tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:/posts Growthink: The Stream 2015-07-06T14:58:37Z Growthink tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/877897 2015-07-06T14:43:29Z 2015-07-06T14:58:37Z The Most Important Piece of Advice for Folks Starting Their Careers

By Jason Calacanis

1/The most important piece of advice I can give folks starting out: BE GREAT AT AN IMPORTANT SKILL.

The important skills in the world right now include:
a. sales
b. coding
c. product design
d. growth
e. design
f. corporate storyteller


If you're a product designer, stop binge-watching TV & read every book on UX. Learn to use every tool you find on the internet.

Many folks will tell you that the world is not a zero sum game, with one person not having to lose at the expense of another winning. This is simply not true, as in most startups there is a very limited number of seats and they go to the people who work the hardest and who have the most skill.

In your career you will find that life is a zero sum game: the winners get the prime positions and the person who comes in second place for that position is the first loser -- not the second winner.


Don't worry about your salary, just get enough money to live in a closet close to work. Focus on providing your CEO 10x the value of your contemporaries. Your CEO will notice you, eventually, and she will love you.

CEOs love people who work hard and who refine their skills faster than everyone else (see #2) because those people remind them of themselves. How the f@#4k do you think she got the CEO slot, by waiting in line? By random luck? No, she f@#$king took that slot.

If you’re taking your slot by working harder than everyone else and by refining your skills faster than everyone else she will notice it.


Great CEOs obsess over their high performers. They like to talk to them, they like to mentor them and they like to challenge them. Once you prove yourself, it’s time to reap the benefit of being a hard worker with massive skills and the ability to learn new ones.

Never leave work before she does, respond to her emails quickly and without excuses. Here are things to say to her when she gives you amazing responsibilities that will make her love and trust you more.

When your boss asks you to set up the sales department for your startup you say:

“I have never set up a sales department before, but I’m going to find three people who have and suck their brain dry after work. If you know anyone smart I can leverage let me know -- if not, I’m off to the races.”

When your boss asks you to set up a blog and podcast for your startup you say:

“I’m on it.” Then you come back to her 24 hours later with a Google Doc and say:

“Here are links to the five best corporate sites I could find, ranked in order of how well I think they’re executed. On each one I listed the three best editorial devices they used. I also put together a list of the platforms they’re using and how often they have each published in the last 60 days. Based on all of this I’d suggest we use Squarespace or WordPress, SoundCloud or this podcast plug-in. We should publish a blog twice a week and spend 2x as much time promoting it as we did writing it. By my estimate this will cost us 20 hours a week of editorial time and 50 hours of setup time. At $25 an hour fully baked it’s a $30,000 year one expense, so if we land three clients for our average enterprise software subscription we break even -- at a 20-month LTV, of course.”

Here’s how most folks answer that:

“I’ve never set up a blog.”


“Can you just tell me what to do?”


“I wasn’t hired to do this.”

I can go for hours on how most folks answer these challenges and then never follow up, forcing their boss to chase them: “How’s that blog and podcast project going?”

There are two types of people in this world: killers and the killed.

You can move yourself from the killed bucket to the killers bucket by ‘doing the work,’ but in my experience only 10% of the people in the world ever make it from deer to tiger.

Counter arguments to working hard include burnout and missing out on life. The truth is, many startups do run on 80-hour weeks. 50 hours a week is probably the norm, and paying your dues early is the quickest way to acquire the skills necessary to become a founder yourself -- and accumulate enough wealth never to work again.

Hustle early and often is the best life strategy.


There is always more knowledge to acquire, new skills to be mastered, yet most folks hoard their talents. This is a mistake. Give away everything you’ve learned, and take credit for doing so with your CEO with language like: “I’ve fully briefed our new hire Joe on how the blog and podcast work, and he understands the best practices we’ve established. I’ve asked him to update the best practice document if he learns anything new and to send us those learning points by email as well. What’s next?”

If you level people up you have a new job title: CEO!

Counter arguments to teach everything you know are many, not the least of which is “What will I do if someone does the job better than me?” Simple. You either learn from them or you move on to your next skill.

I’ve had executive assistants take over operations, operations managers take over sales, and sales executives take over marketing. Having multiple, overlapping skills is what defines the best senior executives often: “She started in sales, but now she’s CFO” and “He was a designer but now he runs product” are commonly heard.


The people who are killed, the deer, tend to huddle around the kitchen or go on cigarette breaks and bitch and complain about everyone and everything at the company. The tigers are too busy killing it to be bothered with such things.

If you see people crying and pouting walk away. Go back to work. Here’s the language:

Deer: “Bitch bitch, moan moan, blame blame, cry cry.”

Tiger: “Hmmm…that’s an interesting take on things. I gotta get shit done, good luck with that.”

You can always focus on the product, and how much it delights, helps, and inspires your customers instead of complaining.

Note: debating how to make your products better is healthy and your observations can be about the negative aspects of your product. However, you shouldn’t be negative on the team and company, you should see problems as opportunities.


If you've done 1-6 in the list above, it’s totally warranted to ask for more money or equity. I suggest asking for equity first and letting your boss bring up cash -- she will, because she values the equity more (that’s a protip right there).

After five years of crushing it for your CEO, ask her to invest in, and be an advisor to your company…

....and then email me, because I'm the most helpful angel investor in the world. :-)


In a startup things can often be vague and confusing, because things are just… starting… up. There is no HR manual or sales process, the org chart has never been memorialized and what you’re supposed to do next is confusing.

Oh yeah, things change constantly! Your job is to take what is unclear and make it clear. To take what is a vague concept and make it into a process. To take a system without metrics, strategy, and discipline, and install all of those things simultaneously.

That is called leadership, and leaders at their best define reality.


Don’t bust your ass and sharpen your skills for your boss alone, do it for yourself and your boss. Taking on all the problems at a startup is not being taken advantage of -- it’s taking advantage of.

Slurp up all those problems and knowledge, and leave nothing for anyone else to do. Tackle the hardest problems, because those are the ones that make you strong, especially when you fail at solving them.

Have a great weekend … solving the problems your peers are too stupid and cynical to own.

Luke Brown
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/872957 2015-06-23T15:03:02Z 2015-06-23T15:03:02Z CrossCut Raises $75 Million to Invest in Early Stage L.A. Startups

Los Angeles Business Journal

By GARRETT REIMTuesday, June 23, 2015 

CrossCut Ventures Managing Directors left to right Brian Garrett Clinton Foy Brett Brewer and Rick Smith

CrossCut Ventures' Managing Directors, left to right: Brian Garrett, Clinton Foy, Brett Brewer and Rick Smith

Don’t tell CrossCut Ventures about the supposed glut of seed capital in Los Angeles.

