Silicon Valley Uber Alles? I think so… Some of their Secret Weapons.

Angel Investor, Business Development, CEO Succession, Drupal, early stage, founder, Hawaii, Jobs, Launch, Revenue Growth, Scalability, startup, startup CEO, Tom Nora, Uncategorized, venture

Can any other region “catch up” to Silicon Valley, or be the next Silicon Valley? Statistics show that it’s probably kind of futile to even try. Many have tried, but must be content with their small market shares. How can other regions will ever match the MACHINE: Stanford, Andreesen, Draper, Valentine, Doerr, Facebook/Apple/Google Millionaires, 4 Generation VC firms, Hardware/Software partnerships, over 100 Billon $ market cap cos.

svfundingshares

Because high tech and software industries are now being seen as lucrative, job creating, imperative and oh so sexy, many regions are trying as never before to get in on this – mobilizing their governments, old school industries, universities and grandmas to unite to be the next Silicon Valley, calling themselves Silicon- Beach, Forest, Plains, Alley, Prairie, Coast, etc. These towns are setting their expectations way too high while the real Silicon Valley giggles at the sight.

Here are some of the secret weapons that make Silicon Valley stronger than any other “region” and act as its barriers to entry:

1. Silicon – Uh, yeah, that word? It’s what started all this. Silicon Valley launched and was launched by the mainstreaming of the Silicon chip over 50 years ago, which is now part of everything. There was no other part of the planet where anything close in innovation, design manufacturing, equipment, marketing and sale of semiconductors has emanated from. This foundation still drives the area and the world, even thought it gets less attention now than the software side.

2. 100 Years of Growth – It all began with military electronics, low cost housing, lots of empty land and Stanford University. It has spread way beyond to the east bay. San Francisco, over 50 universities and trillions of dollars in revenue. The growth has had bumps but over time has increased more steadily than any other economy in history.

3. Recruitment – Most of the leaders in SV are from elsewhere because Silicon Valley aggressively acquires the best from all over the world. Why not? Via Stanford, Berkeley, Facebook, Google, recruiting Harvard and MIT undergrads, their wonderful PR machine, advertising free meals, free car washes, free dry cleaning, free day care. $150,000 salary right out of college. Unlimited vacation. Where else can you gat all this?

4. Stanford – Not sure this even needs explaining, but Stanford has been a wole new entity in the past 20 years, beyond anyones imagination in wealth creation, funding, computer science, a recruiting engine into SV then on to local companies, pride, confidence, location.

5. Money, money, money – There are so many giant sources of money in SV that it’s staggering. VCs of course, Angels, they invented the term Super Angel, San Francisco, Real Estate leverage, IPO millionaires, corporate funding, Asian and European money, and on and on.

6. Tolerance for Weak Links – Here’s one most people don’t know – most people in SV aren’t stellar; I know several weak players who fake it well and are millionaires or millionaires-to-be just because they’re in the right zip code. The public tagline is everybody has a high IQ, but in reality there are lots of dwebes running around – I know, I’ve managed plenty of them. SVs leaders smartly realize the win ratio can be pretty low if you have a few enormous winners. Most SV projects die, most SV companies die, but if you build the algorithm to plan for this you’ll put more possible winners in play. So what if a few totally unqualified employees that snuck in make a few million. Like any organization, there are several who skate by or get by on good politics. That’s OK if you plan for it, “engineer” for it.

That’s just 6, there are plenty more reasons why there will only be 1 Silicon Valley for along time to come. The best answer for any other local economy is to just make the most of who you are, embrace your own identity, partner with Silicon Valley. And don’t use the word “silicon” in your name. Take Boulder, Colorado as a model, they’ve successfully created their own very strong economy for startups. There’s a startup for every 50 or so people there. They have all the pieces and they are heavily connected to Silicon Valley without envying them.

@tomnora

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself (If You’re Trying to Convince The World That You Have a Hot Startup)

Angel Investor, CEO Succession, early stage, founder, Hawaii, Launch, Scalability, startup, startup CEO, Tom Nora, Uncategorized

1. What are people doing now because your product doesn’t exist, what is the pain you will solve?

2. What is it that you know about your specific niche that other companies do not?

3. How and when does this make revenue and profits? What is the growth graph?

@tomnora

CASH IS KING — C-A-S-H — Friction Cost Reduction — Accountants, Attorneys and Consultants

Angel Investor, Business Development, CEO Succession, early stage, founder, Hawaii, Revenue Growth, Scalability, startup, startup CEO, Uncategorized, venture

Most startup entrepreneurs focus on one thing throughout the lifecycle of their company: bringing in CASH. C-A-S-H. Cash through investments, revenues, borrowing from F&F, VCs, convertible notes, deal terms, angels, etc. All of these things are magical words to early stagers. I attend and host many meetups and conferences for startups, and consult to several startups, and every founder is inevitably talking about Cash. Cash on Hand, The next Round, we just need $XXX,XXX. Cash, Cash, Cash.

