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红杉资本:做个狙击手 November 29, 2011

Posted by Ian Cheng in Funding.
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来源:商业价值

基于移动互联网的大势,近期的投资界最流行的词莫过于SOLOMO。清科集团CEO倪正东则在微博上调侃道:我也斗胆创造一个词 —— SIMI。他们代表中国移动互联网领域最活跃的投资机构。S是Sequoia 红杉资本,I是IDG资本,M是Matrix经纬创投,I是InnovationWorks创新工场。他同时透露,今年前8个月,这4家机构加在一起大约在此领域投资了100个项目。

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不过,红杉资本合伙人计越却在记者面前非常低调谨慎,不做任何披露。今年初,随着沈南鹏逐渐的“淡化自己”,计越以他独特的判断力和勤奋,成为继周逵之后的第三位红杉资本中国基金合伙人并被更多人熟识。在红杉任职期间,作为新锐力量的计越硕果颇丰,他曾投资过枫叶教育、我乐网、大众点评网以及聚美优品等项目,还是去年顺利在美国上市的诺亚财富和乡村基的董事。

这两年投资越来越热,好企业越来越难投,各个VC都展开了看家本领,也打出了很多新牌以此增加自身竞争力。坊间也传言,红杉的另一大玩法是提供过桥贷款。这种方法在美国风险投资界非常常见,对于很多以移动互联网为代表的中小型公司来说极具吸引力。不过尚未有红杉成员对此作出过正面回应。

尽管如此,计越依旧表明了他对移动互联网的看法。他认为,目前移动互联网的领域尚未有定论,移动互联网未必会跟传统互联网有一个重复性的对应的领域,反而会成为一种融合。在他看来,早期投资领域已经不存在移动互联网一说,“从去年下半年开始,电子商务可能是和传统产业和互联网的结合,除此之外90%以上已经不存在具体的区分。很多公司都是全部融合,从现在开始我已经找不到纯互联网或纯移动的公司了。”计越说。

移动互联网不是跟过去割裂的。对新的公司来说,贴各种移动互联网的标签没意义,不是看这种方式而是要看给用户带来的价值。如2010年底由计越主投的赶集网,和之前的豆瓣,当公司发展到一定阶段,都会和移动互联网有所结合。

计越有一个狙击手理论:“早期VC并不是拿着机关枪看哪个地方好就狂扫一通,操作上也不太可能。作为狙击手是要从更多的角度,以更多的观察为主,在前期找到最合适射击的定点和时间,集中注意力,去寻找自己的最好的目标。”

“而且从任何一个角度发现一个新的领域,要以重新开始的心态去看行业,不要给某个领域做一个假设或者观点。”计越表示,他很反对预先的假设,如果有什么判断和定论的话,说明这个领域已经有普遍的观点,说明这个领域已经是成熟的行业了。

“做早期项目,作为投资人,关键是要沉得下心来,这是最重要的。”计越说,过去的成功历史和你的下一个项目是没有任何关系的。狙击手的每一枪都是重新开始。当你作为一个狙击手,其实还是要趴在地上的,而不是站在舞台的中央。回到原点,心态谦卑。把精力集中在某个方向,集中找到一些优秀的人,做早期的培育。而且时间维度会很长。新领域里,未必是大家在开始看好的热点,就能长出大公司的。

相对来说,计越认为早期TMT投资不合适高举高打,所谓的随风潜入夜,润物细无声。5~6年前,红杉在无线已经有所布局,就像很多人都在说谁是WEB2.0的公司,后来发现每个人都在用, WEB2.0是一个工具,反过来看新浪是一个最好的WEB2.0的公司。

历史和过去的成就反而是一个包袱。对于早期投资,计越有他一直深信的理念,“过去的成功,会往往成为未来的包袱,聚光灯下是看不见星星的。”他说,更希望能安静地躺在地上看星星,而不是站在舞台中央。

在另一层面,计越一直强调,VC对于企业的增值服务是一部分,最重要的还是对企业本身能够有一个充分的信任,“你选择一个创业者,你还是下定决心对这个企业家信任,至少能够走10年,有这样一个心理准备,给这个企业家充分的信任,当困难到来的时候能够让这个企业基于自己学习过程当中抵御困难的周期性、过程,这也是我所想的,在目前这个形势下的一个选择。”他说。

