Tag Archives: startups


You Don't Want to Compete with this Kidby John Jonelis

You don’t want to compete with this kid. Believe me. Just watch his intensity as he pitches his business to some of the private equity luminaries in the city. I’m a judge at this event and try not to show my feelings of awe as he answers all the tough questions in a pressure-cooker environment without so much as a flinch. There’s an intimidating team behind him too. They’re all in middle school. Middle school! Continue reading WHIZ KIDS

Blogging vs. Building

“The more you blog, the less you are building”

Hiten Shah recently shared these words with me on MessageMe:

The more you blog, the less you are building.

I’m currently parked at blogging HQ, Philz Coffee, writing. I write frequently, dedicating 1-3 hours every day and publishing up to three posts each week (I have a dozen unpublished essays finished in my “queue”). Many people have asked why I spend so much time writing, sometimes criticizing this daily routine and questioning its value.

To Blog or Not to Blog

Recently there’s been a surge of debate in the startup community on the value of blogging[1], kicked off by this tweet by Keith Rabois:


I disagree with Keith’s hyperbolic statement — I can name several successful founders that blog regularly[2] — however, there is some truth to his argument. For 95% of us, blogging is very time-consuming. The attention it brings is also distracting, as one’s Twitter stream and email inbox flood with ego-boosting appreciation.

Blogging takes focus away from other things, including your startup. As Nabeel Hyatt points out, many founders ebb and flow in this blogging routine. Take Ev Williams as an example. When his new startup, Medium, first launched, he regularly published on the new platform but in recent months he’s remained largely silent. Why? Probably to focus on Medium.

Why I Write

I write for many reasons. I get tremendous intrinsic and extrinsic value from it. This daily habit helps me hone an important soft skill: communication. My writing abilities have improved, as evident by the embarrassment I feel reading blog posts I wrote six months ago.

Blogging is a joy. I use it as a vehicle to explore product design, deconstructing the psychology and growth tactics used in many of today’s most successful consumer products.

In doing so, I have built an audience of interested startup enthusiasts, providing me a platform of followers for experimentation and distribution of new startup ideas. Most people start marketing after they conceive of a startup idea or release a product. In reality, marketing can begin before a startup’s inception.

But what’s most rewarding is the feedback and appreciation I receive from readers. Not to sound egotistical, but several founders have informed me that something I wrote, provided them with new perspectives, sometimes changing the way they build their startup and even their own life.

I Won’t Always Blog This Much

But like Ev, I won’t always blog this often. I’m currently in-between roles, exploring opportunities for my next full-time, all-in startup adventure. I blog for the reasons above but it’s also strategic.

Blogging has opened several opportunities to meet amazing entrepreneurs, advise startups, and job offers. Blogging is the new resume — amplifying one’s experience, talent, and way of thinking in a more scaleable way than one-on-one communications. Fortunately, I’m in a position to invest in my blog without sacrificing focus in building a startup.

For now.

[1]: Many other bloggers have weighed in on this topic:

[2]: Here are a few founders I respect that actively blog:

Subscribe to follow my blog or say hello on Twitter (@rrhoover).

This essay was inspired by this week’s Startup Edition, “Why do you write?”. Visit Startup Edition to read more responses from other entrepreneurs.

Further Reading

Blogging is the New Resume

 — Blogging is an effective way to illustrate expertise, personality, and most importantly, thought process.

Written by

Co-Creator of Product Hunt. Creator of Startup Edition. Instructor at Tradecraft. More at http://ryanhoover.me. Follow at @rrhoover.

View story at Medium.com

5 Startup Lessons from my Puppy

photos by me, @aronsolomon

photos by me, @aronsolomon

Though she does not yet have her own startup, in part because she is eight weeks old.

