CatalyzeCU’s Demo Day is July 31st

I’ve been watching CU’s entrepreneurship ecosystem really evolve over the last 5 or 7 years.  It’s a grassroots efforts, led in part by the students, and in part by passionate faculty within CU.  For instance, Brad Berenthal’s efforts over at Silicon Flatirons have become a staple in the entrepreneurship community.  The Spark Boulder co-working space is thriving with young student entrepreneurs.  And the New Venture Challenge is producing some great companies, including many who made it to the final rounds of Techstars.  In fact, Varsity, one of the winners, has recently been accepted to Techstars (expect a blog post on that one!)

If you’re going to be in Boulder at the end of July, and want to catch a glimpse of the fun stuff happening at CU, you’re in luck.  Catalyze CU is throwing their first-ever Demo Day on July 31st from 6-8pm.  Make sure to check out the companies, and get your tickets before they’re gone!  And keep your eye on CU – the entrepreneurial groundswell is picking up some serious steam.

Bawte to manage my stuff


photo1When it comes to the stuff in my home I’ve bought over the years, I’m the annoyingly organized about it.  Everything from that Ikea dresser to our TV to the garbage disposal we just replaced, I have an entire drawerful of assembly instructions, instruction manuals, warranty cards, and more.  You know how many times I’ve had to go sorting through that drawer to find something?  Barely ever.  But the rare occasion when I have, I’ve been incredibly thankful that I’ve saved them.  But that drawer takes up valuable real estate in my home.

photo2Earlier this year, when browsing for cool new products on Product Hunt, a company called Bawte jumped out at me.  Bawte is an app that lets you inventory your stuff then saves the product manuals and warranty cards automatically and digitally.  Adding a product is pretty easy, simply take a picture of the UPC code (or hand enter the product in), and viola.  Inventoried.  You can even take a picture of the receipt, which could come in handy when having to deal with warranty or product support.  I think the app can also come in handy in case of insurance claims – proof of the stuff you bought!  Anyway, I began chatting with founder John Jackovin, we developed a great relationship over time, and he ended up applying to Techstars.  Today I’m honored to have him included in this year’s class.

We’re working on improving workflow and the ease of adding products to your personal inventory.  Download the app today and give Bawte some feedback!

Angel investors in CO might get a tax credit

Angel investors in CO who invest in tech (and a few other growth industries) might be able to get a tax credit for their investment.

You have to apply for the tax credit within 90 days of making the investment, there are only $375K worth of tax credits for this year, and I believe they evaluate on a first-come-first served-basis. I love that CO is trying to encourage more angel investing here.

Learn more in the OEDIT’s press release.

Process for Techstars applications

Now that applications to Techstars in Boulder have closed, I’m getting a lot of email inquiries around what happens next.  I tend to not publish this information simply because each year we do it a little differently, we’re always iterating on the process to make it less painful for entrepreneurs and reduce errors and missed opportunities on our side.  But, in the spirit of full transparency this year, let me outline how we’re processing applications in Boulder for 2014.

By no later than 5/19, we’ll be doing a first cut of teams.  Teams not cut will be invited to pitch a screening committee early next week, 5/19, 5/20, and possibly 5/21.  Those will consist of 5 minute pitches, followed by 5 min Q&A.  There will be approximately 50-60 companies who are invited to that screening committee.  That screening committee helps narrow it down to about 25 companies, and from there, myself along with a very short list of my own mentors help me select the final class.

So hang tight teams, you should hear from us soon whether you move on to the next round (screening committee) or not.

Best of luck!

 

 

Jason Mendleson Techstars Boulder 23rd Studios Colorado Videography (25)

18 things that can screw up your company

Last week, Jason Mendelson came and gave a fantastic talk at Techstars in Boulder on all the things you can do to screw up your company.  According to Jason, there are 18 things and most of them are not fixable!  I’m including his list below, and also the video of his talk for those who want to watch it in all its glory.

If you like content like this – make sure you get your applications in for Techstars – early deadline is April 13th!

