Interview with Chris Redlitz from KickLabs and Transmedia Capital (part 1)

I recently sat down with Chris Redlitz from Transmedia Capital to talk about his new startup incubator KickLabs and founding teams from his perspective as an entrepreneur (AdAuction, Get Relevant, Aptimus, and On Village), executive (Skyrider, Feedster, Reebok), and now venture capitalist. We discussed what makes a founding team work, potential conflicts of interest between investors and entrepreneurs, and what KickLabs looks for in a company. Chris is also going to be a judge at the Lean Deck Clinic on August 2nd.

T: In your experience, is there a distinct advantage to having a founding team as opposed to being a sole entrepreneur? Continue reading

How to Make Your Investor Pitch Lean

Have you ever needed feedback on your investor pitch? Are you in the San Francisco Bay Area?
If you answered yes to both, we’re helping to promote the Lean Deck Clinic being put on by The Lean Coffee Meetup and hosted at the new San Francisco startup incubator Kicklabs. It’s a chance to present your pitch in front of a room of peers, 3 VCs and 3 angel investors like:

Parkour for Startups: Conserve Momentum

Admittedly, I look like a giraffe. (A handsome giraffe damnit!) So it was inevitable that the universe would take advantage of my gangliness by conspiring to put me into a Parkour class. (Hint: I got a Groupon.)

For those not familiar with it, Parkour is “extreme urban running” as imagined by a crazy Frenchman named David Belle. It’s that thing they do at the beginning of Casino Royale and in those old Nike comercials. Here’s a video if you still don’t know: Continue reading

Reverse Customer Development a.k.a. Thank God for Early Adopters

This week I was incredibly excited to be ambushed at Startup Waffles by a couple of users who told me how many things we needed to fix in order to make the site usable. All of the points were right on.

What thrilled me about the conversation with Ron and Eugene was that they were passionate enough about the concept of startupSQUARE to put up with all the problems and open enough to talk to me about it. I can’t stress enough how important the feedback we keep receiving is. Our site needs a commitment to feedback and constant improvement in order to be a great resource for entrepreneurs. Continue reading

Hope is the Enemy – Startup Advice from a Monk

Thich Nhat HanhI was recently reading a book by a Vietnamese Buddhist monk (Yes…I really do read books by Vietnamese Buddhist monks. No, I’m not Buddhist.) when I came across this section that struck me:

When I think deeply about the nature of hope, I see something tragic. Since we cling to our hope in the future, we do not focus our energies and capabilities on the present moment. We use hope to believe something better will happen in the future…Hope becomes a kind of obstacle. – Thich Nhat Hanh Continue reading

When Should You Find a Co-founder? Before your idea is even half-baked.

When Should You Find a Co-founder? I’m going to go with my gut here and say: Before your idea is even half-baked.

I’ve had a couple discussions recently about when is the right time to look for a co-founder. As soon as you have an idea? Once you’ve tested some of your core assumptions? Before you have an idea? There’s no rule and I haven’t seen anything written on the subject.

Continue reading

$3.95? We’re Rich! First Revenue During Alpha Testing

On Friday, I received this welcome email:

Subject: Sale – Entrepreneurs Guide to CustDev- ID:5777670 Entrepreneur’s Guide to CustDev eBook

You have earned an affiliate fee of 3.95 USD for the sale (ID:5777670-686=
2856) of Entrepreneur’s Guide to CustDev eBook on Thu May 27 2010 23:52:3=
9 MST.

Sincerely,
Entrepreneurs Guide to CustDev

startupSQUARE, having not yet progressed to beta testing, now has revenue! Granted, a very small amount of revenue. Why?

Continue reading

No Titles Please – We’re a Startup

I had to laugh out loud when I read this at jacquesmattheij.com:

At some point in the thread he writes: “We are working on that now. It might give us more breathing air but still will keep us with a CEO (him) that I cannot trust professionaly.”

I practically fell off my chair when I read that. A three letter title in a two man company ? What does that make him ? CTO ?

…and then he continues:

Titles are for insecure people that need to have their egos re-inforced or they are for people that have reached a stage in the life of their startup where it starts to make sense to divide the work in to fixed roles, where you have well defined territories and people as a rule will avoid crossing over in to each others territories.

Continue reading

First Dates and One Night Stands for Co-Founders

Always wear a tux on the first dateBefore you and your co-founders step up to the alter and say “I do”, it’s a good idea to get to know each other a little first. Maybe even play a little footsie.

I’ve been searching and searching for good advice on the subject and consistently come up empty. There’s plenty of advice on how to split up equity, qualities to look for in a co-founder, and even the occasional article on places to go to find entrepreneurs. Why is there zero information on how to vet them? The typical article seems to suggest a good conversation will do the trick, presumably because you’ve just dosed your co-founder with sodium pentathol and wired him to a lie detector. Continue reading

Why Get Married on the First Date?…Co-Founder Dating

In our customer development interviews with entrepreneurs looking for co-founders I’ve found many pitches follow this general course:

1) My idea is amazing, but I can’t tell you about it.
2) It’s a 100% surefire billion dollar idea, if only I had someone to do __________.
3) I will only tell you about my idea if you commit to indentured servitude for at least one year if not longer.

I find this a bit loopy. Continue reading