Archive for 'Funding'
Don’t waste your money doing an MBA.
Get an internship instead.
Wanna be an entrepreneur? It takes more than just passion and desire. You need real skills to succeed, but where do you get them? A surprising number of people think that they should do an MBA. I don’t blame them. After all, universities invest a significant amount of effort convincing potential students that getting an MBA is a good idea. The cruel reality, though, is that MBA programs tend to be terrible at teaching entrepreneurship and, in particular, tech entrepreneurship. They are slow, expensive, include too much theory and not enough practice, and, more importantly, they are taught by people that have not been entrepreneurs themselves. Fortunately, there is a better alternative: Internships at tech startups. Here is why:
MBAs are about enterprise-level management while internships can be about entrepreneurship. The skills required to manage and be part of a 5,000 person company are different than the skills required to start and grow a company. In fact, enterprise-level management techniques may negatively affect the chances of success of your future startups. For example, using balance scorecards and KPIs may be great for companies in advanced stages of growth, but they are an overkill for startups at the MVP stage.
Internships provide more hands-on knowledge than MBAs. While an MBA program will teach you a lot of theory, an internship will allow you to learn [a fraction of] that theory put to practice, plus many more techniques that are not taught in MBAs.
Internships are faster than MBAs. An MBA program lasts between one and two years. In contrast, you can do two or four internships in just one year. Don’t have a year? No problem. If you’re a fast learner, interning for six months may be enough.
Internships are less expensive than MBAs. Top MBA programs cost more than $100,000, not including living expenses. Internships cost 0. In fact, if you’re lucky, you may get a paid internship. This means that instead of you paying to learn, you’ll get paid to learn!
Assuming you want to do an internship already, these are some factors to keep in mind:
Intern at a startup with a team of less than 50 people. In a team of less than 50 you’re likely to interact with the founders and managers making important decisions. You’ll learn a lot from them. Also, you’re likely to get exposure to many different areas of the business. In larger teams, you are likely to interact with low-level managers that joined the company later in the game and are not likely to be too entrepreneurial. Also, you may have to focus in just one area of the business, missing out on the big picture.
Intern at a startup that is making money and growing. When revenue and growth are achieved, you have a company with a real business model. You want to learn how they got there. Don’t join a startup without a business model, a startup that is not making money, or a startup that is not growing, even if they have raised capital. Such companies may only teach you how to raise capital to subsidize the operation of a company, which is not sustainable. In fact, I recommend giving higher priority to bootstrapped companies.
Intern at a startup that is located in a tech innovation hub. You’ll be able to attend plenty of networking events and meetups. The people you’ll meet may change your life. I’ve met most of my co-founders at networking events. If in the US, I suggest startups in the Bay Area, New York City, and Boston. After all, it’s not only what you know, but who you know.
Visas are not necessarily an issue. Depending on your nationality and the country of the startup, it may be technically illegal for you to work there. Fortunately, some startups won’t care. Give the company the option to get paid in your country of origin as if you were an overseas contractor.
If possible, join a startup founded by a serial entrepreneur. Serial entrepreneurs, specially successful ones, have “been there and done that” several times. They are the equivalent of teachers with PhDs. These companies are more likely to follow successful, structured techniques that you will find useful in your future endeavors.
Target startups that don’t offer internships. Although some startups proactively look for interns, some don’t have the time do so. Find startups that you like and cold-email their founders. Messages like “Hey Joe. I’m willing to work for you for free just to learn from your wisdom” are very likely to grab the attention of the recipient. Even if only 10% of them reply, that’s still a good conversion rate!
A final word: Getting an MBA is a good way of telling others that you like to follow the crowd.
Tech entrepreneurship is about innovation. Innovation means disruption. Innovation is doing things that others don’t dare to do.
Founder and CEO of Bunny Inc. (VoiceBunny, Voice123, BunnyCast) and Torrenegra Labs. Techie, activist, investor, offroader.
Last year we established a residency program to encourage the worlds DOER’S to succeed with their projects they would like to launch from our bay area location.
A total of 5 DOER’s or “startups” will receive free full-time resident access to a Citizen Space for three months valued at $425 per month. The Citizen-in-Residence can take advantage of both the physical spaces & the communal resources.
In exchange, they work on a project of their choosing that help the “COWORKING” community at large, documenting their progress through our social presences on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. At the end of the residency, Citizens-in-Residence do a presentation to members of the space about their project.
Accepted Applicants will be announced one week prior to the residency start date. The first residency will start March 3, 2014 and the application process begins Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
We are seeking support from your company to help us make this program a success. If your company or you personally would like to sponsor this program, please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Since taking over Citizen Space in 2011 I have been on a mission to secure some perks for our members that will make Citizen Space membership not just a great place to work, but a great “network” to be connected to!
Today we are happy to announce that starting on International Coworking Day all members who travel to NYC will have a place to work while on the road thanks to our pals @Fueled Collective NYC, and any Fueled Collective member now has a place to call home away from home in SOMA.
Citizen Full, and Citizen Lite members will enjoy $25 a month in Task Rabbit credits. This is great for simple tasks to help you on your path link laundry services, grocery shopping, and even data entry.
