What The Heck Does “Traction” Really Mean To A VC?

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.

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Celebrities With The Most (Allegedly) Fake Twitter Followers

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.
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Shutup And Sell: Entrepreneurs Shouldn’t Discuss Religion, Politics Or Sex(ual Orientation)

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.”

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Five Trick Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Answer Before Asking For Money

 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.

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The Crowd Has Spoken: Check Out The Coolest US Tech Companies

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.


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Here’s How You Get A VC To Pull Out Their Checkbook

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.

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Diva Startup Tips: @LadyGaga, @JLo, @Cher, @KatyPerry, @MariahCarey & @NickiMinaj

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.

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How Pinterest, Tumblr, HootSuite, Klout, Posterous, Bitly and Mashable Hire Great People

Rapidly and repeatedly hiring star employees is a competitive advantage. Although this is a core competency that must be honed over time, there is a cadre of SaaS hiring tools that the world’s leading tech companies deploy to their advantage.

No matter how rapidly a startup is growing, it can never afford to sacrifice employee quality as a means of achieving its hiring goals. A hiring mistake early in a startup’s life can be expensive, especially when opportunity costs are considered. The loss in productivity involved in transitioning a struggling employee out an organization, coupled with the time required to conduct a subsequent job search, can cripple a small company’s ability to achieve its strategic objectives.

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Startup Lessons From Olympic Innovators

This article originally appeared on TechCrunch HERE.

Successful Olympic athletes share a number of common qualities with entrepreneurs; including boundless energy, uncompromising tenacity and a willingness to innovate. Such innovations include new training routines, inventive diets, and novel gameplay tactics. Entrepreneurs are well served to pay particular attention to two of the most innovative Olympic athletes: Dick Fosbury and David Berkoff, the former of which I discuss in the following 2-minute video.

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Commission Junction Co-Founder Lex Sisney Applies A Scientific Approach To Analyzing Your Business

This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE.

As part of UC Santa Barbara’s Distinguished Lecture Series, serial entrepreneur, CEO Coach and Author Lex Sisney shared a preview of his newly released book, Organizational Physics: The Science of Growing a Business.

As Co-Founder and CEO of Commission Junction, Lex grew the company from two employees to become the de facto leader in the world of affiliate marketing, beating Google in the process. To this day, Commission Junction remains the dominant player despite Google’s significant investment of time, money and resources.

Lex’s new book, Organizational Physics, is compelling, as it applies the fundamental laws of physics to the world of business. By viewing companies through this prism, one can diagnose organizational problems and identify corresponding solutions, irrespective of a company’s size, the markets it serves or even the personalities of its senior executives – which makes the book a powerful toolkit for business leaders.

By applying the laws of physics to organizations, the author helps the reader, “understand how your business and team really work… (and) get at the underlying causes of what’s making them fail or succeed.”

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