Jason’s 18 things that can royally screw your startup…

  1. Pick a bad team
  2. Pick a bad idea
  3. Pick bad advisors
  4. Be arrogant
  5. Don’t know your business model
  6. Don’t understand your competition
  7. Staff up & hire too quickly ahead of revenue (aka, spend too much!)
  8. Don’t constantly test your hypothesis
  9. Don’t stay on top of your PR & press relations
  10. Overpromise & underdeliver!
  11. Not paying attention to people’s incentives (this is a really good section, watch the video for details!)
  12. Screw up your cap table
  13. Screw up your IP
  14. Not having defined goals and not knowing how to define success
  15. Not firing people fast enough
  16. Not knowing what you can control, and what you can’t.
  17. Not holding yourself accountable
  18. Figure you can do the ‘lawyer’ stuff later (hello 83b!!!)

 

 

Evening Events

I get a lot of invitations to evening events – all for great things.  Startup judging events, student entrepreneur events, networking events, happy hours, open houses, startup launch parties, and more.  I could go to an event a night easily, and often times its more.

When I was in my 20s, evening events were great fun.  But now that I’m, uh, not in my 20s anymore, evening and weekend events are really hard because I have two young children.  I travel a ton, I’m often away, and the only time I get to see my kids is 2 precious hours in the evening and on weekends.  And weekends are even tough because I’d like a LITTLE personal time – so even on the weekends I’m not with them 100% of the time.  So when asked to attend an event at night – I want to join you, I really do, but the decision I have to make is between your event and my family.

I’m often asked how to make startups and the tech environment more female-friendly, and my easy answer right now is “hold lunch events instead of evening events”.   So tech, consider hosting more lunches!  Bonus, you don’t usually have to buy alcohol and the food is less expensive.  :-)  Or at least hold happy hours where the event is done by 5:30 or 6.   That way people (notice I didn’t say women, I said PEOPLE, because this is a family issue not a female one) with families can still get home for dinner and bedtime, like we did with our 7 Weeks of Awesome series at Techstars.

As an aside, I look forward to the day when my kids are old enough that they don’t want to hang out with me anymore and my evenings will be more free.

My favorite new research tool – Crunchinator

crunchinatorI’m always looking for a great tool to help me do research into what’s happening in the market.  My latest favorite tool, which launched on Tuesday, is called Crunchinator which takes CrunchBase data and lets you slice and dice it in almost any way you want.

Brought to you by entrepreneur and friend Eric Marcoullier, it’s a great way to narrow down your research time.  Thanks Eric for creating this great tool!

techstars_stage

7 weeks of awesome events for Techstars Boulder

Techstars Boulder applications opened up yesterday, and to celebrate, we’re hosting 7 weeks of great events designed to help entrepreneurs kick @ss.  All events are free and open to the public, but space is limited so RSVP today!

Here’s the 7 Weeks of Awesome (#7weeksofawesome!) Schedule:

Monday 3/24 @ 4:30 – 10 things that will screw up your startup – by Jason Mendelson.

Monday 3/31 @ 4:30 – You have a startup, but do you have a business?  By Nate & Natty, founders of Everlater (aquired by AOL).

Monday 4/7 @ 4:30 – Growth Hacking, Digital Ocean style – by Mitch Wainer, co-founder of Digital Ocean

Monday 4/14 @ 4:30 – Techstars Open House!  Come meet me, mentors, and alumni of Techstars and find out why it’s a great program for you.

Monday 4/21 @ 4:30 – Fundraising awesomeness – with David Cohen, founder of Techstars

Monday 4/28 @ 4:30 – Building an awesome enterprise sales machine – by Howard Diamond

The Week of 5/13 – It’s Boulder Startup Week – stay tuned for great events from us

And if you haven’t done so already, apply today for Techstars!

Getting the most out of your board of directors

I work with a lot of companies, some of them  have boards, but most haven’t formed their first board of directors yet.  As they venture into their first real financing and are required to put that board together, I watch them struggle with how to best utilize the group.  Early stage entrepreneurs usually fear the board, and through that fear tend to use it as a reporting tool instead of a strategy tool.  In that structure, the board members are grossly underutilized and are put in the position of being a reporting entity, which reinforces the original fears the entrepreneur had.  When Brad Feld announced that one of the books in his Startup Revolution series was going to be on this topic, I knew it would be an amazing resource for startups.

So I was thrilled when I got my copy of his newest book, Startup Boards: Getting the Most Out Of Your Board Of Directors.  I’ve read all the books in his series, and I’m sure this one is going to be just as fantastic as the rest.

If you’re an entrepreneur and you know you’re going to need to form a board of directors (or you already have one and want to better utilize them), this is a must read.