The Venice venture capital firm has just raised a $75 million fund to invest in early stage L.A. startups.

“The lack of institutional capital in SoCal, dollars per opportunity, it’s one of the more undercapitalized ecosystems in the U.S.,” said Managing Director Brian Garrett. “We believe the greatest amount of value creation happens between the seed and Series A round.”

The CrossCut 3 fund, as it is called, aims to make 25 to 30 early stage investments over the next two to three years, 80 percent of which will go to L.A. companies, he said. The company has made 45 early stage investments since its founding in 2008. This third fund is substantially larger than its previous two, which had a combined total of $25 million.

Conventional wisdom says that CrossCut is swimming against the tide by continuing to focus on early stage investing. Many people believe that not enough venture capital firms in Los Angeles focus on Series A investing, a later moment in a company’s lifespan where financing is needed to drive revenue growth through sales and marketing spending.

“We have not had trouble raising series A for our seed companies over the last 3 to 4 years,” said Garrett. “We don’t see that Series A gap that everyone in the ecosystem is talking about.”

CrossCut instead believes much opportunity is still being missed at the early stage.

“In every other asset class there are very efficient markets were the deal goes to the highest bidder because every single fund has seen the opportunity,” said Garrett. “The early stage is the bastion of deal flow where you can really be a fund that sees an opportunity that no one else has an opportunity to get in front of.”

And CrossCut has been able to convince institutional investors of this. The firm’s third fund is made of 50 percent prior fund investors and 50 percent new investors. The venture capital firm declined to disclose its number of institutional investors, but said The John Irvine Foundation and Top Tier Capital participated.

“The momentum of the ecosystem, the increased attention and the types of business are being produced” are all reasons institutional investors want to give their money to a L.A. early stage focused firm, said Garrett.

CrossCut has already invested in nine companies from its third fund, prior to its announcement today, including mobile game streaming app MobCrush of Santa Monica, smart watch app development studio Little Labs of Venice and in-home tech support startup HelloTech of West Los Angeles. The company said its focus will include SaaS, e-commerce, ad tech, gaming, mobile app and online marketplace companies.

“A typical seed deal today is a $1.5 million to $3 million round being done at single digital pre-money valuation,” said Garrett. “We’ve never had enough capital to get to the ownership level we wanted to. You’ll see us doing larger checks for larger percentages of the round with less co-investors than we’ve had previously.”


Melissa Welch

Director of Client Development



(310) 846-5015

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MelissaAWelch

Join my network on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/melissaawelch

Become a Growthink Fan on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/growthink

Melissa Welch
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/847543 2015-04-27T15:24:20Z 2015-04-27T17:30:42Z Jeff Jones 10 Year Growthink Anniversary This week is Jeff's 10 Year Growthink Anniversary!  Jeff - thank you for all of the amazing hard work, rock star attitude, enthusiasm, and resilience always, and for your friendship and support over the years.  It has been quite a ride, and I am confident that the best for is very much yet to come!  


tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/843485 2015-04-20T14:38:58Z 2015-04-20T14:38:58Z Volatility and Security Are the Two Greatest Challenges Facing the Bitcoin Ecosystem

As part of the Digital Currency Council’s Continuing Education partnership with Inside Bitcoins, the DCC’s Vice President, Sarah Martin, had the opportunity to interview the thought leaders who will be speaking at the Inside Bitcoins Conference in New York City on April 27-29, 2015. Today, we share an interview with Luke Brown of Growthink.

Sarah: Tell us about how and why you got involved in Bitcoin and digital currencies.

Luke: Bitcoin kept coming up in conversations when I’d ask investors and entrepreneurs for a business topic they didn’t understand, so it became a challenge to learn about it, understand it, and see its potential. Then I saw a Wall Street Journal article about bitcoin ATMs and that really opened my eyes to the potential of digital currency.

Sarah: You have extensive experience with developing start ups. When you coach entrepreneurs on how to give pitches, what is one piece of advice you typically offer?

Luke: Entrepreneurs typically think of a pitch as an all-encompassing event. I have them break it down into three segments: the verbal portion (the speech), the PowerPoint slides, and the Q&A segment. Then, when they practice, they can focus on a section at a time. This reduces their stress level and results in a much smoother pitch.

Sarah: InsideBitcoins NYC has brought together many of the best minds in the industry. What do you hope to hear from others at the conference?

Luke: The three topics in which I have the most interest are how to increase security, how to increase use of the currency, and how the blockchain can have applications in mature industries as well as developing economies.

Sarah: As digital currencies evolve, what are you looking forward to seeing develop this year, or in the next 5-10 years?

Luke: The Mt. Gox failure still looms large in the public’s mind so in the short term it would be great to see the industry project stability. In the long term it would be great to see digital currencies used and accepted as commonly as debit and credit instruments.

Sarah: What do you see as the greatest immediate challenge facing the industry?

Luke: It’s a toss-up between volatility and security. While I love the volatility in terms of trading digital currencies, I think the public views volatility as a chance to lose money so they are less likely to start using digital currency. Security breaches have affected credit and debit accounts so it seems as if the general public understands that any financial transaction poses security risks of some type. Final answer: volatility.

Sarah: What’s your advice for growing the industry? How do we engage more people in digital currencies?

Luke: The challenge is moving beyond the early adopters such as those in the tech community, pro-privacy supporters, and libertarians. As more large companies begin to accept digital currency, like Dell and Microsoft did recently, other companies will hopefully follow their lead. The companies which use digital currency as a promotion to give customers discounts will also encourage use. Finally, when classes on digital currency become more common and people become more familiar with digital currency, that will also spur additional use. I think that’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

Sarah: Thanks very much for your thoughts, Luke. Looking forward to a great conference.


Luke Brown
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/842166 2015-04-17T15:06:57Z 2015-04-17T15:06:57Z House Of Cards: The Risks Of A Startup-heavy Customer Base By Nino Marakovic, CEO and managing director, Sapphire Ventures

Growth is king…for now anyway. Growth is now the most sought after and defining characteristic of a company. Growth defines momentum and is the key metric upon which companies today are being valued. Of course investors seriously consider other characteristics when evaluating the attractiveness of an investment opportunity, including size of the addressable market, profitability, sales efficiency and other quantifiable metrics, but investors today seem to be most enamored with growth.

Looking at just the SaaS enterprises in the Pacific Crest software company universe, companies with projected 2015 revenue growth of greater than 40 percent, 30-40 percent, 20-30 percent and less than 20 percent have average projected 2015 revenue multiples of 9.8x, 7.6x, 6.4x and 2.4x, respectively. This growth, especially with SaaS businesses, typically comes with heavy operating losses. While the public markets have become more discriminant in 2015 of accepting these losses and revenue multiples have come down, they remain tolerant of them.

