Tuesday, August 28, 2018

VC Hacks - #1: Why Investors Only Give Your Idea 10% of Their Attention


What to Do About the Other 90%!             
  
When I hear a rambling pitch that gets lost trying to describe every detail of a new idea, I have to wonder: if only you knew what little time the investors will actually spend discussing it!

If they ever do talk about you, the only question they will be asking each other is: how can we make money out of it?

If they think your idea has that potential – vast growth, solves a big problem in a credible way, maybe if this is a new and incredibly intriguing product or just that you, the entrepreneur is uniquely qualified to take on a specific market – guess what:

They are going to reduce that to one sentence.

Then, they just as quickly, they will stop talking about the idea and start talking business.
  • What does it cost to acquire customers (note, they never mention viral, because they don't believe in it!)
  • Is this enough money required to get it off the ground?
  • How big can this be and how much would they likely recoup?
  • Who would acquire it? (No one really discusses IPOs and never, ICOs)
  • How big is the competition and can they reasonably be faced? (If the competition happens to be Google, Apple or Microsoft, go home.)
  • Can this entrepreneur (and team) really pull this off?
Conclusion:
If you knew just what sentence Investors will use to describe your company, you would be way ahead of the game! (This is why we hold Capital Raising Workshops.)

Instead of fussing over every last feature in your offering, you would get down to the issue of what makes you and your team good enough to make this fly, exactly how you plan to do this and with how much.

Then, you can talk about the probable growth path and exit – who is likely to buy you, why and when.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Why I think the Uber/Lyft Regulations are a much bigger debate than we realize.


Why I think the Uber/Lyft Regulations are a much bigger debate than we realize.

And it opens the door to Blockchain politics.

http://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/09/nyregion/uber-nyc-vote-drivers-ride-sharing.html?comments#permid=28172202
 
 
Forgotten in this discussion is the reason why yellow cab medallions became so valuable. City Hall was the bumbling architect of their rise and their collapse.

By limiting the number of medallions, the City established a monopoly, created scarcity and then let investors drive up prices. At one point, a taxi medallion was worth more than a seat on the stock exchange.

In return, yellow cabs dominated just the parts of the City that were most profitable and abandoned the rest.

When Uber and Lyft upended this, the City failed to make good on the monopoly it created and compensating for its loss, thereby leaving small cab owners suicidaly in debt.

Legally, the City has indemnity, but this issue will not go away.

Government still has the right to create false monopolies that technology will continue to disrupt. Very few politicians understand this other than creating new regulations that are generally too out of touch to matter.

It is also quite likely those regulations will be deeply influenced by special interests, leading to further public distrust.

Uber has shown that, by being truly useful to the public, even government with all its power and moneyed lobbyists can't stop them.

The real problem is not Uber but government itself and the outdated limitations of the two-party, management vs. labor debate and the backroom system supporting it.

Today's generation sees Blockchain, open ledger legislation, voting and Cryptocurrency as opening up government to the people.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Why Your Pitch Should Be Less Than 4 Minutes

We hear this over and over again: “What, only 4 minutes! I need more time than that.”

The simple answer is – you don’t. Abe Lincoln once said to a friend “if I had more time, I’d have
written a shorter letter.”

Being succinct is actually much harder that being long and rambling. Above all, it is much appreciated by investors.
In fact, a crisp pitch is generally seen as the sure sign of a credible entrepreneur. Even ones with mediocre ideas tend to get funded.
There are two major reasons why short pitches work.
Reason 1: If you can’t interest an investor in 30 seconds you probably don’t have anything they’d want to invest in. Or, you really haven’t found what makes your plan interesting and so you are slinging ideas in the hope that something will stick.
Most of all, the discipline required to distill your idea down to a 30 second hook for investors is an extremely useful way to sharpen your thinking about the execution of your plan.
This is why we offer our free Are You Fundable? Capital Raising Workshop and book – to help you distil your idea in a way that investors understand and are most likely to find attractive. Obviously, not all ideas are attractive to all investors but once you know what you really have from the investors' point of view, you understand just who is likeliest to fund you.
Reason 2: Your job in a first pitch is not sell the business plan but to get investors interested enough to know more. Investing in a startup is not an impulse buy. There are many boxes to be checked before that term sheet goes out. However, taking a liking to an entrepreneur and the possibilities of their idea certainly does happen on impulse and your job is to nurture that without overwhelming them with too much detail and dubious claims.
Pitching is a game of attraction that works by building trust with credible blocks of information. When investors feel comfortable with all those points, checks get written!


