When Getting Fired is The Best Thing Ever


David Meerman Scott recalls, “I jumped into my own thing 14 years ago after being fired from a corporate job for having too many radical ideas. Today, I deliver speeches, write books, and serve on advisory boards for startups.” It doesn’t take a deep thinker to realize that sure does sound like a better gig.

Listen to our full interview with David Meerman Scott (part 1 and part 2).

The tried and true playbook doesn’t work.

David goes about his career by “trying to not do what everyone else does.” He thinks by business people fail themselves by focusing on what everyone else does while it’s been his experience time and time again that “the tried and true playbook doesn’t work.” Instead, he advises founders to “go agile, do things differently. Focus on what’s interesting to your buyers, not what’s interesting to your venture capitalists.”

“Focus on your buyers” is a very similar message to what John Lee Dumas told us about “listening to your audience.”

David notes how many VCs might have built up their money 20 years ago and since they were successful in that way they think the business playbook hasn’t changed. David knows from his own experience that simply isn’t the case and he challenges founders to be nimble and get out there and not use the old playbook.

I focused on what worked, not what someone wanted me to do.

David tells us, “I kept getting fired from the corporate world. I would focus on what worked and not what someone told me to do. In the early days of the Internet [1995] I was trying to shift budget spending from print and direct mail to online marketing.”

“[My boss and I] had a difference of opinion and in that organization they valued the boss’ opinion more than the people who were actually doing the work. I like organizations where bosses listen to people who have tested their opinions and know what they are talking about.”

“I thought for sure I’d be a corporate guy for another 10-20 years. Getting fired was the best gift I was ever given in my professional life. I did think in the back of my mind that I could go out on my own.”

David tells us his wife and one of his trusted colleagues made the difference for him and encouraged him to get out there as a professional speaker. We’ve heard similar messages about using mentors to push you forward. “They supported me to live on my own wits and that made it a little bit easier.”

I hustled business from my parents’ friends.

Going back to the earlier days in his life, David recalls cutting grass, raking leaves and shoveling snow for neighbors.

“I hustled business from my parents’ friends; I negotiated prices. What that taught me is that I could live by my wits.”

It’s a great lesson for founders. Many of us can think back and realize we always were entrepreneurs with lemonade stands, mowing grass, or “hustling” business like David recalls.

It might be terrifying to leave that corporate gig, but if you do the right planning, build your content footprint, and keep plugging away at telling your story, you’re very likely to be able to make it.

The Four Customers of Startup Entrepreneurs



Every startup entrepreneur has four important customers. Without one of these four customers being taken care of and appreciated, it is very hard to build a successful business. How well do you understand and take care of these four customers? Please comment and share.

Valuetainment Weekly Episode #65

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Valuetainment Weekly with Patrick Bet-David, the best videos for startup entrepreneurs and critical thinking.

Oren Klaff Talks About How to Pitch Anything



Oren Klaff has mastered the art of pitching anything. Check out his interview with Coach Micheal Burt.


Neuroeconomics combines neuroscience, economics, and psychology to study how people make decisions. It looks at the role of the brain when we evaluate decisions, categorize risks and rewards, and interact with each other. This was my first exposure to a credible group of people studying the same thing as me – how the brain responds to financial offers. This was the first time I came to believe a unified algorithm for pitching could be developed and used.

How Jen Laska Bootstrapped a National Brand in Her Spare Time


Jen Laska of Jen & Joes Cookie Dough is the power behind the company. The business is already successful with Jen and Joe’s Cookie Dough being stocked in over 150 major retailers across the country, including places like Gelson’s.

Jen wanted some advice on taking the business to the next level. I met her for the first time in the studio, a lovely person and like a true entrepreneur, was very open to some mentoring about her business, her website and to other people’s ideas .

