Five Years of Y Combinator Universe

ycuniverseFive years ago, I started Y Combinator Universe to provide information and analysis about the many startups emerging during the new Silicon Valley bubble of 2010.  My original concept for ycuniverse was a micro-blogging platform, along with corresponding consulting services, for research and analytics data about companies, markets, and investors.  WordPress wasn’t added here until two years later in 2012.  One of my initial goals was that would-be entrepreneurs would use the data I provided to develop original products and unique business strategies rather than copy existing startups.  Silicon Valley has certainly changed since 2010.  I have big plans for the Y Combinator Universe brand going forward. Continue reading

Pebble Is Still My Favorite Smartwatch

pebble_steel_product_lineApple Watch looks interesting and many people will certainly buy one.  The smartwatch market is big enough for more than one manufacturer, though.  Pebble smartwatches are inexpensive, waterproof, and work with both iPhone and Android.  The new Pebble Time smartwatch has a color screen and up to 7 days of battery life.  Pebble the company impresses me most because its a hardware startup with a real product on store shelves.  The company recently announced it had shipped its one millionth smartwatch.  Few hardware startups ever reach mass production.  Even fewer succeed at getting inventory in retail stores.  Eric Migicovsky, Pebble’s chief executive, might consider writing a book for hardware startups about manufacturing and distribution.  Pebble Technology Corp. has a lot of innovation for just one startup.  I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the company’s hardware, software, and business. Continue reading

Box and Dropbox

boxBox and Dropbox are different companies serving distinctly separate markets.  Dropbox provides cloud storage and value-added features mostly for consumers.  Box is secure content sharing, management, and collaboration primarily for businesses and enterprises.  Both companies have services for the other’s customers: Dropbox has Dropbox for Business, Box has Box Personal.  Box had its initial public offering a month ago.  Dropbox recently replaced its chief financial offer and has been rumored for years to eventually have its own IPO.  Here’s my thoughts about both companies. Continue reading

2015 Predictions

fluxcapacitor2015 will be the year when nothing happened, says renowned blogger Bob Cringely.  I agree in that I don’t think there will be any new hardware platforms.  This could be a year of new content and types of content, though.  Innovative new apps and use-cases will probably crop up for smartwatches, television set-top boxes, and virtual reality.  People also tend to re-consider previous ideas when nothing happens.  Better cryptocurrency seems inevitable.  People could come to their senses about the sharing economy nonsense.  There could also be a mass exodus from Silicon Valley.  Here’s my predictions for 2015. Continue reading

Goldbely Celebrates America’s Best Foods

goldbelyGoldbely is a celebration of America’s most delicious and regionally famous gourmet foods.  A team of food explorers personally selects every item offered, making these great eats available to buyers all across the country.  Goldbely has plenty of variety for every taste.  Sweets, meats, seafood, and snacks are all available.  There’s also entire sections of barbeque, deli items, and chocolate.  Shipping of orders is directly from food purveyors, often with overnight delivery.  Many items include free shipping.  Make your holidays more festive by bringing great food to the party.  Try Goldbely now and get $15 off your first order of $40 or more by using referral code “YCUNIVERSE” at checkout. Continue reading

The Startup’s Dedicated Accounting Computer

accountingCS183B: How to Start a Startup is a Stanford class being taught this quarter by YC’s Sam Altman.  I sat in on one of the classes and watched the lectures on YouTube.  CS183B has me asking myself what I might suggest for anybody working on their first startup.  One idea I’ve seen that consistently works is a dedicated accounting computer.  Anybody with any business experience knows you need some system of bookkeeping. But 183B is a CS class and I’ve seen many startups just getting started that lack any system of accounting.  The founders of those startups don’t know much about the company’s income, can’t explain where money is being spent, and then wonder why the startup isn’t succeeding.  A dedicated accounting computer is worth mentioning for both practical and psychological purposes. Continue reading

Startup.com Is A Dot-Com Era Case Study

startupdotcom_posterStartup.com is a documentary from 2001 that serves as a case study from the dot-com era.  govWorks had the plan to make money by collecting municipal fees like parking tickets online on behalf of local governments.  In 1998, that was an exciting new idea.  Over the next three years, govWorks would grow to more than 250 employees, a burn-rate of $1 million dollars per month, and finally file for bankruptcy.  Several venture capitalists recently sounded the alarm of current startup spending as “unprecedented since ’99”.  So its timely now to look back on Startup.com for lessons learned from the dot-com boom.  Like my book review of Venture Deals, this post represents an expansion in scope on this blog to include matters that draw on my own knowledge and experience of what I think is broadly relevant to people interested in startups. Continue reading

Venture Deals Explains Modern Venture Capital

venturedealsVenture Deals is a book that explains the journey of modern deal flow from fundraising through acquisition.  Practical matters like the different players in a deal and their motivations are discussed.  Term sheets and capitalization tables are explained.  There’s also sections about financing issues and legal matters.  This book consistently ranks as Amazon.com’s #1 Bestseller about venture capital.  Venture Deals, by TechStars co-founder Brad Feld and Foundry Group co-founder Jason Mendelson, is the book I recommend for anybody interested in venture capital.  Every founder needs to read this book before seeking investors or applying for funding. Continue reading