相对于技术和财务,计越更看重产品和用户本身的体验,他并不认为自己是极客,只是自己很喜欢体验产品,喜欢对好的产品进行投资。

Mike Cassidy:我是如何在500天内创立一个价值5亿美元公司的 November 27, 2011

Posted by Ian Cheng in Funding.
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Mike Cassidy是一个很热衷于创业的人,曾成功创立并高价出售了四家科技公司(Stylus Innovation, Direct Hit, Xfire and Ruba)。以下是他在土耳其一场关于创业的大会上分享的自己最成功的一个案例:创业5百天后卖掉Direct Hit,收获5.32亿美元。

我们一起来看看创业狂人Cassidy的创业哲学:

一天内筹集到资金

这个非常具有挑战性。但是Cassidy说,对于没有经验的土耳其创业人员,在一天内筹集到资金是非常重要的。为了创造一种紧迫感,你必须询问你的投资者,然后确认他们会在你的融资Pitch里放上具有投资决策权的人。你需要在一天内和所有的投资者进行谈判,并且限定他们在下午5点之前给你答复是否要对你投资。Cassidy说,他曾经一天内和8家VC进行了谈判,最后收到了其中7家的合同条款(termsheet)。

两周内生成产品Idea

创业者应该限制在2周内生成自己的Idea。因为时间拖得越长,对创业者越不利。最好的方法是快速实践,快速迭代。这样会比你一开始花很长的时间将一切都准备好强很多。因为长时间准备的东西可能没有经过实践的检验,会像定时炸弹一样随时爆炸。

两个星期完成核心组队

创业者最多应该只花两个星期的时间将他的核心团队组织起来。Cassidy毫不客气的说,面试以后的同一天就给人Offer并且限定他们在第二天9点之前进行答复所带来的紧张刺激可以为你的公司创造很强的动力。而进到公司后如果他们不好好工作,你也可以立刻炒掉他们。Cassidy分享了自己的故事:他先将一些候选人请到自己家里共进晚餐,同时对他们进行面试。一旦这些候选人接受Offer,那么他们可以立即得到所需的人力资源资料,并且进行任务签约。

3个半月内推出产品

一旦你的想法出来了,那么最好在3.5个月内推出产品。推出新产品后,你可以每两个星期就推出迭代升级,这样你更容易超越那些速度比较慢的竞争对手和一些大公司。

设定一些硬期限

Cassidy说有时候你必须“用一个虚拟的枪指着合作伙伴的脑袋”,逼着他们尽快做出决定。这个虚拟的枪就是“规定死了的期限”——要么他们在硬期限之前签署合作协议,要么他(Cassidy)自己离开。因为根据Cassidy的经验,如果不快速决定,一个交易破裂的风险大约每天会增加10%。所以,他经常提供一个截止日期去唬合作伙伴。他说这是很值得去冒的险。Cassidy拿自己的第二个公司DirectHit做了例子。通过说服一个主要的搜索引擎公司和他签署一项协议使用他的技术,Cassidy很容易的就得到投资人的认可。

控制融资额度

Cassidy建议开始的时候进行数量较小的融资,以较小的稀释推动公司到下一步。他拿自己创办的几个公司做了案例:Stylus Innovation——他和合伙人仅投入1500美元,最终卖了1300万美元。DiretHit——第一轮融资130万美元,500天后以5.32亿美元的高价卖给了AskJeeves。Xfire——融资100万美元,两年之后以1.1亿美金的价格卖给了MTV/Viacom公司。

很显然,Cassidy的这套创业哲学非常讲究速度和规则。感兴趣的朋友可以研究一下,希望更详细了解的还可以关注一下他当时分享的PPT

精益创业(Lean Startup)与弹性创业(Flip Startup) November 24, 2011

Posted by Ian Cheng in Funding.
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拉米尼•达拉比哈(Ramine Darabiha),ReadWriteWeb

  弹性创业公司(Flip startup)是指灵活多变的创业公司。与精益创业公司不同,弹性创业公司的首要目标不是获取经验以创建一种可持续的商业模式,相反,他们的目标是打造一款颇具发展前景的产品。例如,产品可能是某一款成功的应用或游戏。按照他们的设想,开发一款深受市场欢迎的产品,然后在时机成熟的时候退出。

  这是一种不需要长期培养客户的精益发展模式,侧重点在产品开发方面。Blindtype、Hipster和About.me便是最新例证。这些产品均在推出之前被购买。在产品开发阶段,弹性创业公司与精益创业公司有着相似之处,即都必须保持灵活多变。不同之处在于,精益创业公司会实施分析,跟踪用户反馈意见,为下一代产品的推出做准备。