As those of you who listen every week know, I have always had mentors and every entrepreneur should surround themselves with people who can provide advice on a range of issues. It has saved my bacon more often than I can remember. Jen is the perfect guest for this show, she created a product, bootstrapped it to the point where they have widespread distribution, and she has done all this while being fully employed in a day job. That sounds like the Modus Operandi of most of the entrepreneurs I know.

How Crashing A Trade Show Saved Helprace


Startups can greatly benefit from attending conferences, especially if they are fighting tooth and nail to build awareness. That’s what founder Gregory Koldirkaev had to resort to when he decided to take on Zendesk and Getsatisfaction with his own customer service platform, Helprace.

After getting a small investment a decade ago, a small group of software engineers were recruited to develop a knowledge-based software. In a year, the client base grew into the hundreds. Then came the market crash, reducing the team to virtually zero.This forced a pivot into the customer service software market. Enter the need to leverage trade shows to pitch the new value proposition and get clients. There was a little problem, however. Cash flow had ground to a halt and there was a $1000 in the bank.

It was time to make a gamble. One of the world’s top customer service conferences was approaching fast. Every minute lost sitting idly in the IT industry means digging your own grave, but with the cost to register as a visitor in the prestigious Atlantic City conference priced in the thousands, it was time to get creative!

How to crash the conference without paying those pesky fees?

Staring at potential failure of his startup, Gregory had a Eureka moment. He called and called the organizers, explaining how he was a tech entrepreneur and unable to afford the ticket. Luckily, he was able to squeeze out the guest invitation he so desperately needed. (If that doesn’t work for you, think of people you know who are exhibiting and ask them to get you a free pass.)

“After hearing the news, I began dissecting my visit right there and then,” laughs Gregory. “I realized I’m going to be around people who paid all that money, who were meant to be there.”

Make the Conference Work For You

Being on your feet and pitching your product for 10 hours straight will exhaust you, so get enough sleep and plan out every move the night before.

“I made sure to have my phone ready to show relevant videos or demos before I even walked up to the booth,” recalls Gregory. “It was a great way to refresh my memory and and recap relevant discussion material.”

Large trade shows can seem overwhelming, and you can waste a good chunk of your day wandering around without getting much done. Make sure to divide up your time between the exhibitors and leave a window at the end to visit the booths you might have missed.

So Was It Worth The Risk?

Gregory booked a flight from Chicago to Atlantic City. He checked into a cheap $40 motel room 30 minutes away (to save money, of course), and was in first when the doors opened.

When all was said and done, Gregory netted hundreds of high quality leads and networking prospects. This enabled Helprace to get going with the new model and has led to many great clients and growing success.

As startup founders we always have to be willing to push the envelope, take educated gambles and be willing to fail. We can’t always control the outcome, but we do have to be ready to seize opportunity when it comes our way!

In situations like this, I, for one, can’t think of a better way to invest $300. Can you?

What is Helprace anyway?

helpraceHelprace is an emerging provider of cloud-based customer service solutions. It consists of a helpdesk ticketing system, community and a knowledge base for end-users. Users can ask a question, share an idea, report a problem or give praise. This data is seamlessly integrated into the admin interface, and support agents can directly participate in conversations. Learn more at http://helprace.com


How to Know if You’re a Born Entrepreneur


My guest  Hana Abaza is the Director of Marketing at Uberflip where she combines a metrics driven approach with an unwavering commitment to creating an exceptional brand experience. Hana has a knack for communicating inspired tech solutions to mainstream audiences and, with over a decade of experience in digital marketing, she gets results.

Hana is also an energetic speaker and contributor to the Huffington Post, Marketing Profs, Content Marketing Institute and other industry publications. Find her on Google+ or follow her on Twitter @HanaAbaza.


Staying Focused is The Key to Success

fist bumping

The early years of a startup can be chaotic and desperate. Even a great idea needs capital to get off the ground. In the beginning you need cash, so you chase every opportunity. You say “yes” to anything and everything because you need clients; you need investment; you need to turn your idea into an actual business. You are excited and you want to grow, so everyone who offers you money is a potential client, a potential investor, someone you need.

