Startup vs. Pandemic: Farmgirl Flowers’ Fight for Survival


This post is by HBR.org from HBR.org

How founder Christina Stembel navigated difficult emotions and impossible decisions during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Can the “Cummings Way” Live on After the Founder Retires?


This post is by HBR.org from HBR.org

After billionaire and philanthropist Bill Cummings retires, the management team at Cummings Properties must determine how to move the company forward.

Launch Your Business in Georgia (The Country, not the State)


This post is by Janelle Apaydin from 500 Startups

The following post is written by Nato Chakvetadze, Program Associate for 500Georgia. Gavin: Here everything is so expensive. Look at the numbers. If we move to Georgia, we can save a fortune and get a further investment. It’s the only way. Denpok: Well, I have heard good things about the food scene in the Dirty South. Hoover: Stankonia. Freaknik. Might be nice to be around more people of color. Gavin: What? Not Atlanta. Tbilisi. The country of Georgia, not the state. -Silicon Valley (Season 6, Episode 2) Yes, you heard it right – this is an article about Georgia, the country, not the state.  500 Startups recently launched 500Georgia, the first international accelerator in the country, in partnership with two …

The post Launch Your Business in Georgia (The Country, not the State) appeared first on 500 Startups.

Capitalism, Unicorns and SoftBank. The End? The Beginning?


This post is by Keith Teare from Stories by Keith Teare on Medium

Venture Trends Newsletter, Issue #19

Taking our Flagship Accelerator Virtual-First


This post is by Aaron Blumenthal from 500 Startups

There is not a single business that is not affected in some form or another from COVID-19, and 500 Startups is no different. When news broke of COVID-19 entering in the US, we were one of the first major accelerators to turn the Demo Day experience completely virtual, and since then, we have focused on collecting data from investors and founders to help the community at-large through reports like our COVID-19 Investor Survey and Female Founders Survey.  We’ve also seen our portfolio companies step up to the challenge with everything from helping frontline workers to bettering remote work for thousands. Our founders continue to inspire us, and in the true nature of putting their safety and wellbeing first, we are …

The post Taking our Flagship Accelerator Virtual-First appeared first on 500 Startups.

Location, Location, Location. Is Silicon Valley Slowly Dying or Stealthily Expanding


This post is by Keith Teare from Stories by Keith Teare on Medium

Venture Trends Newsletter, Issue #18, 14 May 2020

The Funding Numbers are in….They Suck. Shocker!


This post is by Keith Teare from Stories by Keith Teare on Medium

Venture Trends Newsletter, Issue #17

Bring Deep Focus to Working from Home


This post is by HBR.org from HBR.org

How an experiment in productivity among friends became Caveday, a startup that helps people around the world reshape their work rituals.

Passion for Your Startup Doesn’t Have to Mean Constant Stress


This post is by Trish Cotter from HBR.org

Research finds that self-awareness training is key.

Look Outside of Silicon Valley to See How Founders Can Be Successful Post-COVID-19


This post is by Vijay Rajendran from 500 Startups

500 Startups kicked off a new series called Innovation Coffee Breaks. Experts from leading companies, venture capital firms and startups join us every week to discuss how to innovate during this time of uncertainty.  We caught up with Alex Lazarow, the investment director of Cathay Innovation, a global fund affiliated with Cathay Capital. Lazarow also teaches entrepreneurship at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies and is out with a new book called “Out-Innovate: How Global Entrepreneurs from Delhi to Detroit are Rewriting the Rules of Silicon Valley.”  He believes that the best entrepreneurs in Chicago, Amsterdam or Bangalore have more in common with the best entrepreneurs in São Paulo than they do with those in San Francisco, but no one …

The post Look Outside of Silicon Valley to See How Founders Can Be Successful Post-COVID-19 appeared first on 500 Startups.

Our Workless Future has been Accelerated — Robots Anybody?


This post is by Keith Teare from Stories by Keith Teare on Medium

Venture Trends Newsletter, Issue #16

Why Investing in Female Founders Matters Now More Than Ever


This post is by Christine Tsai from 500 Startups

Long before diversity and inclusion became buzzwords, we decided to make venture capital inclusive from day one at 500 Startups. They became our guiding principles, because we know that great talent exists in all forms, no matter your gender, race, nationality, age, or background. Since 2010, we have expressed our commitment to those values in multiple ways. 500 actively invested in founders who were diverse or were building for diverse customers; we shunned manels by making sure to feature female speakers at our events, so that it wasn’t predominantly men doing the talking.  This extended to policies 500 implemented. We offer 12 weeks of fully paid leave for all parents in the U.S., which, sadly, puts us in the minority …

The post Why Investing in Female Founders Matters Now More Than Ever appeared first on 500 Startups.

