FF 006: Acquired by Amazon, CEO @ Digg, EIR @ a16z and now Founder @ Pro.com with Matt Williams

Matt Williams is Founder and CEO of Pro.com. Prior to Pro.com, Matt served as entrepreneur-in-residence at Andreessen Horowitz, following his time at Digg where he led the complete overhaul of Digg which he joined as CEO in 2010 to rebuild the site from the ground up and contributed to its successful acquisition by Betaworks in 2012. Before Digg, Matt spent 12 years at Amazon where he managed Amazon’s Auctions and Marketplace, Community and Cross Merchandising, Tech Alliances, Web Store, and Consumer Payments divisions. Prior to Amazon, Matt founded and was the CEO of Livebid, which was acquired by Amazon in 1999.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Matt made his way into entrepreneurship and then later the VC world?

2.) How did LiveBid come about when Matt was only 23 and how did he build the product and the initial user base?

3.) What was the hardest aspect of the entire LiveBid journey and how did Matt overcome it?

4.) How did Matt’s life and work change moving from your own startup to working in a massive organization like amazon? What would Matt advise founders who have sold or are thinking of selling their companies to large corporations?

5.) Following a number of years at Amazon. How did you attempt to turn Digg around as CEO and was their anything you would have done differently?

6.) As EIR at Andreessen Horowitz what was it like, for Matt, working at a16z? Was there anything that surprised Matt about the move to venture?

7.) What would Matt say was the biggest lesson from working at these tech titans was? How has that affected how Matt runs Pro.com today?

 

 

20 VC 058: 10 Key Traits To Be A Successful Founder with David Wu, General Partner @ Maveron

David Wu is a General Partner at Maveron, which he joined in 2012 to help identify new investments in Web companies that have the potential to become leading consumer brands. He sourced and led Maveron’s investment, Eargo and Darby Smart, also serving on their board. David is very much founder focussed and you’ll often find him coaching entrepreneurs at top Bay Area incubators such as Y Combinator, AngelPad, 500 Startups, and Stanford’s StartX and was previously EIR at Redpoint Ventures. His close ties to the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial community have led him to invest personally in over 30 start-ups, including Practice Fusion, Postmates, Tile, Jaunt VR, and SeatMe.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How David made his move into the world of venture capital?
  • How David perceives the current seed funding environment?
  • What makes Stanford the breeding ground of tech unicorns that it is?
  • How to create a bay area style culture?
  • What is the most frequent problem David sees startups encounter and how do they overcome it?
  • How can entrepreneurs know which funding source to go for? Crowdfunding, VC, Angel?
  • Why should startups take seed VC money over angel money? What is the difference?
  • What are the key traits required to be a great founder?
  • How can products with early adopter usage transition to a mass market product?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

As always you can follow Harry, David, The Twenty Minute VC and Maveron on Twitter right here!

20 VC 057: The Investor Checklist with Nicolas Wittenborn

Did you know: The name Point Nine Capital originates from the 0.9 version of a product that is early but has great potential.

Nicolas Wittenborn is a VC at Point Nine Capital, one of the leading seed funds in Europe. Prior to Point Nine, Nicolas worked for the Team Europe Seed Fund. You can follow Nicolas’ incredible blog here, which include my favourite ever blog post, outlining the exemplar pitch deck that startups should follow!

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Nicolas made the move from iPhone sales arbitrage to VC analyst!!
  • How big does a market have to be to get VCs excited?
  • Do VCs have preferences with regards to teams? Technical or not? Multiple founders or not?
  • At the Seed stage what do VCs expect in the product itself?
  • What are the key metrics investors look for when viewing startups for the 1st time?
  • What are the different types of competition and how can founders determine whether they are a real threat?
  • How can startups and mobile apps in particular, grow organically in the early stages?

Items Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

As always you can follow Harry, Nicolas, The Twenty Minute VC and Point Nine Capital right here!

Similarly if you want to see Harry in a more colourful light, head over to Instagram for copious amount of mojitos!

Founding WIRED 2014’s Winner, with Mutaz Qubbaj, Founder @ Squirrel

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Mutaz Qubbaj is Founder @ Squirrel, a financial wellbeing platform that allows employees to  regain control of their financial lives. Mutual has celebrated much recent success with Squirrel having been named winner of WIRED 2014 and Pitch @ The Palace. Mutaz is also an expert on all things accelerator having been an alum at Barclays Techstars London with Squirrel, which you may remember from our interview with Greg Rogers, where Greg named Squirrel the next company to disrupt an industry.  Prior to Squirrel, Mutaz has had a financial career that includes an LBS Masters in Finance and more than a decade at Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and PIMCO as a trader, strategist and marketer.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Mutaz made his movement from banking to being a startup founder?
  • Was it difficult for Mutaz to leave the security of banking for the risky journey of entrepreneurship?
  • What would Mutaz advise anyone looking to make the jump into the world of entrepreneurship?
  • How did joining Techstars, help Squirrel as a company and Mutaz as a Founder?
  • What is the Barclays Techstars process like?
  • How can Founders decide which accelerator is right for them?
  • What red flags should founders look for when investigating accelerators?
  • How much equity do traditional accelerators take?
  • What tips does Mutaz have to get the most out of the accelerator experience?
  • How do individuals know when to give up the day job and become an entrepreneur?

