Tag Archives: Silicon Valley

Monetize early and often

A common, long-running theme in Silicon Valley is that companies will get started with no sense of a business model.  The common ethos is this: “we’ll get lots of eyeballs, and then we’ll monetize the eyeballs later.”

And certainly if you look at a business like a Twitter or an Instagram, neither were ones where a business model from day 1 made much sense.  To succeed at scale, they needed to establish themselves as very broadly adopted, broadly used services.  Indeed, not so long ago, many were hand-wringing over whether Facebook would ever be able to generate sustainable revenues.  Given that $FB is now pulling in well over $1B / quarter, no one’s really harping on that anymore.  So I think it’s safe to say that for the foreseeable future, we’ll continue to see tech companies that grow first and monetize later.

At the same time, I’m noticing a trend of companies that are starting to monetize earlier in their life cycles.  Companies like Evernote, AirBNB, and Uber are examples, where they were generating revenue really early and growing from there.  My sense is that we will see more of these, for a few reasons.

First, the breadth of endpoints is massive.  Over the last 5 years, we’ve seen the explosion of smartphones, tablets, Kindles and other e-readers, along with the continuing growth of the PC market.  The increase in nodes (or screens if you prefer) and endpoints where a service can be offered and a transaction consummated is staggering.

Along with this rise in endpoints, distribution is now becoming increasingly accessible, if you can pay for it.  If your company can prove that it can generate gross margin on a per unit basis, then it’s going to be possible for you to invest a good portion of that margin in acquiring new users via a broad range of promotional and advertising offerings.

A third reasons is that a broader range of business models–freemium and in-app purchases, for example–have matured over the last several years.  This gives tech startups a path to offering users a low-friction, try-before-you-buy value proposition on the one hand, while offering a path to monetizing from early in the lifecycle.  This is a great thing for startups.

I think all of this bodes well for startups.  Getting revenue in the door at any level is a great validation of product-market fit.  It’s also a great way to keep the doors open and retain equity.  If I were starting a company today, I’d be looking for a path to get revenue in the door from as early on as possible.

 

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Be Careful What You Wish For : Color’s Cautionary Tale

TheNextWeb broke the news that Apple is acquiring Color Labs.  This closes what was one of the highest profile, most hyped startups of the last 5 years.  In my time in Silicon Valley, I’d say Google’s launch of Google Wave and the launch of Color were the top two in building massive hype that then came up really short.  (Do you all remember when people were *begging* for Google Wave invites?)

And that’s ok.  Sh*t happens. New ideas fail every day.  That’s reality.  What *has* changed I think that the costs of failing are dropping.  A lot.  Moore’s Law, the continuing growth and robustness of cloud-based infrastructure and open source tools and development environment, and the development of methodologies like the Lean Startup, have all combined to help teams run customer development cheaply and quickly.  They can build and vet ideas quickly and when they start raising money, they have a much better sense of what works and why.

Color ran counter to this–it went big.  On every front.

I think the cautionary tale is that you should be careful what you wish for.  I was once invited to judge a startup pitch contest.  This contest was held at Color’s Headquarters in downtown Palo Alto.  This was post Color launch, and the bloom was definitely off the rose.  Half of Color’s office space was allocated now as kind of event space, which is where we held this startup pitch competition.

Anyway, before the contest, there was a long networking cocktail type event.  I remember standing there talking to different startup teams.  One of the teams I talked to pitched me their idea.  I said to them, ‘hey, what you’re doing is interesting.  I am not interested in investing in it [for wahtever reason, can’t remember] but let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.’   One of the founders looked at me, then glanced around the room and said to me, ‘Well, there’s a $42m check sure would help,’ referring of course to the monster Series A Round that Color had reportedly raised.

My response: “Look, be careful what you wish for.  If I had invested $42M in this thing, and now half of the prime real estate in Palo Alto was being used as event space for cocktail parties and startup pitches, I would want to fire everything that breathed.  This would make me so angry.  Go out and build something awesome.  Then the world of investors will find their way to your door.”

Too much of the press and Silicon Valley community celebrates the raising of money.  Indeed, a raise is seen as press worthy.  I’m less convinced that its news worthy–some founder convinced some investor to write a check.  Meh.