All Citizen Space members already enjoy a rate for rooms at the W in San Francisco of $259, and $299. This rate is last room availability. Guest room rates are subject to our state tax of 15.62 %. The W Hotel average regular non member rates range is $549.00 – $579.00. Preferred rates are applicable to single or double occupancy and will be confirmed based on the specific room inventory available at the time a reservation is made. Call our member services desks for more info at 415-501-9155
Please drop in all week for free day passes , and come celebrate 7 years of coworking this Friday all day!
“A Nicer Place to Work”
I mustache you to switch to Uber.
Standing outside of Citizen Space, the birthplace of coworking, I see an infographic style ad billboard drive by encouraging me to “shave the stache”.
For weeks I have been waiting on Kanye’s response to Ray J’s “I hit it first” single but now that Uber has taken a direct shot at Lyft, my attention is on the private driver services.
This is the first direct attack I have seen to date and it raises a bunch of interesting questions. How will Lyft respond to this? Is this a good move by Uber? Is Uber willing to say they will quit driving forever if they don’t outsell Lyft like 50 said he would quit rapping forever if he didn’t outsell Kanye?
I guess the best we can do is sit back and watch this play out!
Nick Ochoa, Mingle Media
Yes, there’s a lot to like about ‘lean’ startup methods. But don’t gulp it without question.
I’ve been following–or practicing–“cutting edge” business methods for longer than I want you to know. Try this. You’re familiar with “agile development,” right? But how about quality circles? Or Total Quality Management? How’s about Six Sigma? I’ve lived through them all. And I can attest to the fact they all shared something in common with the latest “lean startup” methodologies buzzing around the cubicles, incubators, and co-working spaces we inhabit: All promised revitalization, growth, and great, good fortune.
But those early panaceas did something else: They came, and then they went.
So whenever I encounter a similar silver bullet these days I just wanna reach for one–as in the kind that stars in a beer commercial. If I popped the top on a cold one every time I heard someone say “pivot,” “persevere,” and “minimum viable product” I’d have a drinking problem.
Those are terms popularized by Eric Ries in his best-selling book, “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.” You must know him. He currently enjoys guru status in entrepreneurial circles. He’s been lionized most recently in a Wired magazine profile, which also noted how his philosophy is currently making its way out of the startup scene and into big blue-chip companies such as General Electric. Even Harvard Business School is offering a course based on his work.
I’ve read the book. I’ve recommended some of its practices. I’ve embraced some too as my own startup conceives, develops, and consults to technology-fueled media startups. I confess I concur with the precept at the heart of the lean approach: Even the most brilliant and experienced people don’t know enough to outwit newly emerging, rapidly changing, and increasingly complex markets, especially when it comes to products and business models without precedent. That’s especially why a startup is based more on faith and less on fact. The market hasn’t spoken. As a result, the only prudent way to give birth to a business is to test and test and test. According to Ries, it’s about deploying the same scientific method we learned in grade school: State a hypothesis and then experiment to prove it.
Humility counts. This inherently more humble approach to business represents a refreshing contrast to the entrepreneurial hubris that typically struts its stuff down the streets of Palo Alto. Or the egotism that fills executive suites throughout the business world, for that matter. I’ve personally been witness to monumental miscalculations by the best and brightest who couldn’t have been more certain of themselves, what with their MBAs, lofty titles, fat salaries, and corporate perks.
Still, I’m just not–n-o-t, not–willing to become a flag-waving member of the lean startup “movement,” which Ries started calling it as soon as Page 14 of his book. A movement? Really? Like civil rights? Environmentalism? The Arab Spring?
When someone touts a practice as a movement that’s the telltale sign of fad surely destined to fade because it invariably over-promises.
While they’re rare, others refuse to guzzle the zero-calorie Kool-Aid, too. The Wired profile pointed out one certainly worth noting: Respected Silicon Valley venture capitalist Ben Horowitz who’s said in his own blog post that, to hell with skinny, startups need to be fat–monied and rapaciously profligate enough to dominate a market before someone else does.
Brit fit. One of the most outspoken and quotable curmudgeons I found lives from Silicon Valley–in Surrey, South of London, in fact. Maybe distance makes the head grow stronger, because 47-year-old Nick Pelling, a serial entrepreneur, pulls no punches. Consider his screed on the 10 reasons why “lean startups suck”
For all its reliance on the scientific method, Pelling declares that “lean” isn’t science at all; it’s only validation is anecdotal. But Pelling’s main rap is that it’s naive. “A lean startup is only really self-fundable,” he says. And the reason is that, in the real world, people aren’t willing to give their money to someone who wants to conduct “experiments” with it. Instead, someone willing to stake a business wants confidence, comfort, and proof you know what you’re doing
“What kind of a ‘contract’ can you have with a business angel by taking this approach?” Pelling asks. “It’s a key disconnect with the way people actually behave.” The sources of capital “don’t want to fund your industrial education,” he says, concluding that Ries doctrines “are much more about learning than about leaning.”
I’m not as strident. There are “lean” methods and tactics you might well find applicable and fruitful. Nevertheless, I won’t, and you shouldn’t, take the approach for what it’s not—and it’s not a silver bullet. There’s only one of those that delivers on its promise, and I’m about to pop the top on it right now.
Patrick Houston is the co-founder of MediaArchitechs. He is a former SVP for a new media startup, a GM at Yahoo, and editor-in-chief at CNET.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.