[This guest post was written by Michael Heinrich, the co-founder of vrLocal and co-curator for the NYC [Startup Digest]. vrLocal is still in private beta but they are launching a local service provider platform to easily hire and manage providers in your area. You can read more of Michael’s thoughts at @mheinrich]
If you are an entrepreneur in New York City, you have probably smelled a change in the air, an outburst of creative energy, oh yes, the New York entrepreneurial community is thriving! In the summer of 2009 I went to a conference at which Seth Pinsky (President of the New York Economic Development Corp) spoke about Bloomberg’s economic development agenda. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, attracting additional industries, esp. technology and biotech, is a high priority. And I knew the entrepreneurial environment was going to be changing for the better. Of course, there are still a few areas that need improvement such as ample supply of great engineering talent willing to work in startups, a university network that actively supports entrepreneurship, and ample supply of smart seed funding, ample technology domain expertise, etc.. But things are slowly improving in those areas…and where else would you find this much creative energy, central park, 5th ave, statue of liberty, old industries waiting to be reformed, great public transportation, a super diverse population, amazing night life, Broadway, and some of the best restaurants in the world? Where else would you find a strong focus on design + engineering rather than pure engineering (how could I not mention Dave McClure’s post here)?
When Carter Cleveland and I first started the Startup Digest in New York City in the beginning of this year, we started with 60 readers. Now, we are 1600+ and continue to grow rapidly, which is yet another testament to the popularity of anything related to startups. We ensure that we feature the best startup events every week and, thus, I’m happy to announce that we just engaged in a media partnership with Startup@Work (http://www.startupatwork.org). Startup@Work started Fall of 2009 and has since invited great speakers such as the founders of Kayak.com, About.com, etc. and super angel investor Ron Conway. Best of all the events are free! The host Warren Lee conducts the meetings in an interview style format with a slide deck featuring additional information in the background. Luckily, high quality events like Startup@Work are slowly becoming commonplace, which is a wonderful educational experience for established and aspiring entrepreneurs.
- “Do You Manipulate or Do You Inspire?” & “Content is King: The Art & Value of Story Building”
- Key message: Be authentically you–figure out the why (not the how or the what) you are starting your startup and formulate a story around your beliefs
- “Raising Seed-Stage Capital” featuring Dave McClure
- Key message: Ideal angel investment process—a) get customers, b) get initial lead investor (start with low valuation), c) get more significant investor involved, d) now drive up demand by getting more investors involved, leads to more favorable terms (like higher valuation), e) close
- Check out this classic from Dave: StartupViagra
- “Self Promotion” featuring Peter Shankman
- Key message: Helping people is self promotion and good self promotion is when other people do the promotion for you
- “Selling for Survival” feature Rent the Runway, Spongecell, Cross Commerce Media founders
- Key message: Sales is about who you are and how you represent yourself à Hire attitude (great character & fun) and aptitude (raw intelligence, pattern recognition, worked in down & up market and knows how to adapt)
- “$3BN in Value Created: Top Entrepreneurs Reflect” feat. founders of Clearspring (Hooman Radfar), Linkshare, Fuel Outdoor, etc.
- Lots of general advice: stay persistent, recession is a great time to start a business (less competition & more talent), be honest about what you don’t know
I would have loved to see more lean startup, customer development, user testing, metrics, iteration / Plan B focused panels, but there is always next time!