To me what is news worthy is winning a customer, getting a really high profile, value added partnership nailed and in market, landing a truly world class exec or developer.  The really important building blocks to constructing a real company are what we should be celebrating.  Not that you got someone to write you a check.  Focus there, and do that great and the funding announcements will find a way of happening.

 

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Silicon Valley is Stupid

David Weekly is in terrific form with his post today on GigaOm Silicon Valley is Stupid Which is Why it Works.  It is a delight to read his writing–David’s energy, intelligence, wit, and wattage come shining through.  The article itself is spot on, and is really a must read, particularly for groups trying to build more of the Silicon Valley ethos into their region, town or country.

One additional element to Silicon Valley that I think is important, at least based on my own experience, is the openness and general inclusiveness of the community.

In most places, the existing social hierarchy–where one went to school, whose kid you are, whether you have friends in high places–exerts a huge influence and can be a huge help (or barrier) depending on where you fit.  Of course, Silicon Valley has an element of this–certainly being on a first name basis with A-listers like a Ron Conway, Mark Zuckerberg or John Doerr would likely confer a some benefit to you: who you know matters.

It’s not as much who you know, it’s what you’re doing.  In my experience, two elements really balance this out.  First, here in Silicon Valley, the core arbiter is really around what you’re doing and what you’re building.  This focus on what you’re doing (and the quality of the people you’re doing this with) overshadows, in my view, whomever you might know.  For example, I’ve talked to people who claim they were the right hands to Larry (Ellison) and then went built businesses for Steve (Jobs) whom I thought were complete yo-yos.  At the same time, we’ve funded successful companies where the founders were basically unknown and unreferenceable, as they had so few LI connections or prior real work experience. Put another way–if you had the choice of being an awesome team working on awesome projects with no network versus being super networked but working on a meh project with a meh team, you’d take door #1 in a second.

Silicon Valley is more open.  The second element is that the Silicon Valley network is as open as I think you’ll find anywhere in the world.  Not only are the most seasoned and experienced investors or executives generally findable and reachable, but the vast majority of them operate with an ethos that they’ve always got to be growing their networks.  This is not to say that barraging them with a spray and pray email form letter is going to get a response, of course.  That style blows and you won’t get far.

But broadly speaking, if you want to connect with anyone, and you work at it thoughtfully, you can get it done.  Concretely, visualize Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) in the movie Wall Street, who’d chased his prey, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas).  You may have to work at it to connect with someone, but with persistence, creativity, and quality, you should to connect to them.

My own experience in Silicon Valley over these last 5 years is evidence of this.  I moved to Palo Alto from Tokyo, Japan, where I’d spent nearly 4 years working for Microsoft in its Japan subsidiary.  Although I’d really enjoyed my time at Microsoft, I really felt that in the tech industry, so much growth and innovative thinking was occurring in SV that I had to get there.  I knew that I wanted to stay in tech, and I knew I wanted to get involved in smaller companies (an easy threshold to meet, given that when I left MSFT had more than 90,000 employees).

In any case, when I showed up in Palo Alto, other than some former Microsoft colleagues who’d moved here, I effectively knew no one.  I had a network of zero, basically.  From day 0, however, I found that I got great opportunities to meet great new people, that vast majority of them were interested in helping me find my way.  This ethos was quite broad, and time and time again, I was struck at how helpful and thoughtful people were in helping me out when there really wasn’t much upside for them.

Nowhere is this more clear than how I actually met David Weekly.  When I lived in Tokyo, working for Microsoft, I was getting really serious about leaving MSFT to head into the great unknown of Silicon Valley.  I was reading about Silicon Valley, and surfing around LinkedIn to learn about people.  I stumbled onto an article about the SuperHappyDev House events that David was hosting at the times.  (They’ve since mushroomed into something much bigger and more broad.)  These were apparently all night hackathons at some house he was retngin up in Hillsborough.  And what struck me was that his LinkedIn profile had an Endorsement from a police officer who had come to, I guess, break up one of these parties.  I remember thinking to myself, “I’ve *got* to meet this David Weekly guy!”  (I also became a user of PBWiki, a great product, btw.)

Anyway, fast forward 3 or 4 years, and I’ve got myself here, helping out at the FounderInstitute, Adeo Ressi‘s global startup incubator.  Adeo and I were basically neighbors when I moved to Silicon Valley, and he couldnt have been more helpful and fun to get to know.  He was getting the FI rolling, and he was kind enough to give me opportunities to speak, facilitate, and at times just help out.

