In April, Startup Grind Washington DC had the privilege to speak with Dr. Magid Abraham, co-founder of comScore. This event marked Startup Grind DC’s first time hosting a speaker out of 1776, DC’s newest (and very promising) co-working space. The event was certainly an interesting and eventful occasion for all those involved: interesting due to Dr. Abraham’s remarks, and eventful due to an unexpected fire alarm that temporarily moved the event to the building’s lobby, stairwells, and sidewalk (not even kidding, on the street networking definitely happened). It was certainly a Startup Grind first, but in the end, we all came away with some insightful and powerful points provided by comScore’s legendary leader.
Personally the first Startup Grind event I ever attended, complete with Cash Money Records music, free pizza, and great networking. I was lucky enough to see one of the legendary VCs from Silicon Valley, Jeff Clavier. Throughout this interview he goes over a variety of topics any entrepreneur will still find valuable today such as how to get a meeting with SoftTech VC, how to perfect your pitch, and what NOT to do when trying to get a VCs attention.
[00:00:05.20] QUESTION: What about this thing right now, are you seeing, there’s been a lot of talk of, that just there’s all these companies that were funded at the angel level, they’re now coming in for a series A, not able to get that funding. Are you seeing that with your companies that you’re having, or not you specifically but companies in general, that is this a real trend that’s happening that companies raised angel round are now struggling to raise series A, maybe because they shouldn’t have deserved an angel round or some other reason?
One of the first big interviews Startup Grind ever hosted was with Jason Calacanis. Jason was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule during his meetings in Palo Alto to come and speak to small intimate group at the Startup grind offices. Watch and learn more about Jason’s early entrepreneurial ventures during Web 1.0, what catches his eye in an entrepreneur and how to perfect your pitch.
[00:02] DEREK: On that note, let me introduce Jason; he needs no introduction, he’s worldwide.
In one of the earliest Startup Grind interviews, David Cowan from Bessemer Venture Partners joined us to discuss a variety of things going on in Silicon Valley. From what VCs are really looking for, seeing potential in the right entrepreneurs, and being on the board of one of the most successful app developer, Smule.
[02:34] DAVID: OK. I didn’t mean to get involved in the technology industry, it was an accident. I loved computer science and studied it in college. I had some friends that worked with me in the Science Center and we were called Terminal Watchers. They told me when I graduated that I had to interview with a company called Oracle. I didn’t know what it was or care, I was all set to get a job at some investment bank or management consulting firm; that was more glamorous back then. My friends urged me to go to the interview so I did. Back then, Oracle was hiring like crazy and didn’t know who I was, just that I was a computer science major.
One of Claus’ favorite quotes comes from the famous Steve Jobs Stanford commencement speech, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Claus’s 20-year career as an entrepreneur, CEO and startup founder (dealing with everything from cleaning services to solar energy) has revolved around trusting your gut and being bold enough to move against the grain. In the end, for Claus, it’s about being wise enough to understand that within all the chaos a master plan exists, just have faith and let karma do its thing.
On April 4th, at the fantastic Dance House venue in old town Limassol, Claus Rosenberg Gotthard took an audience of entrepreneurs and startup founders on a journey fit for the cinema. What can only be described as an honest and open discussion on the ups and downs that come with running a start up, Claus highlighted his failures as much as his successes in all of the companies he has and continues to run.
Starting with his trading company in Denmark and moving onwards to Russia in 1994, to start a cleaning services business at a time when the new Russia was in its early days of capitalism; Claus expressed his view that in times of change, opportunity exists for those willing to take bold risks.
In Russia, Claus grew his business to over 100 employees only to lose it all in August 17, 1998 (a date he remembers well), when the Russian government devalued the ruble and defaulted on its debt. Holding strong to his commitment to his investors, team and customers, he refused to exit the country, as most of his competition did, and worked through tremendous obstacles to eventually double revenue, land more big corporate accounts, and exit years later with a sale to a larger European multinational.
After taking a two-year break, Claus’ next start up was in the energy and technology space in Cyprus. Nova Energy seemed to have the right product- market fit in a Europe that was eager to move towards green/solar energy. Nova had the best people and innovative technology to capitalize on the green energy trend. What was not factored in was the immense difficulties inherit in running a start up dependant on government support and cooperation. Government regulation, bureaucracy and corruption was a daunting hurdle to overcome.
