Startup Grind Got Some from Madrona Venture

Startup Grind is excited to host Greg Gottesman on April 23 at 6pm. Register here.  Greg is the man about town when it comes to VC’s and working with startup at every level. He is the Managing Director, Madrona Venture Group. Greg joined Madrona in 1997 and currently serves on the boards of AdReady, Bocada, BuddyTV, Cheezburger, Decide, Intrepid Learning Solutions, Nimbic, Rover.com, ThinkFire, ThisLife, and WildTangent. Greg serves on the boards of Startup Weekend and the Evergreen Venture Capital Association. He is an advisory board member of the University of Washington Technology Transfer Office. He is the author of three books. Greg is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Washington Business School, where he teaches a class on entrepreneurship. Greg graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors and distinction from StanfordUniversity, with honors and distinction from the Harvard Business School, and with honors from HarvardLawSchool where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

He is a regular visitor of Startup Weekend and even help start a company out of one of those weekends – Rover.com. He has been a fan of all things startup for many years in the Seattle region and continues to be one of the go to guys when it comes to VC financing. He is both a critic and mentor of his portfolio companies and is always looking to meet high quality and interesting founders. He is one of the most respected and well liked VC’s (if that is possible) in the Seattle area and continues to push for improving the startup community at all levels.

If you plan to attend Startup Grinds April event to listen and meet Greg then you should bring your notebook or ipad as you will be able to get answers to some VC questions that others are afraid to answer. Greg is both open and very smart when it comes to financing your startup and is willing to share all he knows in this interesting interview.  Register for this next event asap as it will surely be sold out. RSVP

Create a startup community…in your country

I attended the Startup Grind 2013 conference and this was one of the most interesting topics I heard. I then talked to Paul the presenter afterwards.  He has really done it with the long term in mind. This is not a short term fix for your community.  It is a long presentation (60+ slides) but well worth the read. Paul also wrote Nail it then Scale it.

Startup Weekend, Startup Grind, its all about startups

learn more buttonStartup Weekend has events all around the globe and is helping entrepreneurs get their idea off the ground. They hold 54 hour weekend marathons that put people in a room and produce some kind of a usable product/service. If you have not been to one yet you should but it on your bucket list. Innovation happens at these events and companies are being launched as a result of them. They are truly helping thousands of people start a business or create a product each weekend where none existed before a weekend started. Marc Nager is the CEO of Startup Weekend and will be having a fireside chat with Derek Anderson on Jan 25th at 6pm at the offices of Graham and Dunn Law on Pier 70. Derek Anderson, the founder of Startup Grind, which hosts events in 39 cities across the globe each month with the goal of inspiring, educating and connecting entrepreneurs  Started in Silicon Valley Derek has added 35 chapters in the last 9 months.

Between these two entrepreneur friendly guests they know the pulse of the startup community like no other two people. They are able to share insights from around the world and have a unique perspective how how to create a lasting environment for startups. Learn about how companies are getting started by bootstrapping and by raising capital, learn how others are getting their ideas off the ground by sharing and relying on one another. Come meet these two entertaining and insightful founders with other like minded founders, developers and wantrapreneurs that will be in attendance. Enjoy wine, beer and good food (not pizza). To RSVP go here. 

Inspiration is everywhere… you just have to listen

I was in Silicon Valley at the first ever Startup Grind 2013 conference this week. It was a two day conference that was full of speakers who had started companies or were starting companies, VC’s and angel investors. It was all about helping each other get their company/idea off the ground. There were big names like Steve Blank, Clay Christensen, Mark Suster, Brad Feld and many many other wonderful, talented people. There were about 500-600 people attending each day.

This event had people from all over the world and I mean that. I met people from India, China, Singapore Australia and Mexico. They all came to learn from others who had been “successful” at some level and to meet others who were working the crazy people. For anyone that has not started a company, there are things about real entrepreneurs that just don’t make logical sense.

Everyone works 80+ hours a week. Some have real jobs to pay the bills while they are getting their idea to some stage of completion.  Very few people ever complain or comment about the number of hours they are working because they look at the bigger picture.

They all think their idea brings value to some segment of the population. They all have a slightly different spin on the way the customer uses or will use their product even when you talk to two people who are going after the same customer.

They all need help, whether it is funding, design, marketing, partnerships or something else they are asking for help. The good ones or more experienced ones come right out and tell you what they are looking for.

They are very rarely doing it for the money. You can tell fairly quickly the ones who are in it for the money because there is always a different spin on how they talk about what they “want” to do with their company/idea.

Most of them have a sincere interest in what everyone else is working on. Not that they want to steal an idea, they are looking for ways that they can make their own product/service a little better or a different way of looking at a solution.

Almost everyone I had a meaningful conversation with actually listened to what I had to say and heard what I was talking about. Most of you know… there is a difference between just hearing and actually listening what is being said. The latter is the ability great networkers and connectors possess.

Here is my biggest takeaway from the event. (This has nothing to do with what I learned that were actually usable techniques, processes and products.) All of the entrepreneurs at the event inspire one another. They don’t necessarily mean to do that but it happens because they take honestly about challenges and speed bumps that have or are occurring. When you listen to others experiencing similar or sometimes your exact challenges and then hear what others have done to solve it… it inspires others. The young and the old inspiring one another in different ways was really my surprise. It is needed by everyone at some point in there journey and most people need it numerous times in their quest for a successful product launch.

Inspiration can come from many angles (not Angels) and unlikely sources. It is an absolute requirement for most people and it can not be overlooked in its importance. Keep an open mind, absorb information from others when you meet and you might walk away inspired.

Do you really want to start it?

I recently had a meeting with a wantrepreneur, (wantrepreneur is someone who has never started a company and has no experience running a company) thought he wanted to start a company.  Of course there is nothing wrong with wanting to start a company if you have not done before.  But what needs to be understood it is not easy to start a company of any size, no matter what the product or service. Can you devote the time necessary?

Everyone who has not started a company should take a real look at what they about to do from many perspectives the most important is how much time do you have to devote to the business. Most people try and start their company while they are still employed, which is great. I would strongly recommend doing it this way if you are starting it by yourself. If you have a partner(s), then there are many other issues that come into play that I will not go into on this post.

So lets assume you are starting it by yourself, you have this service you have become skilled at and you want to help others with your service.  You need to have time to start talking to customers or potential customers, how to you bill for your services?  what program do you use? Can you use the billing software yourself, have you set up a new company to do your service? The work/questions just keep adding up.. it will always be that way the first few years or until you can afford to hire some significant resources.

I point this out to show you that there are a ton of things to work on and the list will only to continue to grow and you can expect this for the first couple of years or until you can hire significant resources. Get use to it, expect and plan for it. That is what starting a company is about managing lots of projects/ideas and moving them forward.

I think you get the point… Starting a company is a crap load of work and it is not for the faint of heart. The success rate and the number of people who start companies is small because it is damn hard to start a company. Be prepared to sacrifice your time from friends, family and your own time. It can be “all consuming” but the rewards are amazing. So when you say “I am starting this “cool product/service” be aware that means you must covet the most important resource you control … your time.

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