  1. Walk before you can run. This is pretty simple, really. When my wife @leilangod and I picked up Heidi last Friday afternoon, the pup tried to run really fast. It didn’t work well. Good running builds from the foundation of exceptional walking which, really, doesn’t come super-naturally to a seven-and-a-half week old pup who has spent much of her life lying around with her littermates. Get the walking thing down. Master the basic skills you’ll need to succeed. Push your comfort levels to learn new things in new situations. Yes, push the envelope, but also turn it on its side, flip it inside-out. Once you do that, you can run. With confidence.
  2. Once you can run, do so — really quickly — from points A to B. So you’ve got the basic running thing down now — excellent. Get moving. I hate the cliche “fail fast,” but you need to learn to do so and to succeed even faster. My pup doesn’t know how to jog (or if she does, she’s keeping it in stealth mode) but does know how to sprint like a madwoman from, say, the car to the coffee shop. She does a mean zero to sixty. So should you.
  3. Let people know when you’re not okay. Two days after we picked her up from the breeder, we took her to our regular coffee hangout. She wanted me to put her down rather than keep her on my lap. Okay. Cool. The double-length street car rolled by. She started shaking and wanted to be back in my lap. I complied. Stop this idiotic “Dude — we’re crushing it” when you’re actually what’s being crushed. When you’re down, overwhelmed, depressed — PLEASE ask for help and stop holding everything inside.
  4. Fuel up. Maybe this is raising cash or building your team but when an opportunity presents itself you need to think about taking it. That doesn’t mean that you pivot when it’s the last thing you should be doing, it means that you have your eyes and ears open. Heidi (half Labrador Retriever and half Hunting Poodle) has proven highly skilled at listening for any rustle or crinkle of her food bag. She’s really good at expressing her interest in fueling up. You should be too.
  5. Be nice, damn it. This morning, Heidi met a big dog at the coffee place. His name is Knuckles. We can’t let her hang with other dogs yet, as she’s in the middle of her shots. But Knuckles came close, looked at her, wagged his tail and she did the same. Wag your tail at people. It doesn’t mean that you’re a pushover, it means that you’re friendly. And approachable. And while being nice sometimes means more work, it’s also how the right opportunities will come to you.

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Going to California: This Singaporean delegation has one week to gather Valley VC money

Going to California: This Singaporean delegation has one week to gather Valley VC money
Spring SIngapore

This group of Singapore-based startups arrived in San Francisco Sunday night.

A bevy of young Singaporean startups and their chaperone, SPRING Singapore, a government agency promoting the city-state’s emerging technology scene, arrived in the Valley late Sunday for an extended meet and greet with local tech titans, startups, and venture capitalists.

And depending on how the five-day visit goes, they may take home much needed venture capital to help their fledgling startups grow. And ideas of course. And even advice. Hey, whatever works.

The thrust of the visit, which includes eight Singaporean-based startups and five incubators, is to dial in and get face time with some of the Valley’s biggest tech giants and startups, said a SPRING Singapore spokeswomen who declined to give her name.

Companies on the visitors’ wish list to visit include Google, Yammer, and Evernote, the spokeswomen said during a brief phone call late Monday.

The spokeswoman said each of the companies and incubators in the visiting delegation have each raised around $500,000 in previous funding rounds, and while here, hope to ink deals for more.

Some of the Singaporean startups and what they do, according to the spokeswoman and her press release:


Clault is going after their share of the billion-dollar-plus data security market. The company produces a cloud document-sharing tool that protects the security and integrity of documents while transitioning to the cloud or stored on mobile devices and also stored documents. Clault’s CEO, Marcus Tan, who procured his master degree in business from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, has spent his career in Asia, the U.S. and Europe.


Coursepad produces e-learning mobile educational and training apps that employers use to create and teach lessons suited to specific workforce audiences. Lessons are also streamed to a Facebook/Instagram-like news feed to members of that employment community. Through the Coursepad interface, employers can track lessons in real time and to monitor whether employees are making progress with the tutorials through video and text.


Next-5 provides interviewing and social recruitment solutions for employee talent acquisition. Companies using the platform can connect, engage, assess, and interview job applicants through online talent recruitment and management tools. This means that employers can pre-screen candidates through realtime videos and other media.


This startup makes a cloud marketing social platform that purports to drive sales by turning customers into loyal fans. Taggo turns Facebook fan pages into sales-generating fan clubs sponsored by payment brands. The technology uses a simple, patented method to add loyalty. Merchants get more fans, word of mouth advertising, and more repeat business — all free, sponsored by payment brands, banks, and credit card companies.

Other Singaporean companies in the delegation include Tocco Sudio, Mobikon, Red Dot Payment, and Crayon Data. 


You’ve Landed on the Shore of a Deserted Island

You have a certain amount of provisions, which you have to make last until you find a way to make the island sustain life—or convince someone to send you more.

You don’t know how big the island is at first or what predators lie in wait.

There’s always a chance someone else will raid your island if it looks fruitful, so you need to shore up your defenses.

Eventually, if you’re successful, you’ll be king of your own prosperous world. If not, you’ll die—or, at least, have to go home.

Either way, it’s going to be a lonely, difficult, but rewarding adventure (until you get eaten by a tiger).

Welcome to your startup.

Originally published in an earlier version on evhead.com – October 2008

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Date a Girl in Startups

I write a lot about love and dating. Over the past year, I’ve had more conversations with my female peers in startups and entrepreneurship about these issues than any other topic. Very few young women in startups are in healthy relationships, but that doesn’t mean we don’t strive for them or thrive in them. For some reason, we have a hard time starting and building romantic relationships. I haven’t been able to work out the exact formula for why we have so much trouble but I am certain that it has a fair amount to do with men’s fears about who we are and what we do.