Anyway, I was moderating an evening’s events at the San Francisco FounderInstitute, and there as one of the guest speakers, was David Weekly.  I introduced myself like a total fanboy, though I’m not sure that I asked for an autograph.  :)  I introduced him to the FI founders with my Tokyo story.

A culture where people are most honed in on what you’re building and what you’re doing.  An environment that’s really open, where people tend to want to just be helpful to others in getting out there and building cool stuff.  Those are two more of our additional stupidities out here that make this place so very great.  Thanks David for the great article!

 

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Mobile Brand Connect Dinner

Last night in San Francisco, BlueRun Ventures co-hosted the Brand Connect Dinner.  We work with Mark Evans at Social Local to put these events together, and we were thrilled to have speakers from Facebook, Proctor and Gamble, and Topsy speaking.  Also, it was a great audience of brands and entrepreneurs, seeking to build relationships and trade information.

There are a few takeaways I had from the event.

We are in early innings of what’s possible for brand advertising through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.  These social platforms are offering a new way for brands to communicate and connect with users.  Currently, most brands are merely repurposing content and media from existing campaigns (TV ads, magazine content, etc.) and just pushing it onto the Facebook wall, where they attempt to drive views and likes, etc.  What we saw though were several very interesting examples of new types of campaigns and engagements that leveraged some of the unique elements of Facebook to enable users to engage in more personal, more deep connections with the brands.  This was exciting.

There will need to be a continuing evolution here.  But this is to be expected if you study the history of media.  When TV first came out, for example, the first ads were basically radio ads just read on TV.  It took a while for everyone to figure out how to leverage TV.  But leverage it they did.  Same thing will happen in Facebook.

Big brands need massive scale from a startup to really engage.  On the one hand, many of the big brands–P&G for example–are getting much more serious about engaging with innovative young startup companies.  We saw this at the Big Brand Hackathon earlier this summer, where Home Depot, Toblerone, Ritz Cracker, and Kraft Mac & Cheese, all joined us and a bunch of hackers to build mobile-oriented demo projects that met their specific brand objectives.  Big companies and brands recognize that these new media types and these new innovations are areas they need to build musclature around, and it is great to see them engaging and working to stretch themselves to strengthen themselves here.

At the same time, its important for a reality check.  Concretely, big brands are driving massive scale and massive P&Ls.  This means that for a startup to really matter to a brand, there is a very high hurdle that the startup has to cross to become meaningful.  As Sonny Jandial, P&G’s Head of Innovation pointed out, the Brand Manager for Dawn Dish Soap is selling $1B worth of soap per year at around $4 a unit.  That Brand Manager has to move *a lot* of soap.  By definition, for the brand to engage beyond a little pilot or experiment with a startup, then, the startup has to be able to deliver meaningful numbers.  It’s a tall order, and as Sonny pointed out, his role is to be more of an experimenter on P&Gs behalf and help startups get nurtured to a level where they can grow to a point where they’d have an appopriate amount of scale to engage.

Budgets seem to be coming.  Without holding the brands to any fixed numbers, it did sound as though there was real understanding and thinking around th e need to spend here.  Engaging with Silicon Valley is not a hobby effort–it’s real and it’s serious.  The bar is of course high, but it did seem as though the budget is there.

All in all, over the last 6 months, I have seen a tremendous amount of interaction between large brands and with our portfolio and with the startup ecosystem more broadly.  This is an exciting trend.  At BlueRun, we will definitely continue to drive further into helping engage and connect brands into the ecosystem, and I’ll look forward to the next opportunities to get together.  See you at the next Brand Connect dinner!

 

 

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Beware the Generalizations

This week I got the rare opportunity to have a low key dinner with the founders working at the NewME Accelerator in San Francisco.  It was a great visit—the energy and sophistication of the teams there was really strong, and I enjoyed the time.

This talk was strictly Q&A—just me sitting with a group of around 15 founders, fielding questions one after another.  I love this format.  But if you’ve spent time with me, you’ll know once I get started I don’t really stop talking, so this may not be all that unique.  :)

The founders’ questions were many.  Some were specific and use case oriented, such as, “Our team has built a product, we’re getting traction, and we think we need to raise a small seed round.  Some are suggesting we raise more, what do you think?”  In your case, given the instincts that’ve gotten you this far, I reco following them going forward.  If you have an offer to raise more, then think about that then.

