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As an investor, advisor and mentor to entrepreneurs and new ventures, I get to hear a lot of pitches – whether as a judge in a competition, in a boardroom, classroom or a face-to-face pitch. After a while, they all start to sound alike. In fact, when investors get together, they lament (or even parody) how all the pitches sound alike. To be fair, as an entrepreneur, I used to lament with other entrepreneurs on how predictable venture capitalists can be in their responses.

Today, giving more evidence that I apparently have way too much time on my hands – I created this “Pitch Bingo” game for investors and advisors.   The next time you are listening to entrepreneur pitches at an event, click on the Entrepreneur-BS Bingo Game link, and you will get a BS-Bingo card (everyone’s card has a different random combination of entrepreneurship buzzwords).   Cross off the word when you hear it.

 

Entrepreneur-BS Bingo Game CJs Entrepreneur-BS-Bingo

CJ’s Entrepreneur Pitch Bingo

 

The first person who completes a BINGO with a row or column must shout out Zuckerberg!
And Tweet to #CJ-BS-BINGO.

And just to be fair, I’ve also created one called Investor-BS Bingo!   Now entrepreneurs can keep track of the predictable jargon investors mindlessly toss out during pitch meetings.   (notice the phrases “Term Sheet”  or “Yes” don’t appear – since they say it so rarely).

CJ’s Investor-BS Bingo

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18-Mistakes-That-Kill-Startups-THUMBInfluential and iconic venture capitalist and entrepreneurial though leader Paul Graham, known for his epic essays on entrepreneurship, recently penned an interesting one listing the 18 mistakes that kill startups.

While I wholeheartedly agree that there are many fundamental mistakes that can derail (or even kill) a startup’s chances for success, not all 18 of these are true “startup” mistakes.  Mistakes like “Poor Investor Management” assumes that your venture is far enough along that you have investors who need managing.  Like all advice – these 18 cannot be taken at face value.  Mr. (Dr., actually) Graham cites “Obstinacy” as a top-5 mistake –

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Look-Back-at-Startup-Funding-by-Fundable-ThumbnailHere’s an interesting infographic that really does a good job of illustrating how startups receive their initial (external) funding.

The specific data is from 2014/2015 – it is really timeless. First time entrepreneurs should really take a hard look at the sources of funding to decide where they want to focus their time and energy.  While I take issue that the data mixes “”small business” and “entrepreneurial startup”, the chart does indeed provide a concise view of where the funding comes from, and where it flows.

A special shoutout to Arizona’s Desert Angels who is featured as one of the nation’s top investors in startup companies.

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startups_by_the_numbers-thumbSome interesting “numbers” on “startups”.

The term ‘startup’ is used too broadly to have any meaning . Many of the numbers really apply to small businesses  – which is not synonymous with ‘startup’.

And, I hesitate to call these statistics or data because they are subject to much interpretation. For instance, this infographic perpetuates the meme that 50% of new businesses fail within 3 years. This is a gross generalization. 50% may not exist after 3 years, but this also may be due to other factors such as the owner retiring and closing the business.

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Getting time and attention from experienced advisors is a rite of passage for the first-time entrepreneur.
Free Advice

Entrepreneurial advisors provide everything from informed feedback, market validation and technical direction, to introductions that can lead to partnerships, investors and customers.

Advisors are often former serial entrepreneurs themselves with well-earned battle scars from risking, failing and succeeding enough times to have sharp
insights into the venture building process. They have a special empathy for the struggling entrepreneur. There’s satisfaction in helping an up-and-coming entrepreneur avoid the same mistakes, and giving them insights that will help accelerate their progress.

Not all advisors have the right experience, and it is very hard for the entrepreneur to know which advisors can truly help their company.  It takes many first dates to find those perfect matches. But advisors kiss a lot of frogs too: Frogs, hunchbacks, maniacs, dreamers, neurotics – and I suspect a few psychotics. Entrepreneurs come in all sizes and for advisors it can be exhausting to try to help them all – particularly those entrepreneurs who don’t really want to be helped, or who are not ready for outside advice.

So, for the entrepreneur about to go seeking advice from advisors, here’s some blunt, very blunt, advice:

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staff-com-cost-to-run-startup-thumbA rather interesting infographic/analysis on the annual cost to run a small startup , in different cities around the world (assuming your startup is at the point where it can actually start paying developers):

Staff.com is based on the idea of hiring employees from all around the world.  And we’re a startup. So we thought it would be interesting to compare the costs of a startup including a small office and hiring 2 developers and 1 designer from different cities and countries:

 

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Prior to the dotcom era and the age of Facebook and iPads, it was the lemonade stand or newspaper route that was quintessential first job of the future entrepreneur. Certainly these jobs instill (or at least expose) the essential entrepreneurial qualities of discipline and persistence while offering a daily lesson in dealing with competition, business ownership, cash flow, and direct interactions with customers.

Today’s budding entrepreneur is probably more likely to be working on the next great iPhone app or social sharing sensation – all formidable tech pursuits that have a chance to reach millions of users or be acquired by Facebook.

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