Category: 2010 (page 1 of 12)

Epilogue: Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Welcome students!

You’ve arrived on this blog
by some internet route,
And you may be wondering
what TEC is about.
So you like entrepreneurship
and want a sneak peek?
You’ll work at a young startup
for most of the week.
Your projects this summer
will put you on the map,
Like websites,
and models,
You’ll find you’re surrounded
by hungry young minds;
The interns are some
of the brightest you’ll find.
You’ll have around you
a diverse group of peers.
with businesses to run,
conference calling India
to get projects done.
You’ll get a book every week
about entrepreneurs past.
I bet you’ve never read this many
books quite so fast.
You’ll read books on the BART,
You’ll read books on CalTrain,
You’ll read books in your car,
and read books on the plane.
You’ll read while you sleep
And read while you eat
‘Til the pages you’ve read
they will give you at times,
Leaving you capable only
of blogging in rhymes.)
Thursdays are for lunching
with friends at the pier.
And oh, the guest speakers!
Where else can you hear:
Jared Kim, who was funded
Or the future of web search
There’s Phil Black on term sheets
and pre-valuation,
Jon Callaghan on needs
leading to innovation;
Tony Conrad on a secret
code-named Pumpkinhead,
and Dave Merril of Sifteo,
But don’t be intimidated
or feel stiff and formal;
They’re funny, and friendly,
and surprsingly normal.
And oh! the places you’ll go.
To Structure for all
the latest tech views;
on a sunset cruise;
To a Giants game to watch
the visitors lose;
To startups to see
You’ll also make plans with the interns, though…
Romping in Berkeley,
Hiking dunes in Marin,
Exploring the gorgeous
city you’re in.
From sharing great pizza
You’ll leave with a lasting
tight-knit group of friends.
But the best part of all
is support from team True.
They’ll give you advice
and they’ll look out for you.
Helping you to achieve
is right up their alley.
They’ll connect you to folks
throughout Silicon Valley.
True wants you to grow.
And grow, yes, you will!
You’ll leave reenergized
with big dreams to fulfill.
KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
If you’re smart, you’ll apply.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be
A True Ventures intern in
TEC number three!
And get ready, get set —
This summer might be
Your best internship yet.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship

Hi all,

This past week has come and gone so quickly I can barely believe that the TEC program will last just one more week.  This past week our required reading was a book called Mastering the VC Game by Jeffrey Bussang.  In this book venture capitalist and entrepreneur Jeff Bussang provides readers with an insider’s view into the world of venture capital.  In this post I would like to talk about seven sins (pitfalls) that Bussang says entrepreneurs commonly make:

  1. Term sheets:  Term sheets are tricky business for most entrepreneurs and in Bussang’s book, he talks about the importance of hiring a good lawyer and clearly understanding what terms you are accepting when you take funding from a VC.  Bad terms can really be detrimental to any startup.
  2. Getting into bed with the wrong VC:  Many entrepreneurs are eager to accept capital from any VC who comes to the table.  However, Bussang clearly articulates that this can be a kiss of death to startups.  Entrepreneurs must choose wisely their venture partners and evaluate what they will bring to the table for the startup.
  3. Not knowing a VC’s sweet-spot:  All VCs have an investment philosophy/strategy.  Don’t try pitching your company before you know how much capital you need and what size checks the VC typically writes.
  4. Board dynamics: Spend time upfront building a transparent and trustworthy relationship with your board.  Also, do what you say you’re going to do – execution is critical!
  5. Transparency:  Keep your board members and investors abreast of both good news and bad news from the beginning.  Take small steps to be transparent and honest, it will pay big dividends in the future.
  6. Being in over your head:  Entrepreneurship is a wild ride full of highs and lows, at times it may feel as though you are in over your head but according to Bussang you must be honest with yourself; get help when you need it and manage the board before it manages you.  Doing this things will help you survive in the wild entrepreneurship ride.
  7. Know every number and detail:  An interesting personal experience that Bussang shares in the book is when he talks about when he and his partner pitched Upromise to Kleiner Perkins.  Bussang said that in the middle of the pitch that he was asked a question about Upromise’s gross margin projections and that he nor his partner knew the answer.  Bussang said that from that experience he learnt the importance of knowing every financial and business detail of his business.