  相反,弹性创业公司不会这样做。精益创业公司的目标是,无论市场状况如何,都要寻找和创造可持续的价值。弹性创业公司则不然,他们注重趋势,在公司估值升高时适时退出,迅速收回投资。

  以下即是创业公司实现完美退出的五个步骤:

  第一步:寻找简单创意

  假如你的目标是快速退出,那就应该尽可能快地提供MVP服务体验。这意味着要寻找一个易于执行的创意。以Blindtype为例,这款软件主要基于人工智能,根本不需要铺垫。如果创意简单,这不仅意味着易于让人接受,还意味着容易推销:如果范围有限,你的应用或技术可能易于整合,以满足另一家公司的需要。

  但是,过于简单且不突出的创意很难推销。此外,如果这个计划不能奏效,你或许可以重新利用其中的一些成果,以迅速提出新的创意,所以,你可能希望自己的成果具有某些通用性。最终,你应该侧重于提出一种能在自己熟悉的领域推出并重新利用的创意,从而不需要外人的帮助。

  第二步:产品开发

  在这个阶段,弹性创业公司与精益创业公司有着相似之处,即都必须保持灵活多变。不同之处在于,精益创业公司会实施分析,跟踪用户反馈意见,为下一代产品的推出做准备。相反,弹性创业公司不会这样做。开发出现有框架下最受欢迎的产品。由于以前的一些计划,你可能留有一些成果,或可以通过开源零部件或资料令工作变得更轻松。

  例如,Launchrock或Optimizely等服务可有助建立一个登陆页面。这同样适用于支付、分析、电子邮件等诸多服务。一旦在这方面游刃有余,你就有精力去开发真正的应用、游戏或服务。Cabana和GameSalad等服务可你开发具有拖放功能的应用。利用这种工具快速开发有意义的产品,绝不会给人服务低劣的感觉。但是,这会影响IP的价值。

  第三步:进行推广

  每个创业公司都需要公关,而这一点对弹性创业公司尤为重要。如果人们看不到某款产品的潜力,就不会购买。关键是,你要给人以创造价值的承诺,将创意的最好一面展示给对方。所以,炒作没有什么错误之处,毕竟,电影预告片始终在这样做。问答服务网站Hipster因业界传言其正在开发一种奇妙的服务而受到追捧,用户纷纷提前注册。Blindtype在Youtube发布了一段视频用以展现其技术。

  虽然炒作不同于培养长期用户,但也能获得回报。吸引眼球的一个好办法就是让人有办法进行比较。作为某个小国家下载次数最多的应用,它会带来最大的流量或下载数量最高的内容销售。你只要投资少量资金,就能让亲朋好友购买产品,购买将来最受欢迎的应用。将它当作某种搜索引擎优化(Search Engine Optimization)投资。

  第四步:重心不要调整

  绝大多数创业公司都未获成功。到了这个阶段,你可能会对下一步采取的措施更加慎重。弹性创业公司能否成功的关键是,保证不要将所有鸡蛋都放在同一个篮子里,尽量将投资多样化,使成功的几率最大化。将自己当作风险投资:资金有限,可讨价还价的筹码不多,但有众多研究成果和技能。

  从这个意义上讲,精益创业公司类似于专注的投资策略,而弹性创业公司更像是多样化的“广撒网、待收获”(spray and pra)投资策略。如果投资失败,你会以何种心态面对?你是否会从失败中吸取有价值的教训?理想情况下,你应该愈挫愈强,汲取教训开发出更受市场欢迎的产品。

  第五步:实现融资

  如果一切进展顺利,你或许希望坚持完成自己的创意,但要牢记,将一款仅为小众开发的产品转变为可持续业务是一种风险很大的举动。此时,你应该认真考虑是否应发展成一家精益创业公司。好消息是,弹性创业公司的目标是希望获得风险投资的青睐,目标也是价格合适就出售,不会去打造可持续业务。

  问题是,弹性创业公司还素以从众心理而著称。你的创意或许符合当下深受欢迎的趋势,但过早退出令其无法成为健康企业的根基。毕竟,在退出以前你尚未证明自己。另外还要考虑的是,你是否欲将自己的爱好变成完整的事业,招募并管理一个团队?你是否会长期坚持这个创意,可能还会为此投入更多的精力?