Unfortunately, every thoughtless “yes” leads you further into a trap. Too quickly you’ll take on too many things. You’ll have differentiated into too many products, options and services in an effort to please anyone who shows even a hint of interest in your company. In a few years, your company is just okay at a whole bunch of things instead of great at a few.

Saying “yes” disrupts your focus.

When you started your business, you probably had one great idea. You knew what you wanted to do, what kind of business you wanted to have. There was a central product, a main service, a particular methodology. You had focus and you were determined. In the rip tide of those early years, hold on to that focus. Keep it in front of you. To be successful and stay focused, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Choose a business model. Obviously, as a startup, you are going to have to make changes. Adjusting to the environment is a skill that you’ll acquire quickly. But once you have the lay of the land and have seen the various possibilities, it’s time to put together the business model that works for you. Figure out who you are trying to market to, why they’ll want your product, how much they’ll pay for it and how you will get it to them. You might have to do some experimenting, but when you find something that makes sense to you, follow that course.
  2. Pick one or two things to be good at, and stick with them. To be the best, you have to learn and build on your experience. If you keep changing what you do and moving with the whims of potential clients, you’ll never get good enough to be at the top. People will ask for products or services that are just one step away from what you already do. You’ll be tempted, but don’t give in. The slippery slope quickly degrades your business and takes away from your ability to develop and invest in that one thing you know you can do better than everyone else. You believed in your idea enough to start a business; believe in it enough to see it through.
  3. Fire your bad clients. Of all the challenges to focus, this one is the hardest. Once you take on a client, you may feel obligated to continue working with them. But bad clients will suck you dry. They will take advantage of your need for cash; they will cling to you in the hopes that you can do what no one else can: fix them. Look at the ROI. Consider the advantages or benefits to working with these people. If you can’t find the upside, get rid of them. You’re going to survive a lot longer if you don’t let people suck your blood. Focus on your product. Don’t trade excessive time commitments for a little money.

The more opportunities you say “yes” to, the more you lose the value of what you are trying to accomplish. When you are wide-eyed and money-hungry, coach yourself to say “no”; to turn things down when they don’t fit or if they won’t bring in a significant return. Do not take on every opportunity. Stick to what you want to do. Imagine your end goal — what you want your company to look like once you have made it. And above all, stay focused — after all, it’s your business.


Ty Morse is the CEO of Songwhale, an interactive technology company focusing on enterprise SMS solutions and Direct Response campaigns, both domestic and international. Since the company’s 2007 launch, Ty has grown Songwhale from 2 people to over 100. A two time Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, Ty has been featured in the NY Times, Wired, NPR, PBS, and Discovery Channel and published in Forbes, the NY Report, and Geek.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

7 Truths About All Self-Made Entrepreneurs


Entrepreneurs are a rare breed. It takes a heterogeneous mix of confidence, risk tolerance, self-discipline, determination and competitiveness to start a business and see it through to success.

Entrepreneurs can come from myriad backgrounds and financial and personal support structures, but I most admire entrepreneurs who are self-made. They weren’t handed a business or a trust fund; they took an idea — or their talent for a trade or specialized profession — and set forth to build something. When you don’t come from money and don’t have a fallback plan, the risk, work ethos and single-mindedness needed to be a successful entrepreneur create a business-builder without equal.

That said, I’ve created a list of seven common themes that are true for every self-made entrepreneur.

1. There are only three things you need to start a business — a small amount of capital, a strong work ethic and persistence.

In a perfect world, it would be free to start a business. But it does cost money to file for an EIN and be recognized as a business entity on the state and federal level. You will also likely need capital for upfront infrastructure costs like Web development and accounting software. But aside from this, which should be fairly easily self-financed or put on a zero-interest 12 month credit card, all you really need is a serious dose of self-confidence and a never-say-die attitude. You will want to quit and you will feel like a failure. But success lies beyond these feelings of fear and anxiety. Always remember, failure only exists when you stop trying.

