Tuesday, March 31, 2009

the Customer Development Model

The customer development model is so powerful.

In a nut shell, the model focuses on developing a business around the customer and their needs. Instead of focusing on product development milestones, the goal is to build to validation a need before you scale. Another way to put it would be to claim that the model states that a product is nothing without its business.

The customer development model is possibly the bread n butter of any serial entrepreneur. And to be honest, I hate it. Partly because I don't fully grasp all of its mechanisms yet, but also because it is customer centric (duh!). I don't like to compromise my visions.

There aren't a whole lot of good business (case study) books related to China out there. This one is good, not great. It reeks of its author, Warren Liu, my operational behavior professor.

Good is good enough for me given the selection of books like these.

Monday, March 30, 2009

If you come to a fork in the road, take it

Infonautics was in the right place in the right time -- but made some wrong decisions. We were so locked into our initial strategy and vision that we were unwilling to "pivot" in response to changes in the market. We had all of the necessary ingredients (funding, search technology, data center, hardware, engineering team, and consumer interface) but were unwilling to change the recipe.

Some of the most successful companies have been "pivots". PayPal started out as a service to beam money through Palm Pilots, while YouTube was originally a video dating site. The truth is that early stage ventures are all about experimentation and iteration. As soon as it's written, every business plan is wrong. Good entrepreneurs recognize this, and tend to build agile teams that can quickly respond to early market information in order to identify a real business model and minimize risk.

via Redeye VC

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Project Offset is still here. The video might seem a bit boring, but the effects are impressive!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Startup Pitch Viagra

Macbook Pro

I am tired of spyware, antivirus, drivers, and Microsoft. I am succumbing to the dark side and will be purchasing an Apple Macbook soon. I never thought this day would come, but here we are.

Its usually better to say I have tried than never.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Baseball, an asian sport?

Japan won again at the 2nd World Baseball Classic Series yesterday.

In my opinion, Japan and Korea are the top teams of the world (ahead of Cuba and the United States). Contrary to popular belief, baseball is not a game of power (batting). I think this is pretty clear based on the results of these two Asian teams. Baseball is a game of agility, finesse, and consistency. It's not necessary to hit home runs to win, and neither is it necessary to hit with full strength every time through. The strategy is to bat accordingly to the situation.

Considering Baseball was introduced to the world by the Americans. I don't think they're too happy with this.

I'm still messy

I feel so unrefined. I have an idea who I am but I feel like at this point its just random colored blotches of me on the canvas.

I used to think creative-types must feel such ambiguities in life to become inspired, but I am starting to find such idea more and more biased. An 'enlightened creative' should be able to clearly segment his angles, and employ the appropriate abilities given the situation. I don't think its possible to act from all angles (as a whole) at once; its too conflicting.

I want to blame China for making me less disciplined. Recently, I've noticed myself shying away from structure.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's a matter of time...

Korean professional gamer Jae Ho "Moon" Jang has signed a three-year, $486,500 contract to play with WeMade FOX in the Korean gaming leagues. His manager is working on introducing more quality players as there "aren't many first-class players in Korea." Um, if you're, like, really good at Warcraft/StarCraft ... now's the time to start learning Korean.

Best part: Jang isn't even the highest paid professional Korean player, just the highest paid Warcraft player. Top billing goes to his WeMade FOX teammate, Yoon Yeoi "NaDa" Lee, who signed a contract for $521,250 to play StarCraft back in 2007. Wow.

via Joystiq

Waveform bracelets

The Sound Advice Project offers bracelets representing the waveform of whatever six second message you like.

Waveforms As Bracelet

Sunday, March 15, 2009

the Business Idea

I don't believe in a business idea.

People tend to be protective of their idea, but I think its ideas (plural) which matter. And ideas are almost always generated in execution. In business, the goal would be to come up with a string of related good ideas (think Google).

If someone steals your idea and makes it big with it, then chances are that his/her interpretation (or vision) of this idea is better than yours. Furthermore, this person may end up buying your venture which is just as fine an exit.

On another note, I was caught with neon yellow and pink spray paint at the subway today. I wonder what the inspector was thinking when he let me go.

Friday, March 13, 2009

choose either the Train or the Station

Nothing seems worthy of blogging about lately.

Maybe it's writers block, but its not quite how it normally feels when I get that. I think its more just a lack of inspiration and execution.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Street Fighter 4

I've been plugging Street Fighter 4 into my console as of late. I must admit the more I play the more I can appreciate this next installment. Having played Street Fighter over the last 10+ years, I would conclude it is a worthy successor of the series.

The game is smooth and well balanced. The focus attack (or new parry system) is now easier to execute and weaker than previously. Cheap throws are also toned down; and the bias towards making a comeback is greater.

My only criticism is that I would prefer to see some Third Strike characters such as Alex or Yun instead of the Alpha characters (Dan, Gen, Rose).

Monday, March 09, 2009

Royksopp - Junior

Not really recommending the album, just excited to know Royksopp just released a new one.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

You can't blame me anymore...

Nobody seems to have anything good to say about 2009. And so even though I am ATVI bullish, I decided to cash out at $10 recently. I'm happy with the 15-20% gain. Its not quite inline with my earlier (long-term) investment goal, but I'm better off with a profit than face another major market de-leverage.

