Day 7-13. New York. July 8 – 14.
My initial idea was to do a short post about each interview I’ve done so far but instead of doing it I will integrate all them in a single post so this way will be easier for me to catch up. My goal is to report each day about that day’s activity. I think that is the most interesting thing to do when you are doing a blog about your trip, don’t you think?
What follows is the rest of interviews I’ve done in NYC besides Amol Sarva and Liva Judic:
I had the chance to meet with John Borthwick, founder and CEO of betaworks. I think that John right now is one of the persons more active and with more impact in the New York entrepreneurial scene. His concept of how to create an ecosystem is very interesting, as his own project betaworks is. It is not easy to explain what are they doing there, but I will sum it up to: they invest in startups, they build projects and they buy companies.
Prior to betaworks John was Senior Vice President of Alliances and Technology Strategy for Time Warner Inc. John’s company, WP-Studio, founded in 1994, was one of the first content studios in New York’s Silicon Alley.
A little bit more about betaworks: it started out in 2007 as a Twitter-focused incubator of sorts, having both invested in Twitter and sold one of its inventions, Tweetdeck, to the company. It was also known as an investor, making early bets in winners like OMGPop, GroupMe, Venmo and Tumblr (the sale of which produced a nice “single digit millions” return on a $50,000 seed investment). Lately they bought Instapaper and Digg (the last one for just $500.000). The most amazing thing is that they have been able to make Digg cool again. Some other companies they have in their portfolio are: Chartbeat, bitly, dots, Giphy or bloglovin among others.
Iñaki Berenguer is a spanish entrepreneur who in 2009 started his own company, Pixable, from his apartment in New York. Three years later Singtel acquired his company for $26,5 million. Despite I have seen Iñaki in several talks before, this was the first time I talked with him and what I noticed was that he is a really smart guy and a humble person.
During the conversation, Iñaki explains why he decided to start a company, how he detected the opportunity, how they approach the business model, when to perserve or when to abandon or what are the main changes after being acquired.
I know Will Peng for almost 2 years now. The first time I met him was in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress, and from the first sight I knew he was related to design based on the way he dressed. And a some minutes later I knew my intuition was not wrong since he had studied design and he had been working as product designer for Hot Potato and Drop.io, both acquired by facebook. But this was just one side of Will. The other one is as an investor. Right now he is General Partner at Red Swan Ventures, a VC firm based in New York focussed on early stage investments. Talking with Will for me is always inspiring. This time I asked him about how to design a product and the importance of the design nowadays, importance of having metrics to get investment, important factors he checks before doing an investment, the best and the worst of being an investor, and some advices for entrepreneurs.
On my old Google Reader I was subscribed to several feeds. One of those feeds was from Dave Lerner. Dave is the Director of Entrepreneurship at Columbia University in New York. Dave is also the founder and host of Venture Studio where he interviews the entrepreneurs, investors, writers & personalities that comprise New York City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and beyond in one-on-one interviews & discussions. Dave is 3x Entrepreneur and also Angel Investor besides Professor of Entrepreneurship. He is the creator of the Startup Genome, an open-project that wants to map out all the entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world. My talk with Dave was a little bit more focused on the academic side of the entrepreneurship, and my first question was about if it is possible to teach entrepreneurship or it is maybe more a genetic thing. How is the entrepreneurial DNA? What every student entrepreneur needs to know? (based on a series of Dave’s post with the same topic) and finally common mistakes that early entrepreneurs do.
Thanks to Diego Saez-Gil, from WeHostels, I was introduced to Frank Denbow. His background is in Computer Science and he is a very active entrepreneur in New York. Besides his own project StartupThreads, Frank is the NYC curator for Startup Digest and Startup Weekend, so he is one of the most well informed about what is happening on the entrepreneurial scene in the Big Apple My conversation with Frank was mainly about events and networking. So I asked him what was his opinion about the right balance with creating a product and going to networking events.
Last but not least I met with Christian Geissendoerfer. Christian is a german entrepreneur who now is based in Singapore. After 4 years of hard work and bootstrapping his startup: Yoose, the hyper-local mobile ad network, now is starting to generate a sweet revenue stream. My questions for Christian were about bootstraping vs VC backed, main motivations to leave the comfort of working for a big corporation to start his own venture, when to pivot your product, skills every entrepreneurs should have or his advices about selling the product to others (clients and also to your team).