Menlo Park And The Silicon Valley Renaissance

During this week’s roundtable, we started off by discussing the pre-incubation procedure we are recommending with audience
members from different parts of the world.

This week, I’ve had several meetings with venture funds, incubators, corporate accelerators and other significant players in the startup eco-system. One theme seems to come up over and again, especially from geographies outside Silicon Valley: lack of a reliable pipeline of deals. In many of these cases, the funds or the accelerators want to put in $100,000 to $500,000 in select ventures but are having a hard time finding mature entrepreneurs to support. To those in our eco-system who are facing this problem around the globe, I have the following suggestion: Instead of giving $100,000 to one startup, give $1,000 each to 100 startups, and put a larger number of entrepreneurs in your community through 1M/1M. Announce one or two $100,000 prizes that only those entrepreneurs who have gone through and completed at least 60 hours of 1M/1M curriculum would be eligible for. I am pretty sure that the pipeline in your community will be of a significantly higher quality within six months.

Tom from Omaha, Nebraska, shared an update about what is going on in that part of the world, as did other audience members from New York City, Israel, and Columbus, Ohio.

Wha’ the…?
In fact, Spencer Bardsley from Columbus, Ohio, pitched Wha’ the…? – an innovative concept for capturing stray conversations heard in random places and sharing those on Facebook and Twitter.

On the topic of business models, Spencer proposed building traffic and then selling the company, which I pushed back on. We spent considerable time exploring ways to verticalize the app and create an ad-supported business model instead, which would also broaden his exit options considerably.

The challenges of bootstrapping a venture that is dependent on ad-revenue is, however, also quite significant. You have to finance the period of traffic building that is pretty much red-ink financing. Spencer needs to think through a strategy for bootstrapping that phase.

For those of you who with whom the ideas presented in my Silicon Valley Renaissance piece resonated, we (myself, Dominique Trempont, and architect Bernardo Urquieta) have since opened a dialog with the Menlo Park City Council, and they are interested in incorporating them into the city’s revival plans. As many of you are aware, Facebook is about to move to a large campus in Menlo Park, and plans to house 9,000 employees in it. Add to that the impact of their upcoming IPO – lots of angel investors and spin-off entrepreneurs are in the making. The question we have asked the city council is how does Menlo Park play a role in harnessing this energy and momentum and turn the city into a hotbed of exciting incubators, startups, great restaurants, cafes, boutiques, nightclubs and  designers, while still maintaining what is lovely about the ‘village’ ambiance. Please email me if you wish to participate in this effort. You can also use my blog to brainstorm. We discussed this at today’s roundtable as well.

Also, on the topic of renaissance ideas, here’s a fun piece of summer reading amidst the upsetting gyrations of the market: The Future of the Harry Potter Franchise.

And if you are experimenting with cooking, 1M/1M premium company could be your companion. This 1M/1M premium company is a popular destination for food- and recipe-related video content. The company has been generating revenues for the past three years and is profitable. In the past 12 months, there have been an average of three million monthly unique visitors and close to 125,000 daily video streams. There is a growing display ad network (currently more than 70 sites) using for their monetization needs. This year, they expect to grow more than 100% and be well over $1 million  in revenue. More details on my Incubation Radar.

The recording of today’s roundtable can be found here. Recordings of previous roundtables are all available here.

I would very much like to hear about your business, so let me invite you to come and pitch at one of our free 1M/1M public roundtables. We will be holding future roundtables at 8:00 a.m. PDT on the following dates:

Thursday, August 25, Register Here.
Thursday, September 1, Register Here.
Thursday, September 8, Register Here.
Thursday, September 15, Register Here.
Thursday, September 22, Register Here.
Thursday, September 29, Register Here.

We will be holding our 100th roundtable on Thursday, October 6, and are planning a special event for that day. You can register to attend here.

If you want a deeper relationship with me, you are very welcome to join the 1M/1M premium program. If you have any questions about the program, please, first study the website, especially What to expect from the 1M/1M premium program and the FAQs. You can also take the 1M/1M self-assessment test here. If you have additional questions, please email me, and I would be very happy to respond. Please note, that I work exclusively with 1M/1M entrepreneurs.

I also invite you to join the 1M/1M mailing list for the ease and convenience of getting updates. This way we can stay in touch and it will help you to decide if 1M/1M is a program for you.