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How to NOT Become an Entrepreneur

bae logo I get a lot of junk email that I normally ignore, but this one ticked me off enough to write about:

Major Changes for Bay Area Entrepreneurs Workshop

Changes?  To what?  I’ve never heard about this program before.

Lowering the price of the Workshop by $500 to $1,000

Ouch!  Lowering?  And then it’s still $1,000?  Now I really have to check it out…

The Bay Area Workshop is a series of weekly, 3-hour long presentations, 8 in total for a “discount” price of $1,000, or $175 per individual session.  The “Team” consists of the CEO.  The Agenda focuses on Business Plan building, culminating in an investor presentation, and the presenters are “named” illustrious experts like “Start-up consultant”, “Go-to-market consultant”, “Marketing consultant”, “Angel investor”.

agenda

Most impressive, isn’t it?  Wait, here’s a preview: you can watch a 46-minute embedded webinar here.  No, your video did not freeze, you really are staring at one single slide (long live Powerpoint!) for close to two minutes. Never mind that you can’t read the small print and full-screen toggle does not work…. I’m sure there’s value in there … somewhere 🙂

Oh, boy. If I wanted to be cynical, I’d say this program is a tired, half-cooked attempt at delivering recycled presentations by a retired executive at a premium price. But I don’t want to be cynical, so I’m not calling it a rip-off… All I am saying is: I’m not sold, and buyer beware.

OK, here’s what I really think:

If you are in a corporate job thinking of becoming an Entrepreneur – save the money, these courses will not “make you” an entrepreneur. You should probably keep your job.

If you already are talking to potential partners, are busy building an early stage product, then you already are an Entrepreneur.  You have the drive, you did not “get it” from a bunch of expensive classes.  You may or may not get funded one day, and sure, there’s a lot to learn, but you can pick it up along the way.  There’s probably no better place to start than reading Mark Suster’s series.  Sage advice from an Entrepreneur-turned-VC.  By all means, network: go to events like SF Beta,  the New Tech Meetups in SF or the Valley, Meet real VC’s at events hosted by SVASE – wherever you start, one event will lead to another, and you will make real-life connections.

Most events will cost you $20-40, some a little more expensive, but whenever you see a 3-digit price-tag, run the other way!  And don’t even think of spending a thousand bucks just to hear from unknown instructors how you should put a business plan together.

As for The Bay Area Workshop, I saved the best for the last.  If you really have a thousand bucks to throw away, would you expect to just sign up and attend?  No, you have to apply and “qualify”:

To apply for all eight session of BAE Workshop, send your business summary to [email protected]. We will evaluate the submissions and notify those accepted into the program.

I’m so out of here…

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve )

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Two Days Left for Under the Radar Online Registration – Get Your Discount Here

We’re at the final countdown stage for the Under the Radar: Clarity in the Cloud conference – it’s coming up this Friday, April 24th, 8:00AM – 6:00PM @ the Microsoft Campus, in Mountain View, CA.  

If it’s named a conference, it has to have a keynote or a panel, and that’s what you get at 9am: the Buyers’ Wish-list Panel:

  • What are technology buyers are hunting for?
  • What cloud technologies have they adopted?
  • How you can get on their wish list?

But that’s where all similarity to a conference ends.  The rest of UtR is actually a giant Startup Launchpad – the American Idol of startups.  Except UtR won’t take months to declare the winners.  The finalists present in a rapid-fire format  – they are grouped in categories of 4 each, in two parallel tracks  and each presenter has about 15 minutes. They get grilled by the judges and audience, then all attendees get to vote  ( I wonder if they upgraded from paper ballots to SMS yet..) and at the end of the conference the winners of each category are announced.

UtR has a good track record of the participants getting funded – about half of them got funded or acquired in the past. (See more stats here.)  If we can believe InformationWeek’s Top 50 Startup list, this year’s roster will also be worth paying attention to:

           
          

          

                      

 

Then there are the Graduate Circle Companies – fomer UtR presenters, who are no longer truly “under the radar”, having proven themselves:

       

       

 

So if you want to be part of 2009 startup history, network with entrepreneurs, VC’s, media, corporate decisionmakers, join us on Friday.   CloudAve is a media partner for this event, several of us (Krish, Graeme, Raju and myself) will be there, and most importantly, we have a deal for you.  Use our VIP registration site for $100 off the non-member price.

