canon.  And, a bit misty-eyed, this old war veteran can actually remember the glory days: Venture

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Build Your Pitch on Fundamental Stories

You can’t overemphasize the stories when you describe your business. The best business plans are stories, and the best pitches are stories.

Trends in Seed Stage Funding for Entrepreneurs

I’ve recently taken a look at seed stage funding by venture capitalists (VCs) and angel investors over the past five years.  For VCs, I chose to look at all seed stage VC deals (from MoneyTree©) as well as those in five of the most active regions in the country.  Note that I merged the two Southern California regions (LA/Orange County

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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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