Entrepreneurial

In Berlin, a startup hub emerges

All the elements of a thriving tech/startup scene are coming together in Berlin. The engineers are there. The VCs are there. The local tech blog, aptly named “Silicon Allee,” is there, and now a new office complex, built in the structure of an old brewery and designed to bring entrepreneurs together, will soon be there. But don’t expect to get office space anytime soon as it’s already oversubscribed without even being fully built yet, Reuters reports.

Some 1,300 startups call Berlin home, attracting 136 million euros (U.S. $169 million) in funding. And as the tech scene in Berlin grows, it’s attracting the attention of international investors and entrepreneurs too, like LinkedIn co-founder Konstantin Geurike who just joined EarlyBird ventures, a Berlin-based VC dedicated to funding European startups. Another company, SoundCloud, launched in Sweden and relocated to Berlin to attract talent and take advantage of the international city’s thriving creative class. They’ll be the first major tenant in the brewery-turned-office space, which will have room for some 30 companies.

Other notable startups in Berlin include Spotify as well as Gidsy, which attracted the attention and capital of actor/investor Ashton Kutcher.

Affordable rent in Berlin is another major draw for aspiring startups. Companies in Berlin can expect to pay half of what they would pay for office space in Stockholm and a fifth of what they would pay in London.

Fred Wilson, of Union Square Ventures and cheerleader for the NYC startup scene, noted the rise of tech startups in Europe on his blog a year ago. Europe “is a place where interesting companies are getting started,” he wrote. “I’m bullish on the Internet startup sector all over the world but Europe is closer to NYC than most of the rest of the world, both in terms of how long it takes to get there and also in terms of culture, language, and a host of other things that matter in the relationship between entrepreneur and investor.”

Notes on raising seed financing

– 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. –

I recently taught a class via Skillshare (disclosure: Founder Collective is an investor) about how to raise a seed round. After a long day I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it, but it turned out to be a lot of fun and I stayed well past the scheduled end time. I think it worked well because the audience was full of people actually starting companies, and they came well prepared (they were all avid readers of tech blogs and had seemed to have done a lot of research).

I sketched some notes for the class which I’m posting below. I’ve written ad nauseum on this blog (see contents page) about venture financing so hadn’t planned to blog more on the topic. But since I wrote up these notes already, here they are.

“Lean Startup” evangelist Eric Ries is just getting started

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

“Except in very narrow cases, where there’s breakthrough science that needs patent production, worrying about competitors is a waste of time,” Eric Reis told me. “If you can’t out iterate someone who is trying to copy you, you’re toast anyway.”

Ries speaks with confidence, likely because people seem to listen. In fact, he’s become one of Silicon Valley’s best salesmen, largely by preaching what seems to be common sense: in order to maximize resources, companies need to find out what customers want as quickly as possible and capitalize on those findings.

The 100 most influential VCs and angels

– Mark Boslet is a contributor to PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

Any list of the 100 most influential venture capitalists and angels should include the likes of John Doerr, Ron Conway and Michael Moritz, right?

Not necessarily. And not if the list you’re referring to is the “100 Most Influential VCs, Angels and Investors” compiled by Lucy Marcus, the Huffington Post columnist and the non-executive board chair of the Mobius Life Science Fund.

Some entrepreneurial advice from U2

Mark Solon, the managing partner and co-founder of Boise, Idaho-based Highway 12 Ventures, wrote a blog post – “Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down” – offering some entrepreneurial advice he gleaned from one of U2′s more underrated tunes. Now we highly doubt Bono had entrepreneurs or venture capitalists in mind when he penned the lyrics to “Acrobat,” but let’s roll with it.

Solon thought of the song after he recently rejected a funding request by a young entrepreneur, who he said “took it fairly hard” and Solon spent the next 20 minutes attempting to explain himself. When he sensed it wasn’t helping to soften the rejection, Solon piped up “Who the hell do you think I am to tell you that your business won’t be successful?” Solon then recounted his own ordeal in moving from Boston to Boise to start his VC firm and the ensuing 18-month span where he was rejected over and over, before launching Highway 12.

Nearly a decade later, Solon said he still remembers “almost everyone who said ‘no’ to me and proving them wrong still motivates me to this very day.”

Angel investor makes a Mint

From right to left: Dave McClure with Rob Hayes and Mark Goines at TechCrunch50, courtesy of Dave McClure

At 5-foot-8, Dave McClure calls himself “one of the smallest” venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, either “by height or by wallet size”.  But he was walking tall after Intuit announced it was buying Mint.com recently for $170 million.

That means McClure, who invested $25,000 in Mint two years ago as part of a Series A funding round, is in line for a healthy payout. At the time McClure was actually on Mint’s payroll as a consultant, but was so impressed with the startup’s founder, Aaron Patzer, that he took the money they were paying him and “turned it right back around and wrote them a check.”

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