Naval Ravikant – Angel Video Interview Series

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[This post is part of an on-going series of video interviews with members of the start-up community – see a list of links to the full series here.]

I caught up with Naval Ravikant in San Francisco recently and took the opportunity to add a clip of him to the Angel Video Interview Series.  Naval is an entrepreneur and angel investor, a co-author of Venture Hacks, and a co-Founder of AngelList.  Prior to AngelList, he co-founded Genoa Corp (which was acquired by Finisar), Epinions.com (which became public via Shopping.com), and Vast.com (which is a large white-label classifieds service). He’s advised an ton of companies and made more than a few good angel investments including Twitter, FourSquare, Stack Overflow and Disqus.

Although people in the organized angel world sometimes despair at [Read more…]

Understanding Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs & Investors

This week Dan Sullivan and I did a talk for The Capital Network on the pros and cons of crowdfunding for entrepreneurs and investors. The key distinction we were making is that people conflate two very different kinds of activities into one bucket. Product crowdfunding is a very interesting way of financing innovation at the product level. Equity crowdfunding where you take ownership in a company is a much different and more complicated thing. For additional thoughts on the product crowdfunding, see Customer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast, Entrepreneurs and the redux. For additional thoughts on the equity issues, see here (Thoughts), here (Dixon), here (Wilson) and here (other).

In any event, our presentation was followed by a great discussion, for which I unfortunately do not have a transcript, but I do have the slides.  Here they are:

Comments, questions or reactions to this post? Leave a note below and I will respond to your questions.

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy: Nailing The One Minute PitchStart-Up Marketing SeriesCustomer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast Entrepreneurs (Again!)Constructing a PitchPick Your Angel Investors Wisely (David Hornik)Why Angels Chase ElectronsBoards vs. Advisory BoardsInterview: State of the VC & Angel Market and How to Raise Money, Delusional EconomicsTen Rules For Navigating in The Age of OutrageThat Vision ThingThe Power of An Advisory BoardLoch Ness, Unicorns & The First-Mover AdvantageDoes This Slide Deck Make Me Look Fat?,  The Long Road to Instant SuccessTop Angel Investors in New EnglandLaunchpad Overview – Angel Video Interview SeriesCustomer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast, EntrepreneursCrowdfunding: You Cannot Make This Stuff Up!Angel Video Interview Series,  VC Investing: Are the Lines Starting to Converge?Thoughts on CrowdfundingEntrepreneur at Work: Caine’s Arcade,  The Crowdfunding Interview (Frank Peters Show), Pattern Matching Can Cause BlindspotsGetting Off The Ground; Early Formation EconomicsPitch Clinic at MassChallenge (Video)Are Entrepreneurs Wild Risk-Takers?Top 20 Dos & Don’ts with Angel Groups & Early Stage Financing20 Bootstrapping Ideas
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Start-Up Marketing (Guest Post – Five in a Series)

gears

My good friend Jeff Berman has agreed to contribute a series on marketing for startups to the Scratchpaper community. This is the fifth in the series (table of contents here). Stay tuned for more.

How to Botch Marketing #4: 

Start By Telling People How It Works

The whole point of marketing is to get your prospects to pay attention to your message, to sit up in their chairs and turn on the front part of their brains and take in what you have to say. You need to constantly remind yourself that most people are actively trying to tune you out.

Marketing is getting people pay attention to you when they would rather not.

The Problem With How-It-Works Messages [Read more…]

Nailing The One Minute Pitch

the pitch

A couple weeks ago I was asked to speak to a large group of entrepreneurs about building a good one minute pitch.

First point I made was about the mechanics: the bare bones every thorough pitch must include: [Read more…]

Start-Up Marketing (Guest Post – four in a series)

Speak to Individual

My good friend Jeff Berman has agreed to contribute a series on marketing for startups to the Scratchpaper community. This is the fourth in the series (table of contents here). Stay tuned for more.

How to Botch Marketing #3:

Speak to the Industry, Not the Individual

People have problems. People have budgets.

