Tuesday, July 21, 2009

From Zero to Techmeme in 24 Hours

We lived through an amazing experience last week. We launched a new client, Aloqa, at VentureBeat's MobileBeat conference and spent the week prior socializing the news with bloggers and social networks. On Thursday the Aloqa launch news hit and by Friday morning Aloqa's story was already on Techmeme as one of the most linked-to stories on the web (thanks, Ingrid). All the big boys -- TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, GigaOM, etc. -- picked up the announcement as did hundreds of others. From zero to Techmeme in less than 24 hours... talk about a rocket ride!

Oh, and we did very well in the 'traditional' press coverage also.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Selling your product too cheap?

We all know that expensive wine 'tastes' better than the cheap stuff even before you pour it, right? So how do you apply that same intuition to optimizing pricing/profits from your consumer technology product? A Stanford Grad School of Business professor is hosting a webinar next week that explains literally how the brain processes pricing and other information throughout the consumer decision-making process.

Title: Mind Tricks: How the Brain Reacts to Price-Based Offerings
Host: Professor Baba Shiv
Date: Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Time: 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM (Pacific Daylight Time)
Registration: www.stanfordinnovation.com

I'll be taking notes ;-) -Mark

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Monday, March 16, 2009

New Event: GamesBeat (from VentureBeat)

Since leaving the San Jose Mercury News and heading to VentureBeat, Dean Takahashi has taken a turn toward gaming and he is spearheading a new industry conference called GamesBeat. The Facebook page is here; the link to sign up is here; brief description is below. Should be a great conference! -Mark

Get in the game at GamesBeat 2009! — VentureBeat’s inaugural conference for the gaming industry’s top players will be held on March 24, 2009, at the Mission Bay Conference Center on UCSF’s campus in San Francisco, CA.

Join the Major Leagues -- The latest GamesBeat speaker line-up is a testament to our theme — All the World’s a Game — as we have covered our bases. We have some of the biggest names in the gaming industry representing the multiple ways gaming will shape our experience with the world. Here are just some of the people you will be sharing ideas and connecting with:

Chris Taylor, founder of Gas Powered Games, is co-emcee of the event — besides being a game pioneer, he’s also one of the industry’s only stand-up comedians!

Headliners include John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, Seamus Blackley, head of the games department at Creative Artists Agency and co-creator of the Xbox and Curt Schilling, founder and chairman of 38 Studios and World Series winning pitcher from the Boston Red Sox.

Industry journalists leading our discussions include: Matt Richtel of the NY Times, Geoff Keighley, head of game relations at Spike TV and the host of Game Trailers TV, N'Gai Croal of Newsweek; and Adam Sessler, co-host and managing editor of G4TV’s X-Play show.

The complete line-up can be found on our speaker list and agenda on the GamesBeat Web site.

Media Coverage -- We are also thrilled that these important discussions will be covered by outstanding members of the media, some of which include: ExtremeTech, GamersDaily News, Wall Street Journal, Spike TV, g4tv, Newsweek, Reuters, Hollywood Reporter, LA Times, New York Times, USA Today, BusinessWeek, Crispy Gamer and 1UP.com.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Opportunities in the Mobile Market

I want to tell you about a great panel of mobile entrepreneurs and VCs who will be talking about new opportunities within the next five years.

All dimensions and facets of the mobile eco- system - Devices, Operating Systems, Applications, and Data Access Platforms etc. are undergoing rapid transformation. New business models that didn't even exist a year ago are turning the industry on its head.

This panel will explore the opportunities these trends will create for entrepreneurs during the next five years. Some of the key areas to be explored will be mobile WiMAX vs. LTE, Open OS paradigms, handset capabilities, Location Based Services for Enterprise, M2M Telematics, Search, Social Networks, TV + IP, Marketing Models, Payments and Massive Multiplayer Gaming.

The Panel:

• Margaret Mackanzie, CFO/COO & Co- Founder, Paymo
• Jeff Smith, CEO & Co-Founder, Smule
• Eric Zimits, Managing Director, Granite Ventures

Moderator: Curtis Mo, Partner, WilmerHale

When: Thursday, March 19
6:00 - 7:00 pm: Networking and hors d'oeuvres
7:00 - 8:15 pm: Panel discussion and Q/A
8:15 - 8:30 pm: Additional networking

Location: WilmerHale, 1117 California Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94304
For full speaker bio's and to register Click Here!