Or, “I’m a founder with unique and differentiated real world experience in a specific market, and I want to hire a tech team to build a product this industry needs.  How do I raise money to hire them or how to do I hire them before I have money?”  Catch 22 — not sure what to say, just have to figure out a solution.

Others were pretty hypothetical, “If you had one company with 2 million users and no revenue, and another company with a small number of users and $50,000 in revenue, which would you be more likely to invest in?”  Hm.  Totally depends on trajectory and relative opportunities of the two.

In answering the questions, I often had to reiterate a caveat I find myself making a lot these days.  Namely, when I’m answering a question on a business I know only lightly, as in when I show up at a Q&A with founders, my answers are going to be broad brushstroke generalizations.  These generalizations may not work for you in your particular situation.  Mileage can vary, a lot.  The core truth is that your on the ground reality may be the sort of thing where my advice, or the advice of other outside perspectives, is pretty useless or even harmful.

In my own experience, in building startups the core on the ground reality is pretty muddy and opaque.  This is a constant reality—startups are inherently dealing in uncertainties, and uncertainty creates ambiguity.  Uncertainty and ambiguity is more the norm than the exception.

At the same time, many in our community, investor types like me and other outsiders, present a worldview that is much more certain.  Company 1 is screwed, Company 2 is can’t miss.  Do A, do not do B.   The world is black; not white.  Approach y worked for company x, so you should think about doing y too.  In an uncertain world, the narrative of certainty is valued.

I disagree with this thinking.  Far more is unknown than known, especially by those of us far removed from the front lines of our business.  I encourage founders to hear out different opinions, but retain your own perspective, informed by the reality of your situation.

In most cases, the situations we’re dealing with aren’t black and white.  They’re gray.  Beware of people who make you think the answers are simple and that generalities work.

If the answers were simple, anyone could do this stuff.

 

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Reflections on Y Combinator Demo Day

Image representing Y Combinator as depicted in...

As a venture capitalist, I often say when speaking with founding teams, everything is a signal.  Everything is a signal, because as a potential investor in a team and the earliest stage of an idea, business and company, you are dealing with the most intangible, the most uncertain of situations. With as much imprecise, uncertain information as you are sifting through all day as a venture investor, I find that I tend to pick up on little signals.

Several months ago for example, I was taking a pitch from 3 co-founders.  The ideas was pretty interesting.  Not in my sweet spot as an investment, but a credible, if early, idea.  Something about the founding team struck me as a little off, however.  About halfway through the pitch, I stopped them.  “Tell me about the three of you came together as a team,” I said, “I’m hearing an interesting idea, but to be honest, guys, I can’t get a read on the chemistry between the three of you as a team.  If I had to guess, I’d say you three met for the first time this past weekend and thought it’d be fun to start a company together.”  They got a sheepish look on their faces and said that in fact, they’d met for the first time at a bar 10 days prior and had cooked up their plan.  Not a bad thing at all, in my mind, they just needed more time together as a team to figure out what kind of organization and company they wanted to build. This example is one of many I could point to where small signals make an impact.

With that as a framework, what was signaled at this week’s Y Combinator Demo Day as to the state of Silicon Valley and tech startups in general?   Y Combinator, of course, is the well-known startup incubator co-founded by Paul Graham.  It is a terrific organization, the gold standard of startup incubators. This batch of startups had over 70 companies, and hundreds of investors of all stripes filled the main auditorium of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. With this many companies presenting, and with this many investors, there were signals galore, from which to try to point to what’s going on in the world of start-ups in Silicon Valley.

Here are the key observations I saw coming out of the Demo Day.

Revenue is happening faster.  It is well known and oft discussed that the costs of starting a company has been dropping all the time.  Open sourced software stacks and development tools, and low cost cloud resources from Amazon Web Services, all conspire with Moore’s Law to drive lower and lower startup costs for software companies.  These trends enable teams to do more with less, and this trend will only continue.

The newer phenomenon, however, is the capability to build and drive revenue faster than ever before.  More YC companies this batch than I’d ever seen before were ramping revenue, and in some cases ramping it quickly.  This is a great trend for all involved.  The signal here is that startups have an opportunity to drive revenue sooner and faster than I think ever before, and I expect this to continue.

