Entrepreneurial

Why venture capitalists invest in pigs, not chickens

– Jeff Bussgang is a former entrepreneur and partner at Flybridge Capital Partners. This article originally appeared on his blog Seeing Both Sides. The views expressed are his own. –

There is an old parable about the concept of commitment when it comes to breakfast. The story goes that when looking at a plate of the traditional fare of ham and eggs, it’s obvious that the chicken is an interested party, but the pig is truly committed.

When I tell this story to entrepreneurs, my point is usually to contrast the approach venture capitalists have to startups as compared to entrepreneurs. The VC is an interested party, but at the end of the day, if their startups live or die, they typically still have their job, their office and their portfolio of other investments. The entrepreneur, on the other hand, is the pig – truly committed to the outcome, with no fallback.

But lately I’ve been thinking about the parable of the pig and the chicken in the context of the characteristics that make a great entrepreneur – and the kind of entrepreneur that we VCs in general, and my firm Flybridge Capital in particular, like to back. In short, we like to back pigs – entrepreneurs who are truly and completely committed to the outcome of their venture, have a lot of stake, and no fallback.

How do we discern the difference between the two entrepreneurial archetypes? It’s usually relatively easy, but sometimes subtle. Here are a few of the top characteristics we see in entrepreneurs who appear to be exhibiting behavior that suggests they’re more like “chickens” when it comes to their startup:

Why the debt ceiling debate won’t stop America’s small businesses

– John Krubski is an entrepreneur and the architect of The Guardian Life Index: What Matters Most to America’s Small Business Owners. He is currently working on his next book, “Cracking the America Code: How to Get US Back on Track”. –

As recently as April of this year, the Amex Open Survey announced that “For the first time since 2006, growth has surpassed survival as the number one priority for entrepreneurs… Perhaps further evidence that economic recovery is reaching Main Street, more than one-third (35 percent) plan to hire, the highest level since the fall 2008 survey.”

Just a few short months later, the headlines were filled with gloom and doom about the impending, “unprecedented” default of U. S. debt, followed quickly by predictions of a “double-dip” recession.

The No. 1 predictor of startup failure: Premature scaling

— Joanna Glasner is a contributor to PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

In the wake of Solyndra’s revelation of an impending bankruptcy filing, the latest report from The Startup Genome Project makes for a timely read.

The report, published this week, crunches data from a set of more than 3,200 companies, seeking to identify the qualities that make startups most likely to either succeed or fail.

Do you want to sell sugar water or do you want to change the world?

– Chris Dixon is the co-founder of Hunch and of seed fund Founder Collective. This blog originally appeared here. The views expressed are his own. –

“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?” – Steve Jobs

I sometimes wish that instead of working on Internet and software projects, I worked on cleantech or biotech projects. That way, when I came home at night, I’d know that I had literally spent my day trying to cure cancer or prevent global warming. But information technology is what I know, and it’s probably too late for me to learn a new field from scratch.

The entrepreneur’s equivalent of “10,000 hours”

– Mark Suster is a former serial entrepreneur and a partner at Los Angeles-based GRP Partners. This article originally appeared on his blog “Both Sides of the Table”. The views expressed are his own. –

50 coffee meetings. It should stick in your head as a metaphor for networking. For getting outside of your comfort zone. For starting relationships today that won’t pay off for a year. It’s the entrepreneur’s equivalent of “10,000 hours.”

Anybody who has spent any time with me in person will be tired of this advice because I give it so frequently. It’s a piece of actionable advice that if you put into practice starting next week, will start paying dividends in the near future. There’s a direct correlation to your future success.

Blind entrepreneurs boost eBay sales

EBay is recruiting an unlikely group of new entrepreneurs into its selling ranks – the visually impaired.

Blind citizens have staggeringly high rates of unemployment, with some 70 percent of working-age, legally blind adults out of work, according to the National Federation of the Blind.

So the online marketplace, in partnership with NFB, began recruiting test sellers in the blind community late last year. In February, it began a pilot program with 15 blind entrepreneurs. In total, they have sold more than 2,100 items, including everything from packing tape to clothing and makeup.

5 things entrepreneurs need to know about valuation

– Tim Berry is the president and founder of Palo Alto Software. This post originally appeared on his blog, “Planning, Startups, Stories”. The views expressed are his own. –

Valuation is one of those four-syllable business buzzwords you’re going to have to deal with, eventually, if you either want to start a business or own a business. If it doesn’t come up when you start, it will come up later. Here is what I think you need to know, in five short points.

1. The word has vastly different meanings: don’t you hate it when the same words mean different things? Valuation means at least three different things:

Online freelance industry gaining momentum

Amid the overload of economic doom and gloom, one subset of the workforce seems to be fairing rather well: online freelancers whose services range from graphic design to business writing.

In a country where unemployment continues to hover above 9 percent, it’s no surprise that demand for these contract workers is up more than 61 percent from a year ago, according to data from Elance, the largest online marketplace for this type of work.

“This new way of working has a lot of momentum and is continuing to grow,” said Ved Sinha, VP of interactive marketing for Mountain View, California-based Elance. “Small businesses are increasingly turning to online work because it’s more flexible.

10 reasons not to seek investors for your startup

– Tim Berry is the president and founder of Palo Alto Software. This post originally appeared on his blog, “Planning, Startups, Stories”. The views expressed are his own. –

Sure, maybe you need the money. Maybe that’s what your business plan says. But seriously: Do you really want to have investors involved in your dream startup?

I’ve said it before: bootstrapping is underrated. I get frequent emails from people asking how they can get investment for their new startup, and I’ve admitted to being a member of an angel investor group. But let’s not forget, while we’re thinking about it, these 10 good reasons not to seek investors for your startup.

The coming brick wall in venture capital

– Mark Suster is a former serial entrepreneur and a partner at Los Angeles-based venture capital firm GRP Partners. This article originally appeared on Suster’s blog “Both Sides of the Table”. The views expressed are his own. –

This is the final part of a three-part series on the major changes in the structure of the software and the venture capital industries. Read Part One and Part Two.

Or the Cliff Note’s version:

    Open source and cloud computing (led by Amazon) drove down tech startup costs by 90 percent The result was a massive increase in startups and a whole group of new funding sources: both angels and “micro VCs” With more competition in early-stage many VCs are investing smaller amounts at earlier stages. Some are going later stage to not miss out on hot deals. I call this “stage drift.” The opportunities for tech startups today are more immense than they’ve ever been with billions of people now connected to the Internet nearly all the time.

But …

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