Time to Build….Can We? How?


This post is by Keith Teare from Stories by Keith Teare on Medium

Venture Trends Newsletter, Issue #15

How we invested in three new pre-seed companies we only ever met remotely


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by Natasha Lytton. The original is [linked here]

A few weeks back, when the whole world changed, we knew we’d have to adapt alongside it. Slowing down or reducing our commitment to back new, early-stage founders was not an option so we had to find a way to bring the magic, energy and interactive nature of our in-person, pre-seed Investment Forum and translate it into a new, online-only experience. 

Since launching Fund IV in late 2017, we’ve introduced many new processes to help us maintain our high-volume of early-stage investments and to ensure we’re able to meet as many new European founders as possible. As part of our rolling and open submissions on our website, every 6-8 weeks we hold an ‘Investment Forum’ where we invite pre-seed companies we’ve been following and who’ve already pitched to our investment team, present in front of our own LPs. This tends to be a fast-paced, half-day affair where we have up to 15 companies from all across Europe present their business ideas in front of leading later stage investors and high-net-worths, enabling early-stage founders to get on the radar of growth funds and opening up potential syndication opportunities with some of the angel investors in the room. 

Some of our core team steering the ship during our first digital-only Investment Forum

With 35 LPs dialling in from seven different countries and presentations from 11 pre-seed startups across five, we wanted to break down how we made it work and why online-only should not in any way deter founders from seeking funding or investors from backing new companies. Now more than ever is a time for innovation and solutions that will fundamentally help with changes to the way we live, interact and buy.

Don’t forget, if you are an early-stage founder looking for investment, submissions are open on our website right here.

Planning:

We definitely had some serious questions about how we would be able to migrate our Investment Forum into an online-only format and what it would mean from a relationship perspective, both in terms of getting to know new founders and being able to engage with our own LPs. Thankfully, with the right tech tools, team and planning, we were able to come up with an incredibly detailed operation to ensure a slick operation.

The Objective

To reduce friction in an online-only arena creating a seamless experience where multiple pre-seed founders can present their businesses, investors feel engaged and stay for the duration and our core team participates throughout, ultimately leading to us investing in multiple new companies. 

Once clear on what we wanted to achieve, we then created an incredibly detailed breakdown of roles, responsibilities and testing of the best tech tools to help us get there. 

The Tools

  • Notion – our ‘source of truth’ and THE singular place where all aspects were laid out: notes, external links, pre, during and post-event responsibilities and the agenda for the day itself.
  • Zoom – we explored multiple tech solutions for how best to make this work; from a simple Zoom call, to live YouTube stream. In the end, we settled on a Zoom Webinar, ensuring we could manage the large number of attendees coming in and out (for the different startups presenting) and reducing friction or the need to train people in how to use a new tool. It also ensured solid data capture and seamless follow-up actions, all adding to the overall experience of the event itself.
  • Telegram – this event required serious synchronisation across the entire team and speedy communication. We set up separate Telegram groups with all of the 11 startups presenting to ensure they felt supported and were clear on what they needed to do, timings for their presentation and all necessary links. 

On the day

All events, be them online or offline, have their glitches. Thankfully, the biggest issue we experienced was connectivity problems for one of the founders presenting – bring on 5G? Our team was split across founder management, tech and presenting, ensuring all elements ran as smoothly as possible and maintaining engagement levels from our LPs.

The Outcome

We’re thrilled to announce our investment in three new companies as a result of our first ever remote-only Investment Forum. These companies are tackling everything from driving better standards in carbon markets to extracting knowledge from recorded meetings and providing better medical staff profiling for career growth and research collaboration. 

Our pre-seed Investment Forum takes place every 6-8 weeks and provides highly competitive terms for founders. The next one will take place in the middle of May. If you’d like to be considered and join the likes of TransferWise, Revolut and UiPath and become part of the Seedcamp Nation then we’d love to know what you’re building right here.

We believe although the world is currently in flux, that with these sort of occurrences also comes an opportunity for great things to be built by great people and we are here to back these founders and be a part of that journey from the earliest stage on.

How we invested in three new pre-seed companies we only ever met remotely


This post is by Natasha Lytton from Seedcamp

A few weeks back, when the whole world changed, we knew we’d have to adapt alongside it. Slowing down or reducing our commitment to back new, early-stage founders was not an option so we had to find a way to bring the magic, energy and interactive nature of our in-person, pre-seed Investment Forum and translate it into a new, online-only experience. 