2. To be self-made means to rise from the ground floor. Even the most successful self-made entrepreneurs once walked in your shoes.

Every successful entrepreneur who ever lived started with nothing more than an idea. Remember this when you’re down and feel like the end is near. Use it as motivation to explore new ways of doing things, forge new partnerships or do something crazy. Self-made entrepreneurs are built to tolerate and withstand great risk. Hundreds if not thousands of people have already walked in your shoes. Channel this idea. Success lies ahead.

3. It’s very rare to be first-to-market at anything. We will all have competitors and few ideas are truly original.

“There are no original ideas. There are only original people.” –Barbara Grizutti Harrison

Everyone wants to be innovative — to come up with an idea that will change the world, disrupt an industry or set you apart as an “entrepreneurial genius.” But the truth is that few ideas a unique or new. Some of the most successful tech businesses, for example, are just iterative improvements on successful ventures that have come before.

Don’t get caught up market saturation or competition. No matter what you do in life, you will face stiff competition. Use your closest competition. Evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and improve your business positioning, brand message, and pricing and marketing strategy to get an edge.

At the end of the day, customers are a fickle bunch. If your business does it better, faster, cheaper or smarter than your rivals, you’re bound to find success.

4. Doubt will haunt you until you’ve reached “success.” Learn to get used to it.

Whether they let on or not, all entrepreneurs have high levels of anxiety about their business — even if they’re on the pathway to success. Running and building a business of any size in any industry requires a huge amount of responsibility and attention to detail. And things will go wrong. Frequently. You’ll second guess yourself (sometimes on a daily basis) and you’ll always fear you’re on the edge of failure. The sooner you accept this reality, the sooner you’ll learn to cope.

5. The first big milestones were equally challenging for all of your competitors.

Getting your first sale will be a big day. But there will be many days that pass as you ramp up your business and prepare to bring home the bacon. If you launch your business and have a slow start, worry not.

Very few businesses charge out of the gate at full speed. Growing a business can be a slow and painful process and you will need patience and persistence to weather your early setbacks. Remember, every great businessman had to start from somewhere. And for most, that somewhere was the same place you’re starting from now. 

6. The emotional and financial pressures you feel have been felt by every entrepreneur before you.

Just as you will have to get used to living with doubt and fear of failure, you will also need to adapt to the daily, weekly, and monthly financial pressures of being your own boss. As an entrepreneur, you have chosen to break away from the security of a bi-weekly paycheck for the chance at something more. Fortunately, you can find solace in the fact that every self-made man or woman who came before you had the same emotional and financial pressures bearing down on them. If they could do it, so can you.

7. In a fledgling business, learn to rely on no one but yourself for 90 percent of the work.

If you’re an independent-minded person, there is a good chance you’re used to doing most of the work yourself. As an entrepreneur, being a master-of-all-trades is in the first line of the job description. Working as part of a team is a valuable skill and one you’ll surely need as your business grows and you begin to scale, but in the early stages of every business you’ll need to rely on yourself for 90-100 percent of the work. While you’ll be burning the midnight oil most days of the week (and weekend), the satisfaction you will feel after finding success will be without equal.

This post originally appeared on the author’s LinkedIn column here.

Brendan Mangus is Principal Consultant at Colorwheel Media Consulting, a new breed of tech consultants specializing in helping early and mid-stage startups refine their product, define and grow their market and community and execute their outreach and go-to-market strategy. Prior to starting his consulting practice, he spent more than a decade providing marketing, branding and public relations counsel for a variety of clients.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

The Mount Rushmore of Tech Entrepreneurs


If you follow the NBA or watch ESPN at all (not me, my co-founder) then you know the airwaves and Twitterverse have been flooded with talk of the NBA’s “Mount Rushmore.” Lebron James started the debate when he proclaimed that he will be “on that Mountain” in his exclusive interview with NBA TV.  Any list of the greatest will cause debate and ruffle some feathers, like James did with NBA legend Bill Russell.