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Launch: Silicon Valley (VC pitch event)

My friends at SVASE put out a call-for-entries today for companies to present at the 2009 edition of Launch: Silicon Valley. A total of 30 companies will be selected to present their business plans to a panel of VCs, angel investors and corporate business development exec's. This is an awesome opportunity for unknown companies to get visibility among Silicon Valley insiders--and for the good ones to get a term sheet. Previous companies that have presented at Launch: Silicon Valley have raised collectively $80 million in funding so far.

Currently the following investors are signed on to be part of the panel:
- Draper Fisher Jurvetson
- Lightspeed Venture Partners
- @Ventures
- Asset Management
- August Capital
- Claremont Creek Ventures
- DeNovo Ventures
- Garage Technology Ventures
- Morgenthaller Ventures
- Nexit Ventures
- Opus Capital
- SofTech VC

And more investors will be joining in the coming weeks. If you are interested in being a presenting company, you should send an Executive Summary of NO MORE THAN TWO PAGES to launchsv@svase.org. Deadline for submissions is May 8th 2009; presentations to the investor panel will be June 9th 2009. For excellent tips on what to include in an executive summary, try these suggestions from Guy Kawasaki here. Good luck!

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

How to Build a Better Startup

Our friend and consummate blogger Dave McClure (whom I've known for more than 10 years when he and Ed Ipser recruited me to help them start the SVASE entrepreneur network) is sharing his hard-earned experiences in how to build a better startup. Dave has teamed up with the girls at DealMaker Media to create STARTONOMICS, which is a one-day workshop that covers everything from funding to architecting to scaling and monetizing your startup idea.

They have assembled a pretty stellar panel of veteran entrepreneurs to keep things interesting:

- Lance Tokuda (Rock You)

- Ted Rheingold (Dogster)

- Dan Olsen (YourVersion)

- Lane Becker & Thor Muller (Get Satisfaction)

- Andrew Chen (Futuristic Play)

The all-day workshop is happening October 2nd at the Mission Bay Center in San Francisco. You can check out the sessions and register here.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Beware the "VC Funding Consultant"

Last week I was invited to a party hosted by GigaOM and I had a conversation that inspired me to issue a warning to all entrepreneurs who are considering the use of a 'funding consultant' to help them score meetings with VCs.

We all know that VCs are busy people and it takes some effort to get a meeting with them. As a result a cottage industry of 'funding consultants' has sprung up. These are people who are supposedly well-connected among VCs and -- for an up-front fee -- will help you score some meetings and coach you on your pitch.

BEWARE! Some of these consultants may indeed provide value, but let me summarize my conversation from last week and you'll see why you should exercise caution:

Me: Hi, I'm Mark. What's your name?
Consultant: I'm Susie. I help companies raise VC funding using my extensive relationships.
Me: That's interesting. Do you specialize in a specific technology or industry niche?
Consultant: I work with all companies.
Me: But do you have a specialty--like mobility technologies, or storage technologies, or security technologies? You know, an area where you know a lot of investors and have connections?
Consultant: I work mostly with technology companies.
Me: Well that narrows things. With which VC firms do you work with mostly?
Consultant: I work with all of them.
Me: You must be busy! Who did your most recent deal?
Consultant: (eyes averted) Long-winded and convoluted response that never actually named a VC firm or an investor.
Me: (trying to be patient) So do you come from an investment background?
Consultant: I've done lots of things. I was once a reporter in Europe.
Me: Oh really! I work for a PR firm that introduces European companies into the U.S. press. We specialize in mobile & wireless companies. Which publication did you write for in Europe?
Consultant: A small one that you've probably never heard of.
Me: Oh. OK. Well... I'm going to go get some tacos now from the buffet. Nice to meet you.

In a quarter-hour of conversation this 'consultant' was not able to name a single company, VC firm, VC partner, or industry sector by name. Something tells me she's never actually made any useful introductions or negotiated a term sheet or anything. Here in Silicon Valley there are plenty of organizations like SVASE, SD Forum, STIRR, VC Taskforce and others that host events where you can meet one-on-one with VCs, get VCs to give you feedback on your pitch, and otherwise make the connections that you need. These events range from $free to maybe a several hundred dollars at the most. No one can guarantee that you will get a term sheet from these meetings, but if you have a good product, good traction, and know your focus then you should be able to score a meeting with a VC without the help of a consultant.

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