If you can’t commit full day, drop by just for the afternoon (it’s Friday).  For the first time in the history of these events, you can now get an after-lunch pass for $275.

See you there!

(Note to PR types: thanks for all your interest, but I am not making advance appointments.  UtR is too vibrant, dynamic, there are too many interesting people to bump into to make such commitments – better go with the flow.  But it’s a small place, and several of us from CloudAve will be there, so I’m sure we’ll meet your startup clients anyway.)

(Cross-posted from CloudAve. To stay abreast of news, analysis and just plain opinion on Cloud Computing, SaaS, Business grab the CloudAve Feed here.)

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Startups: Present at Under the Radar

Under the Radar is Silicon Valley’s most established startup debut platform: a conference series organized by Dealmaker Media (for those with a longer memory, they used to be IBDNetwork) , covering business applications, social media, entertainment, mobility..etc.

The 11th Under the Radar conference in Mountain View, CA on April 24, 2009 will focus on Cloud Computing and Business Applications and as such it’s an obvious fit for CloudAve – media partners for the event.

While a conference in name, it’s actually a giant Startup Launchpad – the American Idol of startups.  Typically 32 finalists are selected, who will present in a rapid-fire format  – they are grouped in categories of 4 each, in two parallel tracks  and each presenter has about 15 minutes. They get grilled by the judges and audience, and at the end of the conference the winners of each category are announced. 

But why bother in the middle of the worst recession most of us have seen?  After all, no startups get funded now – you may think.   Well, if you think VC investment all dried up, just look at these two UtR companies picking up $27M in funding.   In fact Dealmaker Media claims that in the past 3 years alone, presenting companies have gone on to raise over $1.36 Billion. Some additional stats on Under the Radar “graduates”:

49% have gone on to raise funding or be acquired
14% have been acquired by companies such as Google, eBay, Microsoft, Yahoo and Cisco
$14 Million average has been raised by presenting companies

I guess the Dealmaker name is justified, after all smile_regular.  Other than the presentations, these events are also an excellent networking opportunity amongst the 400 or so attendees, so let’s look at the previous years’ attendance statistics by provided by Dealmaker Media:

http://sheet.zoho.com

It certainly looks like the right crowd to mingle with for investment-hungry startups.  Currently about half the slots are filled by these finalists:

Ctera, Eucalyptus, Heroku, New Relic, Sauce Labs, Symplified, Tap In Systems, Twillio, uTest, Virsto Software, Zephyr, Zetta, Zimory, Zuora.

Obviously that means there is still room for more.  So if your startups fits one of these categories: 

Cloud Infrastructure | Platforms | Virtualization | Saas | Mashups | Collaboration | Communication | Business Apps | Development Tools (Utilities, OS, etc…) | Mobile Office | Semantics | Commerce | Social software/ networks | Sync (online/offline)

and meets the general criteria:

  • Unique value proposition
  • Ability to monetize product/business
  • Large market opportunity
  • Must still be considered "under the radar" – launched in 2009
  • Company must be an actual startup – not a new product from a large company

then what are you waiting for?   Apply now to present at Under the Radar.  Non-presenting attendees can register here.

We will talk about UtR more over @ CloudAve – it will no doubt be an exciting competition.

(Cross-posted from CloudAve.  To stay abreast of news, analysis and just plain opinion on Cloud Computing, SaaS, Business grab the CloudAve Feed here.)

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Under the Radar: Call for Startups in Cloud Computing & Business Applications

Under the Radar is the Silicon Valley’s most established startup debut platform: a conference series organized by Dealmaker Media, covering business applications, social media, entertainment, mobility..etc.

The 11th Under the Radar conference in Mountain View, CA on April 24, 2009 will focus on Cloud Computing and Business Applications and the organizers have issued a CALL FOR COMPANIES to present.

