Archive

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Updated: 12/3/2012

Last month’s Atlanta Startup Village was excellent (pictured below). Over 120+ people packed out Hypepotamus to discover what some of Atlanta’s best startups are building.  We’re doing it again on Thursday, Dec. 6th at Hypepotamus. Hope you can join.

Teams:

RocketWhale has developed HowTracker, a cloud-based employee handbook for small- and medium-sized businesses.

ZPM Espresso has built a home espresso machine that gives you cafe-quality espresso in your kitchen, at an unprecedented low price. (they also happened to raise over $300k on Kickstarter. Wow.)

Abeo is like eHarmony and Linkedin for organizations.

Techturized is a hair care technology company providing personal recommendations based on hair type and lifestyle. (they happen to have a recently-awarded Rhodes Scholar. Amazing.)

Less Meeting makes enterprise meetings productive, while making you look polished & professional to your clients.

Detail Reminders:

Time: Thursday, December 6th at 7:30 p.m.
Location: Hypepotamus (Bottom floor the Biltmore Hotel)
Who: Anybody who wants to learn, be constructive, positive, and helpful.

Beer from Monday Night Brewing (we *hope* not to run out so early this time), pizza from Davinci’s, and great people will all be there. We’ll be playing Werewolf afterwards as well.

Come one, come all!

Uber discount below.

Updated: 12/3/2012

ScottyHendo of Hypepotamus hooked up $20 of Uber Rides for first time riders. Details below:

Uber is excited to offer promotional rides for Uber Riders going to the Startup Village Event December 6th! Uber is a mobile app that allows you to request a private black car at the touch of a button. Simply download the app from iTunes or GooglePlay (you can also Uber from your BlackBerry), set up an account, and your private driver will arrive in 10 minutes of requesting. Cash is unnecessary because your credit card gets charged automatically for your all-inclusive ride.

New Uber Riders headed to Startup Village will receive:
1. $20 OFF 1 RIDE to or from Hypepotamus
2. Enter the promotion code “StartupVillageATL” before you request your first Uber.
3. Offer valid on rides taken to or from Hypepotamus and *requested* between 12/6 6pm – midnight.

There’s a lot going on in the Atlanta Startup Community. ScottyHendo just joined Hypepotamus full-time as the Executive Director, Atlanta Startup Weekend was a big success, and another Atlanta Startup Village is in the works.

However, wanted to share a few events that are worth checking out:

Everything You Need to Know About the Cloud: The good people over at Pindrop Security and Social Fortress are doing a great thing for our community. They’re bringing trusted experts in to teach us.

Steven Roth, Director of Cloud Computing at Dell, is spending an hour discussing the cloud at Hypepotamus tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. This type of collaboration is crucial to a startup community. Check it out here.

Startup Potluck Lunch: TripLingo’s all-star designer, James Martin, is helping organize an Atlanta Startup Potluck lunch on Monday, November 19th.

No need to scream for more MeatLoaf from Mom this Thanksgiving. Sign up to have lunch with many folks in the community on Monday at the Hypepotamus starting at 12:00 p.m. Bring your best dish! Click here or the turkey to sign up!

This past Friday night, a cluster of very passionate student-entrepreneurs were huddled around in Clough – Georgia Tech’s semi-new edifice built for collaboration and intense study. Yearning to soak up as much knowledge about building a company as possible, these 13 student-entrepreneurs sacrificed one of their few open nights of the week to converse with the SalesLoft sales and marketing team about accelerators, technology, and business.

All 13 entrepreneurs are part of a student-lead technology accelerator called Startup Semester.

Motivated by a passionate idea and executed with the same Georgia Tech ingenuity that’s led past alum to peace prizes and presidencies, Startup Semester organizers, Aswin Natarajan and Jerome Choo not only aggregated the once-perceived limited supply of student-entrepreneurs within Georgia Tech’s student body, but have matched high profile Atlanta entrepreneurs, including Sanjay Parekh, David MoellerCraig Hyde, and many others as mentors to each team. Impressive work guys.

Guerilla marketed by Aswin and Jason, Startup Semester is the beginning of a powerful movement occurring among Tech students who want to put their intelligence and expertise to the test, now. Best of all, it’s blossoming in the center of Atlanta’s most fertile area: GaTech’s campus.

(See: Startup Semester’s scrappy marketing campaign: professionally designed whiteboards throughout campus)

Over 50 Georgia Tech students applied and approximately 270 showed interest in participating. Application after application rolled in: “It was overwhelming. So many students wanted to be part of this program but we only had resources for 12 teams. It was very difficult to say ‘no’ to so many student-entrepreneurs,” said Aswin.

SalesLoft CEO, Kyle Porter and I walked into the meeting room in Clough to the anticipation of 14 students craving everything startups.

“How did you navigate so much mentor feedback at TechStars?” “What’s the number one mistake you’ve made while building SalesLoft?” “How do you get the most of mentor relationships?” “When do you know the best time to hire your next employee?”

Questions like these and many more showered the evening with a healthy exchange of suggestions and ideas from all parties.

Startup Semester is an organization that provides a reservoir for students to explore their entrepreneurial ambitions. This structure is integral to a constant flow of talent into the Atlanta Startup Community. If these students can learn to build companies while in university, they’ll be much more equipped after graduation to build stronger companies.

