Most Common Early Start-up Mistakes

Both Sides of the Table

This is part of my ongoing series “ Start-up Lessons. &# If you want to subscribe to my RSS feed please click here or to get my blog by email click here. Imagine you pour 5 years of your life into your next gig and it starts to become successful. Many times the answer is ‘no.&# The problem is that you’re opening yourself up to a claim by one of these people that you somehow stole their ideas. Starting with 25% is even harder.

Report: Fidelity Writes Down Investment in Snapchat


Snapchat--arguably, the most visible "unicorn" startup in Southern California--had been valued at $15 billion in its last fundraising round. snapchat fidelity writedown investment write down finance messaging instant disappearing unicornA report Tuesday in the Financial Times said that investment giant Fidelity has written its investment in Los Angeles-based Snapchat by 25 percent, citing data from a Morningstar report.

A Hard Post to Write. Helping @MattLauzon Bring Justice

Both Sides of the Table

I was contacted today by Matt Lauzon, the founder of Dunwello , who I had met previously when he was running his startup Gemvara. I used to write personal posts on these pages and I mentioned earlier in the year I would do so from time-to-time. Matt brought to my attention an issue that deserved increased awareness on multiple front: Police abuse, police cover-ups and child molestation. Why do I feel compelled to write about this? We must all speak up.

Do you want to control your business destiny?


There is nothing quite as thrilling in business as igniting a startup and watching it blossom. Especially when starting a company with personal savings or money from relatives and friends, early signs of success are intoxicating. Write your own Hollywood script. Starting up

Are MBAs Necessary for Start-ups or VC?

Both Sides of the Table

This is part of my ongoing series called “ Start-up Lessons.&#. He writes with a great perspective and is well worth reading. BCG, Bain, LEK – they’re all great), a few years at a start-up or a few years somewhere like Microsoft, Google, Amazon or Apple.

Running More Effective Board Meetings at Startups

Both Sides of the Table

We started with our financial statements. So I changed things up and became much happier with my results. But they were in a slide and people asked you questions so it ended up chewing up 30 minutes. Harder to do that when you have an 8am start.

Startups and VCs Should Avoid “Pier” Funding

Both Sides of the Table

Often when startups who have raised venture capital need another round of financing they will turn to their existing investors to give them money before raising from outsiders. It starts as a debt instrument (e.g. And it adds up.

Startup Founders Should Flip Burgers

Both Sides of the Table

This is part of my ongoing series Startup Advice. When you’re an early-stage startup that hasn’t raised any institutional money you end up doing almost every job function of the company yourself. We had to ramp up our team quickly and ramp we did.

How to Improve Hiring at Startups

Both Sides of the Table

This is part of my ongoing series with Startup Advice. BEFORE YOU START. Example: Work Experience can be broken down into: has managed a team, has led direct sales efforts, has worked for a startup before, etc. I usually say right before I start interviewing (e.g.

People Management: Startup Teams Should Dip but not Skip

Both Sides of the Table

We all like to think of startups as “non hierarchic&# organizations and to some extent that should be true. I see two common mistakes in companies (not just in startups, in fact). As a content management system we had lots of write activities and went with Postgres.

How to Work with Lawyers at a Startup

Both Sides of the Table

If you’re a startup and you don’t have a close relationship with a few law firms you’re really missing one of the most important relationships that any entrepreneur can have. Many people start companies arse backwards.

What is the Right Amount of Money to Raise at a Startup?

Both Sides of the Table

Recently I’ve been debating with a number of young startup companies that are raising money in the next few months, “what is the right about of capital to raise at a startup?&#. Who started this meme? 24 months for most tech startups is usually too much money. -

73.6% of all Statistics are Made Up

Both Sides of the Table

of all statistics are made up. I’m writing this post to make sure you’re all on that same playing field. Here’s how I learned my lesson: I started my life as a consultant. I know it sounds like I’m making this sh*t up but I’m not.

The Right Way to Cancel a Meeting

Both Sides of the Table

A few days before the meeting the CEO asked me to change the meeting to 11:45 because “he was going to be wrapping up a meeting in Pasadena at 11am&# and it would take 45 minutes to get to Century City where my offices are. &# No problem,&# I replied.

How to Not Suck at a Group Presentation

Both Sides of the Table

Francisco Dao came up with the idea of letting 10 companies that weren’t selected for Twiistup to do a presentation the night before to a group of people and let the audience pick one company to win the final slot at Twiistup. Stories have starts, middles and ends.

Intro to the LA Startup Scene

Tech Zulu Event

Article after article points out that Los Angeles is on its way to becoming one of the most robust startup communities in the United States. Sam taught a second rendition of the class in February and over 700 people signed up. Guest article by Eva Hibnick with General Assembly LA.

What Makes an Entrepreneur? (1/11) – Tenacity

Both Sides of the Table

This post covers the first out of 10 that I’ll write about. It’s the person who never gives up – who never accepts “no&# for an answer. If you’re already running a startup you know all this. I came up lots of reasons why I was the perfect fit.