Quality vs. quantity of growth
An important and distinguishing characteristic behind growth, though, is the cost to achieve it. Can you grow cost effectively, i.e. Magic Number and CAC Ratio (check out suggestions on how to do this in our previous blog, SaaS and the Impact of Cash Collection on Cumulative Cash Needs)? Is it a ‘nice to have’ versus a ‘must have’? These questions will help you triangulate in on TAM, customer need and willingness to pay for the solution.

What a lot of folks fail to consider when evaluating a company, whether public or private, is where this growth is coming from. Investors want to see startups with long lists of growing customers, and startups are keen to provide those lists to investors. Sure, everyone does a customer concentration analysis, and everyone is looking for big brand-name logos in the investor deck, but what happens when these customers happen to all be in the tech sector? And what happens when an increasing proportion of them are startups themselves?

Tech startup concentration
Think about it. It’s a dangerous proposition for private and public companies alike. If your customers are all tech startups, what happens if, and certainly when, the market corrects and many of these customers disappear. You don’t have to look back too far to see how this game plays out. Look at the 2001 tech bubble burst when growth was feeding growth at unsustainable levels. MicroStrategy, Startups.com and Inktomi, all of which relied heavily on other startups as customers, vanished overnight or saw their stocks fall to pennies on the dollar. Ask Ben Horowitz about the early days of Opsware (formerly Loudcloud) when many of its “dot-com” customers quickly turned into “dot-bomb” customers. And remember Sun Microsystems’ late 90s slogan – “we put the dot in dot-com”? Well here’s an apt account of what happened in Sun’s heyday and its aftermath, as described on Wikipedia:

"In the dot-com bubble, Sun began making much more money, and its shares rose dramatically. It also began spending much more, hiring workers and building itself out. Some of this was because of genuine demand, but much was from web start-up companies anticipating business that would never happen. In 2000, the bubble burst. Sales in Sun's important hardware division went into free-fall as customers closed shop and auctioned off high-end servers.

Several quarters of steep losses led to executive departures, rounds of layoffs, and other cost cutting. In December 2001, the stock fell to the 1998, pre-bubble level of about $100. But it kept falling, faster than many other tech companies. A year later it had dipped below $10 (a tenth of what it was even in 1990) but bounced back to $20. In mid-2004, Sun closed their Newark, California factory and consolidated all manufacturing to Hillsboro, Oregon. In 2006, that factory also closed."

We’re seeing a similarly concerning reliance on startups as customers in many of the earlier-stage companies we see today through our direct fund and fund of funds prospecting efforts. It’s cheaper than ever to begin to scale a company and many of these startups are early adopters of new technologies. Consequently, this has created more and more customers for startups.

Those most at risk
Sectors like marketing, HR, customer success/retention and next-gen software infrastructure are booming with more and more players popping up by the day. Many of these companies rely on the tech sector as their primary avenue of growth. The companies in these sectors have growing pipelines of young startups that are eager to use their technology solutions to improve internal processes (e.g., payroll, HR, infrastructure, etc.), more efficiently target customers (e.g., SEO, SEM, etc.) and more effectively monitor, retain and upsell existing customers (e.g., customer success, etc.). In many cases these new offerings only need to be moderately better or marginally cheaper to find adoption among these earlier-stage companies.

The problem is that many of these customers will not grow to become sustainable businesses themselves. In the case of a market correction and associated pullback in venture funding, many of those customers will disappear and companies that rely heavily on them for growth will be hit particularly hard.

The right mix of customers
Let’s be clear, we’re not suggesting you don’t sell to startups. They can be good customers. With the growing number of unicorns out there, they can be great lighthouse logos. And they can be low hanging fruit. But there are risks associated with selling exclusively to customers that rely on the capital markets to weather long periods of unprofitability. Young customers also don’t have the long sales cycles, customization requirements and bureaucracy of more established companies making them easier targets (look for more on this topic in a forthcoming blog). But beware of developing a culture of selling only to fellow startup journeymen and women. You must be careful because you can quickly build a house of cards that only needs a single blow from the broader market to topple if you don’t expand at the right point.

So while it’s great to have startups as early customers to get validation, our advice is to shock proof your business by prudently and purposely diversifying your customer base as soon as you can. Your Series A should be used to build the initial customer base, but once you exceed a dozen customers and as you approach your Series B, you should make sure to begin diversifying away from selling exclusively to younger companies.

There's a clear danger of an overreliance on other startups as the predominant segment of your customer base, especially as the private markets continue to get more and more frothy and a correction is surely around the corner. Grow your business quickly, but do so in a sustainable and enduring way.

Luke Brown
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/837892 2015-04-08T16:44:59Z 2015-04-08T16:45:01Z Sign Up Today - 4th Annual University Venturing & Angel Summit - May 19 at USC ]]> Luke Brown tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/834519 2015-04-02T00:58:05Z 2015-04-02T20:21:21Z Happy Work Anniversary to Bridget and Sam! Congratulations to Bridget for reaching the 4 year mark and Sam for reaching the 2 year mark! Way to go! 

tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/834514 2015-04-02T00:32:01Z 2015-04-02T12:51:16Z Happy 10-Year Anniversary Pete Kennedy! Today is Pete Kennedy's TEN year anniversary at Growthink.

Pete, thank you so much for all your ideas, input and energy that you've given us over the past 10 years and I/we look forward to working with you for many more!

Dave Lavinsky
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/833093 2015-03-30T14:46:28Z 2015-03-30T16:37:20Z Luke Brown 4 Year Anniversary!
Today is Luke Brown's 4 year anniversary at Growthink.

Congrats Luke!  Great milestone.

Luke Brown
Jeff Jones
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/830998 2015-03-26T16:44:41Z 2015-03-26T16:52:28Z Awesome Client Testimonial for Growthinkers Sam Park, Jonathan Gomez, and Ethan Bennett! Great job guys!!

"Hi Jonathan and the growthink team, As we close in on the completion of our Business Plan and Pitch Deck etc,

and await the final delivery tomorrow, I want to seize this opportunity to thank you for a really great job, well done.

The meetings we've had have been very positive, proactive, productive and progressive and the recommendations from you have been invaluable. When our success story is told, your contribution would reflect as a significant part of our story.

While it was expedient, it was not convenient to have to shell out money at this stage as a start up, but it is indicative of our commitment to due diligence and process and the fact that we are all determined and willing to pay whatever price is required to succeed.

