Category: entrepreneur

What the heck do you really know about building a company?

Finally got a chance to get back to my reader list today.  It’s been over a week, so I had kind of a build up.  That really is the great thing about readers and blogs, they wait for you instead of being swallowed up by the news cycle.

The first thing I did was crank up my Findings.  If you don’t use it you should.  Go here and install it: https://findings.com/ Undoubtedly you will want to collect things you read  fast and easily.  Yes, you can book mark, but this is the best way I know of to get right to what you want.  I go back and re-read my findings pretty frequently. They become kind of like entrepreneur mantras.

For whatever reason, alphabetical or of most interest Fred Wilson’s blog (A VC) is at the top of my list.  About the second or third item was a guest post from someone I’m sure I’m supposed to know who goes by JLM.  It was an awesome, short, sweet description of how to draw up a business model and execute a plan to build it.  Hence the blog title.  This is mandatory reading.  Go here: http://bit.ly/ywhcPC and read it.

I guess I could have tweeted about this.  I saw Mark Suster do that.  It just seemed to me that it was worth ending up in someone’s reader and hopefully marked with someone’s finder.

One more thing… please answer this quipol question.  Thank you.

p.s. Best of luck to Giants over Pats.

Big Data

Two days ago I went to the PluggedIn Ventures Big Data and Analytics Roundtable. I think New York is a natural Big Data consumer. Financial Institutions want know how to harness mountains of data to make better decisions. Advertisers want to better understand consumers. Certainly Internet sites generate lots of information that can be overlaid onto machine data, inventory data, weather data, etc that can help model a behavior layer into any decision process.

Of course there are huge challenges. What do you do about the gigantic echo chamber that you are creating. Social graphs not only divine behavior, but they reinforce it. If I only look at red shoes on the Internet, the only thing that will ever be recommended are red shoes. Big Data won’t be able to help us branch out or figure out what new, only (currently anyway) refine what already is.

Another problem is what happened when that data points that are captured are a composite of different people sitting at one computer. One of the panelists talked about an article he had read called If TiVo Thinks You Are Gay, Here’s How to Set It Straight.  I’m sure this happens all the time. You get the worst of all worlds instead of the best.

Then there is the problem of how to bring the power of big data to the masses. Right now Data Scientists seem to be the only ones who can harness the power of Big Data. How do we put this into the hands of non-technical people to help them make decisions. In reality the challenge is ‘how do we dumb it down, without actually dumbing it down?’

This gist of it was that there are a lot of amazing uses and there are a lot of difficult obstacles/opportunities as this new frontier is opened up to us. One of the key takeaways was to focus on what benefits are specifically being delivered – not on the mountains of data that goes in or the Hadoop and MapReduce technologies that make it work.  There are a lot of interesting companies in the New York Area that help define what big data will mean to us – companies like 10Gen, Lotame, Networked Insights, C3 Metrics, Bundle.com, Tidal Labs, PlaceIQ, Sociocast, NumberFire and LAB09. Are there any of these types of companies in Brooklyn? If there are I’d like to here from you.  A.J. I already know what you are doing, so you don’t have to say anything.

SXSW

I have recently run into quite a few Brooklyn entrepreneurs that are heading to SXSW.

For those who don’t know SXSW (South by South West) is well-known music festival and a less well-known interactive technology conference (look here: http://sxsw.com/interactive). The interactive portion includes a trade show, startup village, panels of speakers and great parties for the networking of entrepreneurs and capital providers from all over the country. If you have a product to launch or a world-changing tech related announcement to make, SXSW has traditionally been a good place to do it. The dates this year are March 9 thru 13. The location, as always, is Austin Texas.

Leading up to SXSW this year I was starting to think that the interactive portion might have to run its course (as many conferences do). What often happens with great shows is that the folks who actually conduct business become a smaller portion of the attendees and analysts, journalists and those who just enjoy standing around watching become larger portion. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still fun and interesting, but it is not as productive a use of time and startup funds as it once was. At the very least, I agree that there are still a group of interested product users, but I was questioning if the number of high-level influencers and write-you-a-check-today type investors are still going? The example I would provide is CES. It’s clear that this stopped being a productive show a long time ago. And when a company like Microsoft realizes it and pulls out of future events (as they have) you know it’s heading down hill.

In a recent blog post Fred Wilson wrote: “I’d rather go to PyCon, RailsConf, or Node Summit than TED, Davos, or SXSW. In fact, I’ve never been to TED, Davos, or SXSW and don’t have any plans to go to them.” On the other hand, Mark Suster, who went for the first time last year says he had, “an amazing experience.”

So there appears to be a couple different schools of thought. I have been running into a lot of entrepreneurs and active investors that are heading west for the event and the 2012 Angel Capital Association summit (http://bit.ly/xYcNeA) that is preceding it. They are telling me that SXSW is still a great place to do business. I would like to hear what you think. If you are heading to SXSW, I’d be interested to hear why you are going and what you expect to get out of it. If you think that SXSW is no longer what it used to be, then what is the best conference/show to attend if you are a startup? I’ll blog about this again.