Category Archives: Events

How to Hack Your Funding Process

Last week Naval Ravikant did a presentation at the Hackers and Founders event about hacking your funding process. There’s a lot that is similar to other presentations from Naval but a few slides talking about what is angel list, possible startup bubble and tips for founders that make the talk worth watching.

You can watch the whole talk at the Hackers&Founders TV website.


Startup Success: What Can We Learn from Balsamiq

The Business of Software Conference is one of the best events I’ve attended. It’s not a startup themed conference, but most people attending are either working for one or starting one. Is a software conference at heart and a place where you learn what to do and mistakes to avoid.

I didn’t go to last year’s conference but they are now releasing some of the videos for BOS 2010. This one from Peldi Guilizzoni, the founder and CEO of Balsamiq, is especially interesting. I’ve been following Peldi’s blog for a while and he’s a truly remarkable guy. Not only was he able to get $2M revenue in 2 years with 2,800 customers but he did that in  a market that already has a couple of really strong competitors. How he did it? There’s a quote from Steve Martin he says is a key component to success:

Be so good they can’t ignore you

Listen to the talk and learn from his story.

Bootstrapped Startups Now Have MicroConf 2011

With so much talk about Angel and VC funding and a new startup bubble forming, is refreshing to see that self-funded startups still have a place to go to share ideas and best practices. That’s why MicroConf 2011 is worth checking out.

Put together by veterans of the startup world, Rob Walling and Mike Taber, MicroConf is a conference that was born out of the passion that the founders and their followers have for the bootstrapped and micro-ISV startups. Rob and Mike run the highly successful Micropreneur Academy, a site that teaches you how to get your startup off the ground and has a very active community. Is exactly this community that has been clamoring for some time now for a place where they can physically meet and exchange ideas.

If you are thinking about starting your own business, if you are a bootstrapped startup, or if you are a one-man show (micro-ISV or single founder startup) then this is a conference worth checking out.

To register, go to the MicroConf 2011 website (or click image below).

Conference Details

  • June 6 & 7 in Las Vegas, NV
  • Hosted by Rob Walling and Mike Taber

Speakers Include

Who Should Attend?
Anyone launching a startup with no outside funding who wants to hang out with and learn from 225 of today’s leading founders and entrepreneurs.


Demo Conference Announces Winners

The Demo Conference 2011 ended yesterday and has announced the winning startups:

Zugara: uses augmented reality to aid in shopping experience. Really cool demo of someone  browsing an online sore and “trying” a dress virtually as if she was at the store.

Nimble: a Social CRM, gives you a tool that combines basic contact management with your social stream and activities (twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc.) in one single location. Great looking product that has potential to become a standard tool in sales organizations.

ecoATM: is your CoinStar for cell phones. Users go to their kiosks and put in their old cell phones in exchange for money. The intelligent kiosk can test your cell phone and determine its working condition, then gives you a price and you decide if you want to cash out. In that case the cell phone is kept in the kiosk for later recycling.

Stratosphere (by V3): Incredibly fast virtual desktops.

Manilla: helps you keep track and pay your bills on time. Is a central online location that consolidates all your payments and pending bills so you never miss the payment deadline again.

eCobe: helps content creators make money by giving back 75% of search engine’s advertising profit to content providers.

And for the people’s choice award: GutCheck, a do-it-yourself qualitative research online tool that helps you do your market research on a dime.

You can catch all startup pitches for the Demo event at their website.

Startups Gain Momentum After Launch Conference

The two days of demos during Launch Conference are over, and now we go back to our routine and start thinking whether those companies that presented so eagerly and promise to change the world will be around one year from now. Time will tell.

And although startups like Volta, which won “best business model”, and Green Goose, which closed a $500K financing round, are all the hype there were a few others that are worth checking out more closely.

YouEye has an interesting technology, it uses your computer’s webcam to generate accurate eye-tracking heatmaps. With no software to download or plugins, is a really slick application that can significantly improve your website giving you insight into what users are doing and where they look when they get to a certain page. Forget expensive hardware, if this solution works then you’ve got a big industry that is eager to have usability testing done cheaply and quickly.

