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.
Zimride is the largest ridesharing community in the US with over 200 million miles shared. We provide private ridesharing networks for 150 universities and companies across the US. Zimride also partners with hundreds of events each year such as Coachella, Bonaroo, and the Dave Matthews Band tour.
Halle is responsible for building partnerships and overseeing Rock Health’s strategic direction. She previously worked for Intel and Apple, and founded YogaBear.org. She earned a BS at Case Western Reserve University and an MBA at Harvard Business School. Halle was named one of CNN’s “12 Entrepreneurs Reinventing Healthcare” and Forbes “30 under 30″.
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.
Vinod grew up dreaming of being an entrepreneur, despite growing up in an Indian Army household with no business or technology connections. Since the age of 16, when he first heard about Intel starting up, he dreamt of starting his own technology company. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Vinod failed, at age 20, to start a soy milk company to service the many people in India who did not have refrigerators. He came instead to the U.S. and got his master’s in biomedical engineering at Carnegie-Mellon University. His start-up dreams attracted him to Silicon Valley, where he got an MBA at Stanford University in 1980.
Upon graduation he was one of the three founders of Daisy Systems, which was the first significant computer-aided design system for electrical engineers. The company went on to achieve significant revenue, profits, and an IPO, but Khosla, driven by the frustration of having to design the computer hardware on which the Daisy software needed to be built, started the standards-based Sun Microsystems in 1982 to build workstations for software developers. At Sun he pioneered “open systems” and RISC processors. Sun was funded by longtime friend and board member John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
In 1986 Vinod switched sides and joined Kleiner Perkins, where he was and continues to be a general partner of KPCB funds through KP X. Through the years there, with other partners, he took on Intel’s monopoly with Nexgen/AMD (the only microprocessor to have significant success against Intel, sold to AMD for 28 percent of AMD), incubated the idea and business plan for Juniper to take on Cisco’s dominance of the router market, formulated the very early advertising-based search strategy for Excite, and transformed the moribund telecommunications business and its archaic SONET implementations with Cerent (sold to Cisco for $7B). He helped in creating value, having fun, succeeding, failing (remember Dynabook?), and driving impact in partnership with entrepreneurs and the partners at KPCB.
In 2004, Vinod, driven by the need for flexibility to accommodate four teenaged children and a desire to be more experimental, to fund sometimes imprudent “science experiments,” and to take on both for-profit and for “social impact” ventures, formed khoslaventures, funded entirely with family funds. His goals remain the same: work and learn from fun and knowledgeable entrepreneurs, build impactful companies through the leverage of innovation, and spend time in a partnership that makes a difference.
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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.