Our Thoughts

StartX is NOT the Future of Accelerators. You are.

Chad Byers’ post about StartX (quoted below) makes some good points. But, lost in the Stanford is Awesome message is the much larger — although less obvious — trend that is emerging. Startup Communities are accelerating their own members.

What can our (non-Bay Area) communities offer relative to the points Chad makes?

No equity stake required to help the companies? Check.

Passionate and skillful mentors? Check. 

Demo day? Well, probably not. But, we question the value of dog and pony shows in the first place. 

The “superior model” we need to tap is the expertise, talent and generosity in our local communities. What’s needed for that? The right dot-connecting entrepreneurial leaders and the right tools to make mentorship more effective and efficient.

I am not arguing that StartX is currently the best accelerator in the world, but I am arguing that because of this superior model, it could be someday. […] This model could be successful in the many great universities across this country.

Parody Twitter account @BoredElonMusk shares a snarky (and legitimate) criticism of @angellist and its reliance on “social proof” to evaluate entrepreneurs. 

Entrepreneurs seeking capital deserve better. 

Coaches’ Film for Startups. A reaction to “How Experts Think.”

Kevin’s piece (re-blogged below) invokes Tom Brady, chess grandmasters and radiologists.

Experts do not think less. They think more efficiently. The practiced brain eliminates poor solutions before they reach the conscious mind.

[Chess] grandmasters evaluated few moves and re-evaluated them less often than other players.

Entrepreneurs: Doesn’t that sound great? Imagine the time we could save if we could subconsciously filter out the less-productive rabbit trails we explore.

The more we learn from our experience and the experience of others — whether in chess, radiography, football or anything else — the more selective our attention will become, and the faster we will think.

Valid Eval exists to help startups climb the expertise curve more quickly. 

Like grandmasters, the best quarterbacks experience as many games as possible — not just by playing and practicing, but also by studying… coaches film.

It’s helpful to think of our system as scalable “film study” with multiple expert coaches. No football coach would ever use just the scoreboard to help players improve. Yet, this life-lesson approach is typically startups’ primary learning vehicle.   

Each of our customers assigns experts to evaluate entrepreneurs’ “game film.” Each participant benefits from a collective critique of their fundamentals, not just the game’s outcome. 

In doing so, we help our clients create more elite startup quarterbacks. 

The expert’s first impression is not a first impression at all. It is the latest in a series of millions.

How Experts Think  (via fred-wilson)

This piece by @Kevin_Ashton has profound implications for entrepreneurship communities.

(Reblogged from arentschler)

Contests’ Role in Fostering Innovation

Randall Wright gets it wrong in this MIT Tech Review piece, “Thinking of Running an Open Innovation Contest? Think Again.” 

Innovation and creating a culture that fosters it has little to do with the extrinsic rewards offered by a contest. But, other attributes of a contest can be very helpful to (even enabling for!) innovation. 

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Feedback is Dangerous

The entrepreneurs seeking your funding, or applying to your program want feedback. You should not give it to them.

You are better off keeping them in the dark. They’ll find their way to success — or not — without your help. So what if they’re doomed to repeat mistakes they don’t know they are making? If you give them a little bit of help, they’ll want more. They’ll waste your time. They’ll get angry when you start to explain why their “baby” isn’t beautiful. They’ll never be satisfied.

Tell them “thanks, but no thanks” via an obviously mail-merged email.

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Intuition Doesn’t Scale

by Adam Rentschler

As the culture of entrepreneurship continues its shift from reliance on paid consultants to volunteer mentors, we collectively cheer about the money we’re saving. But, this shift trades one problem for another. Mentors’ time is perhaps more precious than money. Yet, our startup communities are hopelessly inefficient in turning mentors’ expertise into good startup-company outcomes.

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Accelerating to Oblivion: Where Will You Be When the Incubator Apocalypse Comes?

by Tommy Perkins


At this point, you’ve probably seen this Pando Daily post that was heavily circulated this week, titled “We Know Accelerators Are Headed For a Shakeout – But Do They?” Aside from the eyebrow-raising walk-back at Y Combinator, which by its own admission was bloated, much of the post is anecdotal. Yes, the Series-A crunch appears real, but how much of that is the product of reduced capital requirements and the rise of crowdfunding and angel events? As Pando Daily founder Sarah Lacy noted Monday, reporting on seed funding data ranges from bad to non-existent and has for ages. As a former financial reporter (and colleague of Sarah’s), I heartily vouch for her on this.

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