Observations from MIT VMS Demo Day

23 ventures presented at the annual MIT Venture Mentoring Service Demo Day yesterday. They each had 5 minutes to pitch an audience of investors and their goal was to generate enough interest that investors would want to stop by their exhibit to talk with them, or at least drop off a business card to arrange … Continue reading “Observations from MIT VMS Demo Day”

Demo or die!

This directive was issued by Nicholas Negroponte, the founding director of the MIT Media Lab as a great contrast to the typical academic edict, publish or perish. The Media Lab’s support came, and probably still comes, from very large companies who want a front row seat at the Lab’s inventions and innovations. The ticket price … Continue reading “Demo or die!”

What I’ve learned from reviewing 20 applications for the MIT VMS Demo Day

As a mentor at MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to review 20 of the 50 applications that were submitted in the General category for Demo Day – probably because I’m a generalist! While all the information in these applications is confidential, I can share a few things … Continue reading “What I’ve learned from reviewing 20 applications for the MIT VMS Demo Day”

Preparing for Demo Day

Virtually every incubator or accelerator program culminates in a “Demo Day”, where the ventures who have graduated from the program get a few minutes to present their ventures to an audience of potential investors. Programs like Y-Combinator have had great success getting their ventures funded from these Demo Day events. The key to success at … Continue reading “Preparing for Demo Day”

Strategic blunders that can sink a startup

Technology Adoption Curve Flipboard, which I use to keep up with business and tech news, is infested with listicles. Since their business model is advertising you can’t blame them; research proves people will click on listicles. I tend to ignore most of them, but I noticed this article was from Entrepreneur India¬†,which I find is … Continue reading “Strategic blunders that can sink a startup”

Why colleges and universities are great markets

  I almost always advise my mentees to start their ventures by tightly focusing on a specific market niche, dominating that niche, and then and only then, expanding to other market segments. I often cite Facebook’s go-to-market strategy as the best and most successful examples of this. As most people know, Facebook was born in … Continue reading “Why colleges and universities are great markets”

Charisma – innate or learned?

I’ve long been fascinated by charismatic people. Probably because I’m totally the inverse, suffering from SAD – Social Anxiety Disorder. Rather than be the center of attention, I tend to be a wall flower. I’ve met more than a few charismatic people in business, ranging from the wellknown, like Steve Jobs and Mitch Kapor of … Continue reading “Charisma – innate or learned?”

The startup investment timeline

One issue that continues to surprise me in meetings with founders is their expectations about how long it takes to raise capital. I recently met with a couple of founders who thought they could raise angel capital in a month! I thought it would be helpful to put together a typical timeline for raising capital … Continue reading “The startup investment timeline”

What do VCs look for in startups?

There is a lot of advice on how to develop an investor presentation, I have plenty myself on this blog. But looking at an investment not from your perspective as a founder but rather from the perspective of a VC can yield some useful insights. Dr. Jitendra K. Das, Director of the FORE school of … Continue reading “What do VCs look for in startups?”