The Why and How Of Updating Your Angel Investors (Guest Post)

Ty Danco and Dharmesh Shah recently published an excellent guide for entrepreneurs on communicating with investors.  They have given me their permission to share it here.

The Why and How Of Updating Your Angel Investors

Good or bad news.There’s a massive amount available on the interwebs on how to improve the odds for success in new ventures. But almost nothing concrete is available on the care and feeding of your investors. You can do all of the Lean Startup experimentation you want, but we’re here to tell you that one of the the easiest and most underrated skills that a startup CEO needs is knowing how to keep your investors updated, excited and engaged.

The reason is:  The CEO is the investor’s  user interface into the business.  It’s how investors see what’s going on, and in some minimal ways, interact with the business.

We polled several early stage investors (including ourselves) that have 30+ investments each under their belts, and asked them their advice for entrepreneurs on how best to communicate with them and update them on the business. Here are the results. [Read more...]

Swimming Against the Tide (Angel Investing)

Swimming Against The Tide

So the other day I’m chatting with a new angel about a very large round that had lots of momentum – it had been expanded and was still over-subscribed. Classic case, driven by the usual factors: little bit later stage with some traction, so risk is perceived as lower, great pitch by an appealing CEO, backed by a seemingly good team, momentum in the round building quickly, a product people can understand that is already built and in the stream of commerce, and, perhaps most importantly, a perception of scarcity as the round filled up.

That scarcity factor always gets people’s juices flowing. Whether you call it the bandwagon effect or not, people get themselves into a twist about it. And I would generally agree that it can be a problem. But for a different set of reasons. It’s the flip side of the coin I see as the real problem. [Read more...]

Congratulations, Crocodoc

Crocodoc

Congratulations to Ryan Damico and the team at Crocodoc for their successful exit today to Box.com.  I invested in Crocodoc in 2009 when Ryan was a brand new entrepreneur and the company was called WebNotes. I liked Ryan and I liked the early vision. What grew out of those early roots was even more impressive. Ryan and his team went on to build a very capable enterprise class tool to display virtually any document right in the browser, via HTML5. This capability has proven absolutely essential to a variety of large customers including SAP, LinkedIn, Yammer, Facebook, and of course Dropbox and Box.com. Not entirely clear what Dropbox is going to do once this technology is in the hands of their arch-rival Box.com. That should be interesting to watch. Meanwhile, read more about the deal via WSJ here, TechCrunch here., GigaOm here, The Next Web here, VentureBeat here, and ZDNet here.

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If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy: The Long Road to Instant Success (Crocodoc)
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John Huston – 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.]

John Huston is an institution in the angel investing world. He is a self-described former banker who flunked retirement and set out to find an angel group to join. Finding none, he went on to found Ohio Techangels, which has grown to become the largest angel group in North America. It has an interesting structure whereby each member contributes just $25K to a fund of 100 people and the State of Ohio matches that $2.5M with $2.5M of its own (read that and weep, residents of other states…) Members are free to invest additional dollars alongside the fund, and in fact that is where most of the capital in any given investment comes from.

In total, between the funds and the members’ side investments, the Ohio Techangels has put over $20 million into 36 Ohio-based companies. Four of the companies have exited to large publicly traded companies, yielding what the fund claimes is a 58 percent average return for investors. And as is expected with early stage investing, seven other exits were failures.

John is widely quoted and hailed as a driving force for economic development. He speaks frequently and eloquently on the topic of investors serving as directors of early-stage companies, and he is a charming rascal livening up any Angel Capital Association event. We talked in April 2013 in San Francisco. Here’s what he had to say. (Email subscribers, click here for the video).

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: Angel Video Interview SeriesThe Long Road to Instant SuccessThoughts on Crowdfunding,  The Crowdfunding Interview (Frank Peters Show), Pattern Matching Can Cause BlindspotsGetting Off The Ground; Early Formation EconomicsPitch Clinic at MassChallenge (Video)Why Angels Chase ElectronsBoards vs. Advisory BoardsDelusional EconomicsTen Rules For Navigating in The Age of OutrageThat Vision ThingThe Power of An Advisory BoardLoch Ness, Unicorns & The First-Mover AdvantageAre Entrepreneurs Wild Risk-Takers?Top 20 Dos & Don’ts with Angel Groups & Early Stage FinancingWhat I Look For In An EntrepreneurThe OvertureDo The Right ThingOpen Forum with Angel, Seed and VC Investors (Video)Should I Wait For A Technical Co-Founder?, and 20 Bootstrapping Ideas.
Subscribe - To get an automatic feed of all future posts subscribe to the RSS feed here, or to receive them via email enter your address in the box in the upper right or go here and enter your email address in the box in the upper right. You can also follow me on Twitter @cmirabile and on Google+.

Dave McClure – 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.]

If you have seen Dave McClure do any public speaking, you have been in a room of people at least mildly shocked by what he had to say. Dave is nothing if not colorful in terms of how he expresses himself, both in person and in writing. I always get a kick out of watching him do his stuff, so it was a natural priority to add him to the Angel Video Interview Series.

Dave is a very well-known super-angel and the founder and general parter of 500 Startups, an internet seed fund and accelerator based in Mountain View, California. He’s an engineer and a marketer, working in both roles at PayPal, and has personally invested in 60-70 companies on his own, including some big name companies: Mint, SlideShare, Twilio, Bit.ly, and Jambool. Through 500 Startups, he has done almost another 500 or so more.

Dave spent some time running the seed activities at Founders Fund and running the Facebook Fund fbFund. In recent years Dave has turned his focus to the international market announcing 500 Startups expansion into Mexico and India. For a globe trotting venture captialist, he is a pretty fun, hilarious and down-to-earth guy. We talked in April 2013 in San Francisco. Here’s what he had to say. (Email subscribers, click here for the video).

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: Angel Video Interview SeriesThe Long Road to Instant SuccessThoughts on Crowdfunding,  The Crowdfunding Interview (Frank Peters Show), Pattern Matching Can Cause BlindspotsGetting Off The Ground; Early Formation EconomicsPitch Clinic at MassChallenge (Video)Why Angels Chase ElectronsBoards vs. Advisory BoardsDelusional EconomicsTen Rules For Navigating in The Age of OutrageThat Vision ThingThe Power of An Advisory BoardLoch Ness, Unicorns & The First-Mover AdvantageAre Entrepreneurs Wild Risk-Takers?Top 20 Dos & Don’ts with Angel Groups & Early Stage FinancingWhat I Look For In An EntrepreneurThe OvertureDo The Right ThingOpen Forum with Angel, Seed and VC Investors (Video)Should I Wait For A Technical Co-Founder?, and 20 Bootstrapping Ideas.
Subscribe - To get an automatic feed of all future posts subscribe to the RSS feed here, or to receive them via email enter your address in the box in the upper right or go here and enter your email address in the box in the upper right. You can also follow me on Twitter @cmirabile and on Google+.

Start-Up Marketing (Guest Post – Six in a Series

Ducks

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

How to Botch Marketing #5: 

Just Copy What The Category Leader Says

Hey, if it works for the #1 brand in the category, it will work for you, right?

Before deciding on a me-too marketing strategy, try this thought experiment: [Read more...]

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. It 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
Subscribe - To get an automatic feed of all future posts subscribe to the RSS feed here, or to receive them via email enter your address in the box in the upper right or go here and enter your email address in the box in the upper right. You can also follow me on Twitter @cmirabile and on Google+.

 

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...]