This will be the last week for me with the TEC program, I am saddened by how fast this amazing experience has come and gone.  However, I am excited for the next two weeks, because I am staying a week longer to work with SendMe.  During this time I will be handling the responsibilities of one of my supervisors as he travels outside of the U.S.  This will be a challenging and rewarding experience that I am looking forward to!

Until next week,

Charles

I’m All In

Jon Callaghan, partner at True Ventures, said it himself:

When you’re on the drug, you’ll know it…You’ve got to be all in.  Otherwise it’s just a hobby”

After living out in San Francisco for eight weeks and experiencing what it’s like to be a TEC intern at True Ventures, I can now confidently say that I am drug addict.  No, I am not addicted to the “treats” that I am offered on a daily basis at Market and 6th, I am addicted to the new trendy drug called Entrepreneurship (all the cool kids are doing it).  In all seriousness, in combining my work at The Site Slinger, with my work at BrightRoll, along with my commitments at True Ventures, this has indeed been the busiest 8 weeks of my life.  I would say it felt like I slept through it and it was all a dream (Inception) because it went by so fast, but I’d be lying, because I didn’t sleep much at all, and it was an experience that was better than any dream I’ve ever had of Emmanuelle Chriqui (Sloan from Entourage).

So what exactly did I learn this summer, and why was it so awesome?  Aside from all the cool schwag you get as an intern (Flip camera, iPad from BrightRoll, FitBit, BOOKS!, etc. etc.), you also get a really unique experience that only 15 other people in the world have ever had.  This internship is seriously one of kind.  Imagine an internship where you interact with some of the biggest influencer’s in the Silicon Valley on a daily basis?  Imagine a internship where you sit across from the founder of the company and can actually learn something new from them every day when you go into the office?  Imagine an internship where you aren’t stuck photocopying at some corporation working 9-5 just so you can get to the weekend?  This whole “imagine an internship…” thing is a bit repetitive but, I’m not being paid to say that the True Ventures TEC internship programs was truly a life changing experience.

True Ventures gave us all these little black Moleskin books at the beginning of this adventure to take notes in as we went along.  Although I didn’t use it nearly as much as I should have, I did compile some overall lessons that I’d like to share.  Here are my top 11 tips (because top 10 is so 2009):

  1. Entrepreneurship is not very everyone. It’s all about the Hustle.   If you don’t have the motivation to hustle 24 hours a day, then the entrepreneurial lifestyle is not for you.
  2. Talk to anyone that will listen. The more people you have in your network, the higher chance you’ll be connected to the person you need later on the down the line.  It’s also not just about “connecting” with the person, you need to follow up with them in stay in contact to really build a meaningful relationship.
  3. Engineers are sexy in the Valley. A good one is worth his/her weight in gold so if you find a good one, respect them and give them the freedom to create and develop in that complicated 0010110100 stuff. (sidenote: if you are on the fence about learning how to program, totally go for it.  Even if you just know the basics of TCW, you have an edge on others.  However, I personally think ANYONE can learn how to code.  The difficult part is mastering it.  If you can master it, then you are a rockstar).
  4. Early stage venture investments invest almost completely in the people. Ideas are cheap, good people are not.  Surround yourself by good peeps and weed out the poisonous people who bring you down.
  5. Iteration is important. Reid Hoffman from LinkedIn said “If you’re not embarrassed when you ship, you’ve waited too long.”  Get the product out the door to guage interest in the product before spending countless days developing a product that may only solve your own needs and not the needs of the market.
  6. “Entrepreneurship is throwing yourself off a cliff, and building a plane on the way down.” This quote is also from Reid Hoffman from LinkedIn.  I couldn’t agree more with the quote.  It goes back to the hustle you need as an entrepreneur.  Do you have the hustle in you to take that leap of faith?  You have no security blanket and you have no severance package if you fail.  Do you believe in yourself to build something before the $$ runs out?
  7. Best advice for Idea Generation: pick a market first, and then identify a problem that exists in that market.  Create an idea that solves that problem.  ALWAYS know your market.
  8. If you haven’t failed yet, then you haven’t tried enough (unless you are really lucky).  Learn from your failures and keep hustling.
  9. Entrepreneurship is not about luck, it’s about preparing yourself for those lucky situations so when that lucky phone call comes in you can pick it up and seal the deal.
  10. Model your engineering team after the characters from Winnie the Pooh. If you don’t have a Tigger to compliment your Eeyore, you are doomed to fail.  (this one comes from my peeps at BrightRoll :-) )
  11. Have fun. It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle.  Life is too short to do something you don’t love so live life the way you want to and don’t let anyone hold you back.