CrunchBase Reveals: The Largest Seed And Angel Fundings From The Past Thirty Days November 21, 2011

Posted by Ian Cheng in Funding.
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ERIC ELDON

As many of you already know, CrunchBase is a big, free resource for anyone trying to get the latest information on hot new startups, or competitors to their own hot new startups, the investing focus of various investors, and much more.

The thing is, CrunchBase isn’t used all that much on TechCrunch itself beyond the widgets you see at the end of articles. So, I’m going to start testing out a variety of posts with the goal of surfacing new and interesting information for all of you. To kick things off, I’ll take a brief look at the largest seed and angel funding rounds that we recorded over the last 30 days — you’ll see just how big some of these rounds have been getting.

But before I get into that, though, here are a few thoughts on using CrunchBase on TechCrunch.

Why am I doing this? I am a big believer in trying to use data to help tell stories (in fact, that’s the direction good journalism is going, in my opinion). I’ve seen it how well it worked during my time at Inside Network, where founder Justin Smith and the team have done a great job of building up editorial sites that break news about what was happening on the Facebook platform via tracking application traffic on AppData. Weekly posts, on topics like which apps had gained the most daily active users in the past week, have become staples for developers, because they reveal exactly what is is or isn’t succeeding with users. CrunchBase is a different kind of service, but as with AppData I believe there are all sorts of ways that we can put it to use to help entrepreneurs make more informed decisions about their own companies.

How am I doing this? I’m working with CrunchBase engineers Anthony Nguyen and Vineet Thaneder, and program manager Gené McPherson, to come up with ideas and run custom reports for these articles. They’re also making corresponding tweaks to the CrunchBase product to help all of you better mine it for your own purposes.

What other articles should you expect? I’m looking for both regular posts — weekly or monthly — that’ll create an ongoing flow of trend coverage. These could include, beyond seed and angel activity, regular looks at top investments by venture round, top exits, top international (non-US) investments, and anything else we can think of. We’re also looking to come up with broader one-off looks at trends within CrunchBase.

On that point, please feel free to share your own ideas for what we should be covering. Either leave your suggestions on the comments below or email me at eldon(at)techcrunch(dot)com.

Okay, so, back to the actual data I had mentioned, on the largest seed and angel rounds from the last 30 days.

Top Seed and Angel Investments for Oct. 20 – Nov. 22, 2011 : Top 20

The overall trend is no surprise to anyone who has been following tech investing in the last several years — companies are now raising “seed” and “angel” rounds that are nearly as big as Series A rounds. And investors, including venture firms, are putting in smaller and smaller chunks of money to try to get in early on top deals.

The largest round that we tracked, for Slovenian entrepreneur Andrej Nabergoj’s new Iddiction mobile app discovery company, was for $3.5 million. It described the funding as “seed” to press, and the large number of investors suggests they all put in relatively small amounts in angel-round style. But the size still makes the round a category bender.

The second-largest funding is Flow, from another serial entrepreneur, Eric Alterman. As with Iddiction, it’s Series A size, but came in two parts, and features enough investors that it does appear to literally be a pre-Series A round.

Scrolling down, you can see that each of the five largest rounds of the past 30 days had five or more investors total. Most are going to entrepreneurs with one or more established companies under their belt. Nothing breeds “me-too” investor confidence like past success.

Once you scroll further to more traditionally-sized angel rounds, you can still see that many of them — where investor information is available — feature a combination of individuals, seed-focused outfits like Y Combinator, and venture firms. It’s a sign of the times. Expect these same trends to continue next month.

Some final notes about this data: private companies don’t always disclose their investors, or at least all of their investors, or the total amounts of funding, especially at the earliest stages of their existence. And CrunchBase data can be provided by any number of sources including press reports from around the web and companies themselves. So it’s imperfect and subject to correction — and still useful for revealing trends.

硅谷“创业之父”格雷厄姆:如何摆脱失败的厄运 November 11, 2011

Posted by Ian Cheng in Funding.
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YC公司创始人、硅谷“创业之父”保罗·格雷厄姆

创业者要在那些创业氛围浓厚的地方创业,要有遇到那些愿意为你提供创业帮助的人的机遇。满足这两个条件的关键在于创业者周围的创业人数

  世界上从不缺乏那些满怀激情的创业者。然而,无论这些创业者多么充满活力、多么富有智慧,大多数地方的大部分创业者还是会以创业失败而告终。究竟是什么扼杀了很多地方的创业公司呢?换句话说,是什么拯救了如硅谷这些地方的创业公司呢?

