Calling All Engineers: Why So Serious?

Calling All Engineers: Why So Serious?
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“Why so serious?” –The Joker in Batman Returns

If you are fortunate enough to be building software for a living, do us this small favor: Put a little more personality into your products.

The best products pay deference to their creators. They’re functional, but they also can be fun at times, whimsical, punchy, interesting, sexy and surprising. Done well, they mimic the best parts of the personality of the teams that created them.

The classic example of adding personality to a product is Google’s homepage. Is there a more

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Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

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I spent this morning at the Career Day of my youngest kids’ elementary school (West Mercer) with about 30 third, fourth, and fifth graders.  My session was entitled “Your $100,000,000 Idea.”  My goal was to explain what a venture capitalist does, lay out the criteria we use to make investments (team, product, market, business model and timing), and give each student the opportunity to pitch a new business concept. I told the students that each group would pick a winning idea, and I would publish the winners here.

To my surprise, the ideas the students came up with were incredibly

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Interview with the Great Wizard of Moz, Rand Fishkin

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No one has been more supportive of StarkRavingVC.com than Rand Fishkin, the SEOmoz CEO who has more Twitter followers than the populations of the capital cities of Alaska, Maryland and Vermont (combined).  When I started blogging, Rand Fishkin wrote a post about the 14 ideas he wanted me to write about in my blog.  We decided it might be fun to hit them all in a video interview format.  It’s no Skyfall, but I think Rand does an excellent job of posing the questions that entrepreneurs really want to ask VCs. Let me know what you think.

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My Holiday Gift to You: The Funniest VC Video Ever

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We may not know each other, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give you a meaningful holiday gift.  I recently got an email from a high-ranking official in Nigeria offering to reward me with a huge amount of money if I just sent a few dollars to help someone wrongly accused get out of jail.  I then got a similar email from a Ugandan prince.  People are so giving this time of year.

So from my family to yours and without further ado, here’s Gary the Snoman!

http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/7ki

My favorite line (although there are a lot to

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Do Diligence on Us

Do Diligence on Us
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“Think of him as chewing gum. By the end of the game, I want you to know what flavor he is.” – Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman), Hoosiers

Entrepreneurs don’t do enough diligence on their investors.

As venture investors, we do a lot of diligence on you. We call references, both on and off your reference sheet. In our partnership discussion, we talk about your strengths and weaknesses, your character, your ability to grow the business, your idiosyncrasies, whether you will want to sell too early, your willingness to take feedback, and everything else under the sun. We are making a bet on you just

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If You Want to Lead People, Stop Whining

If You Want to Lead People, Stop Whining
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George Marshall was a truly great American leader.  Credited by Winston Churchill as the “organizer of victory” for his leadership of the U.S. Army during World War II, he also was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for spearheading the Marshall Plan as Secretary of State.  Marshall also owns my favorite quote about leadership.

“Gentlemen, enlisted men may be entitled to morale problems, but officers are not.  I expect all officers in this department to take care of their own morale.  No one is taking care of my morale.”

This quote has been interpreted historically

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The Best VC Pitch Ever

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In the past 15 years at Madrona, I have heard in excess of 7,500 pitches.  Some of them were great, some not so good, but not one compares to the pitch below.

In honor of TechStars Demo Day tomorrow in Seattle, I present to you . . . the Ice Cream Glove.

 

Time Kills All Deals

Time Kills All Deals
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On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. –Narrator, Fight Club

No matter how compelling your product or service is, no matter how great the terms you are proposing, no matter how appealing you are as a promoter or sales person,  given enough time, your deal will fall apart.

It won’t be your fault. In the last two quarters, I have heard the following from CEOs at various software startups.

“Our deal champion left the company.” “The budget shrank, so we’re off the table now.” “The buyer missed its numbers. Everything’s on hold.” “That company fell off the list because it … Continue reading

Most Underrated Movie Speech Ever

Most Underrated Movie Speech Ever
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The four-minute speech below by Al Pacino’s character, head football coach Tony D’Amato, in Any Given Sunday is one of the more inspirational movie clips ever.  I particularly like the part about teamwork.  Below is the text from my favorite section.

Now, I can’t make you do it. You gotta look at the guy next to you.  Look into his eyes.  Now, I think you are going to see a guy who will go that inch with you.  You are going to see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows, when it comes down to it, you are gonna do the

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Raise More by Asking for Less

Raise More by Asking for Less
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“I want to ask you a question… straight out, flat out… and I want you to give me an honest answer. What do you think the chances of a guy like you and a girl like me… ending up together?” “Well, that’s pretty difficult to say.” “Hit me with it! I’ve come a long way to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?” “Not good.” “You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?” “I’d say more like one out of a million.” “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.” - Lloyd and Mary

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