The Toxic Nature of Email

Both Sides of the Table

I travelled for a couple of days for work and decided to get some sleep on those days rather than staying up into the wee hours as I often do when I travel. He ends up spending personal time trying to get through email. And when I have time I try to write back.

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6 Tips for Building Relationships with Journalists

Both Sides of the Table

File this under both Startup Adivce and Sales & Marketing Advice. Oh, and Demo charges the startups $18,000. Too many startup execs place too much emphasis on the big stage launch. I’ve heard many startup CEO’s (and VCs!) It started socially.

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Should You Blog? (yes, and here’s how …)

Both Sides of the Table

Don’t blog about what you think would be “cool.&# I don’t think that most startup blogs should be about how to build a startup. The new stuff: How do I get started? The advantage of the hosted version is that it’s easier to get started.

Don’t drink your own Kool-Aid (surviving TC50)

Both Sides of the Table

This is part of my ongoing series “Start-up Lessons”. And if you’re not careful you might start to believe your own hype. Around this time B2C eCommerce had been dominating the media but the wheels were starting to come off.

Asking Questions More Effectively

Both Sides of the Table

We started presenting our company and talking about our views of the industry. I chalked this up as both a sign of nervousness, a certain social awkwardness / lack of confidence and a basic lack of interviewing skills. He started opening up.

How to Present at Big Meetings without Going Down a Rat Hole

Both Sides of the Table

I’m writing this post as part of my series with Advice on Raising Venture Capital but will file it under Sales Tips as well since it applies equally to both scenarios. Either way, don’t assume that the entire room is up to speed on your company. Let me write that down.&#. -

How To Communicate with your Investors between Board Meetings

Both Sides of the Table

Most early stage startups having monthly board meetings. A prominent startup CEO in NYC wrote me a private message telling me that this was an issue he was struggling with. I ran board meetings as a startup CEO for more than 8 years. Make sure when you write it you assume this.

You’re most vulnerable right after you win a deal

Both Sides of the Table

This is part of my ongoing series, “ Start-up Lessons.&#. My starting line with every entrepreneur is that everything I learned about being an entrepreneur I learned from F’ing it up on my first business. In fact, ramp up your efforts.

How to Quit Your Job

Both Sides of the Table

I know that this will sound like a random post topic for startup advice but I promise it’s relevant. When I started blogging I had an idea. This is advice that I end up giving ALL THE TIME and every CEO of a company I’m involved with will have heard this from me.

The Danger of Crocodile Sales

Both Sides of the Table

This is part of my series on Startup Advice. I love working with Aussies because their outlook on life seems very similar to what I grew up with in California. I probably will jump in with a few questions about their industry and start a discussion.

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The Yo-Yo Life of a Tech Entrepreneur – A Cautionary Tale

Both Sides of the Table

TechCrunch Europe ran an article in November of last year that European startups need to work as hard as those in Silicon Valley and I echoed the sentiment in my post about the need for entrepreneurs to be maniacal about their businesses if one wants to work in the hyper competitive tech world.

Inaugural Open Angel Forum Was a Success

Both Sides of the Table

Last night I attended the inaugural Open Angel Forum event started by Jason Calacanis , a fellow LA resident. Jason started the Open Angel Forum in response to his frustration that entrepreneurs were being charged by some angel organizations to present at their events.

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I Would Only Fund an Entrepreneur with High Integrity

Both Sides of the Table

When Nivi published the series he titled it “the top 10 things I look for before I write a check.&# As a result I felt compelled to add this final attribute because it matters a lot to me. Tags: Entrepreneur Advice Start-up Advice Startup Advice

Why The ‘Fail Fast’ Mantra Needs to Fail

Both Sides of the Table

Yesterday I wrote a post about how much capital your startup should raise. That is so self centered it winds me up. And how do you think the next person who’s thinking about writing you a check going to feel about that sort of cavalier attitude with their money?

How to Connect on Social Networks

Both Sides of the Table

Let’s start with a discussion of existing social networks and then how to approach people on them. Second, I don’t want to clutter up the stream of information that I have in my Facebook newsfeed with information on people with whom I don’t have a relationship.

What Can You Learn from the 4-Hour Workweek?

Both Sides of the Table

Let me start by saying I’m a huge business book cynic. But Net had told me that he picked up some valuable lessons from the book, so I thought, “WTF? They can travel the world, take classes in interesting subjects, spend time with loved ones or start new hobbies.

The Long-Term Value of Loyalty

Both Sides of the Table

I never implied that startups are all great and job hoppers are all at fault. No rule is ever absolute no matter how it sounds when one writes a blog. Most of what I learned about operating startups I learned from the really tough years at my first company from 2001-2003.

Framework Benchmarks


Application performance can be directly mapped to hosting dollars, and for a start-up company in its infancy, hosting costs can be a pain point. First up is plain JSON serialization on Amazon EC2 large instances. Starting again with EC2.