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Overheard at the December 2014 Bootcamp

We are well into our 2nd week at the December 2014 Startup Bootcamp. Our teams have heard from investors, developer relations experts, growth hackers and other entrepreneurs who have been in their shoes. Some of the teams have focused their pitches, upgraded their products, implemented new ideas or even pivoted to more specific problems to solve. Everyone has been having a great time and learning plenty (can you say “Drinking from a fire hose”?).

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As we talk to the teams and collect their feedback, here are some of the best things that we have overheard about the program, our mentors and the experience here in San Francisco:

“Overall, I enjoyed the honest, straightforward nature of the talk. It gave a really good impression of both how to interact with VCs, and the level of expertise and preparedness that is expected in this field.”

                                                    “The book recommendations were great – I plan on reading all of them.”

marcE       bearD       steveforte

“I appreciate the honest 1 on 1 advice that he gave.”                                                                                                                                                                             “Everything she said in that short ten minutes of 1-on-1 time was the best thing I have learned so far.”

“The in-depth guide of how PayPal can be integrated into offline transactions was very eye opening.”

“The tour through the Autodesk Gallery was fun, and and inspiring!”

ievaspin                                                            amazonPaul

 

“I didn’t know it rained so much in San Francisco”   – hey! it usually doesn’t :-)

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#DREAMBIG

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From Silicon Valley with love 10 tips for startup founders

Now that everyone has gone home and the decorations, pizza boxes, and empty bottles from our Stay Foolish Farewell Party have been cleaned up, we wanted to reflect on some of the events that happened and some key lessons shared during our September Startup Bootcamp session.

Startup Bootcamp

Our teams from Malaysia arrived at SV In.Fusion’s working space on Monday September 8th eager and motivated to start learning. Over the course of the next two weeks these entrepreneurs were immersed in a thorough and practical education program in business, technology and design, while getting a view into Silicon Valley, its culture, practices and people.

Eight master classes were conducted by top Silicon Valley mentors on topics ranging from Silicon Valley Culture, Networking, to UX/UI Design,  and Lean Startup methodologies. Other master classes covered Startup Financing, Growth Hacking, Marketing & SEO and more.

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Workshops followed each of the master classes, where we asked the teams to put their new skills into practice and to work on everything from their elevator speeches, pitches, and formal presentations, to their company profiles on social media, their business models and their financial goals. SV In.Fusion and BootstrapLabs worked closely with each team, providing feedback, advice and suggestions.

SV In.Fusion at Google Campus in Silicon Valley

SV In.Fusion also brought in top startup founders, industry experts and thought leaders who made presentations and led discussions on finding great partners, customer acquisition, pricing and business models, and hiring & recruiting as your startup grows. The group traveled around San Francisco and Silicon Valley meeting and collaborating with founders, startup advisors, and developer relations resources from companies such as Twitter, Google, Amazon, Facebook, eBay/Paypal, Salesforce and more.

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Our entrepreneurs really had the opportunity to sharpen their pitches and messaging about their companies. Startup Bootcamp included pitch presentations, pitch training and the ability for each team to make presentations during our VC office hours at Andreessen Horowitz, to visiting investors, and finally to the SV In.Fusion / BootstrapLabs community who joined us for our final pitch event at the Stay Foolish Farewell Party on Friday September 19th. 

 Lessons Learned

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A large amount of information was shared with our Startup Bootcamp participants We know that they will be reviewing, contemplating and executing on many of the key lessons they learned. Here are some interesting facts, thoughts and tips that our master class mentors and others shared during the Bootcamp:

  1. Tech startups fail because they lack customers, not funding
  2. Competition: it is ok to be in a competitive space if you have a better solution
  3. A rule of thumb: it is easier to keep a current customer than to acquire a new one
  4. About 50% of your web visitors will not make it past half the article or web page they have landed on
  5. Major steps in the sales/marketing process: Attract -> Convert -> Close -> Delight
  6. Customer lifetime value (CLTV) helps you make important business decisions (sales, marketing, product development, customer support)
  7. NoSQL is hot right now, but unless you have a very specialized application it is recommended that you start with an SQL DB (It’s well worn technology, easy to find trained staff, and you aren’t going to break SQL DBs in your 1st 10M users)
  8. Don’t reinvent the wheel – use SOAs (Service-oriented architectures) to save time and keep you focused on your application
  9. Hire “A” Players, hire people smarter than you
  10. Presentations: the title of each slide is important, many people just read the title
  11. Bonus tip: Remember the “Rules of the Garage”