Since launching Fund IV in late 2017, we’ve introduced many new processes to help us maintain our high-volume of early-stage investments and to ensure we’re able to meet as many new European founders as possible. As part of our rolling and open submissions on our website, every 6-8 weeks we hold an ‘Investment Forum’ where we invite pre-seed companies we’ve been following and who’ve already pitched to our investment team, present in front of our own LPs. This tends to be a fast-paced, half-day affair where we have up to 15 companies from all across Europe present their business ideas in front of leading later stage investors and high-net-worths, enabling early-stage founders to get on the radar of growth funds and opening up potential syndication opportunities with some of the angel investors in the room. 

Some of our core team steering the ship during our first digital-only Investment Forum

With 35 LPs dialling in from seven different countries and presentations from 11 pre-seed startups across five, we wanted to break down how we made it work and why online-only should not in any way deter founders from seeking funding or investors from backing new companies. Now more than ever is a time for innovation and solutions that will fundamentally help with changes to the way we live, interact and buy.

Don’t forget, if you are an early-stage founder looking for investment, submissions are open on our website right here.

Planning:

We definitely had some serious questions about how we would be able to migrate our Investment Forum into an online-only format and what it would mean from a relationship perspective, both in terms of getting to know new founders and being able to engage with our own LPs. Thankfully, with the right tech tools, team and planning, we were able to come up with an incredibly detailed operation to ensure a slick operation.

The Objective

To reduce friction in an online-only arena creating a seamless experience where multiple pre-seed founders can present their businesses, investors feel engaged and stay for the duration and our core team participates throughout, ultimately leading to us investing in multiple new companies. 

Once clear on what we wanted to achieve, we then created an incredibly detailed breakdown of roles, responsibilities and testing of the best tech tools to help us get there. 

The Tools

  • Notion – our ‘source of truth’ and THE singular place where all aspects were laid out: notes, external links, pre, during and post-event responsibilities and the agenda for the day itself.
  • Zoom – we explored multiple tech solutions for how best to make this work; from a simple Zoom call, to live YouTube stream. In the end, we settled on a Zoom Webinar, ensuring we could manage the large number of attendees coming in and out (for the different startups presenting) and reducing friction or the need to train people in how to use a new tool. It also ensured solid data capture and seamless follow-up actions, all adding to the overall experience of the event itself.
  • Telegram – this event required serious synchronisation across the entire team and speedy communication. We set up separate Telegram groups with all of the 11 startups presenting to ensure they felt supported and were clear on what they needed to do, timings for their presentation and all necessary links. 

On the day

All events, be them online or offline, have their glitches. Thankfully, the biggest issue we experienced was connectivity problems for one of the founders presenting – bring on 5G? Our team was split across founder management, tech and presenting, ensuring all elements ran as smoothly as possible and maintaining engagement levels from our LPs.

The Outcome

We’re thrilled to announce our investment in three new companies as a result of our first ever remote-only Investment Forum. These companies are tackling everything from driving better standards in carbon markets to extracting knowledge from recorded meetings and providing better medical staff profiling for career growth and research collaboration. 

Our pre-seed Investment Forum takes place every 6-8 weeks and provides highly competitive terms for founders. The next one will take place in the middle of May. If you’d like to be considered and join the likes of TransferWise, Revolut and UiPath and become part of the Seedcamp Nation then we’d love to know what you’re building right here.

We believe although the world is currently in flux, that with these sort of occurrences also comes an opportunity for great things to be built by great people and we are here to back these founders and be a part of that journey from the earliest stage on.

Good versus Evil — Ideas, Cash and Barbarians


This post is by Keith Teare from Stories by Keith Teare on Medium

Venture Trends Newsletter, Issue #14

Should VCs invest in young or old founders? Using hard data, we find out.


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by Hector Mason. The original is [linked here]

19, 26 and 21. These are the ages at which Mark Zuckerburg (Facebook), Evan Spiegel (Snapchat) and Steve Jobs (Apple) started their companies, respectively.

There’s a common belief that successful founders start their businesses in their twenties. Paul Graham, co-founder of YCombinator (a successful US startup accelerator and investor) said “the cutoff in investors’ heads is 32… After 32, they start to be a little sceptical.”

I think this misconception (I’m about to show why it’s a misconception) is due to the occasional cases where startups are founded in a dorm room by college dropouts. These extraordinary (and by definition rare) cases are the ones that the press hook onto, and we, the public, let form our world views.

