Thursday, February 26, 2009

Startups and Venture capitalists

Below are some of the comments and suggestions; I received for my question(s) to one of the top networking forums:

My question is two fold, How does one approach a venture capitalist? and how to identify the right venture capitalist?. Would highly appreciate any thoughts/suggestions on this.

[1] Response from Jon Scherrer Business Development, Sales, Marketing Executive
Two really good questions. I would reverse the order and focus on identifying a group of VC candidates that you would like to present to and then work on your approach plan (as it might be different for each).

To identify the right group think about what attributes are important to you such as money, corporate guidance, networking...and what are the things you don't want to have such as micro-management or a hyper-growth exit strategy (these might be things you want as well).

Finally, preparation is always the key. Spend the time doing your due diligence on a solid business plan and executive summary. Below is someone you might want to reach out to for help. Mike has been working with startups for quite some time and can give you some great advice and help.

[2] Response from Furqan Nazeeri President & CEO at Viridus, Inc.
Check out TheFunded. Also, you can find some "how-to" content on Altgate.

[3] Response from Ryan B. Smith Founder at ConferenceEdge LLC
There are a number of good sites out there that provide access to VC, however, in knowing whom to approach you need to understand what motivates them.

If your company/idea is in the "green/environmental" arena your best shot is likely VC's who have invested in that sector before as VC tend to invest in what they know.

Create a list of 3 target markets that your products fits (web, environmental, minority, etc.) into and as you look through the available lists of VC firms note the ones that invest in any of those sectors.

Once you've got that list together start looking at the VC portfolio's (they usually list the companies they have invested in on their websites or just call them and ask) and remove (YES remove) any VC's that have invested in a company that you believe would be a competitor of yours.

Who's left? Find the top ten VC's that you would like to work with and find out how they accept deal flow. Write a very brief letter explaining that you have an opportunity that you would like them to look at, explain why you think they would be interested (e.g. "you've invested in ABC company which is complimentary to what I do", etc.) in your offer.

Indicate that you are willing to sign a standard non-disclosure agreement or something that shows you aren't trying to sue them (this step is of course debatable).

Also it never hurts to bring in an experienced exec who already has contacts with VC firms and can get your opportunity presented to the right companies without all the leg work on your part. Just expect to pay for that effort, either in cash up front or a percentage of any deal that happens.

[4] Response from Lance Dunkin [LION] Startup Financial Projection Consultant
I would first figure out how much money to raise by creating 60-month financial projections.

Unless you need $2-3M+ you won't be looking to a venture capitalist, but rather you might consider an angel investor (50k to 1M) or even other forms of financing.

If you still find yourself in the VC range after creating financial projections, I think your best bet is networking into one. Good ideas are more common than people think. Good teams might be more important. VC's see a lot of good ideas and might be more interested in them if they come as a tip from a trusted friend. Response from Dana Blozis Freelance Writer, Editor & Marketing Professional, Virtually Yourz
I recently wrote a story for Seattle Business on small business funding which briefly include venture capital firms. I think what any investor wants to know what your business plan consists of and what your expense and revenue projections are for the first several years. They'll also want to look carefully at the industry you are choosing to work in, as some are volatile and not attractive investments right now, as well as your experience level. Do you have what it takes to make your business plan succeed?

For specific documentation often requested by investors, whether traditional financing firms or not, I recommend the website. There is a ton of information about what you need to do to develop a solid business plan and how to approach potential investors. It's a great, free resource.

Good luck to you!

Virtually Yourz,

Dana Blozis

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Popfly mashups and gadgets

I tossed myself in to the world of gadgets to see, how they work? and how quickly I can create one?

As a result, I ended up creating a custom view for Live search using Popfly. The Mashup i put together is a very basic one, it tries to perform search against the selected category from the first drop down box and displays the results based on the selected "number of results" from the second drop down box. Actually, I wanted to get all of the search results in one page, but the search object (that i can use it from the tool box of Popfly) limits the result to "<50".

Popfly itself is designed with a simple user intuitive interface in mind, this makes the learning easy and fun.

The tools available could be configured by tweaking the code behind the tool, java script. After a long time, I am seeing Java script code, it was fun to edit and see that simple stuff I was trying to do did not work.

Usually when you built a gadget, you may have to share it for use by other people. You may have to maintain a web page for showing custom views like mine. But using Popfly you get those things for free, you get a web page that is hosted for you and can also get to share your gadgets to reddit and digg. So all you have to do is to play with the different tools available to create the gadgets of your choice.

The link to my first Popfly:

I will try to create more custom views for live search to continue my effort in learning to create better gadgets!

Monday, February 16, 2009

More companies are now vying to capture a share of the mobile market.

New players like Toshiba are entering the mobile space; with new mobile devices. This sends a strong signal; mobile is the next computing platform. Read here for more - Toshiba TG01

related links: mobile world congress/

Monday, February 09, 2009

The new books I picked for reading...

My mind was playing with multiple stacks over the week trying to manage different work, I better call it multi tasking. But constantly doing multi tasking and moving things did not seem to work better, I was discussing with a coworker on this and the following books came in to light. In the weeks to come, I will update the blog post with review for each book.

1. Mythical man month
2. Slack
3. Peopleware

Monday, February 02, 2009

I love this, Cloud computing in simple english...

As I had explained in my previous posts, most of the definitions for cloud computing are hazy (cloudy), partial or may be even wrong. But here is the one below;
I simply loved it for the completeness and correctness of the definition.