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

Airbnb Is A Fad

airbnbAirbnb is an easily reproducible marketplace that would have competition by now if its business were completely legal.  Competition means hosts would list on multiple services, driving down listing costs and Airbnb’s profitability.  The share economy company recently announced its new brand image.  The company has also launched a new Airbnb NYC website to argue after-the-fact that its service should be legal.  Here is a company that’s raised so much money at such high valuations that its only option for investors is an increasingly unlikely public offering.  I have my own opinion about a failed plan to take Airbnb public.  Airbnb may end up being just a fad. Continue reading

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

falling_icarusThe Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz is a recently-released documentary about the now-deceased hacktivist.  Aaron’s story is told through interviews with many people that knew him personally.  We hear from Aaron’s family, friends, and business associates.  There’s also footage of Aaron Swartz throughout his life.  The audience gets the same story we’ve read since Aaron’s death, a tragedy not unlike the mythical Icarus.  This 105 minute video suggests the federal government pressured Aaron Swartz into killing himself.  My own conclusion is Aaron took his life for more personal reasons. Continue reading

Prizeo Brings Together Celebrities And Charities To Increase Awareness And Raise Money

prizeoPrizeo enables celebrities to raise money for their favorite charities through fundraising contests.  Charities benefit when celebrities use their fame to promote causes and help raise money.  Prizeo works with celebrities to organize fundraising contests that have fun once-in-a-lifetime prize experiences.  A complete technical platform managed by Prizeo handles things like website hosting and donation payment processing.  Many celebrities have already hosted fundraisers on Prizeo.  Current fundraisers include a chance to meet Paul McCartney, attend a photo shoot with Paris Hilton, and tour a wolf sanctuary with ‘Game of Thrones’ author George R. R. Martin. Continue reading