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Why Your Pitch Should Be Less Than 4 Minutes

We hear this over and over again: “What, only 4 minutes! I need more time than that.”
The simple answer is – you don’t. Abe Lincoln once said to a friend “if I had more time, I’d have written a shorter letter.”
Being succinct is actually much harder that being long and rambling. Above all, it is much appreciated by investors.
In fact, a crisp pitch is generally seen as the sure sign of a credible entrepreneur. Even ones with mediocre ideas tend to get funded.
There are two major reasons why short pitches work.
Reason 1 is that if you can’t interest an investor in 30 seconds you probably don’t have anything they’d want to invest in. Or, you really haven’t found what makes your plan interesting and so you are slinging ideas in the hope that something will stick.
Most of all, the discipline required to distill your idea down to a 30 second hook for investors is an extremely useful way to sharpen your thinking about the execution of your plan.
This is why we offer our free Are You Fundable? Capital Raising Workshop and book – to help you distil your idea in a way that investors understand and are most likely to find attractive. Obviously, not all ideas are attractive to all investors but once you know what you really have from the investors' point of view, you understand just who is likeliest to fund you.
Reason 2 is that your job in a first pitch is not sell the business plan but to get investors interested enough to know more. Investing in a startup is not an impulse buy. There are many boxes to be checked before that term sheet goes out. However, taking a liking to an entrepreneur and the possibilities of their idea certainly does happen on impulse and your job is to nurture that without overwhelming them with too much detail and dubious claims.
Pitching is a game of attraction that works by building trust with credible blocks of information. When investors feel comfortable with all those points, checks get written!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

In the News: Startupalooza™ Winner Aims to Launch Space Hotels - $792,000 a Night!


The winner of Startupalooza™ Silicon Valley was all over the news after they announced the plans which won over our skeptical Investors in December. 
 
Congratulations! Welcome to space, guys!
 
Orion Span was all over the news today after they accounced their intention to open "hotels" in space. The numbers were staggering but investors saw this as a real possiblity and for now, a prestige investment - something to brag about if you have a millin or two to spare........

See Orion Span's media coverage.

Do you have an idea that's out of this world? We might have the same opportunity for you:

You can pitch this on Monday, April 9th at Startupalooza™ San Francisco at Twitter, 1355 Market St. from 6:00 - 9:00 pm. REGISTER

In L.A? Pitch this on Tuesday, April 10th at Startupalooza™ Santa Monica at ExpertDOJO, with our famous Capital Raising Workshop from 3:30 - 5:30 Pitching from 6:00 - 9:00 pm.  REGISTER

www.startupalooza.com

About Startupalooza:

This long-running series of events gives every Entrepreneur a chance to pitch. With over $10 million raised for Startups in 2017, these pitching programs have has recently expanded from the East Coast to Silicon Valley and L.A. and is drawing a new generation of exciting deals.

These monthly introduce Entrepreneurs and new Startup ideas into the national Angel Investor community.

About Orion Span:
Orion Span's Mission is to Build and Sustain Human Communities in Space Accessible to All.  Through technological innovation, Orion Span cuts the cost of living in space by an order of magnitude over others. We will not rest until our shared destiny in the stars has been realized.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Lost Love, "Bad Jews" and Getting Funded


People have been buzzing about the Washington Post article I am tired of being the Jewish Mens Rebellion about a lovelorn Southern gal twice left at the altar by Jewish guys for women of their own tribe.

Since we often liken the task of finding Angel Investors to dating, I thought it might be interesting to review this from the Entrepreneur/Investors point of view. In that regard, Carey Purcells cri de coeur is not that different from heartfelt complaints of seeming "outsiders" who pitch and never get funded while some kind of chosen entrepreneurs tribe seem to be the lucky ones who do.

Granted, this broaches a uniquely Jewish issue – that fear of becoming an endangered species. This is something few other racial groups – particularly WASPS have ever had to worry about. No one marched the Smiths and Jones to death camps and so it is especially easy for a well-intended Southerner who rarely met a Jew, to step on a cultural landmine. Not even step, just set off a buried tripwire.

What's in a Sandwich?
I have a Christian friend who was once about to marry a young Jewish doctor until his mother visited and my friend offered her a ham sandwich. Years later, she still never got it – even when I tried to explain. Sure, that Jewish mother was known to have eaten bacon but you, prospective tribemember, are not supposed to offer it.

