Eric Ries author of, “The Lean Startup”
The Lean Startup movement is taking hold in companies both new and established to help entrepreneurs and managers do one important thing: make better, faster business decisions. Vastly better, faster business decisions. Bringing principles from lean manufacturing and agile development to the process of innovation, the Lean Startup helps companies succeed in a business landscape riddled with risk. This book shows you how.
Eric is the author of the popular blog Startup Lessons Learned and the creator of the Lean Startup methodology. He co-founded and served as CTO of IMVU, his third startup, which has today has over 40 million users and 2009 revenue over $22 million. An entrepreneur in residence at Harvard Business School and a frequent speaker at business events, he advises startups on business and product strategy using the Lean Startup approach.
Cyan Banister is the founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of Zivity, a subscription and voting based artist-fan interaction platform for models, photographers and video artists. Since launching at TechCrunch40 in 2007, Zivity has raised $8M. Her angel investments include Topsy, OtherInbox, Powerset, Uber, Tagged, Space-X, Slide and EcoMom, and she is a consultant to several celebrities. Cyan is also a contributing writer at TechCrunch and host of “Speaking of…” on TechCrunch TV where she interviews founders and investors to show the human side of the tech business.
TechStars co-founder and CEO David Cohen has made the Boulder-based accelerator the heart of the local tech community as well as led its expansion to three cities, shared its successful model with innovation-hungry cities worldwide, and co-authored the instant classic “Do More Faster.” Prior to TechStars, he founded several software and web technology companies. As an angel he has made about 170 investments in companies including Uber, Twilio, Sendgrid and Groupme. Conversation hint: he loves tennis (Andre Agassi is his favorite pro), and was previously the best (4.5 level) amateur player in Colorado.
“Every angel investor is a winner, right? You hear that all the time…only 10 to 20% are actually winners. Most people who play the angel investing game are going to lose, and just remember that as an entrepreneur.” — Presentation at Ignite Boulder on what angel investors are thinking.
Both an entrepreneur and a VC, Tony Conrad has founded two companies that AOL eventually acquired: About.me and Sphere. As a founding venture partner at True Ventures, he has invested in 30+ early stage technology companies, most notably Automattic, Milk, Typekit and MakerBot. He says his biggest missed opportunity was ZocDoc, which has raised nearly $100M to date. We find it hard to believe that this globetrotter, who has lived in Europe and Asia, grew up in a small farming community in Indiana.
Tony Hsieh is a baller in his own right. In 1999, at age 24, he sold LinkExchange, an online advertising network he co-founded, to Microsoft for $265M. Since becoming CEO of Zappos in 2000, the company has grown from almost nothing to over $1B in gross merchandise sales annually; Amazon acquired Zappos in 2009 for $850M. Tony is also the author of the New York Times best-seller Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, in which he reveals how his failed attempt to become the “number one worm seller in the world” at age 9 sparked his entrepreneurial spirit. Now he runs a company that offers free private jet service to employees and, not surprisingly, has ranked on Fortune‘s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the last three years.
Superangel Dave McClure hustles (and curses) better than anyone in Silicon Valley or the world for that matter, having invested in 250 startups across 15+ countries in addition to being the founding partner and leader of 500 Startups, a seed fund and accelerator. His most notable investments are Twilio, Wildfire and SendGrid, but his biggest missed opportunity is LivingSocial. While you may remember Dave’s “raging boner” comment about a startup at last year’s LAUNCH Conference, we bet you didn’t know he received a standing O for his solo dance at a Neville Bros concert.
“Clear value proposition, great delivery. As long as you can do what you say you do, I’ll write you a fucking check.” — Comment on stage at the 2011 LAUNCH Conference.
He wasn’t immortalized in “The Social Network,” but Chamath Palihapitiya was a major force behind Facebook’s meteoric growth during his four years on its senior management team. He left last June to start his own VC fund, The Social+Capital Partnership, and is now one of the hottest investors in Silicon Valley. As an angel he’s made over 60 investments, most notably Playdom (sold to Disney), Bumptop (Google), Pure Storage, SecondMarket and Yammer. The biggest opportunity he missed was shorting RIM, rather than not investing in a startup. If you’ve ever received a text from Chamath, you should know he pretends about autocorrect fail — he’s being lewd on purpose.
“What I wanted to do, and what makes me tick, is just being involved with amazing entrepreneurs who are trying to change the world and who are trying to build something that will be truly long-lasting.” — Interview at Tiecon Live Studios.
It’s not hyperbole to say that Naval Ravikant has blown up the angel-investing space with AngelList, which has attracted over 13K startups and 2.5K investors and led to at least 1K individual investments. Before co-founding AngelList, he co-founded Genoa Corp, Epinions and Vast.com. As an angel he’s made 20 active and 30 passive investments, including Twitter, but he’s most involved with SnapLogic, HeyZap, Context Logic and a few others. His biggest missed opportunities: Twilio and Dropbox. Don’t forget, though, that he’s still busting his butt as an entrepreneur with AngelList!
“Silicon Valley, like any magnet place, like Hollywood or New York, will attract a lot of very good talkers, and you have to separate them out from the do-ers. The way you do that is by looking at what they’ve built and how much they’ve managed to accomplish with very little resources.” — Interview with GigaOM.
Serial entrepreneur and angel investor Kevin Rose again impressed the tech world in November when his new development lab Milk launched Oink, a beautiful app for rating every thing that racked up 150K downloads in its first month. Kevin also created Digg, the Foundation newsletter and Revision 3, home to Kevin’s popular Diggnation podcast from 2007 to 2011. He has invested in 30+ companies, most notably Twitter, Square, Foursquare, Fab and Zynga, but he missed out on Tumblr and Pinterest. Oh, and not only does Kevin love tea, he’s a certified tea master.
