Dave Berkus – Angel Video Interview Series

[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.]

To angels, Dave Berkus needs no introduction.  Dave is a prolific angel investor with Tech Coast Angels, an author, blogger, speaker and consultant and all-around good guy. While his profile is pretty high as a general matter, he may be best known for his authorship of  The Berkus Method of valuing early stage companies.  I have enjoyed getting to know Dave over the years and found his observations very useful in many areas, so I thought he would be a great first interview for my video interview series.   [Read more…]

Cloud-Enabled Business Models (Or Why iTunes Match Will Change Your Phone)

Gartner’s hype cycle charts how all emergent technologies start with a trigger, quickly ramp up to a peak of inflated expectations, drop in to a trough of disillusionment and then move back up a slope of enlightenment onto a relatively stable plateau of productivity. Cloud computing is moving right along that curve; the initial buzz was followed by a paralyzing fear of security issues, but we are now well up the slope of enlightenment: cloud computing is here to stay, and nobody disputes that it’s going to have a huge impact.

The power of cloud computing to enable radical new business models is really starting to be felt on a massive scale.

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The Solar Project – Notes On Our Installer (Video Interview)


[This post is part of a series about our net-zero residential solar project – see a list of links to the full series here, a list of frequently asked questions here or click here to bring up all Green-related postsPrevious Post in Series.]

I talked a bit about the installer of our system, Independent Power Systems, in this post and this post, but I have few additional thoughts and a video interview to add to the mix.

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The Solar Project – Installation Process (with Time-Lapse Video)

[This post is part of a series about our net-zero residential solar project – see a list of links to the full series here, a list of frequently asked questions here or click here to bring up all Green-related postsPrevious Post in Series / Next Post in Series.]

For a conceptually simple system with no moving parts, a solar array system is actually surprisingly complicated to install. Perhaps things will change over time, but at the moment it takes a lot of manual labor to mesh gee whiz technology with the physical realities of a residential roof and electrical system.

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Loch Ness, Unicorns & The First-Mover Advantage

When they are asked about the defensibility of their businesses, I regularly hear entrepreneurs cite “first-mover advantage” as the basis on which they will compete and defend their margins. It has come up several times recently, both in class discussions and at a recent MassChallenge panel I moderated on working with angels. Since everyone loves a good myth, I figured I would take a moment to examine this one.

Myth is actually a misnomer here because myths generally relate to the supernatural or nonexistent. First-mover advantage does occasionally happen in real life, just not very often. And not in the way entrepreneurs generally understand it.

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Localytics CEO on Steve Jobs, Raising Capital, Mobile Apps & TechStars

Here’s a short video interview with the Founder and CEO of one of my portfolio companies, Raj Aggarwal (@analyticsraj) of Localytics.  Raj sat down for a few minutes with Keith Cline of VentureFizz.  In this short video interview, Raj talks about the origins of Localytics, his experience raising money from Launchpad Venture Group and others, his pick axes & shovels strategy for Localytics, and his experience working for Steve Jobs on defining the early iPhone business model…

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What I Look For In An Entrepreneur

I speak to groups fairly regularly about what I look for in an angel investing opportunity, and one of the key factors I always mention is a fantastic entrepreneur.  Someone in the audience invariably asks what I mean when I say that.  (In fact, I was triggered to post this because it happened most recently just today while speaking to a group of MBAs in an entrepreneurial finance class at Babson).

It is one of those hard-to-quantify areas where your gut and your experiences tend to guide you, so I’d be the first to acknowledge that I am relying on instinct to a large degree.  People talk about first impressions, and they can be important, but in my experience, it can take a fairly long time, a number of meetings, and some reflection about the person to develop an accurate gut feeling about someone.

But what I can say with certainty is that when I have a good gut feeling, it is always based on the sense that the entrepreneur is:

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Vizibility – An Obvious And Useful Idea

Nice write-up on Vizibility in Business Insider recently.  Vizibility is a cool company founded by James Alexander which provides a very useful service.  It allows you to easily build the perfect search of yourself to pull up the best and most relevant items, remove duplicates and irrelevant hits, and promote the key stories you want to highlight.  It then gives you ability to capture that perfect search as a “search me” button, link and QR code that you can use online and offline in email signatures, business cards, blogs, web profiles and the like.

I’ve been a user of the service since before I first invested and have found it very handy in personal use – I’ve even got my QR code on my business card.  But what it is interesting is the power this gives professionals who live and die by their professional identity, not to mention the flexibility it gives to the marketing professionals who try to manage them.

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Nice Write Up of Daily Grommet in Entrepreneur Magazine

Jules Pieri of Daily Grommet as Featured In Entrepreneur Magazine

Nice write up of Jules Pieri and Daily Grommet in Entrepreneur Magazine.  Go Jules!   http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/218125

Pixability’s Power Syndication

Angel group syndication is becoming a really smooth act.  Congratulations to Bettina Hein for leading the mother of all angel syndications, and thanks to Barry Coffman of Launchpad Venture Group for leading the team.  Pixability has an investor base that is awesome in its diversity.  Go Bettina!   www.pixability.com