The seven statements bolded below are reasons that we kick ass. They were compiled with the help of a group of girls, some of whom I am close friends with and others whom I have never met in person. Together, we picked out the things that we feel make us not only unique, but also strong and powerful women. Importantly, they are also traits that help us build relationships. Hopefully, they will make you at least consider dating a Girl in Startups.


She enjoys taking risks. Deciding to start your own venture, or work for an early stage one, is attractive to people who are comfortable walking the line between massive success and failure, who see their $12,000 a year paycheck as a world of future possibilities, and who can’t stop pushing forward. Because of this, she is confident in her abilities. Her decisions reflect her as a person. Not only does she accept this, she owns it. She is hard to derail and she gets shit done. Big risks can yield big rewards, but she knows that she has to work her butt off to make it happen.

Whether she is building a deck or editing code, she can spend all night working because she has passion for what she does. She is dedicated to her work, family, friends, and relationships and when she sets her mind to something she sees it to the end. Sometimes this means she takes forever to answer your texts. But don’t worry — from pitching to VC’s to managing a cohort of interns, she knows what good communication looks like and can use it as much outside of work as she does in the office. If she’s not texting you, facebook messaging you, or sending a carrier pigeon every 15 minutes it is because she understands that the best communication is done in person. Bonus is, when you ask her how her day was, you’re actually curious because you have no clue what she was up to.

If you date a Girl in Startups you have to appreciate that she is obsessed with learning. She constantly searches for new information, tests new technologies and products, and is open to new perspectives. Intelligence turns her on, and she reads blogs and articles on tech and entrepreneurship like others read erotic literature. She may have finished college; it’s possible she dropped out. No matter her level of formal education, she’ll always be up for learning something new. Furthermore, she sees failure as one of the best ways to learn. She has learned to be resilient because she flirts with failure on a daily basis. For her, failure isn’t crippling but rather a chance to create something new. She won’t let little bumps throw her off track in her work or in her relationships.

Consider dating a girl in startups, but if you do, know that she won’t automatically make you #1. She is independent, self-sufficient, and will make you work to become a priority in her life. When she makes time for you, it’s because she cares.

*Thank you Sam, Melissa, Maddy, Robin, Becca, Shilpi, Stephanie, Arianna, Ryan and many more for your advice and criticism in writing this piece. I wanted to make sure that it came from the startup community, rather than just one woman’s brain.

**Originally Posted on PippaBiddle.com

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The 36 Most Valuable Start-ups on Earth

Ever heard of Jingdong, Nutanix or Zalando? They are all members of the exclusive “Billion-Dollar Startup Club,” a growing list of startups valued at $1 billion or more by venture capitalists.
A new interactive chart from The Wall Street Journals ace Scott Austin ranks these billion-dollar startups using data from Dow Jones VentureSource. Today there are about three-dozen such companies in the U.S., Europe and China.
A billion dollars isn’t cool anymore. More than half of the companies are valued at $2 billion or more. And the exclusivity is fading: since November, three companies have joined the club (storage equipment maker , payments service Stripe and messaging app Snapchat) while another three (music-streaming service Spotify and online storage companies Box and Dropbox) have raised funding at multi-billion dollar valuations.
Before you scream “Bubble!” know that most of these companies are in better financial shape then peers from the dot-com boom era. A few pre-revenue startups, such as Snapchat and scrapbooking site Pinterest, have crept into the club. But a large share of them are making real revenue – see Dropbox and its $200 million in annual sales –even if you question the valuation metrics.
Here’s a startling stat—the U.S. membership is larger than during the dot-com bubble years of 1999 and 2000, when there were 18 companies, according to VentureSource. Today, there are least 25 startups valued at $1 billion or more in the U.S.—19 alone in the past two years.
In China, the lineup is dominated by online companies – such as retailers Jingdong and VANCL, search engine Sogou and restaurant-review site Dianping – capitalizing on a surging Internet population. But it is a smartphone maker, Xiaomi, that is one of the world’s most valuable venture-backed companies at $10 billion.
Zalando, a German retail giant, tops the European list at about $5 billion, followed by Spotify and Mobileye, a maker of vehicle-collision warnings systems.
Are you surprised by any companies in the club? Who are we missing? Bookmark this website, as the Journal will update the chart as companies move up, down, off and on the list.


The Billion Dollar Club – Updated ranking of the the world’s most valuable startups.
WSJD – The Journal’s new website for technology news and analysis.
Scott Austin – Creator of the Journal’s awesome smartphone cost calculator and the billion-dollar club.

Posted by:Dennis K. Berman