“If you keep looking for that thing, I think that that’s when you get into this state of unhappiness…I feel as though you can either go the route where you start buying the sports cars and start adding them up….and then you’re like, What am I doing? Why am I wasting this money?… I don’t care to go down that path or have the huge crazy house.” — On-stage interview at FOWA Las Vegas.
Greg Tseng is the co-founder and CEO of Tagged, a social network for meeting new people that has over 100M members in 220 countries. Tagged spun out of Jumpstart Technologies, a viral marketing company that Greg co-created while at Harvard. From 1998 to 2000, Greg served as director of the Harvard Entrepreneurs Club and co-authored The Harvard Entrepreneurs Club Guide to Starting Your Own Business. He is a viral marketing expert who has advised several Silicon Valley startups including LinkedIn, hi5, Flixster, Pinger and TrialPay.
LAUNCH Grand Jury
In addition to the judges on stage, we reserve the first two rows for the 12 members of the Grand Jury. The group, which includes angels, founders and pundits, votes on the LAUNCH Festival award winners in the 1.0 and 2.0 competitions: Winner (Overall), Best Design/UI, Best Business Model and Best Technology. The Grand Jury also has the flexibility to award additional prizes as it sees fit.
Being a member of the Grand Jury is a tremendous responsibility and time commitment. Each member must sit through and review all 40 companies over two days. At the end of each day, the Grand Jury takes the stage and conducts a live one-hour discussion of the day’s best companies.
Don Dodge is a developer advocate at Google helping developers build new applications on Google platforms and technologies. Previously he was a startup evangelist at Microsoft. He is also a veteran of five start-ups including Forte Software, AltaVista, Napster, Bowstreet and Groove Networks. As an angel investor he has made over 30 investments, including Forte Software, WebLogic, Virage, Swype, Vkernel, Path, Milk, Parse and AirTime (he missed out on Facebook, alas). He was born in Maine and lives in New Hampshire.
Along with a team of fellow ex-Googlers, Thomas Korte founded AngelPad, a mentorship program for startups, in 2010. AngelPad has since helped launch 37 companies, 31 of which have raised funding. He spent eight years at Google in roles including product evangelist and global team manager. He is passionate about scalable technologies that improve the way people live. Geeks can appreciate his patents for online advertising and search results.
Jay Levy is a co-founder and partner at Zelkova Ventures in New York who shuns the limelight while working hard to find startups he can go to bat for. He started a web services company in high school and a portal for college students while at Rutgers, later helping launch a financial services consultancy that got acquired and an online monitoring solution. Jay has made 42 investments in four years, including Fab.com, Rapportive, Klout, Ribbit and Crimson Hexagon. He missed investing in Fab founder Jason Goldberg’s previous startup and was determined not to miss out a second time. He lives in Manhattan but is no city slicker — he loves camping, fishing and mountain biking.
Jennifer Lum is the co-founder of Apricot Capital, which invests in early-stage companies in the U.S. and Canada, and a mentor at TechStars and 500 Startups. Apricot Capital’s investments include awe.sm, Crashlytics, Habit Labs, Kinvey, Massive Damage, MomentFeed, OnSwipe, Placester, TribeHR and Peekaboo Mobile (acquired by nSphere). Jennifer contributed to the evolution of mobile advertising and marketing while working at Apple iAd, Quattro Wireless and m-Qube. She has also worked at VeriSign, HP and Compaq.
Adeo Ressi is founding member of TheFunded.com, an online community of 17,000 CEOs. He also runs the Founder Institute, a mentoring program that helps entrepreneurs in 30 cities worldwide. Previously he was the founder and CEO of Game Trust, Inc., a community and ecommerce software platform for online casual game play sold to RealNetworks in 2007 for an undisclosed amount. The Founder Institute is the eighth start-up he has founded or built since 1994.
Robert Scoble, a technical evangelist and author of the Scobleizer blog, is known for catapulting startups to star status with his coverage. He works for Rackspace and contributes to its community site Building43. He previously worked for PodTech.net, FastCompany and Microsoft. His favorite interviews since joining Rackspace are Will.i.am and Ashton Kutcher. We’ll bet you’re as surprised as we were to learn Robert used to be a right-wing Republican who attended a church much like Sarah Palin’s — “Spoke in tongues and everything,” he says.
Bill Warner is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor best known for founding Avid (which won an Oscar for transforming film editing) and speech-recognition software company Wildfire. Passionate about helping entrepreneurs, he is one of Boston’s new crew of super-angels and is a mentor for TechStars Boston. He has made 18 angel investments, most notably GreenGoose (a LAUNCH ’11 winner) and myLanguage. He planned to invest in two startups while at Y Combinator, completing the Posterous deal but dropping the ball on Dropbox (doh!). We love the fact that he could solo an airplane before he could drive a car.
Jason Nazar is the co-founder and CEO of Docstoc.com, which provides the best quality and largest selection of documents and resources for small businesses. He was previously a partner at Venture LLC, a venture consulting group where he helped grow dozens of companies. He holds a JD/MBA from Pepperdine University and a BA from UC Santa Barbara. Like us, you might be surprised to know that Jason was a suicide hotline counselor (no deaths on his watch!) and a stage hypnotist.
Andrew Warner runs Mixergy, a project where proven entrepreneurs teach how they built their businesses. Participants include the founders of LivingSocial, 37signals, Sun Microsystems, Y Combinator and LinkedIn, though he notes he gets the least amount of traffic for his most meaningful interviewees: founders of failed companies. Andrew previously built Bradford & Reed, a $30+ million a year online greeting card company. In case you were wondering, Andrew plans to continue interviewing founders until he dies — “and then I plan to interview Andrew Carnegie in heaven,” he says.
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