Software continues to chomp.  VC Mega Firm Andreesen Horowitz has as their mantra software is eating the world, and this Demo Day showcased this trend in an interesting way.  Here’s what I mean.  Several years ago, critics would complain that YC companies were so single minded in their efforts to deliver a basic quantum of value by Demo Day that they were really building only features and dressing them up as companies.  Some would say also that the earlier YC efforts were far too consumer focused or limited.

I think those critiques were overblown then, and they’re totally obsolete now.  This year’s YC batch showcased companies with solutions aiming to disrupt a vast array of markets.  Several of these markets are ripe for disruption: trucking and logistics (Keychain Logistics), non-profit fund-raising (Amicus), rental price prediction (Rent.IO), interior design (Tastemaker).  All of these markets suffer from fragmentation, a low tech, antiquated value chains, and so on.  It’s awesome to see these YC companies driving to disrupt these markets.  I’m thrilled for them.  And the signal here is that if you’re thinking about starting a company, consider a sleepy old industry and what and whether you might be able to build something that dramatically upends the value chain as it is currently established.

Companies are combining bricks and clicks.  One change in this batch of YC companies, in my view was that more are stepping beyond pure software, to include real-world elements.  For example, Viacycle is a new bike sharing platform.  It combines technology with real-world equipment to enable users to rent and share bicycles.  Tastemaker is a software oriented approach to requesting a bid for design, but there are real-world steps in its process, including professionals who measure your room, and getting a hard copy of your design brief delivered.  The signal here: as software continues to disrupt more and more of daily life, we’re going to continue to see software extend beyond purely virtual and online, into real-world everyday implementations.

Venture is continuing to shift.  The trends in startups I mentioned above, will have I think a few impacts on investors.  First, focus will matter.  Startups that are getting more focused on disrupting specific verticals or value chains will, I think, over time start seeking money that’s smarter and more aligned with what they’re doing.  Second, investors will have to realize and adjust to the reality that more companies they seek to fund early will likely have revenue coming in through the door.  This will, in some cases, drive valuations.  In other cases, it will drive a healthy conversation around how to think about growing the business.  All in all these are all great things.

To close, I tell people that YC Demo Day is like Christmas morning for me.  Its a day I look forward to always.  It is a delight and a privilege to watch these many founders showcasing their hard work over the last several months, and its a great experience to remind me why we’re all so fortunate to do this job here in Silicon Valley.

 

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Tim Hanford’s TED Talk on Trial and Error

I watched this TED talk last week while on a plane, and it’s really stuck with me.  I recommend watching it if you’ve not already.

To an extent, the thrust of the talk is so simple.  The world is a complex place.  As humans, we’re predisposed to think we have the answers, that we *know* in our guts or on a smattering of data points.  In reality, the complexity of our world favors an embracing our ignorance and addressing it by embracing a trial-and-error approach.

Professor Hanford reinforces this trial and error approach with several compelling options.

And what I think is most impactful is his addressing the notion that his point is obvious.  It may seem obvious, he says, but think about how much of what we do in life is based on what we “know” to be true.  How we educate our children, how we feed our world, how we address poverty, etc., etc.

If you really investigate how we address these societal issues, the vast majority of the time we’re doing it on the basis of how we ‘know’ how to do things based on sclerotic, prior thinking based on gut feel or light analysis.

We need more trial and error.  We need more embrace of failure, that throwing an idea out and seeing how it does (well or poorly) is a good thing.  In startup land, this is largely understood, though even in Silicon Valley, we can do better.  But in the broader world in which we live, certainly we’ve got miles to go before we sleep.

 

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#STARTUPPROTIP — Inevitability

Last month, I had the good fortune to host a group students from Duke University who had come out to SF & Silicon Valley for their spring break to get exposed to the startup world here.  We ended up at The Counter on California Avenue in Palo Alto, and the folks there at the Counter really took great care of us (topic for another post).

During our time together, one of the students asked me “What exactly are you looking for in the people or the teams you invest in?”  This student then followed it up saying he wanted to understand how what he’d need to do to break-through and gain the attention of an investor despite being just a student.

Now before I go off on my thoughts on this, I’d say that “being just a student” isn’t an obstacle to investment, at least from what I consider the best venture investors.  Benchmark Capital’s Bill Gurley’s recent post, Why Youth Has An Advantage in Innovation & Why You Want To Be A Learn-It-All, illustrates why it’d be a sucker’s bet for venture investors to look past an investment opportunity purely based on the youth of the founder.