On behalf of Team OKAYHOUSE/ariya, those you met and the ones you didn't meet, I say thank you very much and God bless."

tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/828885 2015-03-23T15:55:31Z 2015-03-23T15:55:32Z How To Get Your Voice Mails Returned

Have you ever received a phone message which was so good you had to call back? The answer for most people is no and because most voice mails are terrible, it doesn’t take much to have your voice mail message stand out from the crowd. There are several great tactics which will help you maximize the chances that your voice mail messages will get returned. The first…

Is Phone The Preferred Method Of Communication?
If the person you’re calling prefers text or email communication, the telephone should be your last resort. If you do surveys or offers to customers or prospects, it’s a great touch to ask their preferred method of communication. Assuming phone is the preferred method of communication, you’ll need to make another assumption, which is…

Assume Your Message Will Not Be Returned
Many people think they’re too busy and too stressed and they’re just not going to even listen to voice mail messages, let alone return them. Not leaving a message, however, guarantees you’re never get a return call back. When you do, it’s always a nice surprise.

You Only Have One Goal When Leaving A Message
It’s easy to think of your goals for when you eventually speak with the person you’re trying to reach. That’s one step too far. When leaving a message, you have one goal and only one goal: to get your message returned. Keeping that in focus will improve your chances of getting your call returned.

Keep Your Message Less Than 30 Seconds
Your message should be like an elevator pitch: short and concise. Record and time yourself to get an idea what you can say in 20-30 seconds. Messages longer than 30 seconds are often deleted before being played in full.

The Message Rules
* Speak slowly
* Using your full name sounds more professional
* Spell your name if it is not common
* Sound friendly but not over the top
* Make the call about them

Give Them A Deadline
Saying “When you get a chance, give me a call” ensures your call won’t be returned. A good rule of thumb is four hours. If you call before 1:00 pm their time, you say, “When you get this message, please give me a call back by the end of the day.” If it’s after 1:00 pm, give a deadline of noon the following business day. Deadlines make people act. Those who don’t return your call are seldom worth chasing.

Repeat Your Number Twice – Differently
The first time you say your number, say the last four numbers as separate digits. 5047 is five zero four seven. The second time, say it as two two-digit numbers. 5047 is now fifty forty-seven. People hear and remember numbers differently and this improves the chance your call is returned.

Your Name Is Not A Reason For Them To Call You Back
Leave your name towards the end of the message.

End With The Sweetest Sound They Know
Dale Carnegie said a person’s name was the sweetest sound in the world to them. Finish your message with, “Thank you, _______.” The manners of the term “Thank you” and ending with their name define the end of the message and leaves them with a very positive feeling.

The type of message will vary depending on whether it’s a cold call, a response to an inquiry, or another call with someone you already know. Writing a general script for different scenarios will help you keep your focus. Testing, refining and testing again will give the best results for you, your company, and your industry.

Luke Brown
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/823751 2015-03-13T02:51:59Z 2015-03-13T02:51:59Z Growthink 2015 Spring Hike and Retreat

tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/822714 2015-03-11T15:07:55Z 2015-03-11T15:07:56Z What the Seed Funding Boom Means for Raising a Series A
This article is by First Round Partner Josh Kopelman.
Shortly after my first child was born, a friend gave me a copy of a book called “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee.” The book was full of contrarian wisdom. While most new parents' natural instincts are to improve their child’s life by removing obstacles, eliminating every potential source of pain, and helping them avoid adversity, the author of the book cautioned against overprotecting your child. Specifically, her thesis was that grit and resilience are extremely important life skills, and that it is important for people to learn how to overcome adversity (like a skinned knee) at a young age. That way they aren’t surprised when they inevitably experience obstacles at an older age.

There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. The number of seed-funded companies has quadrupled over the last four years. Over 200 Micro-VC firms have recently raised over $4 billion to invest at the earliest of stages. AngelList and FundersClub are growing in popularity. This all adds up to an awesome environment for entrepreneurs to get started. While it used to take weeks or months to raise a seed round, we’re now seeing some rounds get raised in a matter of days. Incubators and accelerators are pushing out larger numbers of companies — many getting term sheets within hours of walking off the demo day stage.

Ironically, I believe this current “Seed Surge” is unintentionally exacerbating a Series A Crunch. The current free flowing seed stage capital is giving lots of founders a false sense of confidence when going into their Series A. As Y Combinator President Sam Altman recently tweeted, “…seed money is so easy to raise in the current environment that founders assume they can just raise more money whenever they want…”

I recently worked with a team of talented, young founders who had raised their Series Seed financing without breaking a sweat. They had their choice of investors (I’m thankful they chose us) and their seed round was oversubscribed by 2x. They set out to raise their Series A round six months later — and they were in for a rude awakening. They ended up raising money, but not as much as they hoped for, it was much much harder than they expected and took months to cross the finish line. In the CEO's words, “Our seed round was super fast and hyper-competitive, and then we went into the A and started getting interrogated about our data. It was like graduating from elementary school straight into college.”

This experience mirrors that of many founders and startups I've seen both inside and outside the First Round community. I believe, across our industry, the unprecedented amounts of seed funding available to startups early on is setting them up for a tough reality check at Series A. You can call it a “crunch” or whatever you'd like, but it's significantly impacting companies' long-term success. Looking at this trend, I think the key is to stay lean and thoughtful after the initial money hits the bank.

Below is my thinking on why this is so critical, and what founders can do to avoid getting killed in the crunch.

What's Happening?

Seed funding is more plentiful and easier to raise today than I've ever seen during my career. What that means, ironically, is that this makes everything much harder. It sets an expectation — especially for young, first-time founders — that something they expected to be challenging is relatively easy, and this sets strong expectations for the next time they do it. The problem is that the number of A rounds hasn't changed. That amount of Series A capital HAS NOT increased. So, if you have 4x the number of companies with seed funding, that's 4x the players competing for the same money… making it 4x harder to raise an A round than it was five years ago.

I talk to a lot of founders about their Series A experience, and more often than not they say they were shocked by how hard it was to get a term sheet, how long the process took, and how much more complex the conversations got. As one CEO I spoke to noted, “The way that seed funding is all about your idea and team, Series A is all about the numbers. We weren't tracking cohorts or anything at all. I didn't know about LTV or CAC, or how to answer questions about the economics of scale. We walked into an interrogation that we weren't prepared for.”

One reason this happens is that founders mistake casual conversations with VCs for serious interest. Founders get a bunch of emails or calls from VCs, and then feel like they have to start their fundraising process immediately or miss out. This can (and does) lead to a lot of hasty pitching before companies are ready. And here's the deal on the VC side: both partners and associates are paid to get out there and build relationships with promising young companies, but there's no commitment. Investors want to make sure they get “the call” from founders when they begin fundraising — so they're motivated to send “happy vibes” in order to stay around the hoop. These happy vibes are heard by a founder’s “happy ears” — often leading the founder to draw false conclusions about the true level of potential VC interest.

