Bothsides of the Table

Last week Fred Wilson and I sat down in Santa Monica for an hour+ discussion with the video cameras rolling.

One of the questions we discussed was, “How much capital should a startup raise?” Fred & I are both in agreement that there is a tension between capital constraints and creativity. In his words,

[in some instances] “because lots of capital is available, the company takes on the capital and that ends up resulting in no constraints on decision making and so the company decides to do five things in stead of just one.”

Here is a three-minute video with Fred answering this question. I promise it’s worth watching.

We also spoke about what it takes to be an effective board member. On the one hand, I often find that some board members are seemingly reading the board materials on the fly and don’t have a firm grasp of the business fundamentals. On the other hand some board members like to tinker in the running of the business.

Again, Fred,

“What I’ve learned is that if you frame the problem for the team in a way that it becomes their idea as opposed to you telling them them to do it – that’s the move… effective board members help the management team decide to make the decisions that are right decisions instead of just telling them that those are the right decisions.”

This clip is just 2 minutes:

I agree. I’d add that often as board members we know contextually what the likely right answer is from years of experience and seeing similar scenarios. But unless management buys into your premise you can’t offer effective input. So part of playing an effective coach is helping the team to see the answer for themselves.

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I love Twitter.

So far I’m loving Meerkat, too. It’s brand new but the enthusiasm that’s been seen for such an early product is truly awesome. I ran a VC AMA (ask me anything) last Monday on Meerkat and had > 1,000 simultaneous people asking me questions. The energy was electric so I’m going to do it again this coming week.

You may have read that Twitter has now made it harder for Meerkat to operate. As a user I felt immediately frustrated by this move and said so, in stead wishing that Twitter would win based on innovation.

If Twitter believes @periscopeco is a better product why not just try to win on that basis? They already have home court advantage

— Mark Suster (@msuster)

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I write about sales often both because it’s the lifeblood of any organization and because in my experience it is the area in which more startups are least experienced or inclined. I also write and talk about it frequently because raising capital is a part of sales and this is important for entrepreneurs to understand.

To make it simple and easy to remember – there are three basic rules of sales:

1. Why Buy Anything?
2. Why Buy Me?
3. Why Buy Now?

This post will cover the first.

If you ask any experienced sales leader they’ll tell you there are three things to know about being effective at sales: Qualify, qualify, qualify. This is simply because sales people have limited time and  can’t afford to waste time with anybody who isn’t likely to buy from them in the near term.

But how do you qualify?

Do you have a problem I could solve?

The starting point is to ask yourself whether the person you’re dealing with has a problem that is solved by the solution you offer. If they don’t – you simply won’t sell anything. That’s why many great sales starts with generating inbound marketing leads.

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The Magic Moment of Meerkat

The Magic Moment of Meerkat

Posted on Mar 7, 2015 | 0 comments


Ok. If you work in tech this week you’ve no doubt heard much of this new app called Meerkat.

In case you’ve spent the week living under a rock, Meerkat is an app integrated (currently) with Twitter in which if you click on the link of somebody who shares a “Meerkat Stream” you will be transported into a live session of their phone streaming. You can also watch in the Meerkat app linked above and participate in a realtime conversation with other people in that particular stream.

Meerkat is magical.

Let me get this out of the way: I’m not an investor in Meerkat. And given how quick Silicon Valley throws money at people at things that have rapid and massive adoption (, Yo!, Ello, Secret, etc) I am not likely to become an investor. I state that so you can take what I say next a little bit more seriously.

People are addicted to the experience in a way I haven’t seen since the early days of Twitter or Quora. Now, I’m not saying that it will last, I’m not saying that there aren’t other alternatives, I’m not saying that Twitter won’t try to squash them for riding on their back of their social graph.

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If you are a 20-something tech entrepreneur you could be forgiven for thinking that seed-stage investors, Angellist Syndicates and widely available angel money always existed. It is, of course, a very recent phenomenon.

Let me take you back just 10 years ago to 2005 in Silicon Valley where I returned after 11 years of living in Europe. I was out to raise my first seed money in my second startup of $500,000. I began asking around who the likely investors were for such a market. At the time almost nobody had heard of the following funds: FirstRound Capital, TrueVentures, Floodgate and SoftTech. I think they were all brand new or just forming.

Firms like Baseline, Felicis, ff Ventures, Founder Collective, Freestyle, HomeBrew, IA Ventures, K9, Lowercase, NextView, Resolute, Rincon, Crosscut and the countless other great firms we all now know didn’t exist. Neither did Y Combinator, 500 Startups, TechStars, Amplify, Mucker and countless others.

There was Ron Conway (SV Angel) – I think there was always Ron Conway! one of the godfather’s of our industry. And some angels running around like Reid Hoffman & Keith Rabois. But not many others.

If you want to understand the software trend that drove

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