Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurship’ Category

Marketing 2.0 Bootcamp. In Boulder. And It’s FREE

For all of you out there interested in metrics-based marketing (and if marketing is your thing, you should be interested), here is a must attend event.

Sponsored by Trada, Silicon Flatirons, CU Marketing Department and SendGrid, this event promises to share their collective knowledge along with a host of great speakers.

Tickets are limited to 75 people.  This is going to be an intimate event.

The website for the event is here.

 

January 19th, 2011     Categories: Company Running, Entrepreneurship, Technology    

For the Best Chance of Getting Funded, Move Your Startup to Colorado

From website FormDs.com, this is a somewhat surprising map of Form Ds from the last year by state.  Form Ds are filed when a company raises money, so it’s a great proxy of where companies are getting funded.  (The original map can be found here).

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You’ll note that per million people, Colorado is in the top bracket for financings.  Now, many will argue that a place like California has a much greater population and therefore there is dilution to this study.  However, the population difference is 37 million to 5 million (7x), but there is way more than 7x the amount of venture capital money and presumably amount of startup companies as well in California compared to Colorado.

The conclusion:  Clearly Colorado is importing a lot of VC money has has high quality companies to fund.  As we like to say in Boulder:  ”We Love Our Bubble.”

December 10th, 2010     Categories: Entrepreneurship, Financings, Venture Capital    

Fox Business Hits Boulder to See What’s Happening

Boulder has definitely received its fair share of good press relating to its startup ecosystem.  Whether the topic was the 50 Best Places to Start a Business, to Bloomberg / Businessweek declaring Boulder the BEST town for startups, or even the New York Times declaring us a magnet for high-tech, it has been nice to see the efforts of the Boulder community paying off.

Today, Fox Business is spending the day in Boulder interviewing people about what they think is special about this unique 100,000 person town that we live in. 

Here were my thoughts:


October 12th, 2010     Categories: Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital    

Techdirt Absolutely Crushes the Patent Debate

Under the “I wish I had written that article” category for patents, Techdirt completely takes to task the notion that letting the USPTO create a ton of extra patents will create more jobs.

I won’t insult the author, Mike Masnick, by trying to summarize it.  It should be read in its entirety here.  In short they’ve called out folks who are trying to rewrite patent history in order to gain personal advantages today. 

October 2nd, 2010     Categories: Entrepreneurship, Patents / IP, Policy    

Silicon Valley Bank Hosts Innovation Roundtable

Last week, Silicon Valley Bank hosted a roundtable discussion featuring members of the New Democrat Coalition and SVB clients from the venture capital community.  The event allowed Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and innovators to discuss first-hand with legislators focused on championing innovation a variety of ideas for promoting U.S. economic growth.  SVB summed up the event well in a press release

As part of the discussion, there was a focus on the Startup Visa effort that has been introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives (including by Jared Polis in the House).

I think Jared says it best:

"As a former entrepreneur, I know first-hand what it takes to build a company — and I know what opportunities a successful company can create for its workers, its suppliers, and its community.  If an entrepreneur has an idea for a company that will attract investors and hire workers, we should be welcoming and encouraging that entrepreneur to start their company in the U.S.,"

Furthered Mary Dent General Counsel of SVB when speaking about the impetus of the event:

"There is a great deal of evidence showing the profoundly positive effect that venture-backed companies have on our economy — creating jobs, creating entire new industries, and promoting U.S. competitiveness around the world," said Mary Dent, SVB’s general counsel. "Congress hears a lot from companies that have already made it.  We want to make sure they also hear from the growing companies that will shape our economy in the future.

Kudos to SVB for organizing such a worthwhile event and the New Dems for supporting their efforts.  Among all the issues that are important to our continued leadership role in technology and entrepreneurship, the value of initiatives like Startup Visa can not be overstated. 

July 15th, 2010     Categories: Entrepreneurship, Policy, Venture Capital    

NVCA Lunch With Jared Polis

Today, the NVCA hosted Jared Polis for lunch.  Jared is the Congressman for the 2nd District of Colorado. 

Why is Jared important to you, if you aren’t from his district? jared

Simple.  He’s absolutely one of the most intelligent and thoughtful elected officials in our country when it comes to issues regarding startups, innovation, education, immigration and jobs.  (And probably a lot of other subjects, too, but these are just the ones that I engage him on). 

Jared was previously a serial entrepreneur (Proflowers.com, Blue Mountain Arts) and has been a thought leader on many issues that affect our industry.  He has stood strong in the face of political pressure to change his views.  In fact, I’m am most impressed with Jared’s resolve to do the right thing for our country as a whole, although he represents one district in one state.

Jared has been a steadfast partner with the NVCA on issues such as job creation, innovation, immigration, education reform and tax policy.

Today, Jared and the invited guests talked about everything from future policy decisions to mechanics of how things really get done in Washington.  It was a great learning experience.

I’m also happy to report that the NVCA PAC contributed to Jared, as well as several of the attendees personally, including yours truly.  I’d highly recommend folks contributing to Jared, no matter how small of a donation as every bit counts.  We need more people in Congress who really understand what drives this country’s success. 

Contribute here.  (Picture, L to R.  Me, Jared, Paul Schanitter and Mark Heesen, President of the NVCA)

July 8th, 2010     Categories: Entrepreneurship, Policy, Venture Capital    

Control Your Most Important Asset – Your Brand

Last week I wrote a blog about Atomic PR and their illegal spamming of folks trying to generate buzz for their clients.  [Note: they’ve since apologized and have agreed to stop doing this and let folks opt out – see the comments area for the CEO’s reaction post].