Series A investors are always looking to catch a company before they run an official process, as it's almost always in their best interest to pre-empt a competitive funding situation. That means that they're aggressive in trying to get early meetings. As first-time founders see their inboxes fill with email from VCs, they often assume that the volume and intensity of VC interest will translate into an easy funding round — and often (mistakenly) decide to start a fundraising process too soon.

The real danger with pitching earlier than you planned is that you probably haven't hit the right milestones yet and haven't had the time to set up a fundraising strategy. After raising a seed round, every startup should get smart about the inflection points they need to pass in growth, revenue, etc. to demonstrate the traction (customer acceptance, virality, revenue, engagement, etc.) they need to land a Series A. It's more important than ever to hit those goals as Series A investors have more choices than ever to fill each general partners' 1 to 3 investments a year.

There's enormous risk in raising too early that many founders forget.
Once a company has taken more than a handful of meetings, it can be viewed as a “shopped deal.” Information travels quickly in the startup community. Great fundraising processes are run tightly, like a tactical mission. Containing information is a huge advantage for founders. If a VC knows that 20 of her peers have already had a look and passed, that's some serious negative signaling. How many people eat at a restaurant after 20 of their friends tell them it stinks?

Of course, there are some VCs who can avoid the herd mentality — but even with them, you'll likely start at a deficit. Of course that doesn't mean you won't be able to raise a financing in the future, it just means you're setting yourself for a much bigger challenge. Once a deal is shopped, you often need to demonstrate more traction by focusing on solid execution for 9 to 12 months before you can take another swing.

It's almost impossible for a startup to get a second fresh look.
Another, related trend we're seeing is that startups are seeking larger and larger A rounds. It's pretty clear that the market can't accommodate it, yet we keep seeing companies setting out to raise $15 to $20 million Series A rounds — just a few months after they've raised their seed round. To invest $15 million, an investor needs to have 3x the conviction that that they have for a $5 million investment. I think this desire to raise $15M+ at series A is being caused by a couple different things.

Founders often see a handful of data points and believe that a new normal exists. For example, a given founder sees their friend raise a large Series A and sees a few tech press articles on large Series A's and they immediately believe they can do it too. Of course, it might be possible. But it's far from typical. 

I also hear a lot of later-stage investors giving early-stage founders bad advice. For example, a founder takes a first meeting on Sand Hill Road and mentions a large target round size. When the investor doesn't blink, the founder now thinks it's achievable, even if it's not.

A simple piece of advice: It's much easier to increase a round size than to decrease it.

The most successful founders I see wait to raise — they wait to demonstrate traction and hit proof-points that represent real step-change for their companies — and when they do, they ask for a lower range. You never want to call a VC back and say, “Hey, I know I told you last month that I was raising $15M but now I'm going to raise $6M after talking to a bunch of people.” Every investor will know what that means, and it will raise red flags about you and your company. It's much better to call and say, “So I was going after $6 to $8M, but it looks like we're going to be able to do $12M given the strong investor interest.”

I can't tell you the number of stories I've heard about rounds that failed because founders raised too early and asked for too much. It's an industry phenomenon, but founders' mindsets are only just now beginning to change.

I think founders vastly underestimate the risk of busted financing.

So, What Should Founders Do?

The good news is that companies don't have to fall into the Series A trap. There are a lot of opportunities to capitalize on these same trends and use them to your advantage.

For example, some of the smartest founders I work with are taking advantage of the seed funding boom to raise larger early rounds, buying themselves more time to get more done and hit more of those critical inflection points. If you're only new and shiny once, get as much out of it as you can.

When you raise seed money, you're raising on the strength of your vision. As I always say, there's nothing like numbers to fuck up a good story. And that's exactly what happens at the Series A. 

You're suddenly judged on the data that you should have been collecting all along to show traction, growth, potential. So why not raise $2.5M in seed money instead of $1.5M to give yourself the best shot at perfecting this data? You should target 18 to 24 months of runway post Series Seed. The best time to raise follow-on capital is when you don't need it, and 2 years of runway gives you the best chance to land in that situation.

The other benefit of raising seed money in today’s environment is that more companies have their choice of which seed investors to work with. There's a chance to be more thoughtful about the investors you want.

My advice: Do your research and see which firms and people have a track record of working hard to help their startups win. While there are some super-angels who add tremendous value, there are others who are neither super nor angelic. 

Rather than having a “party round” full of VC firm logos, I believe founders are better served by having investors who will roll up their sleeves and open doors, make introductions, help source and recruit great talent, give feedback on a Series A pitch, and call in favors to make things happen. And make sure that your investor is willing to do real work for a seed investment. It's tough for a firm that writes both $250K checks and $25M checks to offer the same level of service and support.

Once you have the money in the bank, you need to pause and map things out carefully. It always surprises me how startups fail to plan realistically around their spending. It's vital that you have a clear picture of the traction and proof points you'll need to show investors when you eventually do raise your A. And these proof points have to both demonstrate a significant jump in valuation and de-risk your concept. That is more difficult given how expensive good people are and the current price of Bay Area real estate.

It's much easier than you think to spend $1 million.
Keeping your burn rate low until you have product-market fit will give you the best chance at building a big company.

So many companies say, "Alright, we have 12 months worth of cash, let's launch in 11 months." This isn't a good plan.

If you take 11 months building your product, even if you assume you'll ship on time (which hardly ever happens), you'll run out of runway before you really know what it's like to be out in the market collecting data. There's nothing that increases your odds of a successful A round like a successful launch followed by customers that really love what you've built. 

A successful launch is defined by the months that come after it. Let's say you're an eCommerce company and you know the Christmas holidays will represent 40% of your revenue to date. You don’t want to be in a position where you have to raise in November. You're going to want to make sure you have enough cash on hand to raise in February after the milestone.

These inflection points change year to year — so be sure you know what's currently fundable. For example, in the hardware space, a year ago, $1M in pre-sales on Kickstarter with a great product idea was sometimes enough to raise a Series A. Now, investors are demanding pre-sales in the millions with a product that's either functional or actually in production given the risk of bringing hardware to market.

When thinking about timing, remember, a good fundraising process will take between 4 and 8 weeks. Adding in preparation and time to close, you're talking a few months. Remember this math when you're thinking about timeline and proof points. Cutting things too close can be dangerous.

Keep in mind that capturing this data isn't enough, either. Your Series A pitch should be much more polished and rehearsed than you probably think. While it's an uncomfortable thing to do, and easy to dodge, your fundraising pitch is a make-or-break proposition. I've seen founders who spend more time working on weekly payroll than their pitch. You literally have to make it the most important, if not only, priority once you start the process.

