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A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Jim Andelman, my Partner at Rincon Venture Partners, aptly describes the genesis of the Series A...

The Series A Crunch Is For Entrepreneurs Who Cannot Create Their Own Luck

A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. Jim Andelman, my Partner at Rincon Venture Partners, aptly describes the genesis of the Series A crunch, stating that: "Over the next 12-to-18 months, a lot of good companies that have been Seed financed are going to have a tough time raising a Series  A from a new outside lead. This is due to a fundamental disconnect between the increased activity of high-volume seed investors (that fill out lots of Seed rounds) and the relatively small number of Series A investors, who only make 1 or 2 investments, per partner, per year."
A version of this article previously appeared on Inc. For many small businesses, their online reputation is their passport to virtual word-of-mouth referrals. Unfortunately, an...

Using Social Media To Deal With Customer Trolls

A version of this article previously appeared on Inc. For many small businesses, their online reputation is their passport to virtual word-of-mouth referrals. Unfortunately, an articulate and engaging negative review on Yelp!, TripAdvisor or Amazon can have an outsized impact on a small business. You operate your business from a small boat in the remote waters of northern Fiji and your customers are spread across the globe, residing in the US, Europe and Asia. How can you protect your company's reputation when a rouge customer unjustly flames your startup? In searching for world-class examples of public responses to irate customers' complaints, I found one that emanated from an unlikely place, Savusavu, Fiji. The respondent to the customer complaint was Tige Young, CEO and Owner of the Tui Tai Expeditions, cited by National Geographic as, "one of the best adventure travel companies on earth." With an excellent online reputation, it would be understandable if Tige chose to disregard the occasional negative review. However, rather than ignore discontented customers, Tige does a masterful job of crafting rebuttals that are informative, appropriately deferential and amusing.   In addition to utilizing reputation management services such as YellowBot, entrepreneurs must become proficient online advocates, defending their businesses against unjust and unfounded attacks. Left unattended, such attacks are detrimental. Inartfully handled, such reviews can be disastrous.
A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. How did Sarah Penna create one of YouTube's most successful networks? Consistently working 14-to-16-hour days had...

This 28 Year Old Woman Co-Founded One Of The Most Successful YouTube Networks

A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. How did Sarah Penna create one of YouTube's most successful networks? Consistently working 14-to-16-hour days had something to do with it, along with a service-oriented mentality built upon a foundation of integrity. You can watch Sarah tell her compelling story in the following 15-minute excerpt from her recent UC Santa Barbara talk. Note: I am indirectly a micro-investor in Big Frame through Rincon Venture Partners sponsorship of Launchpad LA.
A version of this article originally appeared in Forbes. I recently had the pleasure of connecting with author, investor and serial entrepreneur Brad Feld. The...

Santa Barbara Is NOT The Next Silicon Valley, Here Is Why

A version of this article originally appeared in Forbes. I recently had the pleasure of connecting with author, investor and serial entrepreneur Brad Feld. The forum was an LA dinner hosted by the good folks at Cross Campus and was attended by about a dozen of Southern California's most active institutional investors. During our discussion of Brad's book, Startup Communities, the subject of Los Angeles becoming the next "Silicon Beach" was raised. Although the term was used tongue-in-cheek, Brad made it clear that no town should aspire to become the next "silicon" anything. Rather, he believes startup communities should focus on establishing a unique identity, based upon their endemic, "energy, activities and innovations."  
  A version of this article previously appeared on Inc. The worlds of standup comedy and business presentations are not as disparate as they may...

Serious Presentation Tips From Standup Comics

  A version of this article previously appeared on Inc. The worlds of standup comedy and business presentations are not as disparate as they may appear at first glance. Comedians are entrepreneurs. They often write their own material, book their gigs, arrange their travel and negotiate and collect their compensation from club owners. In addition, both comedians and entrepreneurs must engage and entertain their demanding audiences. As such, there is much entrepreneurs can learn from their comic brethren.
  A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. How did a small, open source software company from Finland capture billions in market share...

How This Startup Kicked Oracle’s A$$

  A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. How did a small, open source software company from Finland capture billions in market share from Oracle? Marten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus Systems, knows the answer and he delights in telling the story of how MySQL ate Oracle's lunch and dinner. You can watch Marten tell his entertaining story in the following 15-minute excerpt from his UC Santa Barbara talk. Note: I am a micro-Angel investor in Eucalyptus.
A version of this article previously appeared on Inc. The words "failure" and "the Beatles" seldom appear in the same sentence. However, the Beatles' early...

Startup Lessons From The Beatles’ Biggest Failure

A version of this article previously appeared on Inc. The words "failure" and "the Beatles" seldom appear in the same sentence. However, the Beatles' early career was a series of failures, culminating in their unsuccessful audition with the leading record company of their era, Decca Records. This particular failure nearly caused the band to breakup. At the time of Decca's rebuff, the Beatles had been performing under various monikers for nearly five years. Most groups would have returned to Liverpool and continued to play occasional gigs while beginning their working class careers. Fortunately, the Beatles were not "most groups."  
  A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. In order to extract value beyond your Angel investors' cash, you must first assess three...

Extracting More Than Cash From Your Angel Investors

  A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. In order to extract value beyond your Angel investors' cash, you must first assess three important parameters: (i) the relative strength of their personal brand, (ii) their ability to add operational value, and (iii) the amount of care and feeding they will demand from you. Angel investors are often the sole source of funding for startups at the critical pre-launch stage. Ideally, such early-stage investors should have the experiences and motivation to help their ventures establish a sustainable business model, rather than simply writing a check before moving on to their next investment.
      Photo Courtesy of Beth Sipula - all rights reserved   A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. In his latest...

Startup CEO Lessons From Ben Affleck

      Photo Courtesy of Beth Sipula - all rights reserved   A version of this article previously appeared on Forbes. In his latest film Argo, Ben Affleck simultaneously tackles the roles of producer, director, writer and leading actor. These varied responsibilities are analogous to those of a startup CEO, as movie production crews are essentially temporary ventures. Just like a high-tech startup CEO, Ben was tasked with: identifying a great idea, raising money, recruiting the team, building a commercial product, positioning marketing and distributing the product and eventually exiting the venture.
A version of this article previously appeared on Inc. Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon album (DSOTM) only reached #1 on the US charts...

Startup Lessons From Pink Floyds Dark Side Of The Moon

A version of this article previously appeared on Inc. Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon album (DSOTM) only reached #1 on the US charts for a single week. However, it remained in the Top 200 for an astounding 14 years and 3 months. Despite being released in 1973, a remastered version of the album sold 800,000 copies in 2003. By 2012, total sales exceeded 50 million copies and founding band member Roger Waters was cited by Forbes as the second highest paid musician of the year, pulling in $88 million. Entrepreneurs can learn a great deal from the manner in which Pink Floyd created DSOTM. Their deep understanding of their customers, an uncompromising drive to create a quality product and the courage to ignore the music industry's formulaic approach to producing hits resulted in the creation one of the top selling non-compilation albums of all time.
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