Monthly Archives: April 2010

Dallas Startup Happy Hour Monday May 3rd

Dallas Startup Happy Hour Monday May 3rd, New  Location!We are looking for a new permanent home for the Dallas Startup Happy Hour (sponsored by Architel), but we have found a great location for this Monday’s event. The folks at CoHabitat have graciously offered to allow us to host the happy hour at their facility.

The Dallas Startup Happy Hour is the talk of the startup community in Dallas. Check out the coverage in the Dallas Morning News here: http://bit.ly/aKTJDq As a result of the events, several startups have found a) employees, b) co-founders, c) angel investors and d) had a few free drinks.

What: Dallas Startup Happy Hour

When: Monday, May 3rd 2010  6pm-8pm

Where: CoHabitat, 2517 Thomas Avenue, Dallas

Who: This event is open to all DFW area startup founders, startup employees, investors, people thinking about doing a startup, etc. As a courtesy to everyone in attendance, we ask service providers to not just show up to pitch their services.

RSVP via Plancast: http://plancast.com/a/2xn4

A quick note about parking… street parking is usually readily available after 5:30pm on Thomas Ave or Routh St.

UNT Entrepreneur Boot Camp

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_gwzX6XpNSgc/SW8c6xUv_LI/AAAAAAAABvY/E67B1vkH96M/s400/unt_logo1.jpgAlyssa Yancey clued me in that the University of North Texas was accepting applications for their Entrepreneurs Boot Camp. UNT’s Center for Achievement and Lifelong Learning will present this innovative program, known as the Entrepreneurs Boot Camp, in conjunction with the Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship. A team of faculty and graduate students will help participants craft their all-important business plans, and at the end of the series participants will get the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts. The program also will offer opportunities for participants to present their plans to potential investors and business professionals.

The course will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays between July 14 and August 18. The cost is $250 for UNT students and $500 for faculty members and community members. The cost is per business plan, and up to three people per business idea may attend the boot camp for one low fee. Participation is limited to 10 businesses. The application is available at http://call.unt.edu, and must be submitted by May 7 (Friday).

“The Entrepreneurs Boot Camp is an invaluable resource for individuals serious about starting a business. Participants will develop a solid foundation for their businesses, learn how to avoid the pitfalls that often befall entrepreneurs, and also create a professional network that will provide lifelong support,” said Dr. Tony Mendes, director of the Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship.

More information about the Entrepreneurs Boot Camp can be found at http://call.unt.edu. Additional questions can be directed to Mendes at 940-565-2848 or tony.mendes@unt.edu.

So you want to produce a TV show. . .

Several years ago Scott and I had this bright idea that we should produce a reality series called MotorSport Ranch. We sold the pilot to INHD and the first season to Dish Networks (I think they still air the show in reruns today). I wrote about the process of making the series in a blog titled, “High Def, Confessions of a Reality Show Newbie.” Considering making your own reality series? Take a few minutes and learn from our mistakes. Enjoy!

59 Angels

Over the years I have compiled a list of angel investors and I figured that I would share that list with you. Before you pick up the phone or send an email I would spend a few minutes reading up on how and why angels invest in early stage companies. Dana Mattioli from the Wall Street Journal put a list of books you might want to read:

“Angel Financing for Entrepreneurs: Early-Stage Funding for Long-Term Success” by Susan L. Preston

“A Good Hard Kick in the Ass: Basic Training for Entrepreneurs” by Rob Adams

“The Venture Capital Cycle” by Paul Gompers and Josh Lerner

“Attracting Capital from Angels: How Their Money — and Their Experience — Can Help You Build a Successful Company” by Brian E. Hill and Dee Power

“State of the Art: An Executive Briefing on Cutting-Edge Practices in American Angel Investing” edited by John May and Elizabeth F. O’Halloran

“Every Business Needs an Angel: Getting the Money You Need to Make Your Business Grow” by John May and Cal Simmons

“Term Sheets & Valuations — A Line by Line Look at the Intricacies of Venture Capital Term Sheets & Valuations” by Alex Wilmerding

“The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything” by Guy Kawasaki

EVenturing.org

Angel Capital Association

Opportunity might be knocking. . .

My advice? Answer the door. I am reminded of this old joke:

It rained for days and days and there was a terrific flood. The water rose so high that one man was forced to climb on top of his roof and sat in the rain. As the waters came up higher a man in a rowboat came up to the house and told him to get in. “No thank you, the Lord will save me!” he said, and the man in the rowboat rowed away.