Founders need to be able to demonstrate mastery of their numbers in conversation.
We recommended spending no less than 4 weeks preparing for a Series A. We've even gone as far as to build an internal team at First Round called “Pitch Assist” that works with our founders to nail the strongest fundraising story.

All of this can make it sound like you should start rationing funds immediately. But there's no need to be that extreme. You don't want to hobble yourself when you really should be building and growing fast. Raising a larger seed and regularly checking your progress against the milestones you need to hit will put you in a good position.

Get the feedback you need from your advisors and other entrepreneurs about the proof points they think you'll need to show. Prioritize advice from people who have worked in a similar sector or know your business model best. If you're a SaaS business, get advisors or seed investors that know this space cold. They should understand the exact metrics in the market that are generating strong interest from follow-on investors.

Depending on your business, you may create more enterprise value with aggressive customer growth instead of a monetization strategy. Progress in all dimensions is not the same when it comes to persuading investors. I highly recommend doing diligence on the firms you really want in your A round. Talk to other entrepreneurs who have pitched them or seed investors who know them to find out what they usually ask or expect. Firms are extremely diverse when it comes to what they want to see from entrepreneurs. The more you know, the more you can tailor your strategy to each meeting.

Adversity is not necessarily a bad thing. 

As Walt Disney once said: “All the adversity I’ve had in life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” Starting a company is not easy. It's hard to build an awesome product, to hire talented people, and to raise capital. Don’t let the Series Seed Surge fool you into thinking that future financings won’t be a struggle.

The Key Takeaways:

  • The Series A crunch is happening industry-wide, busting funding rounds and limiting startups' potential. 
  • That said, it's never been a better time to be an entrepreneur raising seed funding. It's 4x more available.
  • To avoid the crunch, only start a Series A fundraising process after you've hit major milestones. Starting too early is very risky.
  • Be rational about the size of the round you want to raise. It's always easier to increase a round than to shrink it, so let the market bid you up.
  • Consider raising a larger seed round to give yourself more runway to rack up more proof points before your A.
  • Take your time during your seed round to choose the right investors who will help you raise the next round.
  • Know what the key inflection points are that you need to hit to show successful step change.
  • Give yourself enough time in the market to get the volume of data you need, and figure out what is most compelling to share with prospective investors.
  • Don't panic. Do everything you can to prepare for the next step.
Luke Brown
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/822142 2015-03-10T15:37:02Z 2015-03-11T16:49:56Z Former Microsoft CEO and Current LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer visits with Growthinker Luke Brown

Very fortunate to have the opportunity to hear Steve Ballmer  speak and to do Q&A with him today. Among the takeaways , 

the most poignant and relevant were: 

* There's plenty of capital available for good business ideas. 
* Telling Satya Nadella, upon Nadella being named CEO of 
Microsoft: "Be bold - but be right!" 
* Ballmer's self-described leadership style is fluid based on 
time and situation. 
* "Get rid of your dead wood employees. High performers 
hate them." 
* Ballmer describes his personality as "hard core", meaning 
he thinks he's relentless, persistent, and tenacious. He told 
a story of happily winning a $20 golf bet from the Dean of 
Marshall School of Business, Jim Ellis. 
* Ballmer said it took Microsoft 15 years to master selling to 
enterprise customers. 
* He described many Microsoft employees coming to him with 
great ideas, yet those same employees were unable to execute 
on their own ideas. In that situation, even a company as large 
as Microsoft still suffers from some of the same pains as many 
* He considers recruiting and company culture vital. He and Bill 
Gates placed high importance on that, even when they had just 
30 employees.]]>
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/820090 2015-03-06T14:32:54Z 2015-03-06T14:32:55Z The SaaSification Of Consumer

The phrase “consumerization of the enterprise” feels a bit tired, but certainly has merit as it applies to consumer design and strategies to infiltrate larger organizations. Lately, I’ve noticed something taking afoot with entrepreneurs, especially those who are building local, mobile service offerings — they’re offering their customers a new service (like ClassPass) but slapping on a subscription model at the end. No more piecemeal transactions. This has been on my mind for a few days, and finally had the time think through why this is happening:

  1. Investors are tired of piecemeal transactions: I could rattle off 10s and 10s of consumer startups which were either p2p or some distributed model where the company had to grind out transactions (usually for physical goods), and things went ok for a while and then just tapped out and flattened. Unless there’s one transaction a week (at minimum), ideally looking for 2-3 per day (hence, food) it seems investors would rather back models like Spotify where the consumer feels he/she cannot live without the service and charge on a monthly basis.
  2. Subscriptions enable bundling: Every businessperson loves a good excuse to bundle. If done correctly, the consumer pays extra for they actually use, even though they have the right to use more. Startups can then also tweak the pricing and tiers to offer specific bundles and create even more options around how to segment customers, thereby (theoretically) extracting the most revenue from them.
  3. Consumers demonstrating a willingness to subscribe: And, maybe investors are pushing this a bit, but well, consumers are responding. Look at ClassPass, growing like a weed and not even yet two years old. Rather then offering freemium models, these startups are just going right for the monthly or annual subscription. Maybe it’s that these early services are focused on cities and customers with disposable incomes. That is certainly a factor for why it’s being adopted. (For instance, I pay a monthly fee to Gmail, Dropbox, Boomerang, Sanebox, HelloSign, Spotify, Netflix, etc….I now wonder if any individual transaction that I make is on the table for a “subscription bundle.”
  4. Consumers also willing to pay more for convenience of subscription: My theory is that having the subscription, even if it may cost a bit more, reducing the cognitive load for customers to not be burdened with each transaction piling up. It removes that disincentive and in turn creates loyalty to the service.
  5. Subscriptions fit nicely with services versus most physical goods: I have been forced to try some physical products on a subscription. I get why they do it, I’m sympathetic to that. But, I rarely end up needing it. As a service, though, it’s easier to subscribe and know that I could use a service once in a month, or maybe 5x that month. It’s nice to not have to think about that.

Luke Brown
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/817062 2015-03-01T19:48:43Z 2015-03-02T03:20:37Z Happy 9th Anniversary Phil Frost! Today is Phil Frost's NINTH year anniversary with Growthink.

Phil started with us on March 1, 2006.

Phil has been instrumental in the growth of Growthink and Growthink Publishing, and has also been helping with Guiding Metrics.

Thanks Phil for all your efforts!
Dave Lavinsky
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/816570 2015-02-27T20:57:03Z 2015-02-28T13:36:53Z Happy Birthday Kyle!

