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Periodically I get backlogged with “stuff I want to blog” that I never get to along with a handful of “links from today that are great.” So – today you get a bunch of things that I’m involved in and turn me out. Click through to whatever interests you.
Jilted in the U.S., a Site Finds Love in India: Ignighter was in the TechStars Boulder 2008 class. Daniel, Adam, and Kevin have pivoted around a few times and ended up creating the fastest growing dating site in India – from their office in Manhattan. The New York Times tells how it came together.
The Fiction of 20%: This is a classic post from Fred Wilson that came up over the weekend in the midst of a negotiation on a deal I’m working on. Every entrepreneur should read it. I’d also encourage every VC and angel investor to read it. Bottom line – there is a difference between “want” and “need.”
Gnip Is Hiring: Sales people and engineers in Boulder.
Shiny Things: Amy and I had dinner with our long time friends Paul and Renee Berberian (Paul is CEO of Orbotix). Renee is in film school and doing amazing work. Her latest project is a short film called Shiny Things and is a two morticians uncovering a dead mans secrets in a small mountain town. She’s raising $1,500 on IndieGoGo – I just contributed $100. Help Renee get this cool film made.
RoundPegg Raises $1.27 Million To Be The eHarmony For Jobs: RoundPegg was in the TechStars Boulder 2010 class. I’ve backed Tim Wolters, one of the founders, in a previous company (Dante – acquired by webMethods). I’m a huge Tim fan and am psyched to see what Tim and his partners are accomplishing at RoundPegg.
The White House Innovation Report Has Been Published: My good friend Phil Weiser was on a team that put this together. It’s a fascinating and very coherent report on the power, impact, and importance of innovation on our society.
Kauffman Foundation Provides $200,000 of Funding for the TechStars Network: This money will be used to standardize seed accelerator application and reporting processes. While it will be built for the TechStars Network, it will be available to anyone that wants to use it. Thanks once again to my friends at the Kauffman Foundation for stepping up and funding an important infrastructure piece of the broad entrepreneurial ecosystem.
A Movie I Helped Fund – The Kite – Gets A Good Early Review: I’ll occasionally toss money at random non-tech things my friends are doing (movies, restaurants, art galleries – stuff like that.) I never have any economic expectations, but I love seeing the projects get done. The Kite is a labor of love for Prashant Bhargava, a relative of Raj Bhargava who is an entrepreneur I’ve been working with for almost 17 years. When Raj asked me to play, I said sure – and it’s fun to see The Kite out in the world.
Ok – time to stop stalling and go back to grinding on the latest draft of Venture Financings: How to Look Smarter than Your Lawyer and VC which is due to the publisher by – ahem – next Monday.
I love my morning reading routine. Most mornings during the week – between 5am and 6:30am – I sit at my computer, catch up on email, read the stuff in my daily folder, go through my RSS feeds, and generally explore whatever I can on the web. Some is systematic (my daily folder, my RSS feeds), some is more random (Techmeme, Hacker News), and some comes from places that I couldn’t tell you how I got to.
Today’s amazing story was from The Tech, MIT’s newspaper (currently in Volume 130). The article is Opinion: The story BCG offered me $16,000 not to tell and is a great story from Keith Yost, an MIT grad, about his relatively short experience working at BCG in Dubai as a management consultant.
It’s a story that will be familiar to anyone who started working at a management consulting firm straight out of school. Or an investment bank. Or a law firm (out of law school). Or an accounting firm. Or any number of other “professional services firm.” It’s especially relevant for anyone who got an A+ education and was at the top of their class, which seems to correlate with the type of people that management consulting firms are interested in hiring.
When I was at MIT, I never really contemplated getting a job working for anyone. I started a few companies while I was in school, the first two of which failed but the third (Feld Technologies) took hold. During my senior year, I was also finishing up my first year of business school at Sloan so for the hell of it I went to a few recruiting dinners, mostly to see what they were like. I vividly remember one for McKinsey at L’Espalier when it was in its old location on Gloucester Street. This would have been 1987 when L’Espalier was the best ticket for a fancy meal in Boston (I think I’d been once) so there was plenty of buildup. The evening was one part delightful (the meal was awesome) and one part “turn a power drill on, place it between my eyes, and put me out of my misery” as the senior consultants and partners from McKinsey took the room through a presentation using overhead slides (this was before the age of Powerpoint) talking about the firm, the firm’s history, the firm’s importance in the universe, and a bunch of other things I forgot within 15 seconds of leaving dinner.
Over the years I’ve had plenty of opportunities to work with other large management consulting firms on various projects. While I found the style and tempo to vary, Keith’s article rang true to me, especially when I talk to some of my ex-investment banking friends who didn’t make it through year three of their “advanced copy machine operation and presentation wrangling” skills.
If you are early on in your career in a professional services firm, you’ll benefit from reading Keith’s article and thinking about the story of “Find Me A Rock.” If you are a manager or a partner, you’ve probably already found a rock, but it’d be worth your time to read this story also and ponder what you are doing on a daily basis. Think of it as having something healthy for breakfast instead of the usual Cocoa Puffs.
While the rest of the US is watching football, I thought I’d sit quietly at my house and catch up on some writing, most notably what David Cohen, Entrepreneur Magazine, and a few other special people are waiting for from me. However, before I dig into that, I thought I’d procrastinate by catching up on some reading from the week and, motivated by a few interesting things I came across, stall a little more by writing this blog post summarizing the interesting things I came across today.
