Archive for category StartUps

Bread and Circuses: Great Article by Jolie O’Dell

http://jolieodell.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/bread-and-circuses-the-state-of-web-app-startups/

I couldn’t agree more with her. One of the great things about Giv.to is that we built the product with helping the world in mind. Of course, there has been a push from outsiders (who shall remain nameless) to make it into a product that serves brands instead of organizations, that has features that cater to the private sector.  I have impressed upon the Founders that I think Giv.to should remain, or that we should maintain, a product that is geared toward helping others.  That I think we should provide the service free or near free to nonprofits.

But I dont know if this opinion is compelling or what the end result will be.  I think many start ups also face this dilemma and as a result go through a shift in vision, strategy, and objectives on the road to funding.  There is pressure on startups to follow the ‘fad’ and make something ‘viral.’  But what about non-fad, non-viral, world changing stuff? I know an aerospace engineer who thinks he can build a model (or at least demonstrate) that will increase highspeed rail travel by double or triple.  He worked in Navy Air, he went to MIT, and he’s brilliant… but he can’t find anyone to fund him in the USA, because VCs are mostly interested in twitter apps (like ours). I told him to move to Japan.  And I also vowed inwardly that if I end up making any money off of Giv.to, or any other start up I end up doing, I’m going to invest in his idea.

And I confess I haven’t always thought this way, or don’t always think this way now. But I do think Giv.to is a great brand, with a strong message and good name, with products that really help organizations ‘figure out’ social media. Working with a tiny budget in a nonprofit that needs every dollar to accomplish its mission, they appreciate things that are easy, free, and can outsource a campaign to the followers (which is what Giv.to does, plus other cool stuff). We’ve had a lot of positive feedback and we’ve learned A LOT from our customers – and we implemented changes along the way accordingly.  I’m thankful all the time for the DC non-profit community, and firms like Convio, because there is such a spirit of cooperation and so much passion for diverse causes.

I retweeted Jolie’s article, and I really hope others will too. The more people who get this message, the better.

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DC Tech Cocktail Recap

I took a break from tweeting about TechCrunch Disrupt and went with Mike to Tech Cocktail last night at Slaviya (formerly Left Bank) in DC.  I have fond memories of Left Bank, as last year we presented Giv.to there and got tons of great feedback. And also criticism. I went up to one group (who shall remain nameless) and not only was their pitch lukewarm, but they didn’t know their competition and therefore could not respond to my simple question of “how is your product different than X?” That’s okay though. I definitely (still) feel put on the spot when asked to pitch and sometimes awkwardly blunder my way through it.

I love Frank Gruber for starting Tech Cocktail and I think it has made the DC startup community a small world with a tightly knit group of players.  I love seeing what everyone is working on, meeting developers, lawyers, and our own local venture capitalists/angels.  I saw some startups that really could add to the online conversation, and provide neat tools that I would genuinely use.  Tech Cocktail despite its name is so much more than just a ‘social hour,’- start ups really use these events to practice/hone their skills in their most friendly market.  I would love to see Tech Cocktail build out some kind of feedback mechanism for the start ups that presented so that others could make suggestions, vote, etc. on the start ups who present at each event.

Also, talked briefly with Peter Corbett about iStrategyLabs building an Innovation Center for start ups in DC. I LOVE THIS IDEA and IM SO GLAD they are doing it! So many of us work out of basements and our own bedrooms that it’d be fantastic to have a place (hopefully with a bit of character, not a pointless grey land of cubicles) that we can utilize for meetings, gatherings, etc.   Mike and Sean bonded over their barely functioning cars, and once again I was reminded of how much I hate mine.  To do item: purchase a car I actually like, that has a somewhat lower car payment, with four doors.

All in all, great Tech Cocktail once again. Look forward to seeing everyone next time!

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