The waters rose to the edge of the roof and still the man sat on the roof until another rowboat came by and another man told him to get in. “No thank you, the Lord will save me!” he said again, and the man rowed away.

The waters covered the house and the man was forced to sit on his chimney as the rain poured down and a helicopter came by and another man urged him to get in or he’ll drown. “No thank you,” the man said again, “The Lord will save me!”

After much begging and pleading the man in the helicopter gave up and flew away. The waters rose above the chimney and the man drowned and went to heaven where he met God.

“Lord, I don’t understand,” he told Him, frustrated, “The waters rose higher and higher and I waited hours for you to save me but you didn’t! Why?”

The Lord just shook his head and said, “What are you talking about? I sent two boats and a helicopter?!”

Recently my partner and I were given what seemed like bad news. I won’t go into the details because we are still knee deep in it, but we didn’t want to accept what we were hearing.  We began to fight tooth and nail until we received more bad news. We continued to fight and then received even more bad news. Fighting back wasn’t working. For some reason I began to think about my experience competing in collegiate Judo tournaments.

To be successful in Judo one needs to master the ability of using your opponents strength and power against him. If your attacker pushes you, you can step aside and use his momentum to throw him forward. The word Judo means “The way of gentleness”. Too often I find myself in attack mode. Hit me, I hit back. Sometimes it might make sense to absorb the punch and envision the outcome you desire. I thought to myself that maybe there was a way to get what we needed without fighting.

A sort of peace came over us and we realized that maybe someone was sending a message and that we didn’t need to fight anymore. Maybe there was a bigger plan, a different plan for us. We opened our eyes and began to see what seemed like a negative might really be a positive in the long run. Perhaps it would allow us to grow our business faster, removing some of the barriers that we didn’t realize were holding us back.

What is the StartupMuse?

http://www.alliance.rice.edu/images/alliance/Muse%20Alexander%20%20PHOTO.jpgSome of you may have noticed my blogging on the Texas Startup Blog decline over the past few months. There are a few reasons for this decline. First, we have been working on migrating ALL of the startup blogs (for 30 cities) to a new platform.  Second I have have been super busy with ShopSavvy (not to mention Architel.

The Startup Muse is a fresh start for me. My goal is to post a single high quality, startup related post each week. Not a daily post, just one good post a week. Each of the posts will be available here, but they will also be syndicated across the SpringStage network (something anyone can do every easily – just go to SpringStage.com and start syndicating your post to hundreds of thousands of startup enthusiasts.  As I write this post I have found a BUNCH of things that need work, but over the coming weeks this site should be up and running. Thanks for checking it out.

The Texas Startup Blog is now part of SpringStage!

You might notice a new look for TexasStartupBlog.com and for all of the other SpringStage blogs (there are about 30 now!). We’ve moved to a new platform that consolidates all of these into one site – SpringStage.com!

Internally we call this SpringStage 2.0, and we’ve been working towards it for a while.SpringStage is now a full blown community that allows everyone to contribute stories about the startup ecosystem in their community. Now you can contribute right here! You can write about your own company, about someone else’s company, or about a trend relating to your community. It’s up to you!

Each community now has one or more curators. For example, I’m a curator in the Texas region, and as such I can feature any article that any of you write. Featured articles show up on the home page for the region, as well as in the RSS feed for subscribers. Anyone in the community can also vote up (or down) articles that the community contributes, so you can help me to quickly identify the best articles to feature.

I’ve attached a quick video showing you how to contribute your own stories here on SpringStage. It’s about a minute long, so check it out.

If you’re an RSS subscriber, we’ve updated your feed to work with the new system. This may cause a small glitch that may make it seem like you’re getting some old articles again in your feed. This will only happen once and it should be fine going forward.

We’ve already discovered a few bugs with the new system, so please bear with us while we correct them. The fine folks over at GetGrogger.com (who make the tools we’re using) are kicking ass and quickly handling issues that we’re encountering. We’d urge you to use the feedback button on the left margin of the site to let us know about any problems you encounter, or any features you’d like to see us add. As always, we’d love your feedback in the comments!

Lastly, please, use the region menu to check out and subscribe to some other communities across the country that you’re interested in.  And of course if you’d like to be a curator for your region, please drop me an email and let me know – we’ll hook you up!