The general criteria for all UTR events:

  • Unique value proposition
  • Ability to monetize product/business
  • Large market opportunity
  • Must still be considered "under the radar" – launched in 2008
  • Company must be an actual startup – not a new product from a large company

Typically 32 finalists are selected, who will present in a rapid-fire format  – they are grouped in categories of 4 each, in two parallel tracks  and each presenter has about 15 minutes. They get grilled by the judges and audience, and at the end of the conference the winners of each category are announced.   Categories for the April event are:

  • Cloud Infrastructure
  • Platforms
  • Virtualization
  • Saas
  • Mashups
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Business Apps
  • Development Tools (Utilities, OS, etc…)
  • Mobile Office
  • Semantics
  • Commerce
  • Social software/ networks
  • Sync (online/offline)

If you’re building a startup, meet the criteria above, will have a real product / service out by April, don’t hesitate:  APPLY.

See you in April!

(Cross-posted from CloudAveto stay on top of Cloud Computing news, analysis and just our opinion, grab the CloudAve Feed here)

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I Hate Fear Marketing

So I’m cutting off Spoke Software who sent me this piece of junk: If you want to keep your job, use Spoke.

Read on for details

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Come to Defrag

Next week I’ll be in Denver, attending Defrag, a boutique, intellectual, intense, very participatory conference.  I’m attending despite the fact that I’ve cut down on conference attendance, not because of the current economic turmoil, but largely due to burnout.  After a while they just all feel the same: empty session rooms, bored exhibitors, people just enjoying ad-hoc hallway conversations.  But there is something intriguing about Defrag: friends and smart minds I respect keep on tweeting about Defrag, and the agenda just looks exciting.

  • I’ve always enjoyed reading Paul Kedrosky, whose posts deliver the punch in just a few words – or an image.  I’ve never met him, so I’m looking forward to his keynote.
  • Howard Lindzon’s keynote, titled It’s Always a Good Time to Start a Web Business will no doubt have a very special meaning in the current economic situation.
  • I’m really, really looking forward to the next keynote, Getting Into the Flow Applications – a subject I somewhat touched upon, and likely will re-visit before heading to the conference.
  • The first breakout session will be a huge dilemma: I literally should split myself in two halves, I badly want to attend both Dis (and Re)-aggregating the Web with Disqus, Intense Debate and my6sense, but I can’t miss Re-imagining the metaphors behind collaborative tools with Atlassian, Mindtouch, Liquid Planner, One Place either.  (Update: now I really can’t miss it, as I’ll be moderating this session.)

I could go on, but I’ve just realized I’d literally have to duplicate the entire Agenda here.  Have I just discovered Defrag’s secret sauce?   Conferences are never about sessions, it’s all about the ad-hoc networking, even lobbycon-ing – yet I find myself wanting to attend most sessions, in fact two of them in most of the breakouts.  Defrag promises amazing intellectual content, and if I just follow Twitter, an extraordinary group of innovators plan to attend. From what I hear, this is the conference where the attendees participate just as much as the speakers.

Do yourself a favor, check out the Agenda, read Eric’s 10 reasons to come to Defrag and register. (Use discount code “zoli1” to receive $300 off).

Update: Microsoft’s PDC is in full force today, and guess what, the conference wi-fi is failing.  This seems to be the fate of all conferences, including ironically Web 2.0 Expo.  The only exception I’ve seen so far is the Office 2.0 Conference, which teamed up with Swisscom to build rock-solid wi-fi.  What is less known though, that they got the tip and contacts from Defrag organizer Eric Norlin.  Yes, Defrag, working with Swisscom was the first conference to provide industrial-strength, reliable wi-fi throughout the entire site, including rooms in the conference hotel, the Hyatt Regency.  So if you come to Defrag, you’ll be connected 24/7.  (OK, just 24/2: Nov 3-4thsmile_wink)

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Under the Radar Conference in Two Days – Save $100 Here.