A different way to improve your cash situation is the indirect one – reduce Friction Costs in your ecosystem with peripheral influencers.

In Silicon Valley, Boston, Boulder and a few other places, the growth of the startup world has vastly been enhanced over the past 10 to 30 years by professionals who are not VCs or developers or entrepreneurs – they’re the Accountants, Attorneys, Consultants, Professors, Marketing firms and others who have tremendous influence over VCs, Angels and prospective customers. They are trusted, fairly impartial, focused, big picture and practical. They’re also critical to the processes of business.

If you want to make money rain from the sky, nurture these people with sincerity over long periods of time, not just when you need them. They decrease the friction in doing business by connecting the right people, finding the quickest path between 2 points, making warm vs. cold introductions and telling entrepreneurs when “it ain’t gonna happen”.

So find some of these people and get to know them – here are 10 things you can do:

1. buy them a cup of coffee

2. be real with them, when you don’t need anything.

3. Help them out with something they’re working on.

4. Read What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis.

 

5. Join my meetup group; you’ll find many of them there and can connect no matter where you live:  meetup.com/Startup-Workshops/

6. Invite them to speak at an event you’re hosting.

7. Contact me and I’ll help you find and meet the right people.

8. Create something very cool, nothing gets attention like that.

9. Be a connector. Connect 2 people without any self interest; I do this almost daily.

10. Become an authority on the flow of cash in startups, a very valuable skill.

Tom Nora

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What does it feel like to be the CEO of a start-up? 3 FULL TIME JOBS.

Angel Investor, Business Development, CEO Succession, early stage, founder, Hawaii, Launch, Revenue Growth, Scalability, startup, startup CEO, Tom Nora, venture

Being the CEO of a startup is crazy, fun, very hard work, inclusive, humbling and of course can be quite rewarding. Weekends are meaningless. There is a continuous decision stream where each decision informs the next. Your mind is thinking 24 hours a day, even when you sleep.

When you’re the CEO of a startup, a real startup with product and some cash in the bank and/or revenue, there are 3 FULL TIME JOBS.

1. Raising Money – you are constantly doing this, preparing for this and thinking about this, whether it’s pre-seed, seed funding, debt, revenue, partnerships, IPO or other.

2. Managing and Properly Growing The Business – this includes several things, depending on the size of the enterprise: managing employees, administration, hiring, firing, leases, expenses, unhappy employees, fixing other problems, etc.

This piece is what often kills an otherwise great business, which justifys the case for less is more when it comes to employees and infrastructure.

3. Selling – The CEO of a startup must ABS, always be selling. You start every day working this, just like #1 above, they’re closely related. Using the CEO to close sales no matter what size the business is, is vital to success.

This piece emphasizes the importance of having an awesome, mature VP of Sales, if you can afford it; it takes a lot of pressure off and frees up the time of the CEO.

Overall, it can be the most exhilarating experience you’ve ever had, especially when things work. And it’s more accessible to most people than ever before. But it’s not for everyone – you must decide what your #1 goal is. If it’s to create a successful long term business, being the CEO should be something you’re willing to give up if it threatens goal #1. If your #1 goal is to try it out to see how it feels, then by all means do it, get professional help, and make the most of it. Contact me if you’re dead serious and I can help you. The Startup CEO by Tom Nora

Median CEO Compensation: $363K (private) vs. $9.6M (S&P500)

Business Development, CEO Succession, early stage, founder, Scalability, startup CEO, Tom Nora, venture

The median private company CEO compensation package totaled $362,900 in 2011 — just 3.8% of the $9.6 million median compensation package given to S&P 500 CEOs.

Median total compensation for private company CEOs increased only 1.9% from 2010’s $356,133.

The Board of Directors sets CEO pay in 58.5% of all private companies, but for companies with $100 million or more in annual revenue, this number increases to 73.9%.

Only 54.4% of private companies have formal long-term incentive plans for executives, but this number increases to over 68% for companies backed by private equity investors. There is high correlation between a company’s profitability and whether or not they have formal long term incentive plans for executives.

J.P. Donlon
Editor-in-Chief
Chief Executive�Magazine

 

“It’s a Feature, Not a Company” – Build a Company

Angel Investor, Business Development, CEO Succession, early stage, founder, Launch, Revenue Growth, Scalability, startup, startup CEO, Tom Nora, Uncategorized, venture

This is a line that was pretty common in Silicon Valley until recently. Steve Jobs even (ab)used that line on Dropbox when trying to buy them out of the market (They turned him down.)

Now that’s all changed, for the moment. The threshold for “company” status is very low, including the following list of minimum pieces at their lowest cost.

