My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 101609

From the home office in a balloon 7,000 feet above Colorado…

#1: Well, this was unexpected. The Spigit funding news has hit Techmeme http://bit.ly/3ETPFp #e20 #innovation

#2: LinkedIn: 50 million professionals worldwide http://ow.ly/uq7s “Last million took only 12 days” Wow. Tipping point?

#3: RT @mwalsh: Seth’s best post of the year – get over yourselves…you’re not that cool, interesting or smart. http://bit.ly/3HwrV6

#4: Is Social Media the New Cigarette? asks @billives http://ow.ly/u8IY Looking at social media addiction

#5: RT @nyike First Jive, now Spigit building #e20 and collaborative functionality on top of Sharepoint http://bwbx.io/hina

#6: Within firms, collaboration technologies are dictated by most powerful person involved in the collab http://ow.ly/tJgf by @amcafee

#7: Just as interesting as this WSJ piece is, Why Email No Longer Rules… http://ow.ly/tZpj are the skeptical cmts left by readers #e20

#8: If companies like $GOOG and $MMM excel and incl employee 15-20% personal time for innovation, why haven’t others adopted same?

#9: Wind farm firm makes sure its wind mills are 30 miles away from nearest Starbucks. http://ow.ly/tRQP Why? Best way to avoid NIMBY’s

#10: When a company gets funding, all sorts of interesting “opportunities” emerge. Just got a solicitation for Spigit to sponsor a NASCAR driver.

Warburg Pincus Invests $10 Million in Spigit

Warburg Pincus SpigitWell, this is pretty cool. I’m pleased to announce that Spigit has received a $10 million equity investment from Warburg Pincus. The investment will be used for the usual things a growing start-up needs: product development, sales and marketing and program management. Here’s coverage in the New York Times and TechCrunch.

I’ve been with Spigit for 6 1/2 months, during which time I’ve seen firsthand how things have progressed. Both the company and me.

If you’ve ever checked my bio, you’ll know I worked in investment banking from 1996 to 2000. If not for a banking merger that shut down my San Francisco office, I’d likely still be there as a Managing Director, doing financings for companies.

OK, wait. Considering the recent financial market collapse, let me rethink that…

Rather, I moved into technology. And let me tell you, it ain’t easy making the transition from banking to technology. You have zero geek cred (note the name of this blog). Since 2000, I’ve worked for several small technology start-ups. From each of them, I’ve learned a lot. I will say that in Spigit I’ve found a place that nicely combines my MBA company performance orientation with my social software enthusiasm. Innovation management meets Enterprise 2.0.

The team at Spigit is a hard-working one. I’m impressed with the seriousness of purpose each of them brings to the job every day. When we closed the funding this week, our CEO Paul Pluschkell got a couple bottles of champagne for a company toast. After we drank a bit of champagne (not too much, customers reading this blog…), everyone quickly went back to their desks to do work. Dorks. :-p

Which is appropriate. There’s a lot of work to do. I’m looking forward to it.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 091109

From the home office in Athens, Santorini and Crete…

#1: Salesforce emerging as a competitor to Jive, Socialtext, Atlassian, Telligent? http://bit.ly/71hbn That’ll be tough #e20

#2: What Exactly is a Social Business? http://bit.ly/2g9u82 by @lehawes #e20

#3: 15,000 Thoughts per Day – Why We Need Constraints for Innovation (via Spigit blog) http://bit.ly/ltaxP #innovation

#4: “Innovation is one of the easiest & least risky areas that can be tapped by organizations” http://bit.ly/uLk6K by @dhinchcliffe

#5: RT @armano “innovation happen in the corners of an organization—they need to be connected” (we call this Ecosystem) #futurebiz

#6: McKinsey has created the “innovation performance score” http://bit.ly/2YWPQ9 It’s, of course, a smart analytical tool #innovation

#7: Love @fredwilson‘s attitude here: The Foursquare “Crush” http://bit.ly/10g4kb Using his blog as valuable feedback for future investments

#8: RT @GraemeThickins Wall Street Journal & New York Times plan San Francisco editions http://bt.io/AwZ (via @thefutureofnews)

#9: RT @skap5 Is it possible to have an economy where everyone is a consultant?

