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cisco-march-2015
This morning, our beloved pal Cisco moved on to that big playground in the sky.
Heartbroken and devastated doesn’t even begin to describe our loss. If you ever met him even once, he made a lasting impression. He was special, and he probably made you feel special too.
cisco-005If you ever spent time with Cisco, you’d walk away with a custom thesaurus just to describe him: Energetic, Playful, Smart, Mischievous and Loyal. But really, the one word is “Love.” He loved people. He loved life. He loved you.

Even when he was supposedly an “old” dog – his energy level wore out his playmates, pet-sitters and even little children. When strangers asked how old he was and I replied, 13, 14 or 15, they assumed this meant months and not years. He was always a puppy – his tail wagging wider than his smile-  with the prospects of being around people.

Cisco was not only a fast learner, and by far the smartest dog you’ve ever met – he was smarter than most people. We would often practice and play: I would tell him to sit in another room. He would patiently wait while

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Dilbert.com

Another day another thousand articles posted by the latest entrepreneurs to achieve a milestone of success: Raising venture capital, launching the flavor-of-the-month iPhone app, or being acquired by Google or Facebook. Inevitably the subject of the article is “I just became mega-successful, and here is exactly how I did it, so you can be mega-successful too.”

Well, they never use those exact words, of course. Most often, these success stories really are more akin to the 22 year old who wandered around Cape Kennedy, opened a door and found themselves strapped-in to a Space Shuttle launch.  When they return, they write a book about “here’s how I became an astronaut, and here’s how you can become one, too”.

When you’re struck by lightning, it’s best not to assume you can teach the world how to harness the power of the heavens.

 

 

Icon of Money in the Hand on Digital Background.Let me start this post by stating how much respect I have for venture capitalist Fred Wilson.  He is easily in the top-5 influential thought leaders in the entrepreneur-investor ecosystem. His blog “AVC” is required reading for everyone on both sides of the table. But today he really pulled the trigger too quickly on a post.

He was postulating about a product idea – where entrepreneurs might pay for a report that lists what each venture capital firms’ investing criteria is, based on their track records  (something that arguably should be on their websites).  Let’s set aside for a moment that he is proposing a $100 fee for each entrepreneur seeking funding, here’s the crux of his argument:

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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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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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TLDR GraphicYet another “Lessons Learned” post from a first-time entrepreneur.  Except this one is incredibly wise beyond his years.  The insights are so in depth and valuable that even the most seasoned serial entrepreneur would be envious. The sad part is, since the article is not one of those pithy “10 secrets to building a successful venture” posts, it will be lost on the typical reader seeking quick-fix advice.

 

Worthless Advice?

I have a deep cynicism when reading first-time entrepreneurs pontificating

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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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