The lessons learned through Nova Energy, and the people who formed the core team, led Claus to his current startup and product application in the SaaS space; leveraging social media distribution to provide CRM services to small business/shop owners.
Claus is living proof that with every door that closes another door opens; you just need to have the courage and vision to walk through. As entrepreneurs and startup founders we all need to have a little faith that the dots will connect in the end.
Our Dave McClure interview is easily one of the most memorable Startup Grind interviews ever. Dave came to the stage and talked about everything from farting unicorns to expanding out to international cities with 500 Startups. Watch and learn how to get the right VC’s attention, expand into new markets, build a great product, and get a meeting with the pirate VC himself.
[00:01:22.08] QUESTION: Welcome to the Startup Grind. We like to start these things out by just getting to know you a little bit, hear about your background. Tell us a little bit about where you grew up tell us about –
[00:01:30.26] DAVE: I know I’m really hard to find on the web, so it’s all a big secret.
[00:01:37.25] QUESTION: We’re going to dive deep, man, we got handkerchiefs, we got everything. We expect the tears to flow. So, tell us about West Virginia, tell us about your family and tell us all about it.
Happy April, Grinders! March was a busy month with over 20 Startup Grind events hosted around the world, including a panel at SXSW on Why Austin? Is Awesome for Startups.
We are selling out events across multiple cities so please plan ahead and book your tickets now! Get a Global Pass and reserve your VIP seat at all Startup Grind events, including summer socials, holiday parties and the Startup Grind 2014 conference next February.
View our highlight video of Startup Grind 2013 and our latest videos featuring interviews with Steve Blank, George Zachary, Mark Suster (GRP), Dave McClure (500 Startups), Clayton Christensen (HBS), Ann Miura-Ko (Floodgate), Leah Busque (TaskRabbit), Naval Ravikant (AngelList), Patrick Collison (Stripe) and more.
We’d love to see you at one of our upcoming events. Let us know how we can make your startup journey more connected and inspired. We’re listening and want to help.
Claus is a serial entrepreneur with a global touch. Born in Denmark, he has been a self-employed entrepreneur since the age of 25 where he founded a his first venture and International Trading company.
Claus was one of the few and brave to enter the Russian market back in 1994, where he opened an office in Moscow dealing with various foodstuffs. Entering Russia led to the establishment of one of Russia’s first and largest professional Facility Service companies and later to a company distributing machinery from Nilfisk-Advance A/S across Russia.
Talk about taking huge risks! Operating in the aftermath of the post Soviet era as an entrepreneur has equipped Claus with a rare insight into running a business in chaotic and risky environments.
In 2001 he was awarded `Small Business of the Year` by the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, and 2003 Claus succesfully exited Russia selling the Facility Service Company to ISS A/S of Denmark and the distribution to Nilfisk-Advance A/S of Denmark. Read more →
Easily one of our most eccentric speakers with a lot to say, Ben Parr was editor at Mashable when he spoke at Startup Grind. Watch to learn more about him growing up to be an astronaut, creating the next great company, and contributing to the entrepreneurial world.
I run the Startup Grind Chapter in Melbourne. Before I joined the team I had a couple of Meetup Groups with about 1200 members in total, so I was no stranger to holding and running events. I can’t remember how or why I reached the Startup Grind website, but the day I did was the day my life and reason for holding these events would change forever. I always wanted to help people, help them learn, encourage them to keep going and sometimes when people hear you say that they are skeptical, but that is the truth and perhaps only the people that put the time into growing a community and work hard to promote event after event for the benefit of others can understand that.
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Alex has 15 years experience in the internet and Information Technology industry. Prior to starting www.wadja.com, Alex was Managing Director of Box Up Solutions in Athens, Greece and held sales and consultant positions at AirTouch Cellular, in Phoenix, Arizona and Creative Technical Services in Scottsdale, Arizona. Alex is currently CEO, Founder and Executive Board Member of Wadja Media Limited, splitting his time between Cyrus, Athens and Sunnyvale, California and has been featured in guest posts on Mashable and Businessinsider on Entrepreneurship in Europe.