#10: RT @Danny_DeVito I just joined Twitter! I don’t really get this site or how it works. My nuts are on fire.

My First-Ever VC Pitch

I recently had the opportunity to pitch a VC firm. Hummer Winblad, to be exact. As someone who never thought he’d ever do that, I have to say it was all rather cool. Here are the details:

THE IDEA: Over the past couple months. I dreamed up an idea for online retailers to connect to social networks. I won’t say too much about the idea, because you just never know if it might see the light of day sometime. But I did take the time to lay it out via Google Presentation. That was pretty fun, I have to say. I had all these hack graphics courtesy of Microsoft Paint. Primitive, but it worked.

ASKING AROUND: Once the idea was written down, I needed to find out if it has legs. I didn’t worry about someone stealing the idea or anything. You can’t learn anything keeping the idea bottled up. So I asked a few friends to take a look at it. To my surprise, I got a lot of “great idea” responses. Followed by, “isn’t Facebook going to do this?” The feedback pumped me up, even if Facebook was going to do it.

CO-FOUNDER: I don’t code, can’t code, shouldn’t code. I needed to have a development partner. Well, I met a dev buddy and shared the idea with him. He liked it, and agreed to be a co-founder. So, good feedback from friends, and a co-founder who could actually make the idea a reality. Things were going well.

MARKET FEEDBACK: I talked with two different e-tailers about the idea. Both really liked it. Each had his own take on what he liked, and I was pleased with the responses. Good feedback from trusted friends, a dev co-founder, good response from potential customers. Check, check, check!

THE PRODUCT: Uh…we actually hadn’t built anything yet. Hmm…was this going to be a problem?

THE VC INTRO: I sent a link for my Google Presentation to a contact at Hummer Winblad. I had met with him a couple years ago to interview for a VC associate position (didn’t get it). To my surprise, he emailed back and said he’d be delighted to hear more details. I was thrilled, despite having no actual product to demo.

VC PITCH DECK: I needed to convert my original, handcrafted presentation into an investor deck. This was really pretty easy. First, a couple of VCs have written blog posts about what ought to be in a pitch (here’s a good one). Having spent several weeks researching the idea, the slide contents were pretty easy to pull together. The hardest thing was the financial projections. But even those weren’t too bad. See Glenn Kelman’s post on Guy Kawasaki’s blog for some very useful advice.

THE PITCH: My dev buddy and I arrive early for our pitch. We set up in a spacious conference room with a flat-panel screen. We’re a little nervous, but our attitude is “we have nothing to lose”. The VC runs late. Finally, my VC contact and an Associate arrive. We start the pitch. Good attention, questions are asked, dialogue is occurring. I’m feeling OK about it. Then they ask about what stage we’re at. “Seed. No product built as yet.” At that point, the pitch came off the rails. We were gracefully pointed toward the angel investor route. Alas, no follow-up meeting would be needed.

POST-MORTEM:

  • In this web 2.0 age of free software and services, it’s safe to say you’d better have some actual product to demo. Only well-known successful entrepreneurs could get away with not having an actual product while raising money, and it’s unlikely they would ever do so.
  • The entrepreneurs are the best prepared and most acknowledgeable people in the room when it comes to their idea. VCs can seem intimidating given all the pitches, investments and experience they have, but they’re generally learning in real-time from the entrepreneur.
  • Don’t sweat getting a ‘no’. Is it the idea, the company or the VC? Focus on your own view here. If it’s the idea, what needs to be fixed? If it’s the company, what can improve things (e.g. actual product)? If it’s the VC, there are many others.

So that’s my first-ever VC pitch. I’m noodling on what to do next. The product remains, as of yet, unbuilt.