So it is when it comes to people with money, to whom the potential of Startups to incinerate their fortunes has a similarly chilling effect. Just like Carey Purcell, you can say the wrong thing to them and just never realize it.

A Heimishe Rumspringa?
Let it be said that not every investor is a wary, nay-saying tire-kicker - people do in fact get funded. Likewise, not all Jews are on a Heimishe Rumspringa at some poor Shiksas expense. Both may be more open than she thinks but just not in the way she realizes.

You need to read between the lines and that, after all, is why the Jews came up with Freud..

The Tale of Two Tells
In Careys case there were two giveaways. One was her passing statement that she got along so well with the Jewish guys, who weren't religios at all, that they even helped decorate her Christmas tree. That sounded good to because Christmas is so.everywhere. But not so much to Jews, to whom it sounds more like the Pharoahs wife saying she gets long with Jews so well she had a couple of their lads over from the camps to decorate the pyramids. This article ran over Passover when Jews remember their bondage. In any event, it comes across as cultural smothering.

What she should have said is, she got along so well, she helped light their menorahs.

A startup would run into a similar problem with Investors if they said their business was so good its growing by 10% annually. And yes, Im even giving myself a raise! To most people thats sounds laudable but investors are deathly afraid of something called a lifestyle business which, from their perspective means a low-growth plateauing business that affords a not very ambitious entrepreneur a nice lifestyle while the investor winds up getting absolutely nothing – not even their money back! In that context, low growth and founder payouts are actually trigger words that will send Investors similarly fleeing.

Calling Robert De Niro in the InLaws!
The other standout incident was the certain fellows overbearing mother who somehow got Careys cellphone and called to find her sons whereabouts. This made Carey uncomfortable. Potential in-laws are supposed to make suitors uncomfortable at some level. They are being tested to determine family suitability. So, its how you respond that matters. Prospective Moms-in-law wants to know if you will be a good steward of their sons and whether you will fit in with the tribe. Clearly, she did not do well with that. But once she complained, the answer became a really big No.

Likewise, Investors will want to know if you are coachable and wonder how you will fit within their portfolios. Can you take advice, guidance and will you give accurate accounting? Do you match their investment outlooks? Their annoying phone calls will not be about errant sons but about the fate of their investments. They are going to want to know early in the relationship and whether or not you can handle that call may well be one of their little tests.

Numbers Don't Equal Market Share
The best part about this article is that Carey cites numbers. The 44% of Jews, according to a Pew study, marry outside their faith. At some level her lament sounds a lot like the standard Entrepreneurs business cry: if we just got 10% of Amzon/Google/Facebooks market we would be a great success! Likewise, Carey felt she deserved to be part of that 44% of disengaging Jews.

In reality, the answer is the same in the both cases: no one gives you a piece of their market - no matter how big - any more than they give you their hand in matrimony. You have to earn it - by understanding and winning over their love and trust. Love may be the wrong word in business, but the idea still applies.

The bottom line in both love and business is that, if you really want to be in the game you have to adapt..and persevere.

And then you win.

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Blockchain Breakthrough Report: Are ICO's The "People's IPO?"


PANEL REPORT and PITCHING RESULTS


TALES FROM THE CRYPTO: BLOCKCHAIN PANEL

BLOCKCHAINPALOOZA: STARTUP PITCHING

             

REPORT: TALES FROM THE CRYPTO
Note: This event took place in NY on March 28. The next Blockchain Breakthrough event is in San Francisco at Twitter on April 9th. Details Here.

PANELISTS
Greg Obenshain on how hedge funds invest in ICO's • Paul Goodman on launching ICO's  Sweta Patel on marketing ICO's • Vlad Golub on trading ICO’s. • Dean Karakitsos on smart contracts • Sachin Narode on getting on the Blockchain • MODERATED by Alan Brody, Startupalooza

ICO’s and the Shifting SEC Rules are Focus at Blockchain Breakthoughs
Are ICOs a Kind of Crowdfunded Mini-IPO?

The first Conference and Startup pitching event in this new series produced by the long-running Startupalooza team played to an overflowing house last Thursday at Coalition Space Flatiron.

The main interest was ICO’s (Initial Coin Offerings), how they have succeeded and how the growing intervention of SEC has raised the bar and brought uncertainty to the crypto community.