So that’s all from me.  Surround yourself with good, great, awesome, amazing people, come up with an idea, pick your theme song, and just do it.

TEC Takeaways: 5 Great Tech News Sources, and 10 Great Quotes

I’ve tried to think a lot about what to leave a potential reader with in my last blog post, since these are the ones prospective applicants are most likely to see when landing on the blog. If I were in your shoes, what would I want to know? In fact, what did I want to know? I’m going to bet that by reading through these posts, you’ll hear more than enough about what our daily lives were like.

So instead, I’ll leave you with what I think are some of the best, most immediately useful things I picked up. And now you won’t even have to do TEC to get them.

10 Great Quotes

Because the people I’ve met and read during these past 8 weeks have been a truly extraordinary, ridiculously cool bunch. Cheers to you all, and may we meet again soon!

1. “Arrive early and leave late.” –Jon Callaghan, at the opening of TEC, on how to get the most out of the summer. So true. (And so True!)

2. “Startups only fail when you run out of money or run out of heart.” –Danny Shader, the CEO and founder of Kwedit. Awesome guy, spreads good karma. :)

3. “For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.” –Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, on the importance of company culture. This was a quote that made company culture “real” for me in a way I could understand.

4. “Are they builders or extractors?” — Phil Black, on the important question to ask oneself about potential investors.

5. “If you’re not embarrassed when you ship, you’ve waited too long.” –Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, on getting products out even when they’re not perfect.

6. “Lucky breaks come from preparation and persistence.” –Dave Merrill, founder of Sifteo and maker of Siftables, on the real roots of luck.

7. “Embrace failure. Dream big and go for it.” –Shervin Pishevar, founder of Social Gaming Network, on entrepreneurship.

8. “Ideas are cheap. People are precious.” –Jon Callaghan, on what’s most important in a startup.

9. “Having an impact is the driver. Wherever I am in my life, I want to be doing things that I feel will have the greatest impact.” –Bob Langer, serial entrepreneur, prolific inventor, and head of the largest biomed research lab in the world, on entrepreneurship. This quote in particular resonates with me and my personal reasons for pursuing entrepreneurship.

10. “I’ve never been more curious to see what a group of ‘classmates’ will do next.” — Jacob Hartog, fellow TEC 2010 intern. Couldn’t agree more. :)

5 Great News Sources

Because I love knowing the latest buzz and have continued to expand my collection of news sources this summer. You all know TechCrunch, Mashable, Wired, Gizmodo, and probably GigaOm if you’ve read through the posts here. Here’s 5 great, slightly lesser-known technology news sources to add to your list.

1. Hacker News – Awesome. Seriously awesome. Although the layout is a little hard to get used to, you can depend on Hacker News (run by Y Combinator) to bring you fresh, wise, and witty news. And you don’t have to be a hacker to read it. Props to Ali for introducing me to it!
http://news.ycombinator.com

2. Hiten Shah – One of Twitter’s best-kept secrets. Actually, maybe not so secret–his 22,055 followers as of this moment probably would disagree. But seriously, Hiten tweets nonstop, and it’s good stuff. Useful tech startup news, interspersed with inspiring quotes.
http://www.twitter.com/hnshah

3. Fred Wilson – He’s a VC, hence the name of his blog. To be more specific, he’s the co-founder of Union Square Ventures, a VC firm based in NYC that invested in Twitter, del.icio.us, Etsy, and Disqus among others. Helpful info for anyone trying to navigate the often opaque VC world.
http://www.avc.com

4. Techmeme – Aggregator of tech news. Sometimes these aggregators just pull a bunch of crap from random blogs and stuff, but Techmeme actually gets great news from pretty reputable sources. That’s notable in and of itself.
http://techmeme.com

5. alarm:clock – Can’t remember how I stumbled across this one, but it’s unique among my news sources. It’s clearly for the venture capital crowd, with news focused on funding, acquisitions, and deals.
http://www.thealarmclock.com

What news sources do you check daily? Tell me in the comments; I am always interested in finding new ones!