If you’re selling something to a business audience, it’s easy to slip into thinking your market is the business (e.g., hospitals, schools, hotels; the list is endless). But businesses don’t make decisions. To get on the radar, you need to address the needs of a specific individual inside the organization. [Read more…]

Customer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast Entrepreneurs (Again!)

CrowdfundingI have written and spoken at length about the issues associated with equity crowd-funding of companies. And not long ago I wrote a piece entitled Customer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast, Entrepreneurs, which was about the pros/cons of customer crowdfunding at the product level (e.g. Kickstarter type fund-raising). In that piece, I made the point that, for all its virtues, customer crowdfunding does have some significant risks for entrepreneurs. It exposes your product plan to your competitors and the world, long before you have it in the market. In the piece, I list the many things your competitors can glean from your successful Kickstarter campaign (spoiler alert: market size, market demographics, market enthusiasm, your price point, your features, your design and look & feel, and how long until you can bring it to market.)

The original post is probably worth a skim if you are an entrepreneur contemplating a customer crowdsourcing platform. One of my key concerns is that small companies may essentially be giving up their only advantages if they go this route.

Now, on top of those original concerns, which mostly boil down to generic and unavoidable by-product of the public nature of these platforms, I am alarmed to see a much more serious, pernicious and cynical issue come to light. [Read more…]

Pick Your Angel Investors Wisely (David Hornik)

David Hornik of August Capital recently posted a great piece on his VentureBlog regarding the importance of choosing your angel investors carefully in this age of mass market early stage investing. His advice bears repeating, and he’s given me permission to repost it here:

Pick Your Angel Investors Wisely

By David Hornik.

A great deal has been written about angel investing in recent years. Angel investing has become the sport of choice for many successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley (e.g., Dave Morin,Chris Michel, Ariel Poler, etc.). What’s more, it has spawned a whole new class of venture funds — once called Super Angels, now called Micro VCs (e.g., First Round Capital, True Ventures,SoftTech VC, etc.). And now traditional venture investors (e.g., Greylock Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, CRV, etc.) have created programs to invest small amounts of money in large numbers of startups. Unfortunately, as seed investing moves from a boutique practice to more mass market, [Read more…]

Interview: State of the VC & Angel Market and How to Raise Money

Apples in a shopping cart. High res 3d render. Isolated on white background

I was recently interviewed for a story on the current state of the market in terms of early-stage investing, and how entrepreneurs can raise money these days. The piece has yet to be published and will likely be edited way down to a couple soundbites when it is published, so I figured I would capture the full text of their questions and my answers here.

1. What are your thoughts on the current state of the venture capital industry?

It is in a period of difficult retrenchment. Many of the funds that existed in 2007 may never raise money again. [Read more…]

Start-Up Marketing (Guest Post – one in a series)

Adopter Curve

My good friend Jeff Berman has agreed to contribute a series on marketing for startups to the Scratchpaper community. This is the first in the series. (Table of contents for the series is here). Stay tuned for more.

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In working with dozens of start-ups and early-stage companies over 25 years, and more than 50 since starting Berman Creative in 2002, I’m still astonished by how well Geoffrey Moore’s technology adoption curve defines the market opportunity for so many B-to-B and B-to-C organizations.

For young companies, the relevant groups are the first three: [Read more…]

Angel Group Relevance

This is no substitute for a proper post on the benefits of angel groups, but until I get around to that, I need to address a debate currently ongoing. Owen Johnson of Rhode Island-based incubator, Betaspring, recently wrote a post on the BetaSpring blog in which he outlined why he felt angel groups were losing relevance with his incubator’s participants. The post was picked up in a couple other outlets, and generated a fair amount of controversy, with quite a few angels weighing in. Some of the most thoughtful responses occurred in a thread in the Angel Capital Association’s LinkedIn group. Since that is a closed group, I thought it would be helpful to republish those comments here in an open forum so others can reply and respond.

For the record, my own two cents on the matter is that Owen’s piece is lacking in facts on which to base his broad generalizations (I see the opposite of what he claims in many cases), but in addition to that, he fails to recognize or acknowledge that he is simply a acting as a partisan identifying with one side of a two-sided debate that has existed since the dawn of organized angel investing. The key tension is the balance of power between investors and entrepreneurs. [Read more…]