I'm positive I'll be back holding ATVI again in the near future.

Summary from Angel Conf

By Steve Poland March 5, 2009

Ron Conway
• “have to have a portfolio, to have hits”
• “it’s not fun; it’s hugely interesting to talk to entrepreneurs who literally in front of you are telling you the future”.
• “spend 25% of my time in philanthropy”
• Need to be very dedicated to angel investing.
• Don’t invest in someone you don’t really like; life is too short. Have personal chemistry.
• You have to have value to add; you won’t get into the great deals [they have allocation problems; you have to fight your way in].
• Be patient;
• I recommend investing in a bunch of companies. [he invests 50k-100k]
• 10k-25k to get your feet wet.
• 1/3 of them will go out of business. Failure is part of learning process.
• Pick a sector you like; I like sectors that are Internet and have massive growth. Invest in several companies in that sector.
• Great deal flow (respect for entrepreneurs to get the access) and due diligence = great portfolio.
• Build a referral network of entrepreneurs that you can invest in with, etc.
• Reputation is very important – screw 1 entrepreneur, you’re screwed.
• As lead angel, you need to take the entrepreneur to Sand Hill Road and you help them get funded.

Dave McClure
• 13 deals personally in 4 years.
• Plan to screw up the first 10 investments.
• If goal is making money, this isn’t your thing.
• How does an entrepreneur define success

Paul Bucheit
• No signing of an NDA; if an entrepreneur requests one, they probably don’t have a clue.
• Assume the money you invest is gone; it’s like lottery tickets.

Andrea Zurich
• SGVentures
• Do I like the product? Would I be proud to speak about it at thanksgiving or to my parents?
• Can you explain it quickly?

Page Mailliard [Page Mailliard is a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where she specializes in corporate, securities, and venture capital law.]
• Who are clients? Do they have contracts with them?
• Is there a provision on change of control they can terminate?

Paul Graham
• You buy either stock [shares like preferred stock] or convertible debt; either works; don’t worry about it.
• Pick the right startups. When they talk about you, it’ll be, “He invested in Google!”
• You care about valuation and amount of money you put in.
• Dilution occurs next.
• Invest 10k – 2mm; how much? If startup raising 1mm, 50k is OK – 10k isn’t worth the work for them.
• Valuation – no rational way; no answer.
• If the idea doesn’t seem a bit crazy, then you’re probably too late to the deal. It’s ok for it to be a bit crazy.

Naval Ravikant
• Need tons of deal flow
• Use time efficiently; yours, the entrepreneurs.
• Deals from social friends;
• High quality deals come from other angels [they are putting their money in it].
• Don’t forward deals to other investors unless you’re investing in it.
• What’s your brand as an angel? [I’m the VentureHacks guy; I’m of Y Combinator]
• 2-3 founders.
• Don’t take board seats – waste of time.
• Very risky business

Michael Dearing
• Orbiting the giant hairball – book.

Mike Maples Jr.
• #12 – minimum number for statistical diversification.
• Met with 100 investors in 100 days
• $25k per quarter; 1 deal per quarter.
• Lived in Austin; moved to valley 4 years ago.
• If the startup cant be one of the big billion dollar businesses, not worthy of your time. We want the big deals in the end, be apart of the excitement.
• Book by ‘talo’ – ‘fooled by randomness’

Ariel Poler
• Balance your time – might spend 1 day a week with a company at first; then every other week; now at 500 people, hardly ever.
• Once a quarter, organize a lunch for 4-5 entrepreneurs; choose a topic. Get them to help one another.
• Connecting entrepreneurs with the right people is a big piece.

Panel of Dave Hornik and Greg Mcadoo from Sequoia:
• Must tell the story efficiently as an entrepreneur
• Big business opportunity.

Aydin Senkut
• Don’t do convertibles.
• “how do you differentiate and add value to something?”, so that others can talk about you and recommend you.
• You need to be a connector; you need to meet people 1on1, and that’s how you meet really great people and companies.
• 40 investments; 4 exits.

Jeff Clavier
• 32 investments in 18 months; 250k each.
• Big weights: founders, market scale, etc. Eventually scale tips.
• Not being sure it’s a sure shot, but taking the shot anyway.
• 74 deals in one year.
• Don’t write the first check; don’t lead the investments as a new angel. [you need a syndicate of others that’ll join you]
• Be content dealing with shit 24 hours a day.

Jim Young
• Why should a good entrepreneur pick you?
• There’s more money, than possible investments.
• Takes less money now to do a startup.
• Will the company benefit from your advice? [not money] If no, it’s likely a bad deal.
• Contacts, experience, advice.
• Only invest in things you know about, otherwise you’re a spectator buying a lottery ticket.
• Find people to invest with.
• “why you want to do this?”
• You’re at bleeding edge of technologies.
• Very very high chance you’ll never see the money back.

Michael Arrington
• It’s “co-opetition” – they are all competitors in the crowd, but helping you to become another new competitor.
• “More than a hobby, than a job”
• If you enjoy doing what you do, you’ll have better access to deals, and firmer friendships with other investors.
• Have to be nice.
• As an angel, you’re shepherding the entrepreneur through a process.

Friday, March 06, 2009


Wow. I'll be moving to Boston before I know it.

Time is Art

Signing off with mine.