  在我看来,创业公司要想摆脱失败的厄运就必须满足两个条件:第一,创业者要在那些创业氛围浓厚的地方创业;第二,要有遇到那些愿意为你提供创业帮助的人的机遇,满足这两个条件的关键在于创业者周围的创业人数。

  创业环境

  在创业氛围浓厚的地方创业,这对于那些处于创业初始阶段的创业公司至关重要。在这个阶段,创业者刚刚把创业想法付诸实施,这对于创业者来说就意味着迈出了第一大步。在很多地方,创业是难以理解的,在硅谷,创业是再寻常不过的了。

  在大多数地方,如果你创立一家公司,人们通常会认为你是因为失业才去创业的。在硅谷却并非如此,硅谷人不会因为你在创业而对你产生很深的印象,但他们会关注你。在硅谷待过一段时间的人就会明白,无论你多么缺乏创业经验、创业想法是多么愚蠢,硅谷人都不会怀疑你,因为他们看多了那些曾经缺乏经验的创业者在若干年后成为亿万富翁的实例。

  如果你周围有很多人关注你在做什么,这对你来说是很有帮助的。就拿我来说,在我创立Y Combinator的一年后,我和硅谷的一位风投公司的主管有了一番交谈,在那次谈话中,我们的谈话内容让他误认为我想再去创立一家公司,于是他极其热情地和我谈了很多关于重新创立一家公司的想法,说得让我真的有重新创立一家公司的冲动了,这个想法在谈话前是我不曾有过的。

  在其它很多城市,创立一家公司并不是非常现实,在硅谷,这不仅现实,而且还非常流行。这就使得很多本不创业的硅谷人也走向了创业的道路,我认为这并不是问题。真正适合创业的人其实很少,也很难预测究竟谁适合创业。如果你现在还承受得起创业失败的风险,那么,自己亲身去创业是了解自己究竟适不适合创业的最好方法了。

  机遇

  摆脱创业失败厄运的第二个要素在于创业者是否有机会遇到那些能够为自己提供创业帮助的人。这对于创业公司发展的始终都非常重要,这种机遇往往能在很多时候挽救创业公司。和其它地方的创业公司一样,硅谷的创业公司时时刻刻都会面临很多严峻的威胁,然而正是这种机遇使得硅谷的创业公司更容易走出困境。

  下面就是一个例子,如果你创建了一个专门面向大学生的网站,之后你搬到硅谷想把这个网站做好。有一天你在Palo Alto的大街上遇到Sean Parker(电影《社交网络》中的男主人公),并开始聊了起来,由于他自己也有一个类似的公司,因此他对你从事的这个领域非常了解,并熟悉这里所有的著名投资人,更主要的是他对这个领域有着非凡的见解。这样的偶遇和交流对你有多大的启发和帮助可想而知。

  在硅谷这样的地方,你说不准哪天会碰到什么奇迹般的机遇,唯一能够确定的是,如果你在硅谷创业,出乎意料的好事可能会随时发生在你身上,不过这就需要你时刻准备着。这对于我们投资过的公司也是如此,虽然我们在有目的的帮助这些公司,但奇迹般的机遇发生在这些公司的概率还是很高,这种机遇也是我们这些投资者所无法做到的。

  实际上,硅谷的机遇并不在于硅谷这个地方的硬件设施、天气或是一些其它因素,关键还在于人。很多人会有这样的感受,在硅谷创业与在其它地方创业的一个很大的不同在于,硅谷人经常会帮助彼此走出困境,往往还不求回报。我不确定为什么会是这样,也许是因为创业公司之间的博弈并不是那种在竞争中消灭彼此的零和游戏,也许是因为创业者的不同技术背景使得他们需要彼此间加强合作。

  正如文章开始所说到的那样,避免创业失败的两个要素最终取决于你周围的创业者人数。因此,要想有足够多创业人群来形成一个足够大创业地带,这需要有足够多的人对创业感兴趣。为什么这么说呢?有三个原因,第一,如果没有足够大的创业人群就不会有太多的机遇;第二,不同的创业公司有不同的需求,因此,创业地带只有足够大才能在最大程度上满足彼此的需求;第三,在这个创业地带中,一旦有足够多的人对同一个问题感兴趣,那么这些人就会开始制定相应的社会规范,这就会形成更加有利于创业的氛围,鼓励你去做那些在其它地方看来太过野心勃勃的事。