We hope you have a wonderful day full of happiness and that your wishes come true! Happy Birthday!

tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/815674 2015-02-25T21:16:36Z 2015-02-25T21:16:37Z Venture Capital Firms are Being Disrupted by Software And Data

Over the last decade, the estimated number of new tech startups formed in the U.S. each year ranged from 16,000 to 20,000, and the total amount of venture funding per year for software startups increased from ~$5 billion to $19 billion.

Most recently, over the past five years, terabytes of structured data about these startups have been proliferating on the web (see CrunchBase profile growth and App Annie traffic volume below).

App Annie Data Volume

Crunchbase Data Volume

In addition to reflecting a more active venture industry, these numbers are indicative of a rapidly expanding demographic of founders and emerging geographic hubs of innovation. Despite these changes in the startup formation landscape, internal processes used by venture capitalists to source and create value for founders have not kept pace with modern-day software innovations and the proliferation of data on seed-stage startups.

Demographic Shifts of Early-Stage Startup Founders

There is significant student demand for entrepreneurship in both undergraduate and graduate programs, which is partly a result of an imbalance between an increasing number of college students – many of whom aspire to be mid- to executive-level professionals – and the inherently small number of leadership roles at large companies.

Effectively, the career path for most people in large companies flattens out at the junior and mid-levels. Consequently, there are many recent graduates and experienced professionals who are willing to forfeit their dreams of being a big corporate executive in return for startup equity and the experience of forming or joining early-stage companies.

The difference between this generation and previous tech generations, however, is that this trend is spreading from traditional startup hubs – communities that are surrounded by top research institutions and publicly traded tech companies (i.e. Silicon Valley and Boston) – to new business capitals and urban centers, specifically cities that have access to investors, engineering talent, domain experts, and antiquated industries that are in search of technology innovation.

Emerging tech centers such as New York are embracing the rise of startup activity, with New York specifically beginning to track all of its startup formation activity online at destination sites like Digital.NYC.

The rapid growth of VC deals in NY Metro, Midwest, and LA compared to stable growth in New England.

The rapid growth of VC deals in NY Metro, Midwest, and LA compared to stable growth in New England.

Data and Volume of Startups Formed Are Overwhelming Traditional VC Operations

At the same time that startup activity is expanding across geography and demographics, the volume of data online that tracks seed-stage startups is growing exponentially. The massive quantity of constantly updated data online about startups’ founders, product traction and competitors has only existed for a few years. While much of this data is still fragmented, a large amount of it is easily assessable through APIs, and can be used in real time to detect signals of high growth startup activity.

This has given rise to tools such as DataFox, MatterMark and CB Insights, which are all aiding startup investors in quickly assessing public information on private companies. But these tools are not being used as core, end-to-end solutions that drive ongoing venture investment decisions and value creation for venture firms’ portfolio companies.

Although there has been substantial change in the tech community over the past decade, early-stage venture capital operations and processes are for the most part the same as they were twenty years ago. Conventional venture capital deal sourcing stems from personal relationships that provide access to exclusive and proprietary deals.

This information flow plus thoughtful investment theses, due diligence and sharp character judgments are the primary basis of top investors’ investment decisions – methods that have historically generated alpha for limited partners. Portfolio value creation has been derived from general partners’ personal networks (including existing portfolio companies), community managers, business development functions, and some VCs’ operating experiences/know-how.

These are tried-and-true methods that have always been employed by top VCs, and will continue to be used for years to come. But these approaches overlook new-age founders because there is a growing number of founders who do not inhabit traditional venture capital networks, and the rate at which companies are formed today overwhelms traditional manual methods of deal sourcing and vetting.

Algorithmically Searching the “Gulf of Startup Experimentation for Winners

Because of the reduced complexity to code, shrinking costs to build software, and lowered barriers to access initial funding, new founders are taking advantage of the ease of starting a company. These changes are partly responsible for the significant growth of startup formation in the tech sector, as well as the changing demographics of founders and new methodologies such as Lean Startup which encourage rapid experimentation.

This growth has created an entirely new asset class that is adjacent to the traditional seed to series A funnel (see diagram below). We refer to the extension of the seed market as a massive “Gulf of Startup Experimentation.”


Within the gulf, there is a small group of very talented technologists, product managers, designers, and domain experts who are capable of transforming their experiments into high growth startups that are difficult to replicate. Several of these startup experiments in the gulf are being financed by angels, accelerators and seed investors; and the founders of these startups are making themselves and their companies known online through platforms like Product Hunt, AngelList and CrunchBase.

In order to efficiently discover the companies within this gulf that are capable of raising competitive Series A rounds, top venture capitalists must become more sophisticated at filtering and partnering with the best founders in the gulf – a process that is imperfect if it only relies on human intelligence and personal networks as sources of the information. Traditional methods of deal sourcing and vetting simply cannot scale to sufficiently evaluate the rapid experimentation that is occurring, they need to be supplemented by a technology-based approach.

The future deal flow for top-tier seed to early-stage investors will be complemented by artificially intelligent algorithms that help sharpen investors’ view into the gulf of startup experimentation, specifically through intelligent sourcing and tracking. Investors will also use software to identify opportunities to influence outcomes (i.e. value creation) for startup management teams. These algorithms will analyze general partners’ relationships, understand a firm’s investment strategies, and proactively discover founders that the VC firm is uniquely able to support.

We are in the very early days of the adoption of software and algorithms as a core part of venture capital firms operational DNA. Several VCs have started to experiment with complementary software and statistical models to aid investment decisions; however, very few firms have retrofitted their entire day-to-day operations (i.e. from sourcing to portfolio company management) to be supported by a fully integrated software system and intelligent algorithms that contributes to the VC’s ability to generate alpha for limited partners.

The change in the industry requires innovative and emerging VC firms to discover the role that software plays in venture capital and to share knowledge with the ecosystem.

Luke Brown
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/813890 2015-02-20T23:54:24Z 2015-02-21T15:27:19Z

Happy Belated Birthday, Darlene!

We wish the happiest of belated birthdays to Darlene Fukuji!
Jonathan Gomez
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/813854 2015-02-20T22:14:45Z 2015-02-21T15:27:48Z Happy Birthday Luke!

Happy Birthday to Growthinker Luke Brown!!  

tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/813540 2015-02-20T01:06:02Z 2015-02-20T01:06:02Z Dave Lavinsky Presenting to 3,400 attendees at Traffic and Conversion Summit 2015!

tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/813433 2015-02-19T18:29:22Z 2015-02-19T18:29:23Z Growthink Facebook now has More than TEN THOUSAND Likes!  Less than 1% of all company pages reach this amazing #.  Thanks to all for their great support and enthusiasm for our company and our mission of helping all entrepreneurs succeed. 

https://www.facebook.com/growthink #10,000 Likes.

tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/812795 2015-02-18T01:44:51Z 2015-02-18T01:44:52Z Andrew Bordeaux and Katie Perratore REPRESENTING at Traffic and Conversion 2015 in San Diego!

tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/812164 2015-02-16T00:09:21Z 2015-02-16T00:09:22Z 5 Tips For Building a Strong Corporate Board

Many companies put off the task of assembling an effective board until they run into trouble.