Blah blah blah. Y’all know I only knew that stuff because of Nick, right? You learn a lot from your cofounders.

Anyway, it got us thinking. Who would be on tech’s Mt. Rushmore–Mt. Techmore, if you will. There will undoubtedly be some debate, but we like a little healthy arguing.

Here’s what we think:



On Mt. Techmore, Steve Jobs takes a prominent spot. Doesn’t he look like he was actually chiseled into that mountain?

Jobs is already the idol of tech. We all quote him like Scripture, and like a politician with Reagan, everyone wants to believe they’re aligned with the Jobs mentality. His company is also the largest tech company in the world, with a $489.76 billion market cap and $159.97 billion in top line revenue in 2013. 


Bill Gates sits next to Jobs, and he’s another tech luminary you can hardly argue with. Say what you will about Microsoft (and poor Bill not being able to install Windows 8), but he is still the second richest man in the world.

That company he built, the one we all love to hate? Top line revenue of $73.75 billion in 2013 and a market cap of $302.32 billion. If only the rest of us were unsexy like that.

And, finally, the Google founders. Larry Page and Sergey Brin have arguably built the most influential company of our century. Google has changed the way we do the Internet, and the products they roll out, from Gmail to Android, are becoming a daily habit for most of us. The company had revenue of $49.96 billion in 2013 and the hockey stick growth chart we’re all chasing.

And Page and Brin themselves? Worth $23 billion and $22.8 billion respectively. Not bad for two guys whose motto was, “Don’t be evil.”

Every culture has their own idols and heroes, and tech is no different. Without the contributions of the men on Mt. Techmore, the world would be a different place. There are others, of course. For instance, a certain Harvard dropout whose name rhymes with “duckerberg.”

What do you think? Who would be on your Mt. Techmore?

All financial info sourced here.

10 Lies You’re Probably Telling Yourself

Promise?Oh, the lies that entrepreneurs tell themselves. Even when all signs point to the contrary, it can be very easy to make up excuses for why your business isn’t succeeding. Here are some of the worst lies that entrepreneurs tell themselves, and the (sometimes) hard truths:

  1. The money will come eventually. You think that if your idea is top notch, if the product/service you’re offering solves a real problem, or if you have true passion and drive, that your company will succeed and eventually start making some real money. This is a fallacy. It’s easy when you’re busy growing your company to buy into this lie, but incredibly dangerous. It may be true that there is a pot of gold further down the road, but you can’t just count on it being there. You must plan for it.
  2. If I price low enough, I can attract more business. This may be true in some sense. You may bring in more business if your prices are lower than your competition’s. But if your pricing isn’t covering your costs and allowing for the kind of margin you need to make a profit to at least live on, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. You need to figure out your gross profit (how much you need to cover fixed costs — from salary to materials to marketing). Based on this figure, you can calculate your gross profit margin and figure out how much you need to make in sales.
  3. If something isn’t working, I can always change direction. Pivoting is an essential startup business practice. Knowing when to change direction, tweaking your offerings, and repositioning yourself in the marketplace are all good things. But this isn’t a magic bullet. You can’t just shift with the wind and expect things to work out. You need to base a direction change on number-driven data that guides and supports your plan. Before you change direction, you need to map out what steps you will take.
  4. All I need to succeed is more volume. Quantity is a good marker for business success, but it’s not the only one. Increasing volume can lead to scaling issues. Instead of pursuing more customers, think about what other tactics you could take. How could you increase your dollar per customer? How can you save on costs per product? How can you increase customer satisfaction to ensure customer loyalty and increase the customer value over time? These metrics are just as important as volume.
  5. I will only hire the best. Of course you want top-notch employees, but you may need to redefine who that is. Find out what positions can be outsourced to save on astronomical staffing costs. Top team members are expensive. Sometimes they are worth that cost, but remember that you can also hire for potential, rather than experience. Under-staffing is a good choice for many bootstrapped startups.
  6. My time is best spent focusing on my industry. Not exactly. Of course you want to be on top of what’s going on in your industry, but if you want to see the big picture, get fresh perspectives, and make valuable connections, you need to look outside of your niche. Business partners outside of your area are sometimes the most valuable contacts you can have.
  7. I’ve tried X and it doesn’t work so I’m done with it. Just because you’ve tried something before, doesn’t mean you can’t tweak it and try again. Sometimes small changes can have a big impact. For example, a colleague of mine who was VP of Marketing for a huge company had had little success with affiliate marketing. He was thinking of shutting down this marketing channel but, instead, decided to put some real money and time behind it. He hired someone solely responsible for managing the program. This one change made for astronomical increases in revenue for the company.
  8. X has always worked for me in the past, so if I just keep doing it, I will be successful. Just because you’ve always done something a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the best way, the most efficient way, or the most cost-effective way. As an entrepreneur, you need to keep an open mind and always look for better solutions. Even if your way was the best way at some point, times change, markets change, economic conditions change, and the competitive landscape changes. Business is dynamic. You need to be too.
  9. My passion for my company won’t allow me to fail. Wrong. Without determination and persistence — and a real love for what you’re doing — you won’t be able to see this thing through to the finish line. But passion, in and of itself, isn’t enough. You need to execute. A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes.
  10. My product/service is so great that my business can’t fail. We’d like to believe this fallacy, but unfortunately it’s not true. A great idea is important. If there’s a real market for your idea, then you’re already a couple of steps ahead in the game. But it’s not enough.

