The Rise of the Angels (and the Entrepreneurs)

Written by Paul on December 16th, 2012

This post includes video, slides, and a full-text writeup. At 3,500+ words, you probably don’t want to be reading this on your phone.

Over the past two years, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with 500 Startups as we’ve invested in 400+ companies in 20 countries. As we’ve started to ramp up operations in India, I’ve spent quite a bit of time there in 2012 and was asked to speak at the Unpluggd conference a few weeks ago. I thought I’d …

India Has a Series A Drought

Written by Paul on December 7th, 2012

There’s been a lot of recent talk about the Series A crunch in the US. Having spent the last two days at the AVCJ conference in Mumbai, I’d like to propose that India has the opposite problem: there’s a Series A drought in India. Many Indian firms can write large ($500K-$1M+) checks but there simply aren’t enough companies looking for that capital.

As with most conferences, the most interesting conversations tend to be on the sidelines and in the hallways. …

Investors: Risk And Uncertainty Are Not The Same Thing

Written by Paul on December 6th, 2012

[I'm speaking at the Asian Venture Capital Journal event here in Mumbai later today and these are the speaker notes I'll be using for my talk. The audience is primarily LPs which is a fancy way of saying that they're the people that give investors like me money.]

Today, we’re supposed to be talking about mitigating investment risk. Here’s the problem though: risk, as defined by economist Frank Knight in 1921, is something you can put a price on. In other …

Investors Need To Lose Their Egos And Founders Need To Gain Some Confidence

Written by Paul on November 25th, 2012

I’ve spent a lot of time on the road this year and, though I’ve visited a handful of countries, the majority of my time outside the US this year has been India. (Note: I’ll assert that what I’m about to say applies to any startup ecosystem outside Silicon Valley — both in the US and internationally.)

Across every startup ecosystem I’ve seen, it seems to me that there’s only one real way to to help startup ecosystems mature: investors need to

The Art of Hiring: How To Hire The Best

Written by Paul on November 20th, 2012

The best people are already doing something they love. The ones on the market aren’t always the ones you want. If you want the best people working with you, you only have two options:

  1. Inspire them. Get them to fall in love with your vision.
  2. Get the timing right. Catch them when they’re already making a move.

Regardless of which one you choose, have a game plan before you do anything. (The same could be said about fundraising and anything else where one side …

Why Immigration Policy Matters for Startups

Written by Paul on October 29th, 2012

It’s our responsibility to be a bridge to venture capital and functional expertise — as private citizens *and* as a country. The United States is where the internet started and, when you think about economic development and job creation, it’s where many of the most successful internet companies have flourished over the past few decades. However, the internet landscape is changing: more people are online than ever before, technology

Ask the VC: Tactical Tips for Taking Advantage of Demo Days or Any Other Investor Hotspots

Written by Paul on October 26th, 2012

Demo days are a funny thing. Everyone seems to think it’s about bringing startups and investors together but my observation is that many of these events turn out to be nothing more than a social event for investors (and wanna-be investors) to catch up with each other. If you’re the startup trying to raise money at your demo day event, you’re a sucker. Smart founders use demo days as forcing functions when they’re generating heat for their startup.

I’ve been to …

Want to get inside the head of an active investor?

Written by Paul on October 23rd, 2012

I’ve been an employee, I’ve been a founder and now I’m an investor. (In that order, actually.) When it comes to time-based experience, I’m still a noob — I’ve been on this side of the table for about three years now. However, what I lack in time, I’ve more than made up for in experience — 500 Startups’ approach to high volume early stage investing and selective follow-ons has exposed me to hundreds of investments in a very short amount …

Observations on India

Written by Paul on September 24th, 2012

I’ve spent a decent amount of time in India over the past few months. Most recently, I spent a little over two weeks of August meeting with founders and investors in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Goa. A couple of observations in no particular order:

  • Indian founders don’t have clear role models… at least not within the Indian startup ecosystem. That being said, that will likely change over the next 3-5 years as the founders of companies such as SnapDeal, FlipKart, Naukri,

The goal is to make good decisions, not to make money

Written by Paul on September 13th, 2012

Google Ventures’ Joe Kraus recently wrote about unconventional investing rules and this particular portion caught my eye:

This rule came from a three-day poker camp I went to seven years ago. One of the pros got up to the front of the room and asked the question, “What’s the goal of poker?” Of course, someone put their hand up and fell into the trap. “To make money” they said.  Wrong. “The goal is to make good decisions, not to

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