Entrepreneurial

Love at first byte: Tech co-founders meet through dating sites

 

 

 

 

 

Gina Lujan did not meet her Hacker Lab co-founders the usual way. They were not
childhood friends. They did not launch their business from their Harvard dorm
room, or at incubators like Y Combinator or TechStars.

Lujan first met Charles Blas and Eric Ullrich after they responded to her personal ad
on Craigslist that read: “seeking all hackers and enthusiasts – where are you?”

“I got a few weird responses,” admitted Lujan, but she also hooked up with Blas, a
hacker who works for a local security company. “It was like founder at first site. The
minute we met each other we said let’s do this.”

Last year the trio launched Sacramento-based Hacker Lab, a tech co-working space
that doubles as a start-up incubator. Lujan had been running a similar co-working
business in nearby Berkeley, but was forced to leave when her landlord’s rental
property was foreclosed on.

The 10,000 square foot facility has a dozen offices, which Hacker Lab rents out for
$500 a month. They also offer desk space, mostly used by students, for $45 to $100 a
month. In addition, they host weekly tech events such as meet-ups, hackathons and
educational seminars that regularly draw 50 or more people.

Q&A with Silicon Valley “Godfather” Steve Blank

For those who don’t have a Silicon Valley area code, Steve Blank likely doesn’t have much name recognition. But amongst the Apples, Googles and Facebooks of the world, Blank enjoys iconic status. Blank says he gets asked for autographs just walking down the street in Palo Alto, where he teaches entrepreneurship at Stanford. Some young entrepreneurs reverentially refer to the 59-year-old as: “The Godfather.”

How did Blank earn his celebrity status? First, he is a successful serial entrepreneur, having started eight venture-backed Silicon Valley companies, including software company E.piphany, which raised $66 million prior to going public in 1999. Second, Blank’s first book, “Four Steps to the Epiphany”, became a handbook for every budding tech entrepreneur and spawned the term “customer development” that sparked the “lean startup” movement.

Blank’s blog has become a must-read among entrepreneurs and is widely syndicated, regularly appearing on The Huffington Post. Recently, Blank launched an online version of his customer development course, called “The Lean LaunchPad”, which he says has more than 50,000 registered users.

from Paul Smalera:

Brad Feld’s four ingredients for thriving startup cities

BOULDER, Colo. -- One of the most resonant talks I heard at last week's Big Boulder conference was also one of the shortest. In about twenty minutes, Brad Feld, who is without exaggeration the godfather to the Boulder startup community, explained exactly why it is that Boulder feels like a town on the verge, and why it's teeming with startups. A lot of it has to do with Feld himself.

It's not just that Feld is a co-founder of Techstars, the nationwide startup incubator that got its start in Boulder, or that the college kids -- and lately, mid to late twenties startup veterans -- flock to Boulder in hopes of getting a few minutes of his time to discuss their ideas. It's not just that Feld's Foundry Group scored big with an exit on Zynga, though that credibility certainly helps. And it's not just that he picked Boulder as some magical perfect place to be a startup Mecca. In fact when I asked him why he moved there from Boston, he said, laughingly, it was because, "my wife told me she was moving to Boulder." He figured he had better go along.

"Happy warrior" is usually a phrase reserved for politicians on futile crusades, but the four principles that Feld talked about that make Boulder a burgeoning startup locale are ones that he seems to embody, not just talk about. And as to my earlier post, wondering where and whether Boulder needed a billion dollar startup (or founder) to justify itself, Feld more or less shrugged it off. If that outcome is a natural result of the principles Feld sees as key to keeping Boulder a great place to found a company, then great. If it's not, I get the sense no one, he least of all, would mind very much.

from Paul Smalera:

Startups are big in Boulder, but where are the tech billionaires?