More (Steve) Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Let’s start out with an absolute must read Op-Ed by Thomas Friedman. Read it to find out why we should start calling 2010 the year of innovation, or more cleverly – the year to “Start-Up America.”
My Dad and the Story of the Stolen Stamp Collection: My dad and I are writing a series of letters to each other on our blogs. His second one is up and it’s the story of what happened to my stamp collection in sixth grade and how we addressed it together. I remember this like it was yesterday – it was a very formative experience for me that heavily influenced my view on directly confronting bad actors as well as the importance of honesty.
Bill Gates is blogging: When he first launched his blog, there was no RSS feed. There is now.
5 Minutes With OpenView Venture Partners: Mark Solon at Highway 12 Ventures has a nice Q&A up on his blog with Scott Maxwell and George Roberts at OpenView Partners. I’m good friends with Mark and Scott; Highway 12 and OpenView are co-investors in Balihoo, and I’m a small investor in OpenView Partners. Good stuff.
We Believe in Magic: Last week Memeo (we are investors) released Memeo Connect for Google Apps. You can now access your Google Apps docs from the desktop as well as sync them to the cloud. Automagically. Like Magic. Memeo explains why and how. If you are a Google Apps (Docs) user, this is for you!
Open Angel Forum Colorado – Feb 3 FAQs: OAFCO is heating up – all five sponsorships are sold out, the list of angels coming is great, and we are sorting through a nice list of companies that we are inviting. If you are interested in attending as an angel or presenting as a company, just wander over to the FAQ.
What I really feel like doing is laying on the coach, eating a mango popsicle, and reading some mental floss. Fortunately I downloaded Stuart Woods latest book Kisser yesterday.
I’m at CES all day wandering the floor looking for additional devices to wear on my body to monitor all aspects of my life. In the mean time, there’s a bunch of great stuff in my world that has happened so far this week. Here are links with a little commentary.
Rally Software Raised $16m in a Round Led by Greylock: My friends at Rally Software are creating an important long term company in the Boulder ecosystem. 2009 was a great year for Rally – they grew a ton and dominated their market segment. They didn’t need any additional financing but were approached by several firms in Q409. Greylock put forth an attractive offer and their involvement, including the addition of our new board member Tom Bogan (Chairman of Citrix among other things), is a huge addition.
Jive Software Acquires Social Media Monitoring Startup Filtrbox: I’m extremely proud of Ari Newman, Tom Chikoore, and the rest of the team at Filtrbox. They were part of the TechStars Boulder 2007 class and are now the fourth company from that class to have a positive exit (the others are SocialThing, Intense Debate, and Brightkite). The team will become the Jive Boulder office and I expect they’ll grow nicely over the next year.
Kidrobot Moves to Boulder: While I’m not an investor in Kidrobot, I’m a huge fan. Paul Budnitz is moving with about half of the 45 person company from New York and plans to hire another 20 people in Boulder in pretty short order. Look for life sized Kidrobot thingies on the Pearl Street Mall this summer.
TechStars Seattle won the Seattle Flashies “Tech Triumph of the Year”: Huge props for Andy Sack and Greg Gottesman for driving the creation of TechStars Seattle which will launch its first class in the fall of 2010.
There’s a lot more coming, but for now I’m going to go touch as many screens and tablets as I can in the middle of the debauchery that is Las Vegas.
You may be thinking “what do these things have to do with one another?” Well – they are all in my browser this morning after I returned from my run with Reece Pacheco of Overtime Media. And in case you are wondering, Reece is an ex-lacrosse star who is now running Overtime – which makes HomeField. They are a young company, but are working with about 200 sports teams at colleges across the country to get the video of their games online. Reece met me at the NY Entrepreneurs Roundtable Event that I spoke at on Monday, sent me an email about running, and off we went this morning. Reece – thanks for making sure I got out of the hotel to get my run in.
Back to my browser. Here are some thoughts for the day.
Techstars Boston plans spring startup program: The TechStars Boston program is happening in the spring of 2010 – March, April, May. Applications are now open – the deadline for Boston is January 11th at 11:59:59pm, but don’t wait because there are some special bonus happy things if you apply early. We decided to offset the timing of the Boston and Boulder programs (Boulder will happen June, July, and August) to address of a couple of things, including the ability of me and David Cohen to spend more time in Boston during the program if it doesn’t overlap with Boulder as well as the migration of many Bostonians to the Cape for parts of August.
PI Window on Business – Live Webcast with Me Talking about the Startup Visa: The title of the program is more provocative – “Diminishing Prospects: How U.S. Policy is Undermining Entrepreneurial Vision” – we’ll see what I can add to the program on BlogTalkRadio. It’s tomorrow (11/20) at 12:30pm Eastern.
iRobot Looj on Daily Grommet: Periodically my friends at Daily Grommet ask me for nerd toy suggestions. This time I gave them a very practical one – the iRobot Looj. iRobot will always have a warm spot in my heart because the CEO and co-founder, Colin Angle, is a fraternity brother (I was his pledge trainer – bwahahahahaha). Need your gutters cleaned? The Looj is for you.
eCornell Entrepreneur Video Conference: For the next few weeks (deadline is 11/30/09) eCornell will be accepting video submissions from entrepreneurs to showcase their creative approaches to meeting customer needs. Registration is free and easy, and the first-place winner will receive a full scholarship to A Systems Approach to Product and Service Design certification program ($3,500 value).