Behind every great CEO is a great board, and I’ve noticed that startup founders tend to put off the task of building strong boards. Consider successful tech companies like Amazon and Google that built their boards early on. They’re more an exception than the rule, however; more often than not, companies find that there are few, if any, consequences until they run into trouble.

Many boards have gotten into trouble when they think they answer only to the CEO.

After years of advising startups on board management and executive search, I believe that the only true role of the board is to hire and fire the CEO. After all, great boards understand that they are accountable to each other and to company shareholders. Also, great boards are diverse – in thought, background, and perspectives. The statistics bear repeating: Just 10% of Silicon Valley directors are women, and the percentage of VC-backed startups with a female founder or CEO is even lower.

So here are some practical tips for assembling a great board.

Know the company’s vision. Where do you want the company to go? Define what you need the board to do to achieve those goals. Keep that in mind as you consider and define the attributes, skills, and experiences that you need of your board members.

Seek the right skills. Create a simple grid combining attributes that actually exist in the market. Draft a table with all the desired aspects of a “final” board. Fill in the table with prospective ideas for each director, ranking each in terms of depth or fit and whether that person can be recruited. Keep this list current, fresh, and ongoing, and make it an active item of discussion at board meetings.

Develop role and responsibilities for members. As Jim Collins says, “Do you have the right people in the right seats on the bus?” It’s never too early to have committees or key areas of responsibility. Do you have the best head of audit, compensation etc.? Who are the lead directors that you as CEO can rely on in each critical area?

Build a culture and invite debate. Foster a culture of open feedback and independence. You want different opinions and perspectives to help you consider alternatives. Consider the culture and interaction you want from your board: passionate and intense debate, or cerebral and deliberative? You want to recruit a board that pushes you, makes you uncomfortable and challenges conventional wisdom. At the same time, you want a board and not an operating committee – so setting boundaries is important.

Break through your comfort zone. Boards tend to reach for what’s familiar and comfortable, which results in homogeneity. Knowing that, you should strive for diversity of opinion and not be afraid to go against the grain. Keeping that top of mind will help you be open-minded to alternatives you would not have considered in the first place.


Luke Brown
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/811474 2015-02-13T20:07:12Z 2015-02-13T20:08:04Z 2014 Bitcoin Year In Review

Luke Brown
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/804560 2015-01-29T20:54:41Z 2015-01-29T20:54:41Z Presenting To Venture Capitalists: 15 Rules For The Perfect Pitch http://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2015/01/28/presenting-to-venture-capitalists-15-rules-for-the-perfect-pitch/2/]]> Jeff Jones tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/802906 2015-01-26T19:41:27Z 2015-01-26T19:43:10Z Business Fundamentals Bootcamp! Our Company will be presenting at the Business Fundamentals Bootcamp, on Feb.10, 2015at the Beverly Hills Women's Club!  The theme of this event is “Think Big, Go Big!” To register and for further info please click here.
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/800728 2015-01-23T01:31:14Z 2015-01-23T01:31:14Z Thank You! Thanks to the Growthinkers who traveled far to Los Angeles today - Alicia, Bridget, Dave, and Stacey - for a great day of strategy sessions, brainstorms, and re-connecting.  And also a thanks and kudos to everyone who filled the day with such positive energy and "optimism bias"! Onward and upward for 2015 and beyond!  

tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/799625 2015-01-22T00:07:33Z 2015-01-22T00:13:02Z L.A. tech funding hit $3 billion in 2014

Annlee Ellingson - Staff Writer-L.A. Biz

Something's going on in L.A. all right. The region earned its reputation as the fastest-growing startup ecosystem in the world in 2014. Digital tech companies in the county raised $3.04 billion last year, according to Built in Los Angeles' annual report— a 188 percent surge over 2013, when the local tech scene raised $1.06 billion. And 82 firms saw $5.9 billion from exits — up a whopping 430 percent.

"2014 was a banner year for L.A.'s tech ecosystem, which has helped grow our economy and reduce our unemployment rate by 2 percent," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in the report. "This report shows that Los Angeles has the creativity and talent needed for the digital tech industry to thrive."

Last year, more than 250 companies got funding, and 172 of them raised more than $1 million, with Snapchat's $486 million round right at the end of the year leading investments. In addition, 80 companies were acquired and two went public, led byMaker Studios' $500 million sale to Disney(in a deal worth up to $950 million) and TrueCar's $1 billion valuation after its IPO.

Other 2014 highlights includedConversant's $2.1 billion buy by Alliance Data SytemsInternet Brands' $1.1 billion acquisition by KKR, Ad Colony's $350 million sale to Opera, LegalZoom's $200 million investment by Permira, true[x]'s $200 million acquisition by 21st Century Fox,StyleHaul's $107 million sale to RTL Group, and the Rubicon Project's $102 million IPO.


Melissa Welch

Director of Client Development



(310) 846-5015

Melissa Welch
tag:stream.growthink.com,2013:Post/798420 2015-01-19T18:48:33Z 2015-01-19T18:48:34Z The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show: the Future Looks Amazing!

The recent International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas featured more than 3600 exhibitors and was attended by over 170,000 people, both show records. It’s a trade-only event for the consumer technology industry and not open to the general public. Exhibitors include many startups up to Fortune 500 companies like Ford, pictured below.

​Ford’s display was over 25,000 square feet, featured a live jazz band, and had a 250 square foot video screen behind the band. It was estimated Ford spent over $1 million on their CES display.

Among the hottest products on display were drones. Over 80 exhibitors featured drones, a 500% increase over 2014.

​In the midst of the intensity of commerce, one exhibitor still found time to honor the victims of the French terror attacks.

Virtual reality was immensely popular. Occulus had a huge display and offered virtual reality demonstrations which were easily among the top three experiences of those attendees who often waited hours to participate.

​CES 2015, for the first time, featured a separate Bitcoin area with 11 exhibitors (in 2014 there were only two Bitcoin exhibitors). Two of the Bitcoin exhibitors, Blockchain and BitPay, have each received over $30 million in investor funding.

​CES is the world’s largest trade show. It would be impossible for one person to even walk by every exhibitor’s display during the four days of the show. It gives one an idea of just how massive the US economy is and is a great gauge of what consumers want. New products and services offered by startups give a glimpse into a fast-changing future which promises to be amazing and profitable. At CES, the spirit of entrepreneurship is front and center. That is a great sign for the American economy.

Luke Brown