1) a url – $10     2) incorporation – $200      3) Internet – free      4) build a website – free      5) development tools – free     6) office space – free – home, starbucks, hipster coffee shop

In other word, the barriers have dropped if you’re willing to do most things yourself, which is a good thing. You still need an amazing idea , business model, some focus from a developer (critical!). You can create a single feature “disposable” company, nothing wrong with that, it’s a learning experience, fail fast, etc., it might even create some value and get acq-hired. And It’s a lot better than talking to folks for a year about an idea that never materializes.

But that’s not the way to create a company that can live and grow for years. In doing that you have to be honest with yourself, make some sacrifices and seek continuous enhancement of your entity. In the world of easy startups, everything is a startup, people drink their own koolaid too much.

Here are some great ways to maybe move into higher ground:

  1. Seek outside criticism and listen to it. Put on your flack jacket and let ’em rip you up. Be open to changes but don’t be a wimp either. You may see something nobody else does, but listen.
  2. Pay those you ask to help you – money, equity, trade services, something meaningful. Give them incentive to help you think straight. Make sure you pick the right mentors with track records. Never ask for something for nothing, you’ll get what you pay for and a bad reputation fast. Better yet, pay it forward. This is an area where strong developers actually have a lot to trade these days, but usually try to do everything themselves. Not likely to succeed.
  3. Diversify – get people difeerent than you involved as team members – different genders, races, ages, expertises. Here’s a great 3 minute talk on this by Stanford prof Kathy Eisenhardt  http://j.mp/UaVjky

So look for the opportunity to build a company, share the wealth, and seek higher ground.

follow me or DM me @tomnora

Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Highlights by Stanford University | Stanford / Entrepreneurship

Angel Investor, Business Development, CEO Succession, early stage, founder, klipsch, Revenue Growth, startup, startup CEO, Tom Nora, venture

Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Highlights by Stanford University | Stanford / Entrepreneurship.

via Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Highlights by Stanford University | Stanford / Entrepreneurship.

How LinkedIn Has Turned Your Resume Into A Cash Machine – Forbes

Business Development, CEO Succession, early stage, founder, Revenue Growth, Scalability, startup CEO, Tom Nora, venture

Great CEO Succession story.

Sales Driven company – finally!

 

How LinkedIn Has Turned Your Resume Into A Cash Machine – Forbes.

via How LinkedIn Has Turned Your Resume Into A Cash Machine – Forbes.

Is #NewYork the Next Startup Land of Oz?

Angel Investor, Business Development, CEO Succession, early stage, founder, photography, Revenue Growth, Scalability, startup, startup CEO, Tom Nora, venture

A few things have happened recently to cause me to look a little closer at NY for the next amazing companies in Internet technology. First, a friend announced that they were moving their startup geo-lo based company from L.A. to New York; Second, I caught the recent live stream of the Disrupt NYC Hackathon; Third, A New York Times article about how NYC’s “allure” is increasing.

I know, it’s a very expensive place to live and do business, lots of traffic, etc. I’ve done it before. But if a Tipping Point could be created there it could over come the costs. Here are some of the factors:

(1) Amazing Engineering Skills – Let’s just start with the big one. There is a highly under-known fact in the software engineering world – many of the best developers and architects are not in Silicon Valley, but in the New York metro area. Between AT&T, the Financial houses and all the great local engineering schools they’re not only the best but there are a lot of them. C++ and Object Oriented design were invented at AT&T, and there are many more examples. New York developers have less attitude, more performance. They’re expensive , but a very large and strong group.

(2) Long Term Scalability – See #4 below – Over time, s a comapny tries to get into a rhythm of continuous growth, they need to develop a reliable growth model. To do this you need human resources beyond techo-nerds – sales, marketing, strategy, bus dev. These people abound in New York. You also need infrastructure and friendly government. Again, New York blows California away here.

(3) Mentor Network – Retired Fortune 500 executives, Harvard/Princeton/Yale scholars, Financial Industry experts, many successful entrepreneurs.

(4) Respect for BUSINESS – Sales, Marketing, Advertising, Strategy were all practically invented in NYC.

(5) Diversified Portfolio of Industries – The best startups draw from several disparate industries around them to be able to grow and learn and diversify. New York is the Fashion, Financial, Art, … (fill in the blank) capital of the world.

(6) Spirit – Nobody has has the same type of spirit as New Yorkers; you know this if you’ve ever been there, especially if you’ve done business there. It has some kind of magic in the air.

(7) Night Life – Many budding high technology centers aren’t the best in terms of top cultural options and the best restaurants. Well, New York… no need to explain.

I could go on, but the combination above is plenty for a startup tipping point. Just watch the Disrupt videos, they’ll give you a glimpse. I’vealways loved New York and doing business there, even though I’m a born and bred Californian. Now they’re heading toward my niche, very exciting. Maybe Zuckerberg should’ve put Facebook there instead of Silicon Valley. Maybe FB stock would be going up instead of down right now.

[Facebook Stock Could Fall Twice as Far Before It Hits Bottom]

@tomnora