  我每次去硅谷都会有这样一种感觉:很多新事物正在硅谷的光环中悄然生长,我一直不知道如何去描述硅谷的这种不寻常的光环,直到一个词浮现在我的脑海,那就是“积极乐观”。

How Entrepreneurs Can Create Their Own Luck 创业者如何创造自己的好运? November 6, 2011

Posted by Ian Cheng in Funding.
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JAMES ALTUCHER, Managing Director of Formula Capital

I’m in even worse trouble now. A few weeks ago I had to speak at Barry Ritholz’s conference but that turned out to be “only” a panel. It was a great panel but I knew I would only have ten minutes of time so wouldn’t need to prepare much although even then I was worried.

Now I’m speaking for one hour at Defrag in Boulder, Colorado next week on November 9 and I’m terrified. For one thing, all of the other speakers are smarter than me. Right before me is Roger Ehrenberg speaking about “big data”. I’m not even sure what “big data” is so right off he’s smarter than me. Then Paul Kedrosky is speaking later in the afternoon about god knows what. Paul has an excellent blog obsessed with everything from economics to weather data. So despite my expertise in speaking I’m finding I’m a bit nervous.

I could open up with the same line I used on Barry’s panel, “When I was walking over here I had an erection. Not so easy for a 43 year old without any stimulation whatsoever.” But this might not be the exact crowd for it.

Technically, the title of my talk is “Success is a Sexually Contagious Disease” but I only gave them that title because it sounded neat and it was the title of a blog post I then published. But I have no idea if that’s what I’m going to talk about or if that’s something people will be interested in.

The conference itself is about entrepreneurship. But I always am plagued by the fact that I’ve gotten somewhat lucky on this issue. My first company happened during the internet boom and I happened to be one of the few people around (at the time) who knew how to make a website. The second company I had, where Yasser Arafat was an investor, went down in flames in the Bust. The third company I sold was a venture firm. We were only sold because our top investor was so disgusted with us he wanted to buy out our ten year contract. And the third company I sold was Stockpickr.com, which I sold to thestreet.com that I already had a great relationship with. Another company that I made a decent living off was trading for hedge funds and then starting a fund of hedge funds. Everything else I did (about 16 other attempts at businesses) failed.

So I guess right now I can see if it was luck or if I learned some lessons.

1) Luck is similar to “being at the right place at the right time”. So you can easily position yourself there. We know that the right place for right now is somewhere in social media. There are still many niches (plumbers, diamond wholesalers) that aren’t using social media correctly. The big agencies are ignoring them and they are too small and focused to understand how to use direct marketing via social media. If I were starting a business right now I’d either do lead generation via social media for a small but focused niche (diamond wholesalers, small restaurants) or I’d provide financing/lending for companies that are doing this and have established records of turning profits on money spent. I know several companies doing the above but it’s an incredibly wide, open, gaping hole in the industry.

If I were a banker I’d look to buy companies all over the country in this space and then bring the combined entity public in the IPO boom that’s about to start happening.

2) My venture firm being sold I learned one thing: have at least one partner who is a great negotiatior. “Be bad” and someone will be willing to buy you usually doesn’t work. I was lucky there. Although, I will say, I had good, professional partners that knew how to negotiate very well. The one guy’s main technique was to act like we always had alternatives when we never did. And he would ignore the other party for a day or so while they got desperate. It’s a gutsy way to negotiate but it worked. Here’s part of the reason it didn’t work out for me as a big VC.

3) The mental health facility I sold I learned some very important things. Quantity, persistence, and story-telling. You need to hit everyone and then call everyone back twice. We must’ve made 30 calls and then 30 follow-ups to make sure we spoke with the right person. And then with each person we pushed to have a phone call with the company. Then once we had a potential buyer on the phone we had to make sure we told at least three different stories: how the was company doing (and was going to do ), the reasons why growth was a lock, and the reasons why management was incredible. Then we got the deal done. Which was a story unto itself. (Here’s my prior post on TechCrunch on how to best sell a company).

4) Stockpickr, as I mentioned before was a matter of being both proactive, and having friends in the right places. But it also was a matter of vigilance. I had a particular passion about how a financial community could develop with no news. I hate the news. It also was a matter of nourishing relationships built up over a five year period of non-stop work in the financial media space.

So here’s how you “Create your luck”:

A) As Wayne Gretzky says, “skate to where the puck is”. Don’t start a soft drink company competing against Coca-Cola. Start a company in a fast growing industry that has a wide, gaping hole in it. It’s not hard to identify those industries and holes.