Student-driven, community-mentored, and progress achieved: this is an Atlanta Startup Community story worth telling.

The ingenuity of the Georgia Tech student is one of our city’s biggest comparative advantages; we want to foster it as much as possible.

By: David Moeller, CEO of CodeGuard

The functions. They swirl, like a symphony, crescendoing and decrescendoing, approaching the foreground memory and important slots of focus and then retreating/vanishing the background.

The functions change. They ebb & flow, and do not lend themselves neatly to a 1-yr plan or forecast.

Fundraising is almost all-consuming and it transitions into investor management, which can take multiple forms, and often falls under board management. How are you going to update your investors? How much time? What should you present or compose, knowing that the time you use to update them is almost worthless in driving progress in your business, but knowing simultaneously that they are entitled to know how their money is being invested.

Marketing and Public Relations, flowing through the neighborhoods of sales and business development, or sales, passing through the region of marketing or business development or PR – is a wonderful maze of complexity. Impacted by MUCH more than the product itself, the messaging and segmentation is key. But how do you know what to target? What to highlight from your product or service? You don’t. You simply don’t. So you will have to try MANY things VERY rapidly, and see what works. What if nothing works? Then you will need to see your family less and the office or customers more, until something does start to work.

Who are your partners? Distribution channels? Channel strategy? How will you meet them? What proofs do they want/need to see? How can you produce that proof? Who is your most likely early adopter? Is that early adopter respected? Can you trust they will implement your service?

Human Relations. HR. Hiring. Firing. Teambuilding.

No one cares who you just hired. Superstars fail. Heroes disappoint. Product does not lie, and until your superstar produces usable product, no one cares. They don’t care how hard it is to hire or what you had to do. It just doesn’t matter to them. But it is everything to you. You and your startup are as good as the summation of your team, advisors, and investors. That’s it. Your idea is worthless, unless you have I.P. And if you have I.P., I hope you have bankroll to prosecute it in court; if you don’t, it again is worthless. Your team is everything, and you know this. Your team will determine how high you fly.

Product Development.

When is the product or service good enough? How much failure on the part of the product is too much? Are the failures preventing you from growing or causing users to leave? Why are users/customers leaving? Do you know? It takes time and energy to know. It takes time and energy and effort to know anything – the number of users you have, what they are doing, if your product or service is working – information has a price. All of the acronyms on the VC blogs – ARPU, CAC, MRR – knowing them comes with a price, and it is high. My recommendation – go with your gut until you absolutely have to know the blogger VC acronyms.

Product development gets harder. When you have no customers, you can just crank out buggy software and not know it. You may think it is great software because it was built agile and in a scrum environment. If it is web, it doesn’t matter. Once it gets into the open, things will not perform as expected, especially if you are integrating with other system APIs, etc. Each point of integration will increase by an order of magnitude the difficulty, if not exponentially increase the difficulty. Why? Because any changes you make that impact external systems will ripple through your infrastructure. Let’s say you change your pricing plan, which you will. When you change it, either legacy pricing will exist on the interwebs, or you will need to update pricing to make it consistent. And if you update design, the same will be true.

Product development gets even harder. Produce features for new users. While eliminating the bugs for old users. Estimate how long it will take to eliminate a bug. You cannot. Estimate how long it will take you to do anything you have never done before. You simply cannot accurately predict this. Anyone who says you can is wrong. Of course you can estimate a range of time, but you cannot bound bug resolution like new feature building can be bounded; they are fundamentally different problems.

Culture

Culture is your employees. There is no magic around culture. At an early stage startup, the culture is a manifestation of the priorities held by the team putting in the work. Don’t make the wrong hires. And if you do, let them go as fast as you can.

Product Performance

You must determine if your product is working the way that you intended it to. And you must do this without relying upon customers, at some point. At the point you rely upon yourself, you can probably stop calling your users “testers” and anoint them true “customers”. Closed loop control is not something that computer science values, but I think if you want to build an incredible product/service, it is essential.

Costs

While you are having fun hiring, fundraising, producing product, partnering, selling or marketing directly, and building a culture, you have to make sure your costs don’t kill you. The cost that I think is the most important is the cost of providing the service or product itself, not necessarily salaries for the employees, other than those needed to make the service work for the customers. There are builders and maintainers. I focus on the costs of the maintainers – though it is hard to distinguish between the two, since breakeven is breakeven is breakeven. If you are focusing on a scalable web play, you better make sure that your cost-to-serve on a per user basis is reasonable for your business model. I’m not sure what the blogger VC term is for this, but it is deadly important. Should you get a lucky break and not have this properly aligned, you will find illiquidity fast as your costs balloon beyond what you can control.

Healthy paranoia

Even when you face incredible victories, you cannot accept them as truly meaningful. Celebrate the successes, but do not accept them as meaningful until you can replicate them, and prove, at least to yourself, that they weren’t aberrations. Aberrations occur. And they may happen to you – for the good and bad. Don’t share great news with investors until you are confident it is true. When the check clears, you can share that, but not when the check arrives or is promised.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 60 other followers