What emerged was a story that showed how foreign counties may have taken the lead in ICOs because they had few other ways of raising capital. Certain Hedge Funds and Institutional Investors have backed initial offerings from the pick of the crop due to early discounts, SAFT notes etc. followed by rapid selling as these went to market. Cryptotraders have played a part in driving up values through momentum tradING – even though many offering are little more than a white paper and a website.

In the span of a year, unregulated ICOs appeared that were cheap to launch, underwritten by these big Investors and then dumped on a hungry world market that was willing to essentially crowdfund these startups.

But that was then. Today, the SEC is forcing ICO’s selling to US citizens to get registered and many are taking the Reg A Plus route (see the To ICO or Not To ICO Decision Tree offered below by software attorney, Paul Goodman of TechNY).

The first ICOs were cheap to launch and promote. Today, the legal fees can run anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000 and the marketing has gone from that website-and-a-whitepaper – the ICO’s version of an IPO prospectus – to a full-blown marketing campaign that can run over $500K. (See CenterPoint’s marketing offer below).

Despite the rising bar, interest seems to be mushrooming and ICOs are likely to proliferate as are new blockchain platforms. While expertise is scarce and trustworthy programming talent expensive, that too will come down as knowledge spreads and smart websites offer code-generating solutions.

As this new industry evolves and the public’s appetite for cryptocurrency grows, it seems that what we are really witnessing is the emergence of true equity crowdfunding.

To ICO or Not To ICO Decision Tree Click here for a copy

Sign up now for your free crypto marketing consultation to see how CenterPoint Media can take your  campaign to the next level. CenterPoint Media operates on a cost per acquisition model, meaning that you only pay for the conversions you get. CenterPoint Media is a New York City full service advertising agency leveraging its extensive influencer network to bring brands directly to their customers. Letstalk@Centerpointmedia.com


Survive And Thrive – Startup Retreat Offer

Thanks so much for entering the Blockchain Breakthrough event contest - each and every submission we received was awesome and it was a really tough decision for our panel!

To say thanks, Survive and Thrive is covering 50% of the cost of winners ticket to Survive and Thrive's 3-day immersive entrepreneur boot camp experience for just $1250 ($2,500 value). 


This includes 3 nights' accommodation, two-way transportation from LAX, food + drink for the weekend as well as direct access to top-tier investors, mastermind workshops and keynote speakers! Click here to view more details.

To confirm your attendance, just go here


BLOCKCHAINPALOOZA

Results from the Blockchainpalooza Pitches

JUDGES  JASON EARLE • PAUL GOODMAN  • BEN JEN • SWATICK MAJUMDAR •
SACHIN NARODE • SWETA PATELGREG OBENSHAIN • JODD READICK •

PRESENTERS

RealBlocks          
Perrin  Quarshie, perrin@realblocks.com     678-234-0447
RealBlocks leverages digital and fiat currencies that allows users to raise and invest capital in real estate from anywhere in the world. We're built on a proprietary hash graph and are launching with several marquee REITs and Brokerages in the US.   
Comment: A well-presented, well thought-out plan with strong industry backing for raising money in the cryptoeconomy for real estate projects.

Cryptonomy
Roy Hermann, roy@cryptonomynow.com                
Cryptonomy is a community-based ecosystem that provides crypto-enthusiasts an easy, more insightful way to discover and invest in Blockchain projects. Fake news, scams, and the overall complexity of investing in ICOs result in a loss of trust and capital for many crypto-enthusiasts. Cryptonomy helps solve this by providing multiple layers of crowd-sourced content on a designated crypto-focused app used by tens of thousands of crypto-enthusiasts. The app is currently live on iOS & Android.
Comment: A kind of Reddit of the cryptoeconomy that eanables players to communicate with each other and even validate credibility.

Kimera Systems           
Mounir Shita,  Founder and CEO  mounir@kimerasystems.com
Based on over 13 years of research, Kimera have made several breakthroughs in the field of Artificial GENERAL Intelligence (AGI). With a business strategy co-developed with the telecom industry, the company intends to combine AGI and Blockchain to disrupt how the global network operates, drive the next trillion devices to bring us to a future; where AGI is moving humanity forward. The solution focuses on a decentralized AGI solution, and a token utility that is a micro-version of a future economic model – one which Kimera believes will serve humans in a future where most jobs are automated.       
Comment: An ambitious if hard to comprehend plan to improve communications and using and ICO to fund it.
MG Miller is a modern intellectual property boutique located in Manhattan’s Financial District. Working primarily with startups and entrepreneurs, they create intellectual property portfolios that facilitate rapid growth for our clients.