Items Mentioned in Todays Show:

As always you can follow Harry, The Twenty Minute VC and Squirrel on Twitter here!

20 VC 056: The Life Cycle of Startups with Guy Turner @ Hyde Park VP

GUY TURNEY HYDE PARK VP

Quote of the Day: ‘Invest in people who do what they say they are going to do and have done what they said they would do’. Guy Turner, 20VC

Guy Turner is a Partner at Hyde Park Venture Partners where he focuses on fast growing companies run by ambitious entrepreneurs with disruptive ideas. All of his incredible findings can be found through his blog at vcwithme.co. Guy joined Hyde Park Venture Partners in 2011 from Boston Consulting Group where he focused on corporate strategy across a variety of industries; he started his investing career as an Associate and then actively investing Member of Hyde Park Angels in 2009. Guy has led investments in numerous B2B software companies and is a Director at Geofeedia, InContext Solutions and Iris Mobile. Guy is also a Siebel Scholar, Kauffman Fellow and a co-inventor on two US Patents.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Guy made his move into the investing industry?
  • How did Guy find the transition from academia to venture?
  • Why is it crucial for startups to innovate, test and sell quickly?
  • How can a startup determine whether their project is successful or if they should pivot?
  • What are the three steps to the 18 month runway, all startups need?
  • Do investors mind providing more financially to increase the runway?
  • What can startups do to maximise the hype surrounding their business?
  • Can hype ever be detrimental to a startup?
  • What are Guy’s preferences in terms of founders?
  • How can a startup know when VCs are subtly rejecting them?

Items Mentioned in Today’s Show:

  • Guy’s Fave Book: Thinking in Time
  • Guys Most Recent Investment: 250ok
  • FarmLogs

20 VC 055: Jonathon Triest @ Ludlow Ventures

JT LUDLOW

Quote of the Day: ‘Advisors are the most crucial element to success for the young generation’. Jonathon Triest, 20 Min VC

Jonathon Triest is the Founder and Managing Partner of Ludlow Ventures and Sandwich Fund. Prior to launching Ludlow, Jonathon worked as creative director for New York’s Discovery Productions. He founded and operated Triest Group, a design firm with a deep UI/UX focus. In addition to his role at Ludlow, Jonathon is a Kauffman Fellow and a mentor at numerous technology accelerators including Silicon Valley’s Up West Labs, Cincinnati’s The Brandery, and San Francisco’s Highway 1. He is board member of The Trico Foundation and Venture for America.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Jonathon made his unorthodox way into starting his own fund at the age of 27?
  • What was Jonathon’s first investing strategy and how has it developed?
  • What Jonathon believes is wrong with the typical VC? How are Ludlow different?
  • How does Jonathon find the fundraising process as a VC?
  • Other than capital what are the benefits of fundraising?
  • How does Jonathon differentiate Ludlow from the huge amount of seed funds?
  • What are the benefits of accelerators for Jonathon and Ludlow?
  • How does Jonathon approach deal flow?
  • What does Jonathon look for in founders?
  • Does Jonathon have design input in his investments?
  • How important are advisors for the young generation coming into this community?
  • How Jonathon managed to convince the likes of Brad Feld and Eric Ries to mentor him?

Items Mentioned In Todays Show

Jonathon’s Fave Book: The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

Jonathon’s Most Recent InvestmentWrapify

Founders Friday 004: Life As A Non-Technical Co-Founder with Will Sacks, The Fertility King @ Kindara

Will Sacks is Co-Founder and CEO at Kindara, the fertility awareness app that provides tools to understand fertility and be in control of their own body. Kindara has achieved phenomenal success having significant press in the likes of Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, New York Times and Forbes. Their first product Kindara Fertility for iPhone has been ranked #1 on the App Store Medical Charts.  In this incredibly diverse conversation our talk ranges from wire framing and programming to vasectomies and uterus’, it’s a must listen!

 

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • Why Will started Kindara and how he got the initial product off the ground, without being able to code?
  • Should Founders learn to code or learn how to be the best CEO they can be?
  • How and what was the wire framing process like? What advice does Will have for other non-technical co-founders?
  • How does Will feel being a male CEO for a female product?
  • How has Will created this community of incredibly engaged users?
  • How has Will managed to grow his audience so effectively?
  • What has Will learnt from raising $1.7m in angel and VC funding?
  • What is the hardest aspect of fundraising?
  • What advice would will give to a startup thinking of raising funds?
  • How is Will planning to transition into the world of hardware?
  • What theories of The Lean Startup did not work for Will?

Items Mentioned in Today’s Show:

 

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