Coming soon

Our next Startup Bootcamp starts the 3rd of November, 2014. We are currently interviewing candidates. If you are a startup entrepreneur interested in a program where you can Immerse, Learn, and Apply the lessons of Silicon Valley, we invite you to apply at the SV In.Fusion website. If you know any entrepreneurs that would benefit from our program, please pass along this information and refer them to us at team@svinfusion.com.

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#DREAMBIG

September Bootcamp Week 2

Week 2 for our five companies from Malaysia started on Monday with a Master Class titled “Startup Financing” led by Rebekah Wu, founder of Right-Hand Partners, a VC relations company.

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Rebekah shared valuable information in the form of short presentations and words of advice that she has picked up from investors and venture capitalists over the past 10+ years. She talked about the importance of having

  • a strong team
  • a very large addressable market
  • defensible IP
  • and a disruptive business model

She left the entrepreneurs with plenty of “Do’s & Don’ts”, tips and good advice about making presentations to investors. They learned that “a demo speaks louder than 1000 slides”. And what not to say during that all important VC meeting.

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Later in the day, we were joined by Zach Finkelstein, a Senior Associate at Lumia Capital, a Silicon Valley investment firm that focuses on later stage Internet and Software companies expanding into emerging markets. Zach spoke about important things to highlight about your startup company when talking with investors. For example, TRACTION – there’s always something you can describe, whether it’s how quickly you’re growing (based on number of users, visitors, engagements, or sales) or the number and quality of marquee customers you have been able to attract so far. (Everyone needs that slide in their presentation where the curve goes up and to the right!)

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After an engaging conversation, Zach grabbed a chair and watched each of the teams present their companies. The focus was on business models, and many assumptions were challenged and looked at more closely. Zach asked questions like

  • What’s the payback time per customer?
  • Who are your main competitors?
  • Do your initial customers continue using your product? What percentage do you lose? Why?
  • Are your target customers ready to adopt a solution like the one you are proposing?
  • How did you come up with your pricing? What are your margins?

Most of teams had at least some of the answers ready and everyone learned where they needed to tighten up their pitches. Zach’s overall feedback was that all of the teams need to be prepared to discuss their competition. He said “it’s ok to be in a competitive space if you have a better solution, but it makes investors nervous to not see a thoughtful competitive landscape”.

Valuable feedback and good lessons today – Tuesday the teams are offsite, with a breakfast to discuss recruiting, followed by development workshops at Amazon.com and Salesforce.com.

HP Rules of the Garage

Silicon Valley is a state of mind

SV In.Fusion’s mission is:

Share Silicon Valley’s startup culture & best practices with foreign founders in order to increase their chances of success, accelerate their local ecosystem development, and create jobs & wealth globally.

We want to immerse our participants into the Silicon Valley culture by meeting local entrepreneurs, angels and VCs, stopping by well known coffee shops and diners as well as visiting city (and geeky) landmark and museums, local university campuses, technology company tours and dedicated sessions about the Silicon Valley mindset!

During one of the sessions of the SV In.Fusion September Bootcamp our participants had the opportunity to learn some of the most important values, historical stories and best practices of  the Silicon Valley culture! Thanks to our rockstar mentor Dr. Karine Schomer during the Master Class “Cultural Tips & People Skills to Succeed in the US” our Malaysian entrepreneurs improved their pitches and learned how important is to share with the community to create positive synergies!

Sharing, asking for feedback, meeting competitors and experts, hosting events and attending conferences, inventing and finding new ways to work are only some of the very important values and tips we learned during this amazing master class.

In order to spread the Silicon Valley mindset and culture, during and after each Bootcamp, SV In.Fusion will share advice, tips and important information in order to support foreign founders and help other local ecosystems to succeed!

Silicon-System-Ecosystem-Infographic

 

Links to episodes from the “Silicon Valley” TV show:

Team discussing bringing in an outside expert

 

Follow the teams’ Silicon Valley journey right here on our blog or on Twitter with the hashtag #DreamBig

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