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Curation and Urgency: Two Requirements for any Startup (and Community)

Written by Paul on April 15th, 2013

When I think about the typical community building events I see around the country, I see events that are designed to cater to anyone remotely interested in entrepreneurship. It almost always ends up being a room of wantrepneurs. At least there’s usually beer too. And lots of it.

When I think about the most successful companies I’ve met, I notice that the teams are highly curated and the culture tends to be built around a sense of overwhelming urgency. I suspect …

moving on: introducing

Written by Paul on March 28th, 2013

It’s been a wild and crazy ride here at 500 Startups: over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, fund hundreds of ambitious founders from all over the world and help build a fantastic venture firm. Now it’s time to step back from my day-to-day responsibilities here at 500 and focus on something new. Well, maybe not so new…

The foundation of 500 Startups is our community of mentors, …

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 …

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 …

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,

On being an API to Venture Capital and Functional Expertise

Written by Paul on August 9th, 2012

I’ve been thinking about this idea for a while: that it’s *everyone’s* job to be an API to venture capital and functional expertise. (Though, I owe a big hat tip to Fred Destin for being the first to publicly use the “API” term to describe 500.)

If you’re a startup founder, your sole job is to build a fantastic business. Rather than spend time organizing the …

Winners Take Most

Written by Paul on June 29th, 2012

The top three links on the first page of most Google searches take ~60% of the overall clicks. (A quick search will show you a number of studies with more research.) I’d bet that these numbers probably hold true for internet startups as well.

If you’re building an internet company today, you’re not competing against the other team trying to build the same thing — you’re actually competing with all the noise out there.

Target a niche, launch the MVP early, iterate …

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