Under the Radar is the Silicon Valley’s most established startup debut platform: a conference series organized by Dealmaker Media, covering business applications, social media, entertainment, mobility..etc. The next conference, focusing on The Business of Web Apps: Where the Web Goes to Work is only two days away and Dealmaker Media allowed me to announce a few discounted tickets. Enjoy the $100 blogger discount by registering at this link only.

32 startups will present in a rapid-fire format (correction: American Idol formatsmile_shades) they are grouped in categories of 4 each, in two parallel tracks (yes, you do have to pick one, but can switch back and forth), and each presenter has about 15 minutes. They get grilled by the judges and audience, and at the end of the conference the winners of each category are announced.

The categories and the selected startups are:

Track 1 Track 2
Business Calls

Virtualization

Get Aggregated

Manage Up

Happy Customers

Virtual Worker

Work Together

Marketing and Measurement

Last year I was on the Selection Committee to the Under the Radar Office 2.0 event, and as such reviewed over a hundred companies / products. Obviously not all could make it, so I am especially pleased to see some of them on this year’s list. Of course the real measure of success is that several presenters have since received funding, gained significant brand recognition and customers. Some are back this year as Graduate Circle sponsors:

3Tera | Blogtronix | Clarizen | Longjump | Nirvanix | Q-layer | Smartsheet.com | Transera

Other than the presentations, these events are also an excellent networking opportunity amongst the 400 or so attendees, so let’s look at the attendance statistics by provided by Dealmaker Media:

http://sheet.zoho.com

Concluding the Conference, Robert Scoble will be hosting a fireside chat with Amazon’s VP & CTO, Werner Vogels to discuss the future of apps in the cloud…where its heading, who will dominate and what you should be doing now to get ahead.

The event ends with a cocktail reception, and – here’s the bonus – participants are also invited to the Opening Reception the night before at Palo Alto’s Zibibbo.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a discounted ticked while they last.

Last, but not least, this year’s Selection Committee:

Pete Cashmore | Mashable
Robert Scoble | Scobleizer
Richard MacManus | ReadWriteWeb
Ismael Ghalimi | IT|Redux
Marshall Kirkpatrick | New Media Consultant
Josh Jaffe | Tech Confidential
Jon Burke | alarm:clock
Jeremy Toeman | Stage Two Consulting
Rafe Needleman | Webware
Leon Ho | Lifehack.org
Bryce T. Roberts | O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures
Stowe Boyd | /Message
Brian Solis | bub.blicio.us
Rod Boothby | Innovation Creators
Eze Vidra | VC Cafe & Ask.com

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Blogger Discount for the Under the Radar Conference

Just a week left till the Under the Radar: Why Office 2.0 Matters conference, and DealmakerMedia agreed to offer a discount to my readers. Registering through this URL offers $70 off the non-member advance registration, or $170 off the walk-in price.

Here’s a list of the 32 presenting startups:

Approver | Blogtronix | Brainkeeper | Cogenz | ConceptShare | ConnectBeam | Diigo | EditGrid | Firestoker | InvisibleCRM | Koral | Longjump | Mashery | My Payment Network | Proto Software | Scrybe | Sitekreator | Slideaware | Smartsheet | Spresent | Stikkit | System One | Terapad | Teqlo | TimeSearch Inc. (Calgoo) | Tungle | Vyew | WorkLight | Wrike | Wufoo | Xcellery

… as well as the Graduate Circle Sponsors:

Atlassian | Colligo | DabbleDB | EchoSign | Etelos | FreshBooks | Jive Software | Joyent | iUpload | Oddcast | ThinkFree | Zoho

The 32 startups will be presenting in 8 sessions, which will all start out with a panel discussion of the sector, and then, 4 companies will demo their products to a panel of industry experts who are active in this space, along with an audience of early-adopter technology insiders.

Both audience and experts will get a chance to beta test and offer feedback based on favorite features, areas for improvement, the ideal industry “partner” match-ups, and how best to reach out and build up their audience. The conference will also offer ample time for presenters and attendees to network and share ideas and information.

Hope to see you there!