–Amelia

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/linamelia
Personal site: http://www.amelialin.com
About.me: http://about.me/amelialin

Great new start

This week, as we wrapped up the TEC program with our last meeting, I had the realization that the summer semester is coming to an end, and I only have one more month before going back to school. Today, I was offered to continue working at Spectrum Bridge while I continue my education, on a part time basis. I gladly accepted the offer, I’m proud to continue to be part of the Spectrum Bridge team, and I hope to be offered a full time position when I finally graduate.

TEC may be over, as far as the weekly meetings go, but the lessons learned from it will certainly last for many years.
As I wrap up my final post on the TEC blog, I want to thank the True Ventures team for an amazing experience, a great opportunity, and the best internship I could have imagined. For the future TECsters, be ready for the experience of your lives!

Thanks True, you guys rock!

Great lessons

Mallory Short and I talked to Spectrum Bridge’s CEO Richard Licursi about two weeks ago, we discussed the position of Spectrum Bridge and how the future looks for the company, and it looks very promising. Spectrum Bridge aims to become the household name, the first name you think about when you think about Spectrum, and they have done a lot of work to get there.

At the end of our little interview with Richard, we asked him if he can offer use any advice. One advice he gave us really struck a high note with me: When looking for financing for your start up, if you have an offer on the table, take it! Don’t try to look for a better offer, because chances are, you won’t find another one. The reason for this is that investors don’t just invest in anything, they look for companies that seem worthy, and they consider their offer with great care.

Good advice to hold on to and keep close. Especially as I start developing some of my entrepreneurial ideas and start implementing them.

Perhaps the best thing I took from the TEC program is that I learned the value of books. I’ve always been a reader, I love reading! I have many books, but most of them are either technical learning books or fictional novels, but I’ve never read books about life experiences and lessons before. What I learned though TEC is that these books can be extremely enjoyable to read, and they also pack a great amount of lessons and valuable information.

So I leave you with this: take chances and accept the offers you have, and read more books. Cheers!

“Success is a Journey. Not a Destination.” -Ben Sweetland

Time always seem to pass more quickly when your having fun. These past few weeks spent interning at Spectrum Bridge and with TEC have come and gone faster than I expected. I want to start by thanking everyone at True Ventures for an amazing opportunity. I have gain valuable information that you cannot pay for, learn from a professor or even read in a textbook. The experience with TEC was more than I hoped for. I’ve learned that in the world of entrepreneurship and growing a start up business, every idea is a good idea. Even failure will lead to success. There are red roads and white roads you can travel down, but be advised the road is less bumpy if you have a great capitalist on your side. The most enjoyable part of TEC I would say is having the opportunity to meet and listen to all of the great speakers whom shared their advice and encouragement. The best time to chase your dreams is now or never. If we want to follow in the footsteps of these successful entrepreneurs, we must be driven to not only follow but lead. From listening to all the great ideas each individual presented for the company that they are interning for and their own ideas that they have for their own start up one day, are all worth pursuing. I wish everyone from the TEC class of 2010 all the best and much success!

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success” – Dale Carnegie

My summer experience

I guess it’s time to take a look back on the summer. Being involved with TEC has been a great experience for me in a lot of ways. I got to meet a lot of really awesome people at True Ventures and Valencell, as well as interact with all of the other interns in the program on some level. I know these relationships will be valuable for the future. I learned a lot about business and entrepreneurship from the weekly readings and assignments given to us by True, and having the opportunity to hear first hand from guest speakers living and working in the field was an extremely helpful supplement. Working at Valencell I taught myself Android development, and I gained experience in developing scalable and usable software. I was also exposed to daily life in an early-stage, growing company (which turned out to be really cool and a lot of fun). It was definitely a sad moment for me leaving after my last day of work, but I know I will carry the knowledge and experience I gained from this summer forward and apply it in my future endeavors.