A dash of optimism is a good entrepreneurial characteristic. You’re going to face a lot of setbacks, so the ability to put on some rose-colored glasses to improve the view is understandable. But when you begin to repeat the same lies and make them your mantra, you’re preventing clarity, masking opportunities, and getting in the way of your growth. When you stop lying to yourself, you can start anew. That’s where real change lies: that’s the future of your company.

David Ehrenberg is the founder and CEO of Early Growth Financial Services, an outsourced financial services firm that provides early-stage companies with day-to-day transactional accounting, CFO service, tax, and valuation services and support. He’s a financial expert and startup mentor whose passion is helping businesses focus on what they do best. Follow David @EarlyGrowthFS.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

25 Must Read Blogs for Entrepreneurs


Here are Nibletz, where it’s our job to know what’s going on, we spend a lot of time reading. A lot.

We hit all the normal spots, just like you do. Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, and the Andreesen Horowitz crew are all in our feed readers. But, we’ve also found some fantastic VC and founder blogs that don’t get shared quite as often or have growing audiences. These are smart people who have won and lost in the startup game and have lots of wisdom to share with the rest of us.

In compiling this list, we included blogs that update regularly and that have a unique perspective or a wide range of experience. We didn’t include company blogs or VC firm blogs, though they can also be great sources of startup knowledge.

So, what do you think? Do you have these 25 blogs in your feed reader?