One of the most interesting things to come out of the post, however, was an article by Mike Melanson on Read Write Web entitled “Does your PR Firm Need a PR Firm?”  It’s a really thoughtful piece and had one piece of advice that is critical: 

“Remember that allowing a PR firm to run free with your brand is essentially allowing it to have control over how your startup comes off to the rest of the world.”

In other words:  Control your brand.  Always.  It’s your most important asset.  Your brand is made up of your goodwill, reputation and public perception.  It’s hard to have a good brand and it’s very easy to have a lousy one.  It’s also easy to have a good one ruined and very hard to go back the other direction. 

One can come up with many examples of companies with good brand equity who have made missteps with products and have lived to fight another day (although you can’t have too many mistakes).  But companies with bad brand equity seem to always be behind the eight ball.  For instance, Microsoft, which allowed Apple to rebrand themselves with the “I’m a Mac” commercial series, can’t buy a break despite Windows 7 being a really good product.  And my bet is that Toyota, which had tremendous brand equity figures a way out of its quagmire as well. 

And startups, which have even more fragile brands, hire PR firms at prices that are equivalent to executive salaries and basically hand over the keys to their brand.  And some do the same with their lawyers who interact with their VCs. This also holds true for all service providers that companies hire that deal with the outside world.  All of this can build or damage a startup’s brand.

Even in AtomicPR’s case, they outsourced their brand to a email database called Cision.  They claimed that they don’t spam because they subscribe to a database that gives them contact information of journalist and bloggers in the technology space.   From the word’s of Andy Getsy, CEO of Atomic PR:

“Jason has an active blogger profile on Cision, which lists him as a VC covering venture capital topics. He blogs on tech products and companies from time to time. I suspect that this is partly how his info popped up again”

AtomicPR decided to blindly trust a database that claims it contacts bloggers for inclusion on their lists.  Well, for at least two of them – myself and my partner Brad, we’ve never heard of them or been contacted.  And I’m not a blogger or reporter who “covers” technology, as Cision claims.  I’m just a dude with bad grammar that occasionally writes things that people read. 

And while their intent might not have been to spam, that’s what they did.  They outsourced their contact list and then furthered outsourced their brand to junior associates who did not respond to my polite pleas to be taken off the list.  So in the end, AtomicPR’s brand was tarnished by their outsourcing and eventually one person who took issue (me). 

Morale of the story:  Be hyper careful about your brand and reputation.  It’s your most important asset.  And it’s a bitch to fix.  If you don’t believe me, Google “AtomicPR” and see what comes up on the first page. 

June 9th, 2010     Categories: Entrepreneurship, Frustrations, Observations, Technology, Venture Capital    

Saving Money in Patent Litigation

My friend Jill Bowman is blogging a series about saving money in patent litigation.  In her words:

“I’m going to do something unusual.  I’m going to write from the prospective of a client while using the knowledge that I’ve gained as a patent litigation attorney.  I’m going to discuss what I would do if I were paying the lawyers to win a typical patent case.

My goal is to help companies pick the best attorneys for the job, ask the hard questions and demand the accountability from the lawyers that will reduce litigation bills without compromising the ability to win the case.”

I look forward to the series, as Jill is always thoughtful.

May 4th, 2010     Categories: Entrepreneurship, Patents / IP    

Lunchtime with Lawyers – Part of Boulder Startup Week

Okay, some of you are sarcastic and are probably going to ask when I’m going to promote “Lunchtime with Dentists,” but give me a chance.

Next week, Boulder Startup Week will have an event that I’d encourage folks to check out:  Namely, Lunchtime with Lawyers. 

With over 3000 people expected to attend the Boulder Startup Week, this is a way of having startup attorneys in Boulder roll out the welcome mat for entrepreneurs.

The purpose is to provide entrepreneurs with an opportunity to meet with local startup attorneys in small groups and ask questions. The process is informal, but very informative. Not only do entrepreneurs get their questions answered; they also get to hear questions asked by other startups. The lawyers have an opportunity to meet with a target audience interested in their particular field of practice. The startup attorneys would have experience in patents, trademarks, finance, employment, corporate, etc. They will be from big firms as well as small firms.

The initial Lunchtime with Lawyers meeting will be held at the TechStars office at 1375 Walnut Street, Lower Level in Boulder.  We will provide food and request a $5 donation from those attending to cover costs.  To signup for the meeting, go to http://www.meetup.com/Lunchtime-with-Lawyers-CO-Entrepreneur-Attorney-Networking/.  If you have any questions or would like more information about the event, feel free to contact Roger Glovsky by phone (781) 676-1900 or by email at roger@ivlo.com.

April 29th, 2010     Categories: Entrepreneurship, Law    

Boulder Open Coffee Club – “All Grown Up”

Days like today make me really proud of our community.  Today, over 50 people showed up to the Boulder Open Coffee Club.  As always there was a lively conversation with a lot of diverse viewpoints.  Topics included everything from privacy (Facebook, Google, electronic medical records), to blogger versus journalist rights (see Gizmodo scandal), to how to scale what is so special about Boulder (no consensus, thoughts welcome). photo

The BOCC is all grown up from 3 years ago when it was 8 of us in a small coffee shop in Boulder.  Now, we burst at the seems at our newest home, Atlas Purveyors

Bottom line, is that I’ve never seen such an engaged, smart, passionate and honest group of people get together every two weeks and talk about interesting things.  I always leave the event much more energized than I started.

More than anything, it just goes to show what a special place Boulder is and why a supportive community like this is so integral to success of our companies.  It’s no wonder why Business Week called Boulder the Best Town for Startups in America. 

As we continue to expand our membership, it’s nice to remember, also those who made the BOCC what it is today and what it will be tomorrow.  Thanks everyone. 

April 27th, 2010     Categories: Entrepreneurship