A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. I made many mistakes when I was building my startups. Though the outcomes were financially lucrative, the journeys could have been much more fruitful if I had done one simple thing differently.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. There are two macro trends occuring within venture capital (VC) which are combining to have a transformative impact. The VC landscape has morphed into a barbell structure, with lots of small funds on one hand and a handful of large, megafunds on the other end, with few moderate-sized funds in between. As shown in the graph below, the number of funds comprised of less than $100 million more than doubled from 2013 to 2015. Graph via CB Insights
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. Businesses typically use LinkedIn to recruit employees. However, savvy startups can leverage LinkedIn to create a customer acquisition and a churn reduction tool. In particular, one of Rincon Venture Partner’s portfolio companies, SimpleLegal, has had so much success mining LinkedIn for customers that the CEO was initially reluctant for me to name his company in this article, fearing his competitors will mimic their common sense, yet clever approach.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. A friend recently asked me to give his startup-minded daughter some advice to help her vet undergraduate entrepreneurial programs. As I thought about the characteristics that comprise a great program, I identified five criteria that a prospective entrepreneurial student can use to evaluate the efficacy of a collegiate entrepreneur curriculum.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. Novelist and High School Dropout Louis L'Amour knew the importance of seemingly unimportant people (AP Photo) “Growth hacking” is one of today’s most overused terms, yet despite its trendiness, it predates the Internet by centuries. Entrepreneurs have been seeking clever shortcuts to spur their growth and circumvent their competitors since the dawn of commerce. By looking backward, modern entrepreneurs can co-opt the hacks from a pre-digital age that remain relevant today. These clever ideas often come from unusual sources, including an uneducated carnival operator, an author who dropped out of High School at 15, the owner of a laundry company who ran away from home as a teenager and a restaurateur who left school at the age of 13. That’s right, all of the growth hacks described below were created by High School (and Junior High) dropouts.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. Despite his non-existent education and numerous personal demons, James Brown was a gifted entrepreneur who reveled in proving Conventional Wisdom wrong. In the early 1960’s, it was generally believed that soul music needed to be watered down (think Motown) in order to crossover to white consumers. It was also considered gospel that artists should not produce live albums, as such records would reduce concert attendance. James proved the record industry experts wrong, on both counts.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. L-to-R: John Greathouse, unknown woman about to slap John, Reed Shaffner, Jerry Jao & Ara Mahdessian My venture firm, Rincon Venture Partners recently teamed with Jason Lemkin, Founder of SaaStr, to host the first SaaStrX event. I had the honor of moderating a panel of three SaaS CEOs who have collectively raised nearly $40 million of venture capital and are on their way to breakout success: Reed Shaffner of Workpop, Jerry Jao of Retention Science and Ara Mahdessian from ServiceTitan.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. Kate Hudson, Emma Roberts, Eva Longoria, Jessica Biel and Rihanna began wearing Z Supply's clothing before it could be purchased online. It may seem hard to believe, but even in 2016, there remain a number of successful consumer brands that are not sold online. The reasons companies elect to sell exclusively offline differ, but they often center on managing channel conflict with their retail partners. I thought it would be interesting to understand the challenges and concerns of entrepreneurs who began selling online for the first time in 2016, so I sat down with Heidi Muther, COO at Z Supply, LLC. This is the first of a two part, extensive interview I recently conducted with Ms. Muther.
A version of this article previously appeared in The Wall Street Journal. The reality television show Shark Tank makes for entertaining content but many of its underlying messages are potentially detrimental to tech entrepreneurs. Thus, emerging entrepreneurs should parse fact from fantasy by watching the show with an experienced business pro.
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. It happens during nearly every fundraising pitch meeting. The entrepreneur cannot wait to show me their product via a demo. As politely as I can, I dissuade them and explain that there are other ways I prefer to spend our precious time together. Most entrepreneurs seem confused by my reaction and often say something like: “VCs love demos. You’re the first one I’ve met who didn’t want to see our product.” I then explain that I evaluate the veracity of a product by seeking guidance from current, past and prospective users, rather than relying on a product demonstration.