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Investor Blogs

  1. Above the Crowd–Bill Gurley has been a GP at Benchmark for more than 10 years. He’s been a design engineer, a Wall Street analyst, and a VC. So, he’s seen a lot. His most recent post On Bubbles is a must read for anyone trying to understand the current climate.
  2. Instigator Blog–Ben Yoskovitz is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. His recent post Startup Founders: Why Do You Care About What You’re Doing? should be a wake up call to entrepreneurs struggling with the daily grind.
  3. Passionate Intensity–Kirill Sheynkman has founded 3 companies and been a partner at 2 venture firms. His recent Be a Deckless Wonder flies in the face of all we hold dear about pitching investors. “This year, I will not let companies show their coveted pitch deck at our first meeting.  We will talk, like humans..”
  4. Rob Go–All of the blogs at NextView Ventures are worth plopping into your feed. Rob’s recent post on Seed Round Dynamics sheds light on the process of raising a small seed round. (Ok, obviously. But, it’s a great read.)
  5. Progress Report–The blog of the Collaborative Fund shares the collective wisdom of all the managing partners. Only Good News is…Bad News reminds founders and investors to share the whole truth with shareholders.
  6. Uncrunched–Techcrunch founder Michael Arrington is never shy, and he’s been around long enough to call it like it is. This old post Startups Are Hard. So Work More, Cry Less, and Quit All the Whining will kick your butt.
  7. This is Going to Be Big–Charlie O’Donnell is a partner at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, with previous experience at First Round Capital. He recently wrote an awesome post on The Rules of Inclusion.
  8. Continuations–Union Square Ventures partner Albert Wenger has plenty of experience in the VC world. He and his wife, startup founder Susan Danzinger, also homeschool their 3 kids. His talk on The Big Questions About the Future is worth watching.
  9. Adventures in Capitalism–Like a lot of these, Chris Yeh could fit into an investor or founder category. Many years in the startup world has taught him a lot. Don’t Stay Hungry is so common sensical, and yet many lifetime founders forget the lesson.
  10. BZNotes–Bilal Zuberi has some serious academic chops, with a Ph.D in Physical Chemistry. He’s currently a partner at Lux Capital. His post Capital intensity and cost of capital for “big idea” startups shines a great light on what it takes to build the new technologies.
  11. Hunter Walk–Former Googler Hunter Walk just finished his first year as the partner of Homebrew. “Never Heard of It,Must Not Be Big” Has Never Been More Wrong is a great testimony to how fast things move these days.
  12. Dave Lerner–Dave is an entrepreneur and angel investor. His current project Startup Genome is mapping the startup world. This post on venture capital disruption forecasts changes in the VC indstury.
  13. Haywire–Semil Shah is another entrepreneur/investor combo. Like the rest of us, he’s wondering what’ll happen with Facebook’s new app Paper. He talks about it in Unpacking Facebook’s Mobile Strategy.
  14. Life in Beta–Being a venture capitalist and a marketing/economics nerd, Adam D’Augelli has a great background to manage the blog lifeinbeta.org.  Here you can read about what the market will look like in 2014 or you can see what races Adam will be participating in. Go checkout his Themes to Watch in 2014.
  15. Tomasz Tunguz–While he’s not looking for the newest company to invest in at Redpoint Ventures, Tunguz’ blog covers everything from startup management, SaaS, and content marketing.  You can check out his most recent post here: Do Larger Seed Rounds Lead to Bigger Series As?

Startup life 2010 08

Founder Blogs

  1. Ma.tt–Matt Mullenwag’s resume isn’t that impressive really. He’s just the founder of Automattic, the company behind WordPress, Gravatar, Akismet, and others. His post The Four Freedoms is an awesome defense for free (as in speech) software.
  2. Only Once–Matt Blumberg is the founder of Return Path and the author of Startup CEO. His blog title comes from an old Fred Wilson post about only being a first time CEO once. Check out his post on sabbaticals for a healthy look at work/life balance.
  3. Justin Jackson–Justin is a product manager and host of the Product People podcast. His post on This is Real Life will remind you that everyone–yes, everyone–has real stuff going on behind that avatar.
  4. Ryan Hoover–Ryan is the guy behind the newest craze, Product Hunt. His post Nostalgia: A Product Designer’s Secret Weapon is brilliant.
  5. Alex’s Tech Thoughts–Alex Taub recently started adtech company Modern Mast, but he has lots of experience in the startup world working at companies like Dwolla and Aviary. The Worst Thing You Can Do as a Founder is so true it hurts a little.
  6. Ben Milne–Ben is the founder of Dwolla, in case you’ve been under a rock. The recent 2013. Hard Lessons Learned post will have you nodding and sighing a little.
  7. Making New Mistakes–Adii Pienaar is the founder and ex-CEO of WooThemes and the currently paused PublicBeta. He has so many good posts, but Startups are Getting Easier. Entrepreneurship Isn’t is a must read.
  8. Matt Mireles–Matt Mireles is the CEO/Founder of Buttr a peer to peer grocery shopping service and has experience in cofounding SpeakerText and Humanoid which were both acquired by Cloud Factory. His story about negotiations will have you shaking your head in disbelief.
  9. The Startup Toolkit–Rob Fitzpatrick proudly states that he has been bankrupt twice in his quest to build a startup.  He resides in Barcelona where he helps European accelerators design better startup education programs.  He admonishes the startup world to Ignore posterity; build features.
  10. Marc Barros–Marc is an entrepreneur and creator. His post from last November When I Got Fired From My Own Company is a wake up call to all entrepreneurs.