I will say that, because I was working from NC (and thus unable to be present in-person at the weekly TEC meet ups), I did not get a chance to really bond with the other participants quite as much as those living in CA. I know they did some really fun things like visiting Alcatraz, skydiving, hiking, attending a baseball game, etc. which I wasn’t able to participate in. Working on group projects together did provide some degree of communication with the other interns, and they all seemed like really cool people. Brian (bsol) and I are planning to meet up when he gets back to NC for school, which should be fun. I guess next time I will have to spend the summer in sunny California!

I wish I could distill the whole experience down to a few paragraphs of text better than I have, but hopefully this will suffice. It’s been great, and I can wholeheartedly recommend the program to anyone else looking for an outstanding summer working/learning experience!

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!” – Dr.Seuss

10:30 – 6:30 at Vurve, 12 books, 8 blogs posts, a handful of new technologies, Post-PC Era analysis, TEC Commercial, Final Presentation for Vurve, network of influential VCs and entrepreneurs, friendships for a life time. Priceless!

As I read through all the blogs I have posted this summer, I can’t help but to feel sad that it is all coming to an end. I have learned, experienced, and grew so much over the course of 8 weeks. Looking back, deciding to join the TEC program was a rather adventurous decision because I was coming to a city where I had no family and few friends. I came to work for a stealth start up, which I knew little about. I was inexperienced and knew I had much to learn. I can honestly say that 8 weeks later I feel like a completely different person. I have expanded my horizons with new programming languages and knowledge of entrepreneurship and venture capital. I feel inspired as ever to actually do what I have only thought about doing before. I would reiterate how great of a summer it has been and everything I had learned, but I feel like I have covered most of what I wanted to say in previous blog posts. Instead I thought it would be cool for me to give a few advices for prospective TEC 2011 Interns.

Advice 1: If you are reading this and are hesitant about whether it is worth it to move all the way out to California and join TEC. You absolutely should. I can’t think of any good reason why anyone would not want to be part of this. If you are worried about the stipend not being enough for what you need to make this summer, you should consider it a valuable investment in yourself. I wouldn’t trade the experiences, lessons, and network for any amount of money. Maybe $ 100 million, but probably not. :-p

Advice 2: If you are lucky enough to be selected for TEC 2011. Be prepared to work hard. The program is intense and is designed that way. You won’t be doing any busy work, but you will definitely be challenged. I wrote that it feels like a being a part time student with a full time job and I am not exaggerating. I would also strongly recommend coming to TEC with a solid business idea in mind. That’s what did and I felt like having something concrete to build on the side really complimented the educational experience.

Advice 3: Definitely get to know the other interns. Even if you live far away from most of the other interns, always make the trek to see them. Make plans and do things together. Watch our commercial for a taste of what we did last summer. Put 100% into all of True’s assignments. Even if you are not technically “graded” on your them, the more you put in the more you will get out.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

Email: hanyin.cheng@gmail.com

Twitter: hanyinc

What should I do with my life?

Hi all,

These past eight weeks have truly come and gone faster than I could have imagined.  I can very clearly recall arriving at the the Pier 38 office where I first met Adam and JP for the first time.  This was followed by a game of pool in which Tyler and myself (Team SendMe) were taken to the cleaners by JP and Hanyin.  I had no idea for the amazing experiences that were to ensue that first day.  In this last email I would like to talk about a few of the takeaways i have from this summer:

  1. Work with great people. This is one thing that has stood out above all else.  From the beginner True said that they invested in great entrepreneurs and that by investing in great people rather than ideas, they could effectively manage their risk.  I have really seen the truth behind this takeaway.  In every situation this summer I have found myself surrounded by great people: SendMe Mobile, TEC, and Team True.  It has been such a great opportunity to be surround constantly by such outstanding people.
  2. Find mentors. I have heard this from countless people this summer, including Jon Callaghan and Jared Kim.  Both of them when the spoke to TEC talked about the importance of choosing good mentors.  Especially, when you are trying to start a company.  In the case of Jared, his mentors made all the difference for him when he went out to raise capital.
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