"I'm not interested in working on this unless it's going to be a multi-billion dollar idea. If I thought this would be a hundred million dollar company -- what's the point?" - Anonymous entreprerneur discussing his startup. Overheard in front of Ozo Coffee, Boulder, CO.

I'm in Boulder, Colorado for a few days this week to attend Big Boulder, a conference devoted to the social side of "big data." Gnip, the company hosting the conference, is one I've written about before. They're doing the plumber's work of connecting all the firehoses of raw, public user data from social media companies like Twitter and Tumblr up to clients that want to derive insights from the wisdom of these online crowds.

A quick note on the definition of "big data." Generally speaking, it's the sort of data set that's so huge, even running a simple report on it won't tell you anything interesting. For example, if you could ask the IRS for a list of all the 25-30 year olds in the U.S. that paid taxes last year, you'd get back a list, alright. But what would be useful about it? On the other hand, if you could filter that list by several other factors: did they pay capital gains, did they owe over six figures in taxes, what is their self-reported job title, and so on, you might end up with a list highly correlated to young, dot-com millionaires and billionaires, like Mark Zuckerberg. And you might cross reference that list against all the other data sets you can find on them: where they live, where they shop, where they travel, what they watch, eat and listen to. It's all out there.

Tech Tonic checks in at the NY Tech Meetup

Reuters’ Rhonda Schaffler checks in at the first New York Tech Meetup since the Facebook IPO to talk financing and startups with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

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.

from The Great Debate:

Five steps the SEC can take to make crowdfunding work

A few weeks ago, President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law, making equity-based crowdfunding legal for businesses that want to raise capital in smaller amounts than traditional venture capitalists or accredited investors supply. Depending on who you ask, crowdfunding is either going to democratize access to capital and serve as a boon to small businesses across America, or it will be rife with con artists intent on bilking seniors out of their hard-earned savings.

Let’s hope the former is true. But concerns about fraud must be addressed so the emerging market can thrive without being spoiled by fraud and scams.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently writing rules that will govern crowdfunding and, it’s hoped, guarantee its success. (Disclosure: I worked as a securities lawyer at the SEC from 1986 to 1990.) To properly regulate crowdfunding without suffocating it at inception, the regulators at the SEC must strike the right balance between guarding against fraud and allowing the marketplace to work its will.

Is ‘Occupy Silicon Valley’ next?

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. The views expressed are her own. –

There it was on Craigslist – an ad for “young, successful professionals living in America’s most emerging area, Silicon Valley,” ostensibly posted by a “major cable network” that’s looking to cast a Silicon Valley reality show.

No wonder. While many Americans are suffering through an abysmal economy, Internet startups seem impervious to bad news of any kind. Valuations have been rising for several years straight; companies like Zynga, Facebook, and Twitter are minting millionaires left and right; and many young outfits can’t hire skilled, highly paid software engineers or salespeople fast enough.

Chicago’s startup community sticks by struggling Groupon

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. The views expressed are her own. –

Not long ago, daily deals giant Groupon was the toast of Chicago, a press darling that received the blessing of Oprah Winfrey, was commended by Forbes as the “fastest growing company ever,” and even reportedly spurned a multibillion-dollar buyout offer from Google.

A Chicago Tribune headline from last December summed up its place in the ecosystem: “Groupon’s Success Adds Luster to Chicago’s Startup Community.”

Entrepreneurship a “series of failures”: Babson study

Failure shouldn’t be a dirty word for entrepreneurs.

That’s one of several new findings by Babson College, in collaboration with The Business Innovation Factory, a nonprofit research group, as part of an in-depth look at American entrepreneurs and their attitudes toward business.

“We found that entrepreneurship is just a series of failures,” said Heidi Neck, an associate professor of entrepreneurship and director of the Entrepreneur Experience Lab at the Boston area college, which is known for entrepreneurial studies.

“You need to prepare for failure, you need to tolerate failure and you need to learn from failure,” she said. “Maybe we need to start talking about it as intentional iteration.”

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