May 8, 2009

Luck be a Start-Up Tonight

I've got a huge hankering to try my 'luck' in the start up space and I've got a business idea that I believe has some real legs - actually, I've had quite a few lately. For anyone who has a desire to start their own business, I highly recommend attending a few conferences - even some that may be outside of your interest or comfort zone. Great ideas can come from anywhere; I love to apply thought-provoking ideas or processes or research to something completely different from what the initial intent was. Being a passionate part of a new business venture that takes on an obsessive role in my life and blurs the lines between work and life. Honestly, I hear lots of talk about work/life balance - I think the perfect job is one that rarely feels like it is a job. Early on in my career I was privileged to be a part of a number of start ups (some were more of a privilege than others). My overall work experience has helped me understand how quintessential knowing thy customer really is. Not just knowing, but also understanding what THEY want. Alot of businesses think they know what their customers want - if you ever hear this 'you know what I think our customers want - this..." Take your ego out and let your customers tell you what they want. They know alot better than you do.

As an information junkie, I've recently begun to research start-ups and VC's and I continue to have ideas that I believe could have quite a bit of potential. Alot of my ideas relate back to complex solutions that big business faces as large corporations need in order to stay nimble as technology changes the landscape.

This posting is an aggregate of the start-up and VC resources I've discovered. In many ways, I see VC's as the business version of record labels. For unknown bands, the ability to get a record label to back them is quite an alluring thing. But we've heard many a sad tale in which the artists end up making no money because they signed a deal that was lucrative for the record label only.

As with any business venture, make sure you do all your research and know what you're getting yourself into. If your business does take off, you want to make sure that you will benefit from that success and you also want to make sure you have enough of the control to drive the destiny. Here's a little inspiration for you from Pamela Slim via AmEx's OPEN Forum - How to Escape Mundanity.

From a venture capital perspective, here is the first site that comes to mind is AngelSoft (no, not that AngelSoft). I really love this business because it's a very classy solution to the "I want to start a business and need help with the start up phase" problem. I have to admit, at one point I thought of a similar idea that was more of a mass approach - similar to HSN that would help people who have business ideas like the Snuggie, ShamWow, or some of the less brilliant product solutions. Remember those ads that encouraged inventors to submit their inventions? Search for 'invention' on Google and there aren't as many truly mass solutions as I'd expect for the average person who has the next great invention. Here's one that looked interesting - AbsolutelyNew.

Start-up Information:

The Funding Roadmap - An online business plan and due diligence site that provides the training wheels needed for folks who want to start their own business. I haven't used this site, but it looks interesting.

List of VC information resources:

definition of Venture Capital

Top 100 Venture
Capital Firms
- Entrepreneur Magazine (this is the 2007 list)
Some of the best resources for VC information are on blogs as well as on Twitter:

Fred Wilson's 'A VC' Blog - Musings of a VC in
NYC. I love what this guy has to say about the business.
AngelSoft blog
Women 2.0 - I'm happy to see women
getting some support in this arena. There definitely appear to be an inordinate
amount of men in the VC new business venture space. Particularly in technology.
There are some women, but not as many as there should be.
Alltop VC Info
Five Years Too Late - I found this blog through Fred Wilson.
Lessons Learned - Eric Ries' blog

Startup Marketing - Sean Ellis' startup blog

Futuristic Play by Andrew Chen

Market by Numbers

Twitter VC tracking:


Venture Investors:

RRE Ventures

Sequoia Capital

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