As VCs, we’re supposed to be aware-of and resilient-to biases, but I don’t think that’s often the case. We, just like any other member of the media-absorbing public, are often guilty of a bias towards youth when evaluating founders.

For this research, I’ve gathered data from Beauhurst which while not perfect, is pretty good. There will no doubt be companies and founders missing from my data, although I don’t believe these omissions have any significant impact on the results.

So let’s cut to the chase — when do the most successful founders start their businesses.

The criteria for the search is founders of UK-based software businesses that have raised at least £30m of venture capital funding. £30m funding is a somewhat arbitrary definition of ‘successful’, but I think it’s a pretty good measure for the sake of this research. Unfortunately, bootstrapped companies won’t be included here, nor exited ones, but I don’t believe that including those (if you could find the data) would have that much impact. You can decide for yourself which way you think my results are skewed, but I think this provides a good indication of the situation.

The average (mean) age of founders at the time they found their business, is 34.4 years old.

Why these results?

I was quite surprised by the results — I thought the founders would be younger, so we discussed this internally out of curiosity. One of the partners found this HBR article on the subject, which suggests that even 34 is young when compared to the wider, global market.

Here are three contributing factors to consider:

  1. Experience: older people have bigger networks, more situational evidence to base decisions on, and more experience of successfully managing others. These will all improve the likelihood of building a good business.
  2. People have enough of a financial buffer to set up businesses at this age. Perhaps these founders have a partner who can help put food on the table.
  3. The big idea comes later in life. It may take years to find a problem worth solving — maybe these founders suffer from the problem for years before founding a company to solve it.

The chances are it’s a mixture of these and many other factors that combine to create the perfect storm.

There’s one thing worth mentioning that I’ve always felt works in young founders’ favour: Relative immaturity and the feeling of invincibility that this can provide, may stand them in good stead for building an unstoppable growth machine. Do knowledge and maturity breed excess caution? Does youthful naivety mean bold (high-risk, high-return) decisions are made quickly? Perhaps.

Anyway, back to the point. The interesting thing is that VC’s perception of young founders being the best ones to back has probably led to the average age of successful VC-backed founders falling; a self-fulfilling prophecy, I hear you say.

VCs throw money after young founders, who do, with buckets of capital, manage to build big businesses. Are we, however, throwing money after the wrong people? Would VCs have delivered better returns if they’d consciously invested in older founders? Who knows — it’s pure speculation — but there’s certainly an argument.

If you’re an old (or young 😉) founder looking for funding, please drop a message to hector@episode1.com.


Should VCs invest in young or old founders? Using hard data, we find out. was originally published in Episode 1 Ventures on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Interplay: Seeking New Partner


This post is by MPD from MPD’s Blog - Medium

We’re living in strange times but the show must go on. Despite the chaos in the market we’re looking to expand our operation on all fronts. To that end, we’re aiming to add another partner to the Interplay team.

Interplay is a NY-based innovation platform. We invest in, cofound and incubate companies.

This person will focus on scaling up our incubating activities. They will work closely with founders to help position their companies to enter and penetrate markets.

It’s a full-time role in NYC.

The right person for this role is someone who is:

  • passionate about entrepreneurship / building society.
  • has deep operating experience and understands a wide array of startup disciplines (e.g., branding, marketing, process, product, sales, etc).
  • attuned to core startup principles.
  • happy — laughs a lot and values personal relationships.
  • reliable.
  • humble.

If you’re interested please apply here: http://join.interplay.vc.

Please note: there’s only one way in — through the link above. The folks screening the candidates will only be reviewing applications submitted through the above link. Also, we run a pretty objective process so there’s no need to ask folks to email us to put in a good word.

I hope this finds all of you and your families healthy and safe.


Interplay: Seeking New Partner was originally published in MPD’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Best of the Week in Venture Capital, Angel Investing and Startups


This post is by Keith Teare from Stories by Keith Teare on Medium

Venture Trends Newsletter, Issue #13

Understanding Omni-Channel Opportunities with Square at Founders Day


This post is by Guest Author from 500 Startups

Guest Post: The following post is a sponsored guest post by Square, Inc. All views and opinions represented in this post are the views and opinions of Square, Inc. and do not represent those of 500 Startups or any of its staff or affiliates. For many startups in the 500 portfolio, understanding how they can make the easiest, most seamless transactions possible is a top priority. They don’t want to have to worry about their customer not being able to find an easy way to complete a sale due to credit card processing issues. Instead of just introducing them to some of the top credit card point-of-sale companies, we wanted to bring together both parties for a conversation around what’s …

The post Understanding Omni-Channel Opportunities with Square at Founders Day appeared first on 500 Startups.