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), (which became public via, and (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...]

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...]

Why Giant Smartphones are the New Normal

Ascend MateUntil a very recent epiphany, I had been observing this trend of growing smartphone screen size with puzzlement. Android smartphones grew to 4 inches. 4.5 inches. 4.8 inches. Then Samsung releases the Galaxy Note at 5.3 inches. And now the Note 2 at 5.5 inches. And now Huawei has just released a a phone with a 6.1 inch screen (the Ascend Mate, pictured above).

Yet Apple was not wrong that good one-handed operation maxed out at a screen size of about 3.5 inches diagonal. And you definitely look a bit odd holding a tablet to your head. And these things are giant in your pocket, if they even fit. So what is driving this? [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.


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...]

Instagram’s Turn for a Face-Palm

Homer - D'Oh!

Yep, we’ve stepped on the rake again.  In what is becoming an almost weekly ritual, we’ve had yet another user revolt and PR fiasco because of revised user terms and conditions.  Instagram’s turn this week. The line in the damage control note from Instagram Co-Founder Kevin Systrom today that grabbed me was: “Legal documents are easy to misinterpret.”

This statement is stupid in so many ways.  For starters, [Read more...]

Customer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast, Entrepreneurs

Wil Schroter is the co-founder and CEO of which is a crowdfunding platform for startups, so it is not entirely surprising that he would pen a very pro-crowdfunding piece in GigaOM recently. In the piece, he righty calls out a few of the advantages: customer-sourced funding does allow you to test the market before you build, and it does allow you to fund the product before it is built avoiding the need to amass dilutive capital on a speculative basis, and it does allow you to engage with and build buzz amongst your potential customers even before they are your customers. (The recent hysteria about the Pebble Watch is a good example of this.) But what is totally misleading, even disturbing, about Schroter’s GigaOM article is that it so utterly and completely misses the bigger picture.  [Read more...]

Reinventing Paper and Rock & Roll

Launchpad portfolio companies have been busy this week. We just closed a $1.1M Series A round with JamHub, which they will use to accelerate the rollout of their very cool rock & roll products. They make a family of devices that allow bands to plug in and jam together with incredible and finely controlled sound quality for each player, but without the noise of a traditional amplified rehearsal. Silent and neighborhood-friendly rock & roll that sounds awesome to the musicians, but doesn’t wake the dead. Fantastic team – we are really pleased to be working with them. (Mass High Tech story here.)

And speaking of reinventing long-standing traditions, portfolio company Vizibility has done a radical rethink the humble business card. This week they launched their new line of NFC-enabled business cards to compliment their online identity management platform for professionals. For situations where you want to quickly pull up the contact info, LinkedIn info or Google results on someone you have just met, you no longer need to manually search or scan a QR code with your phone’s camera. One tap of the NFC enabled card will allow you to bring up the information directly. Very cool. TechCrunch wrote about it here, or you can check out the company at

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Entrepreneur at Work: Caine’s Arcade

Ordinarily with a story like this, I’d just tweet it or stick it into one of my Links You May Have Missed posts. But this is such a sweet and inspirational tale and the documentary is so well done, that I think it deserves its own post. Using tape and recycled cardboard to build his own arcade, a young kid in East L.A. follows his vision and his passion with enough determination and ingenuity that he teaches the world some important lessons. (The fantastic video documentary by Nirvan Mullick appears below). [Read more...]

The Frank Peters Show

It was payback time recently for me; Frank Peters wanted his chance to turn the tables and interview me on his show. Since he had been good enough to do a video interview with me a while back (here), and because he is a great guy, I said sure, why not. We had a great chat about the angel and early stage ecosystem, crowd-funding and what the future may hold.  Tip of the hat to Frank for the excellent library of work he has built up on the show over the years. It’s Show #372; listen to it via Stream, flash player or iTunes

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: Thoughts on CrowdfundingPattern Matching Can Cause BlindspotsGetting Off The Ground; Early Formation EconomicsWhy Angels Chase ElectronsDelusional EconomicsThat Vision Thing,  Loch 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 OverturePick Your Founder/Co-Investors Carefully & Reflections on the Nature of EntrepreneursShould I Wait For A Technical Co-Founder?When Do You Need My Slide Deck?,  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+.

Lessons From the Start-Up Genome Project

Stanford & Berkeley entrepreneurship professor Steve Blank did an excellent write-up about the new report published by Startup Genome Project (report here; free registration required). I want to call attention to Steve’s write-up because it is fun reading in terms of the crazy origins of the project. And the report itself is a must-read for every entrepreneur and early-stage investor out there, but as a teaser,
here are fourteen of the key conclusions reached by phase one of the study in looking at 650 very early stage web companies: [Read more...]