Angel Investors Fear Financial Reform Bill

Marianne Hudson, the Executive Director of the Angel Capital Association sent me this letter and I thought it was worth sharing:

Sen. Chris Dodd released his Financial Reform bill last week.  To say that the behemoth bill has scary things in it for angel investors – and the entrepreneurs you in invest in – is an understatement.  Essentially it recommends increasing the thresholds for accredited investors and also puts in a complicated and long process that would probably result in state regulation of Reg D offerings, likely leading to greater difficulty in syndicating deals across state lines.  The relevant sections are Sec 412 and 413 (pages 380-381) and Sec 926 (pages 816-819).

Bottom-line, these sections could reduce the number of accredited investors by two-thirds (based on data from Rob Wiltbank’s returns study of angel in angel groups) and create all kinds of complications for entrepreneurs (120 day waiting periods for review of filings, different state regulations that make it difficult to syndicate, and even calling into question whether angel investors are “covered securities.” ) Yikes!

ACA leadership has talked with staff from Sen. Dodd’s office and we believe it was not his intention to create this kind of damage for investors, small businesses, and jobs. Instead, they want to protect investors from more Madoff funds, hedge funds, and the like. With that understanding, we are meeting with staff of both Sen. Dodd and Ranking Member Sen. Richard Shelby with recommended language to alleviate these issues.  I should note that the Senate Banking Committee started marking up the bill this afternoon.

In the meantime, we want to make sure that as many Senators as possible are aware of these issues.  We’re working on some of that via the media, working with the Kauffman Foundation, etc.  We also need your help in contacting your Senators, and offer the attached toolkit:

Please write your Senators about your concerns about the bill, particularly if your Senator is on the Banking Committee.  Attached are several tools to assist you.

  • Copy of ACA’s open letter to Sen. Dodd dated today.

  • A word based document you can use to write your own letter.

  • The summary of the feedback from several members on syndicating deals across state lines.

  • List of the Members of the Senate Banking Committee – see http://banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=CommitteeInformation.Membership (Hint on letter to Senators – it turns out that FAXING is the best way to reach them. Really.)

  • We also have a whole bunch of other resources on the ACA Web site – go to www.angelcapitalassociation.org/resources/public-policy/federal-policy-issues/highlights/.


I will be sending a note to ACA’s full membership shortly, so you’ll get another email from me.  In addition, I will be contacting a few of you individually to get additional help in contacting Senators on the Committee.

Thanks to Joe Bartlett – an attorney with Sullivan & Worcester who has put in considerable pro-bono time for us –  but also Liddy Karter (who is meeting with Sen. Dodd tomorrow), Dick Reeves (who is connecting us with Sen. Shelby), and Bob Franklin.

Best,

Marianne Hudson
Executive Director
Angel Capital Association
913-894-4700 x1
mhudson@angelcapitalassociation.org

Mike Maples is now Floodgate!

Mike left Texas to become a ’super angel’ five years ago and today he has decided to go ‘Pro’ forming Floodgate. He has added Ann Miura-Ko to his team and plans offer a startups a fundraising model that ‘bridges the gap between initial seed money raised from traditional “Angel” investors and the much larger investments that characterize traditional Venture Capitalists’. Read more about Floodgate on TechCrunch.

My Projects

Big in Japan

Big in Japan builds cool applications for mobile devices, including Apple’s award winning iPhone and Google’s open source Android platform, think of us as the mobile idea factory. Our latest application ShopSavvy™, won Google’s Android Developer Challenge is available on iPhone and Android. ShopSavvy allows more than 4.5 million users to scan barcodes with their smartphones to receive price and inventory information from more than 20,000 retailers on more than 20,000,000 products. Coming soon to Blackberry, Windows Mobile and WebOS.

Architel

Architel’s primary line of business is managed IT services for small and medium sized companies (20-200 employees). The company provides these businesses an all-you-can-eat support solution for a flat monthly fee ($6,500 per month on average). With over 100 clients, Architel branched out to offer various related services including a suite of managed services (backup, spam filtering, colocation and so on) as well as technology staffing services (infrastructure and software). Finally, the company recently entered the pre-integration SAP business.

SpringStage

SpringStage is a new company founded by David Cohen, Alexander Muse and Micah Baldwin. Our objective is to build a network of online, offline and media properties in an effort to promote entrepreneurship. Our focus is on local community development and in an effort to generate local content we are looking for catalysts to kick start their local startup scene. Interested in joining us? Drop me a line at amuse@springstage.com

WhiteBox

Whitebox is a finance platform offering the automotive industry paperless contract creation and consumer credit collection via an integrated ACH collection system.