B) If you can’t create the company in that space, can you arrange financing for companies in that space through some of the techniques roughly described above. This still allows you to profit from the growth of the sector.

C) Learn how to negotiate.

D) Quantity. You’re never going to win if you depend on one potential buyer or one potential customer. The first time I tried to sell my company, Reset, I tried to sell it to HBO. I had only one potential buyer. No good and it didn’t work out. But the next time I tried I made sure I had ten potential buyers. Ever since then I almost get a reflux reaction in my stomach when I realize I’m back down to the one buyer-one customer model, which is never good. Create a market for what you are selling. The price will go up.

E) Persistence. When we were selling the mental health facility there was one time we got a wrong number when we called a public company. We got switched to the wrong person in the company repeatedly. My business partner, Dan, kept calling until he finally convinced the operator she was connecting him to the wrong person. This was one of only 30 companies he was calling so he could’ve just left a message and given up. Instead he got someone on the phone eventually and she was the one who coughed up $41.5 million in cash, three times the closest other offer.

F) Story-telling. Everyone is a little boy or girl at heart. We all want to sit on the floor and bounce a ball and watch Saturday morning cartoons. A story has a beginning, middle, and end. Make sure your story is down pat when you are talking with anyone about your idea, your company, your self (on a date, for instance). It doesn’t have to be so “planned”. But make sure you are constantly improving your storytelling abilities. For instance, before I gave a talk last week in Arizona I watched 30 minutes of Ellen Degeneres and Jon Stewart. Comedians are excellent story-tellers with perfect timing.

G) Nourish relationships. The size of your network increases your luck exponentially. But relationships take Time to nourish. When I wrote here two weeks ago about “the 9 Skills for Becoming a Super Connector” I mentioned that I forgot why “Time” was on my list. Now I know: over time relationships get nourished. A simple connection becomes a friend, becomes family, becomes someone who actively wants you to succeed. That takes weeks/months/years to happen. Important to note: expressing gratitude across your network is the surest way to strengthen it.

H) Passion. Luck will always follow your passion. Warren Buffett was, of course, extremely lucky that his passion was investing in 1950. But almost every passion can be used to make money if you have all of the above. Even if your passion is just “how do I meet the love of my life” and you apply all of the above you will “get lucky”, so to speak, and find success at your endeavor.

I’ve had a lot of bad things happen to me in the course of being an entrepreneur. And sometimes I get down about it and it’s hard to pull myself away from the nightmare alley where the light at the end just becomes a fire that pushes me back. But when I do get to the end of the nightmare, and I apply these lessons, luck comes shining through and I can see again.

Altucher曾多次创业,并在过程中学到了很多的教训。

1. 运气就是在合适的时间出现在合适的地点。现在合适的地点就是社交媒体。还有很多的公司没有正确使用社交媒体。这样一些大的代理商就会忽略他们。

2.从我的投资公司被卖掉我学到了一个教训:合作伙伴中至少有一个人非常善于交涉各种事宜。我就有一个非常专业的伙伴,他知道如何很好的交涉。他会表现的让人感觉我们总是有很多的选择,即使事实上我们可能没有。

3. 在销售心理健康设施中,我学到了一些非常重要的事情:用户数量、毅力和讲故事的能力。你必须打动每一人,并且每一个人都要回访两次。我们必须明白我们将三件重要的事情说明白了:公司是如何做好我们要做的事情的,为什么增长是一把锁,为什么管理是不可或缺的。这样我们就很容易完成交易。

4. 多上Stockpickr去交流,这儿可以发现很多你在适当地点所需要的朋友。

到底该“怎么创造你的运气”?

1. 正如韦恩·格雷茨说的,“全力的滑向冰球所在的地方”。千万不要开一个和可口可乐公司竞争的饮料公司。如果要开公司,就要在那些拥有广泛的业务,并且存在业务空隙的快速增长的公司中开始。发现这种公司和这种空隙并不是很难。

2. 如你不能够在这个空隙中创建一个公司,那么就想方设法的去对在那个空隙中的公司实施融资。这样你仍然可以从这个行业中获利。

3. 学会如何沟通。

4. 大量的客户群非常重要。如果你潜在的购买者或顾客只有一个的话,你基本上不会获得成功的。当时我想卖掉我的第一个公司,Reset,将它卖给HBO,并且只有这一个潜在的购买者,最后是失败了。之后如果再出售公司,我都会去确认现在有十多个潜在的买家。最终公司都卖出了一个好价钱。所有一定要为你要买的公司创造一个市场,这样价格才会上升。