Net: if you’re a student and you want to start a company and need to raise money, my view is that you have the same challenges that every other founder faces—you’ve got to build something people want and you’ve got to blast through whichever walls are in your way.

So with the being just a student thing set aside, then to the heart of this guys question, namely, what am I looking for?   If there were 1 single word that I’d site as the thing I’m looking for with the people that I invest in, it’d be this….

Inevitability.

Inevitability means that no obstacle will be too large.  Inevitability means you have a vision of where the world can go that you see, and that you’re the unstoppable force to get the world to buy in to that world.  Inevitability is about focusing on not stopping until you get any number of commitments that are needed—the code written, the product shipped, the customer sold, the investor closed.  Inevitability.

When I think about the many CEOs we are actively working with at BlueRun Ventures, we see different personalities.   Some are very technical, some business driven, some both.  Some are extroverted, others are introverted.  Whatever, there really isn’t a template in my view, different folks thrive at running different types of companies.

But a common thread that I definitely see is a push that drives for inevitability.

So don’t worry about whether you’re still a college student or whether you’re even in college.  (Believe me, having a college degree does not correlate to startup success, just ask Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, or Michael Dell.)   But do worry about how much inevitability you are driving in your business effort.

 

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Welcome!

Thanks for visiting my blog.  I’ve had this here for a while, but as there was a recent surge of visitors, over 90% of whom have never visited before, I thought I’d try to roll out a bit more of a welcome and introduction in this post. :)

First off, its nice to meet you.  To learn more  about me, go to the About Me page.  Definitely feel free to drop me a line at jjamison <at> brv <dot> com.  I do my best to respond quickly, but I may be brief.

Second, here are some quick links to stuff I write about here and elsewhere.

  • StartupProTips.  This is a collection of quick tips and tricks that I try to pass on to founders, generally in the context of either building a company or fund-raising.  These have been relatively popular.
  • Naming & branding your startup. (Slide deck.)  I’ve given this talk at Adeo Ressi’s FounderInstitute several times, and I think it generally provides a useful, concrete approach to thinking about coming up with a name and brand.
  • SlideShare decks galore!  Some of the greatest hits talk about building your revenue model, hiring, and a general overview of lessons learned in Silicon Valley.  Worth what you pay for them, but quick and hopefully painless to read.

So again, welcome.  Happy to have you here.  Please let me know if there’s content you’d like to see more or less of.

 

 

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Duke University Trip

English: Duke Chapel at Duke University in Dur...

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Last week, I visited Duke University, my alma mater. I had a lot of fun, and there was a lot more going on in the startup and entreprenerial space there than I had anticipated. I want to extend my gratitude to Jamal Modir, who runs the Law & Entrepreneurship Society, and to Kirsten Shaw, the Assistant Director for Industy Outreach in Duke’s Engineering School, for helping have such a useful visit.

First off, some house keeping, I gave a number of presentations at Duke, and I’ve received several requests for the slides.   They are below.

Venture financing class at duke 01 26 2012

View more presentations from Jay Jamison

With housekeeping out of the way, here are my key observations.

First, I was excited to learn about InCube, an on campus incubator where around 15 students chose to basically live together and work on startups. I got to spend an evening visiting their digs and hearing their pitches. I really admired the fact that the students had taken their own initiative with the administration and so on to setup their own living space. Their web site points out that 5 of the companies working out of this incubator are cash flow positive, which are magical words. (“There aren’t any parentheses around the net income line—imagine that!” Smile) It was great to see this kind of initiative at Duke from the students—and I’ll look forward to going back and tracking InCube over time.

Second, TechConnect was a great opportunity to meet a lot of students. This was a well put together event for engineering students, graduate and undergrad, to meet with and network with a variety of companies seeking engineers. Strong traffic, great students, and very time efficient—I thought this was really quite good. I was happy too that other than Yahoo, BlueRun seemed to be the only other Silicon Valley centered tech firm I saw there.

Third, Duke’s southern charm and engagement was in full force. Jamal, mentioned above, was kind enough to have me speak to a variety of groups and classes, which I enjoyed. I also got to visit a Durham-based incubator, 8 Rivers, which I thought had some very cool stuff going on.  All in all a great visit. I’ll look forward to coming back.

Go Blue Devils!

 

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