Y Combinator: Accelerating Start Ups, Recursively

Over a decade ago, back in the day of the initial tech bubble, I ran an early precursor to Y Combinator. In a similar vein we took on board nascent start ups in batches, with little more than an idea, and actively worked with the entrepreneurs to progress to the point where they were able to attract further investment from us and other investors.

And so I’ve been watching very closely over the years as Paul Graham has tweaked the Y Combinator model. There have been two excellent touch points recently for those of you interested in what YC does, how they choose which startups to work with and their model for success:

1. A comprehensive article in Wired – Y Combinator Is Boot Camp for Startups; and

2. Charlie Rose interviewing PG at TechCrunch Disrupt – see below.

One of the most amazing points PG makes in the interview is that the total value of YC companies is now around $3 billion. This is off the back of YC having invested a total of around $5 million. Now that is excellent validation for the model!


Top Five Angel Insights From An Entrepreneur in Residence at AngelLoft

The following is a guest post from Pete Sanders, the CEO of BrixHQ and an Entrepreneur in Residence at AngelLoft:

In March we were privileged to be accepted into the AngelLoft ¬†Entrepreneur in Residence program. In summary, AngelLoft’s mission is to provide angel investors and entrepreneurs with the ideal environment within which to have a meeting of the minds. The group is based in Sydney and is open, by invitation, to angel members and entrepreneur pitches from anywhere in the world.

We’re ecstatic to part of AngelLoft and the Entrepreneur in Residence program.

We attended our first Angel Loft dinner in late March and introduced ourselves and BrixHQ to the group which included a seriously impressive range of angels and other entrepreneurs.

The evening was a fantastic opportunity to meet the angels, understand their backgrounds and start to build a relationship with some of the angels, even if only for feedback at this early stage. The feedback and comments that we’ve received from a range of angels & VC’s that we’ve spoken to since the first dinner include the following;

* Who are you competitors?

* How are you different to your competitors?

* What’s your business model (i.e. how do you make money)?

* How are you currently funded? and so on.

There are always two sides to these conversations however and some of the key questions that we’ve sought to understand from the angels are;

*What types of businesses do you typically invest in?

* What are the key things you look for when you are considering investing in a business?

* Do you have any feedback or comments for us?

The first question is crucial, it is important to firstly qualify what sort of businesses the angels are interested in. Plus, if you are time poor and want to have a meaningful conversation and future relationship then it is best to get off on the right foot or you can be wasting everyones time.

From our experience the top 5 key things angels are looking to invest in are;

1. a solid business idea that is being executed on,

2. the business has to be scalable (i.e. how big can it become?),

3. revenue – the business has to be on the right trajectory with revenue and growth, it’s great to have a lot of customers but if you dont have revenue then you don’t have a business.

4. management team – who are they, what experience do they have and have they done this before.

5. how long can you keep funding yourself through current funding sources.

The great thing about angels is that they will have feedback and comments for you, it might just be that it’s not for them and they’ll explain why or give specific comments or advice or direction that can help to move your business forward.

There’s nothing new or different in these 5 points above, but all serve as a fantastic litmus test for any business which is in start up mode or looking to raise funding in the future.

Also know your business intimately, be able to speak at a high level about your vision and your market, but be prepared to dive deep into the detail when appropriate.

New York City as a Platform: A model for Sydney?

I heart Sydney.

I want it to constantly evolve into a better place for all its citizens and visitors.

That’s why I was most excited to hear what New York’s Chief Digital Officer, Rachel Sterne, had to say about what she and her team are doing to build New York as a Platform.

Essentially, they are creating a citizen-centric platform with a whole range of applications that can transfer and translate public engagements in the city with the city’s government and institutions.

Well worth a watch:

PSFK CONFERENCE NYC 2011: Rachel Sterne from Piers Fawkes on Vimeo.