5. 一定要持之以恒。

6. 学会讲故事。在我们的内心深处我们都是一个孩子。我们都喜欢周六早上坐在地板上玩一个皮球,看着我们喜欢的卡通。每一个故事都有一个开始,发展和结局。在你向别人讲述你的想法你的公司或你自己的时候,一定要确定你说的是一个完整 的故事。也没有必要去刻意的做个计划,但一定要确认你是一直在改进自己讲故事的能力。

7.爱护你的关系圈。你的关系圈的大小可以很好的增加你的运气。但是这种关系圈需要时间去好好的呵护。

8. 激情。 运气总是跟随着你的激情。有了激情我们就有力去创造的劲头。沃伦·巴菲特,就非常的幸运,而他的激情就在于在1950年的投资。激情会初始你去努力获取成功。

在我成长为一个企业家的过程中,我遇到了很多的挫折。有时候,我就会倒下,并且不断被拖入到噩梦中去,但是,在噩梦尽头的希望之光总会激发我内心的熊熊烈火,将我带出噩梦。噩梦之后我就会想一想前面的教训,这样运气就会再次垂青于我。

Don’t Launch A Company, Launch A Fund (Or The Series A Will Die) November 4, 2011

Posted by Ian Cheng in Funding.
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ADEO RESSI
Founder of The Founder Institute and TheFunded.com

Every investor and entrepreneur knows there is something scary about the current startup economy. There is an enormous amount of angel capital available, while at the same time there is a small amount of Series A and a large and concentrated amount of late stage capital. Industry insiders have affectionately dubbed this situation “the Barbell”, and it has become the most serious threat to the progress that startups have made — since 2008.

At least nine out of ten high-quality angel-funded startups face an unnecessary death, because there is no Series A money to help them survive critical expansion. (See Rip’s post on the rise in late stage capital here.)

In the last boom ending in 2008, there was approximately $30 billion in angel investments and another $30 billion in venture investments done every year. By most estimates, there is now as much as $80 billion in angel versus just over $10 billion in all stages of venture. Just 1 in 100 angel deals may get funded by venture capitalists today, yet there are probably at least 10 strong startups in a 100, if not more.

As if this were not bad enough, estimates are that 70% of angel deals across the United States and a growing number of investments in other countries are structured as convertible debt. The debt needs to convert into Series A equity within a year, or the debt needs to be paid back. Investors regularly extend the debt that has come due for another year, since asking the startup to pay back the loan would bankrupt the business. With 10 or 20 angels of varying levels of sophistication in a deal, it only takes one angel to request a payback, and the company will go down. (Elad Gil has a smart post on TechMeme today that also analyzes this series A crunch.)

The solution to this structural problem in the startup economy is simple: we need more venture funds. Unfortunately, thousands of funds around the world have been killed off since 2007. Just in the last three months, 1 of 4 of the top-rated venture capitalists on TheFunded have left their firm or the field altogether, so further declines in Series A investments are on the horizon. At this pace, the venture industry won’t hit bottom until 2014, after which turnover cycles in limited partners and growing returns from secondary markets should support new interest in the asset class. In the end, more funds will save the good companies and balance out the infamous barbell.

All of this means that it is precisely the right moment to launch a fund. First, you have a large number of high-quality companies that need capital, while the competition to provide capital is decreasing. Second, you have a pool of frustrated limited partners looking for new managers. Finally, there are new forms of liquidity that are starting to drive returns, most notably the active secondary markets. It probably won’t get much easier to launch a new fund than it is right now, and the startup economy needs the help.

A great source of these new fund leaders may be the hundreds of people setting up Y Combinator clones around the world. These seed-fund/ incubators require two to three million dollars per year to run, producing between 10 and 20 angel funded companies. Many of these will fail due to the high cost of annual operations without a functioning Series A market. The people that set these incubators up have already raised capital, so they are in a good position to set-up a fund. If you are really bold, like Dave McClure, you can run both an incubator and a fund, though there are some obvious conflicts of interest.

Running a fund is not for everyone, but, if you think you have it in you, go for it. Now is the time.

Another important note: There is the upcoming Founder Showcase on November 8th, where TC’s founder Mike Arrington will be the keynote speaker, and I am sure he will talk about the issue on stage at the event.

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