"Why does this matter to you?"
This is one of my favorite questions to ask Founders. The answer to "Why does this matter to you?" is telling. It's tough to hide behind a question which betrays so much about motivation. There is a difference between starting a company to solve a problem and starting a company to seize an opportunity. It reveals whether someone is intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. It can tell whether someone will tough it out through the turbulence every startup is bound to face. It shines a light on the vision that a Founder has for his or her company.
One of the myths consistently perpetuated in Silicon Valley is that great companies are built overnight. They aren't. Companies with impact take time to build - often because their founders see the future before anyone else can live it and as Jeff Bezos says, "are willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time". Out of the limelight, great founders fight on when everyone else doubts them.
It is very cool to be a part of the Grand St. team and I am really glad to be an investor. Today, Grand St. is the best place on the web to buy creative technology products. But, while I love eCommerce and think it is very smart to generate revenue if you are a consumer facing company today, to call Grand St. eCommerce misses the broader marketplace vision and the massive trend that the team at Grand St is going after.
I'm excited to announce our latest investment in Sift Science today
Fraud on the web is a huge problem. In 2011, online fraud cost U.S. merchants $3.4B in lost revenue. At First Round, we have direct experience with the problem through our e-commerce and marketplace investments in Fab, Uber, TaskRabbit and many others. The sheer number and variety of attacks by fraudsters is mind numbing and fighting back can drain a company's human resources and capital.
When you build a moat, you put yourself on an island.
A week or so ago, MessageMe launched their product. I wrote a brief blog post about why First Round loved their product and team. A lot has happened since then. MessageMe has signed up more than a million users who have sent tens of millions of messages, videos and doodles. And the product has been featured in the Apple App Store, Google Play, and *shut off* by Facebook.
One of these things is not like the others.
Some quick observations of people, technology, communication and expression.
I'm thrilled to announce First Round Capital's latest investment, Looker Data Sciences, brainchild of founder and CEO, Lloyd Tabb.
I’m really excited to announce our investment in Nomi as they announce their funding today. Nomi helps offline retailers leverage their existing infrastructure to gather real-world, in-store customer analytics, and they integrate with existing CRM, Loyalty, and e-commerce platforms to provide better service for both online and offline customers.
When you have the opportunity to partner with Jeff Atwood (aka Coding Horror) on a new company, it's hard to say "no". And when you learn his new company is reinventing forum software, a product that hasn't seen change in a couple decades, it becomes a pretty easy "yes".
I’ve attended hundreds of conferences and spoken at dozens of them over the years. While most people complain that they don’t get always the value they’d like from conferences, I usually do. The job I have now as a Partner at First Round Capital and many of my business relationships can be directly attributed to conferences where I’ve met the right people and connected in the right way. So here it is, from the basics to more advanced tips, my best advice on How To Work A Conference (with a particular Business Development focus on those that involve speakers and an audience, and less about massive trade shows like CES.)