Lean Startup Conference Livestream on Dec 9-10

The lean startup movement has dominated conversations in the startup community since 2011 when Eric Ries presented a methodology for building efficient companies. Terms like “minimum viable product” and “validated learning” have become ubiquitous.

On December 9th and 10th at the Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco, 70 entrepreneurs from the lean startup world will share their founder stories, case studies, and advice for creating and managing successful startups.

If you can’t travel to SF, have no fear. Fuse at the Riverside, a co-working community in Boulder, CO, will be live streaming the Lean Startup Conference for the Boulder startup community.

Stop by Fuse on December 9th and 10th from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm to hear from startups, Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and nonprofits on how they’re integrating lean startup principles into their organizations. Register here, tickets are free.

Whether you’ve drank the lean startup kool-aid or are about to take your first deep dive, the Lean Start Livestream at Fuse is a chance to connect and discover what the lean startup movement is all about.

Karen Nyberg should be mama of the year

Karen Nyberg, a female astronaut, landed back on earth today after 6 months in space.  I saw the news with photos of her reuniting with her preschool aged son Jack.  I don’t know why, but the story really affected me.  I can’t imagine saying yes to a ride on a rocketship with the knowledge that survival rates are low and I might be killed leaving behind 2 small children.  But I can’t imagine saying no to the opportunity either.  I mean, it’s a ROCKETSHIP!  I imagine the decision must have been excruciating for her, and all I can say is Karen, today, you’re my hero.

“How to be a killer CEO” workshop tomorrow, by an amazing CEO!

As part of our efforts to Give First to the New York entrepreneurship community, Alex and I have put together a series of free events for startups.

Tomorrow night, we’re hosting “How to be a Killer CEO” by Techstars Mentor and veteran CEO Matt Blumberg of Returnpath.  He’s also authored the book “Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling your Startup“.  If you’re a CEO of a startup, this is an event you should not miss.  While any CEO can attend, it’s best for startup CEOs that already have product-market fit and are thinking about issues like board management, hiring, competition, financials, and more.

We just opened up additional seats, so please join us, tomorrow, Wednesday the 20th, at 6:30pm.  Click here for more info or to register.

How do you say “Free Translations” in Spanish?

One of my favorite companies, VerbalizeIt, is on a great growth trajectory.  They went through the Techstars program in 2012 and I’ve been impressed with their execution ever since.  Kunal & Ryan are great entrepreneurs and have been fun to watch!

VerbalizeIt provides human translation services (because Google translate really does suck).  Imagine traveling in a foreign country, and just pressing a button on your mobile phone to be connected with a live translator.  The great thing is that they’ve expanded their service offering beyond individuals.  For companies needing translation services, VerbalizeIt is a great option.

If you don’t already have the app, you can download it here.  And for businesses – click here to get 1 month free VerbalizeIt translation!  Muchas Gracias Ryan & Kunal.

Alex Iskold joins Techstars in NYC

I’ve spent the last year working hard (read *blood, sweat and tears*) on Techstars in NYC as Managing Director, and I’ve set in motion a lot of changes to help radically improve our program and ecosystem there.  This includes radical changes to how we run our mentorship program, how we engage with the larger community, things we can do to help the community as a whole bond and gel towards the single goal of making the entrepreneurial community in NYC the best in the world… and others.

But one of my challenges, since Day 1, is that I don’t permanently reside in NYC.  We knew since I joined that my time was temporary, as I have 2 small children and run the Techstars program in Boulder.  I’ve been commuting almost weekly since I joined, and furthermore moved my family out there for 3 months during the last program.

Well today, one of the best changes we’ve made is hiring Alex Iskold, former CEO of GetGlue to join me in NYC.  I’ll be there through the next program again, helping make sure that Alex doesn’t make all the silly mistakes I made my first time through (we are a mentorship driven program after all).  I’ll still be involved during the next 6 months, and will be moving to NYC again for the next program, but I’m transitioning the day to day and long term care and feeding to Alex.

Alex is amazing, he’s been rated one of our top mentors in NYC, he has an insatiable appetite for making this awesome.  I couldn’t be happier to work alongside him and am thrilled at the potential for the future in NYC.


My favorite give first startup this month…

I’ve been working with a startup called Kangu.org – its a site to help crowdfund the prenatal care of mamas in third world countries.  Those mamas are at astronomically high risk rates of death in pregnancy or childbirth, but that risk is radically reduced by simple prenatal care.  Care that costs less than $250.  Because I’m a mom of two, I cannot fathom losing my baby or losing my life in the process.  It’s something I’m clearly passionate about.  And the founder is an amazing entrepreneur out of Kiva.org.  She’s working her butt off to save lives of babies and mamas around the world, and I applaud her efforts.

Recently, Brad & Amy Feld donated $1K to Kangu.org in my name because I spent 2 hours out of a morning to help them with a small conference.  Because I took 2 hours out of my day, Amy & Brad made a huge impact at Kangu.org and specifically for this mama, Aspara.  Its another example how a little giving first ends up impacting the community an order of magnitude more.  So thank you Amy & Brad, thank you Kangu.org.

Kangu Aspara

Boulder Startup Food Drive

If you’re a startup in Colorado, you’ve got to get in on this.  Our friends at PivotDesk are organizing the first ever Boulder Startup Food Drive.  Startups around can drop off their non-perishables by 11/8 at the Techstars Boulder office.  PivotDesk will deliver those items to Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) to help families in need this holiday season.  So go ahead and donate that SPAM… (you know, the canned kind, not the digital kind).

Help spread the word…


Personalization is boring

I completely understand why personalization is necessary in today’s tech world.  Because there is just too much content, we become overwhelmed by the sheer number of options, and we shut down.  So the sites that have figured out how to do personalization well are crushing it with higher engagement metrics.

But there’s a dark side to personalization.  Personalization runs the risk of making us more close-minded simply because we’re not exposed to things outside of where we might first click. Because we’re exposed to the same types of content over and over again, we begin to believe that’s the way the whole world is.  We can get bored of it, and even tune it out completely.

An interesting analogy is what’s happened in retail shopping. Go to any shopping area and you’ll see identical stores – Banana Republic, Old Navy, The Gap, Nike, Macys, Bed Bath & Beyond, even the top brands like Michael Kors, …..Wherever you go, it’s all the same.  And they feel like they carry the exact same stuff, they’re all inspired by the same designers that season, so there isn’t a ton of variety.  Lots of options, but very little variety.  And I hate shopping because of it.  Its uninspiring to me.

But I was in London recently just exploring the city and was fascinated by all the cute little stores carrying unique items I’ve never seen before.  I fell in love with stuff I wouldn’t call ‘my style’, mostly because it was so new to me that it was exciting.  And the times I’ve traveled outside of western culture, I really fall in love.  In fact, my favorite trip on memory was to Bolivia where I witnessed a dying culture of people who live on floating rafts, built of reeds.  It was beautiful and amazing because it was unique and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.  I believe the single biggest downside of globalization is the loss of that cultural uniqueness.

I don’t know about you, but I like being exposed to content, clothing, ideas, books, food, people, religions, (insert whatever noun you want) that is outside of my immediate circle of ‘interest’.  It helps me discover things I didn’t know I would like.  It helps prevent tunnel vision.  It helps me be empathetic and more worldly and more grounded. It helps me be a better mother/wife/investor/managing director.  It helps me think bigger.

So tech world – I get why you personalize things for me, but I’d really like some variety too.  In fact, I’d love to see an exploration area on your site where I can get exposure to the complete opposite of what you would otherwise show me.  I might just learn something.