Thursday, February 09, 2017

she was warned

This is the mantra of every entrepreneur, of every innovator, of anyone leading anything that changes or challenges the status quo...this is what defines America.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

why I favor 3 minute timed pitches

In addition to my work at Long River Ventures, I'm now working with Village Capital, an international accelerator program that features peer-selected capital.

One of the practices we have at Village Capital is a three minute pitch, inspired by Ignite-style presentations.

We've typically got a dozen companies in a cohort and while pitching is not the point of the program, it's still an important skill. We do venture forums in various formats and our companies need to be able to effectively introduce themselves to people. We've found that the best way of doing this is a three minute pitch with several restrictions:
  • A cover slide that isn't timed and is on screen when the company gets up on stage.
  • Following the cover slide, twelve slides timed for 15 seconds, on auto-advance.
  • An end slide, typically with contact information that is on screen when the company leaves the stage.
When the company gets up on stage, after a sentence introduction by us and a short value proposition statement by the company, we do the "click" to the first auto-timed slide. They don't have a clicker--again, everything is auto advance. Companies are not allowed to have a slide that is anything other than 15 seconds although they can take away one of their twelve slides and do a slide for 30 seconds. They aren't allowed to put sound and video into a presentation. We find that it's just too likely to produce problems. They are allowed to do animation within a particular slide. 

Why do we subject our companies to the regime?
  • As an audience member, listening to twelve presentations in quick succession with a similar cadence allows for easier pattern recognition. Also, if you don't like a presenter you know that they'll be off stage in a set amount of time. No rambling! Feedback from people who know is universally that the presentations from the Village Capital cohorts are among the very best they've seen.
  • As a presenter, forcing you to present without clicker, on auto-advance, ensures that your presentation stays on track and, in our experience, on average makes you a better presenter.
We do often get one company saying "I don't need to hew to that format, because I'm a good presenter." Our response is:
(a) this is the way we do it
(b) it generally improves the less good presenters--you'll be glad that the overall quality is high and this will reflect well on the whole cohort including you
(c) again, an audience listening to twelve presentations with a similar cadence can do better pattern recognition and therefore you have a better chance they'll remember you especially if you're placed towards the beginning of the presenters--the whole point of this is to produce meetings 1:1 after the presentation, not to communicate everything the audience needs to know

Sunday, August 09, 2015

phone failures

I currently have two mobile phones, one on Verizon and one on Google Fi. I know. Silly. BUT ... the other day BOTH of them failed. My Verizon phone suddenly went off network. No service. And this was in downtown Boston. I turned to my Google Fi phone. AND IT WASN'T ON NETWORK EITHER. I was in a location that has good mobile coverage. The only thing I can think of is that some tower that Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile are all on went off line temporarily. And unfortunately there wasn't a wifi for the Fi to jump onto. Anyway, I know these are first world problems but it did cause me to wonder if my old BlackBerry would have failed. I know that this was probably a network or tower problem that also would have affected a BlackBerry but it caused me to think about a few things:

  1. Why do my Motorola phones periodically, randomly just restart? My BlackBerry never did that.
  2. The more I use my old Miata (now 19 years and counting) the more I'm happy with it and the less attractive the new sports cars are. It's never failed, it's closing on 100k miles and it feels as solid and planted on the road as it ever did.
  3. I look at some of the EDC forums that are utterly obsessed with the reliability of knives and other gear and I do have to wonder if there's a market for some phone that is rock solid and doesn't ever quit. Makes me want something like an old BlackBerry that could switch networks like a Google Fi including hopping on wifi but just has basic functionality--nothing to cause unexpected problems.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Project Fi and using multiple Google Voice accounts

Project Fi is a test from Google of a new way of delivering mobile phone service.

I signed up for the service and got my very nice box of free goodies in the mail about a week ago. The package includes an external battery for recharging a phone or other device, a nice set of earbuds with an extra jack for a friend to plug in and a bumper case for the Nexus 6, the only phone that currently works with this service.

Project Fi uses both Sprint and T-Mobile in the U.S., plus open wifi networks, seamlessly switching between them. It also features a data plan that works like a budget. You set a limit but if you go over, there aren't penalty charges. You always pay the same amount per unit of bandwidth. Internationally, it is supposed to offer good rates and free texting.

When I signed up I gave Project Fi my Google Voice number but had forgotten that long ago I'd switched that number over to my own corporate account. Project Fi only works with @gmail accounts not corporate accounts. It took a little while for the excellent customer service folks at Project Fi to figure out how to handle the situation but in the end it made sense to take a new number for my @gmail account. This left me with my old number, the main number I use on business cards etc, still associated with my corporate account and still associated with Google Voice but not associated with my new Nexus 6. However, this isn't a problem as far as I can tell. Here's why: I can use Google Hangouts to receive and send texts from my Google Voice number as well as my new number which no one knows. And I can use the Android Hangouts Dialer to make calls from my Google Voice number. I think this is a fully workable situation. So, I'm therefore able to use two separate numbers on my new Project Fi account on my Nexus 6 phone--my corporate Google Voice number that everyone recognizes plus my new, unknown Project Fi number that's the number associated with my Nexus 6.