Archive for April, 2011

Yale Venture Challenge 2011

April 24th, 2011

Got to spend some time at the Yale Innovation Summit, the final event in the Yale Venture Challenge.

Enjoyed the keynote by David Bradley who told his story of entrepreneurship and then offered a few pieces of advice.  Standard things like hire for ability not experience.  Two that I liked were a theory that real value creation in a business comes at an inflection point much later than people usually think.  It may be 10+ years into the business.  I also liked his quote that you should be tenacious about being an entrepreneur not about being right [about your product or strategy].

The finalist teams in the competition gave a short business pitch in front of the judges and the crowd. Given the public nature, they spent less time on the financial section than what Brad Hargreaves envisioned, but getting closer.   A lot more exciting than when we used to do the awards after behind-closed-door presentations and judging.

So, who won you ask?

First: BlueFusion
“BlueFusion is a revolutionary tool that will allow Democrats to connect with people like never before. It’s a game changer.”
-Howard Dean

Second: Pixtapes

“Pixtapes enables Facebook friends to share and curate their favorite photos from their network to create group photo albums. Welcome to photosharing for the modern era.”

Third: ActualFood
“To make healthy, sustainable eating conveniently accessible and affordable everywhere.”

It was interesting to note that almost all of the finalists were web/SaaS businesses.  In previous years there have been a wider variety of industries.

I thought the quality of all the finalists was quite impressive.  I heard that one of the other finalists Zoko won the Connecticut Business Plan Competition.  Other finalists included Wishified – “To revolutionize the online shopping industry”.  I think the founder said that he was one of the first to receive the $100,000 Thiel Foundation Fellowship.  And last but not least there was PickedFirst – “Back office software for recreational sports”.  (I wonder if they will intersect with Top Floor portfolio company GameChanger?  Maybe not.)

Quora

April 24th, 2011

For some reason, I’ve been holding back from jumping into the Quora phenom.  All the cool startup kids were doing it and the friends in Silicon Valley could not stop talking about it.

Is it possible that the popularity put me off?  Or that I misunderstood it as a Yahoo Answers.  Now that I’ve signed up, I see that the content generally much better.  And not only that, the orginal core communitty on the site seems to be smart, generous in sharing information and curious.  Makes me wonder what took me so long.

Now that I think about it, I do realize that part of the issue was the sign-up process.  Months ago, I went to sign up and I think the immediate request for Twitter and Facebook credentials put me off.  I know that would make for better functionality if I choose to use it, but asking that as first step of sign-up seemed like a lot to ask before I knew if I wanted to use the site.  Turns out that step was optional, but I didn’t realize it before.

Do you use Quora?  Even if not, you can go ahead and ask me a question at on the Quora site.