There are several constants to meetups in Silicon Valley:
- You rarely meet someone that actually grew up here.
- There is a persistent stream of smart, energized people moving to SV.
- Everyone (and I mean everyone) is working on or thinking about something neat, cool and different.
- No one cares about stealing your idea.
- LinkedIn. That's where it's at.
Sure enough, tonight did not deviate from the norm. Here are some of the new connections I made: Christian Vinther is working on opening opportunities for Danish companies in Silicon Valley. Amin Djamshidpour is CEO and Co-Founder of Koolock. They are unlocking the next-generation platform for adaptive environmental monitoring solutions. They are working on launching small satellites into space. How cool is that? Ruslan Suvorov just moved here two weeks ago from Texas. He got in a car with his wife and drove west to Silicon Valley to chase the startup dream. A Texan with a Russian accent. The American dream right there. Shilpa Vora called the meetup to order and introduced the speakers. She is also Director of Customer Success at Mootly. Avi Sudaley works at SubtleTV and was in town visiting from LA. He's also thinking of moving here.
New Kid On The Block: Mizan Rahman
Argyle Selfie with Mizan Rahman. Before things got started, I ran into Mizan Rahman, CEO of RightPatient. I hadn't seen him since our Spicy Ramen lunch in North Beach back in April. It was good to catch up. We are looking forward to having him on our cap table.
Presentation by SC Moatti of Mighty Capital
SC Moatti, a self-described dolphin. Shortly after 6pm, SC Moatti gave a presentation to the room on What Investors Want. SC Moatti is the founding partner of Mighty Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that invests in companies building products that count: Products that transform lives and create value at scale. Previously, she built products that billions of people use at Facebook, Nokia and Electronic Arts. She also serves on boards of both public and private companies, including mobile technology giant Opera Software. In addition, she lectures at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she earned her MBA and has a Master of Science in electrical engineering. At the conclusion of her presentation, she gave away a copy of her award-winning book, Mobilized: An Insider’s Guide to the Business and Future of Connected Technology.
Anu Nigam & Raj Singh Fireside Chat
"You don’t want to sell, you want to be bought.” - Raj Singh
After a short break, Anu Nigam and Raj Singh took seats in front of the room for a fireside chat. Anu Nigam, a self-proclaimed former angel investor, is now Partner at ETW Advisors. Raj Singh is currently Co-Founder and CEO of Lentil AI and they are working on meeting productivity. He previously:
- Co-Founded Tempo AI (acquired by Salesforce).
- Co-Founded AllTheCooks (acquired by Cookpad).
- Served as VP of Business Development for Skyfire (acquired by Opera).
- Co-Founded Veeker, NBC’s mobile video citizen journalism service.
- Created ToneThis, CNET’s top downloaded ringtone creation product.
Dude is truly a serial entrepreneur. Lastly, Raj is also an investor via ENIAC Ventures which has made over 80 seed-stage mobile investments. Here are my takeaways from their fireside chat:
- The minimum price to sell your company is often a function of how much $ has been put in.
- With each round raised, the prospective buyer list goes down.
- "During the fundraising process, it's more a math game than most people realize."
- "The more money a VC has put in to a company, the more they'll work for you." Their reputation is on the line.
- "Where are you in this fund?" It's ok to ask VC's that.
- "The worst fundraising experiences are where you have three or four meetings and you don't get a decision."
- Make a list early of 7-10 companies who may acquire you. Maybe even which person at the company. Product Managers? Develop the relationships. Do it every six months.
- Acquisitions are 95% about timing.
- "In every one of those meetings, you're being judged."
- The Four Kinds of Acquisitions:
- Soft Landing: (the worst kind of exit) Nobody really makes any $
- Acquihire: Some money returned to investors. Small gain. Optics are important to them.
- Team plus Tech: Some value on the tech, although it's often faster to rewrite the tech that's bought however, rather than do full integration. That's why the team is important. 1-3x return to investors.
- Strategic: Astronomical pricing. Not always rational on the price. You can't be selling in this scenario.
- "There is a window and there is timing."
- "It's better to get bought than sold."
- Product Manager, not Corp Dev, can be your buyer champion.
- Inbound interest from Corp Dev dept. may be a research exercise rather than sincere interest.
- There's a lot of social capital on the line for the buyer champion as well.
- "You can't casually sell a company, just like you can't casually fundraise."
- "Understand what you're good at."
- When given a term sheet (to get bought), the trick is to buy time. The buyer has a lot more experience than you do in this.
- Patents definitely increase the legal bills during acquisition. Depends on the buyer if they value patents.
About Startup Tea
David Cao - Startup Tea Talk organizer
Startup Tea Talk is a series of monthly hosted events. They often collaborate with groups like Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs & Startups, SF Founder Club, and Silicon Valley Teahouse. Their collective reach is about 100,000 founders & investors in the Silicon Valley and Bay Area. Their claim to fame is being the largest and most influential startup community event in the SF / Silicon Valley Bay Area.
It wouldn't be a Silicon Valley meetup without unattended pizza boxes
Driving north on I280 back to SF
I got in my truck around 8:30pm and began the drive back to SF from Palo Alto. Another day of Chasing Chrome in Silicon Valley. Time to get some rest and do it all over again tomorrow.