With an amazing demo, I surely thought GolfSense from Zepp Labs would be a finalist at something. They have what seems to be a pretty impressive motion sensor device that you can attach to  a golf club and it will analyze your golf swing, sending data back to your iPhone where you can see how good or bad you’re playing. Why is this a big deal? Well, golfers are crazy about this kind of stuff, always trying to get 1% better at their swing and now they have the tool to do so without having to pay for expensive lessons. Besides, the technology can be applied to a number of other industries and sectors, like tennis, physical therapy, and others.

Want to travel but not into museums and sight seeing? Interested in an unforgetable adrenaline-pumping experience? aims to do just that, hooking you up with adventures that will make you come back for more. It’s like Expedia for adventure-only outings (from squirrel fishing to skydiving). Although I’ve seen this before with Kijubi and others out there, I think there’s potential for a site like this to thrive. Partnerships with car rental places, and others could boost their numbers. Worth checking out.

Here’s something that I was hoping LinkedIn would offer as part of their service (may an acquisition target for them?). Graphight is a networking tool that tells you people in your network you haven’t talked to in a while and a way to classify your contacts based on importance. Ideal for sales people and a great help for startup founders, I can see the promise of the tool. Not sure it will gain momentum but is definitely something different from your typical social networking site.

You’ve heard of WebEx, GoToMeeting, LiveMeeting, and Adobe Connet (among others) and if you’ve had the same experience as I had, you probably agree they all suck. I have not used an online meeting or webinar platform that haven’t had a glitch and screwed up either the voip, the recording or my slides. It happened to me in every single platform out there and that’s why I am rooting for MeetingBurner, hopefully they can make the incumbents run for their money. Oh, and if they are lower priced, than we all benefit from it. It’s time someone came out with an online meeting software that works.

For a list of all startups that presented and for videos of all presentations, check out the official site for the Launch Conference.

Launch Conference Debuts And Surprises

Today was the first day of the Launch Conference, put together by Jason Calacanis. Over 1,000 attendees watched startups present their products to a panel of judges.

The first to present was no other than Joel Spolsky himself, introducing Careers 2.0, a new career site for the StackOverflow crowd. Different from your typical job hunting site, Careers 2.0 focuses software developers and takes an unique approach to presenting the candidate’s abilities. At the end of the presentation and even at the end of the first day, judges and the grand jury were enthusiastic about the site.

See below a snippet of Joel’s pitch:

And below is a snippet of Joel’s answering questions from the panel:

Internet Connection That Works!

Those who have been to conferences before know that one thing is certain: internet connection sucks. Well, Launch was different. As Jason Calacanis himself explained “We figured out how to make Wi-Fi work at a conference. Make it wired” and so every seat had access to an ethernet cable with high-speed connection. I never had an issue, wish all conferences could offer this.

Angels at Work

As the first day of the conference comes to an end, a few good surprises! Two companies got angels excited enough to make on stage commitments. Green Goose walked away with $100K and Volta got Dave McClure to almost jump out of his seat as he exclaimed “I will write you a f… check!”.

Not bad for a first day huh? I’ll write about some specific startups in more detail later. Let’s see what surprises the second day will bring!

Stay tuned…

UPDATE: The full video of the first day is now on youtube, you can watch a better version of the talk above on Launch Conference official youtube channel.

Calacanis at His Best!

Vaporware Labs hosted another night of Startup Grind, an event that has grown to hosting over 200 people since its humble beginnings of a handful of entrepreneurs exchanging stories at the company’s office in Mountain View, CA.

Last night we had the pleasure of seeing a fireside chat between Jason Calacanis (famed entrepreneur beste known for Silicon Alley Reporter, WebLogs, Mahalo, and his controversial comments in the startup world) and Derek Andersen (Vaporware Labs). Jason talked about the early beginnings of the Techcrunch 50 conference, his early days at the Silicon Alley Reporter, and the characteristics of a good startup founder. Jason was also nice enough to hang out long after the talk was over and didn’t fuss about being harassed by the mob of startup geeks that formed around him. Thanks, Jason!!!

The whole event was recorded and will be uploaded to Youtube shortly, so I’ll link to it when is live. Definitely worth seeing.

Startup Grind hosts monthly meetings and it’s free. Check out upcoming events at their meetup site:

UPDATE: The video is up, see link below.