6 TED Talks for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

I love TED. I love the complete randomness of videos you’ll find there. There are discussions on every topic under the sun: business, technology, art, and the magnificence of spider silk. I also love that each talk is 20 minutes long, max. Some of my personal favorites are even shorter.

I haven’t made it to the actual conference yet, but the website is a great place to go when you need a little extra inspiration. Below are some great TED talks for aspiring entrepreneurs. They’re in no particular order, but our list spans inspiration from Steve Jobs to tech tips from David Pogue.

I know my list isn’t by any means exhaustive. Check out the links and send me a tweet. What did I miss?

  1. Simon Sinek–How Great Leaders Inspire Action. Sinek discusses his theory about the “golden circle.” Great leaders ask “why” before they ask “what” or “how.” He uses examples like Apple, Martin Luther King, Jr, and the Wright brothers. Any entrepreneur should start with the “why.” Why do you get up in the morning? Why are building your business?
  2. Richard St. John–8 Secrets to Success. This is a short one, only 3 minutes long. St. John whittles down a 2 hour talk to explain the simple steps to success.
  3. Steve Jobs–How To Live Before You Die. Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech is famous. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must.
  4. Elizabeth Gilbert–Your Elusive Creative Genius. We want to believe that geniuses are rare, but Gilbert asserts that we all have our own genius. She describes the moment of inspiration and the paranormal feeling when we brush up against brilliance.
  5. David Pogue–10 Top Time-Saving Tech Tips. Tech entrepreneur? See if you know all these little tricks. Pogue is particularly passionate about stupid voicemail instructions. The NYT tech columnist is pretty funny, and this is another short one.
  6. Luis von Ahn–Massive-Scale Online Collaboration. One of the inventors of CAPTCHA realized we can harness time in 10 second increments to digitize books. If we can digitize books like this, what else can we do with mass human capital in small time increments?


The Failure Of Startups In An Infographic By Staff.com

We all know that startups are up against a stacked deck. Depending on your source, startups fail at rate of anywhere form 70% – 90%. Startup founders are often big risk takers and know that to get their idea to the masses, it’s going to take hard work.

The folks at staff.com have released the infographic below that, while bright and colorful, paints a dark picture for people who consider themselves entrepreneurial and venture out on their own.

The timing of the infographic is a bit convenient as well. Just Saturday we published an infographic from our friends at oDesk highlighting that 72% of people with “real jobs” want to quit and be entirely independent. Further, 61% say they’re likely to quit within 2 years.

oDesk is a platform connecting free-lancers with any background to those needing workers. oDesk is enabling startups across the globe to stay in their hometowns by offering remote workers from developers and designers to administrative professionals.  Naturally, the lifeline of oDesk’s business is people working for themselves. oDesk is a huge resource for startups and entrepreneurs. They are also a good friend to startups “everywhere else”

Staff.com on the other hand, is a much more traditional firm. They help match employers with employees, so the lifeblood of their business is to keep people in traditional positions. No fault there; people have to work.

We all know “stats” can be skewed. Which infographic do you resonate with more?


Staff.com, odesk, everywhereelse, startups,entrepreneurs


Check out this advice for startups everywhere else from oDesk CEO Gary Swart