I always walk away smarter after speaking with Steve Blank. In addition to being a thought leader within the Lean Startup Movement, Steve is also a professor at Stanford and Berkley. However, many people are not aware that prior to entering academia, Steve was a wily and creative marketing entrepreneur.
This article previously appeared in Forbes. Not surprisingly, the most influential startup bloggers are those with the largest number of Twitter followers. However, given the rash of accusations regarding Internet personalities purchasing bogus followers, it seems fair to ask, "Which startup bloggers have the most legitimate Twitter followers?"
A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes. One the most frequent questions asked of me by entrepreneurs is, "How can I become a Venture Capitalist?" The inquiry is common because being a VC is (to an entrepreneur, at least) a sexy job. You control substantial amounts of capital, have tremendous autonomy, a flexible work schedule and you get to play Santa by bestowing financial gifts upon worthy entrepreneurs. You also can vicariously share in the success of those around you and, if you are so inclined, you can give yourself more credit than you deserve for other people's success. There are many paths into the VC world, but they can generally be lumped into two categories: (i) serial entrepreneurship, and (ii) tech-oriented investment banking. I define a "VC" as, "a professional investor who deploys third-party funds into relatively early-stage companies." In contrast, an Angel Investor is someone who invests their own capital. All you need do to become an Angel is identify a promising venture and write a check.
Nearly every entrepreneur has heard the refrain, "Get back to me when you have some traction,” while seeking funding. From an unsophisticated investor, this response might be a non-confrontational way of saying "No." However, when uttered by most Venture Capitalists (VCs) it conveys a desire to obtain validation of your venture's value proposition from dispassionate, objective third parties. In this context, your "value proposition" is defined as the utility you claim users will derive from your solution. When you hear the word "traction" think "objective validation." Once people who do not know you and have no vested interest in your company's success begin expending their time, money and resources to leverage your value proposition, you are gaining traction.
I was shocked by the headline: "71% Of President Barack Obama's Twitter Followers Are Fake." By this measure, of the President's nearly 19 million followers, 13.5 million are bogus. Irrespective of your political affiliation, one must admit that nearly three-fourths is an extremely high percentage of phony followers, suggesting that some shenanigans were employed to bolster the President's social status.
In 2003, the lead singer of the country music group, The Dixie Chicks, criticized then-current President George Bush during a concert in London. The reaction among the group's American fans, who were largely politically conservative, was visceral and negative. One irate fan sent the group a death threat, which offered them "clemency" if they would, "shut up and sing." Business leaders should not need a death threat to encourage them to follow similar advice, substituting "sell" for "sing."
This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE From a venture capitalist’s point of view, there are no “trick” questions. However, certain questions can be tricky for an entrepreneur to answer. Below are five common questions an entrepreneur will encounter when seeking venture funding. These questions, which manifest themselves in numerous forms, all share a common underlying objective: to divine your motivations, expectations and desires. Handled appropriately, these questions provide investors a window into an entrepreneurs’ soul, which minimizes the chances of a future misalignment.
What American tech company is the coolest? A subjective, yet important question. The rest of the country may be in a recession, but hiring within the tech community remains highly competitive. Talented employees look for a number of tangible and intangible factors when deciding among multiple employment offers, including a company's cool factor. As such, a reputation as a cool company is a competitive advantage to be cultivated and coveted. With that in mind, Forbes readers have an opportunity to help crown America's Coolest Tech Company via a new crowdsource polling widget, created by Ranker, a Rincon Venture Partners' portfolio company.
Business Plans are dead. Most sophisticated investors ignore them, focusing their attention on an entrepreneur's pitch and presentation materials, financial forecast and executive summary. As noted in Entrepreneurs Shouldn't Pitch Their Ideas To Venture Capitalists, most sophisticated investors place their bets on people rather than opportunities. As such, the primary goal of your executive summary is to open the door to an in-person meeting.
Note: This is an installment in the Iconic Advice series. Other installments include: Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Dell. Make no mistake, successful entertainers are entrepreneurs. They must compete with tens of thousands of other performers who are all pursuing the same customer dollars. At the outset of their careers, they are forced to market themselves with little to no budget and differentiate their product so that they gain adequate attention without alienating too many potential customers. It is too easy to say that an artist’s success is simply a matter of luck. Although a handful of performers achieve their goals soon after launching their careers, for most, preparation meeting opportunity is what leads to their success. In fact, many of the same precepts which lead to a startup’s success are also precursors to a performer’s stardom. You do not have to enjoy (or even respect) the music, costumes and outlandish behavior of pop-culture divas to learn from their entrepreneurial tenacity and drive.