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Media & Mobile Shine at LAUNCH Silicon Valley Event June 7, 2012

Posted by Bipul Sinha in mobile.
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Earlier this week I had the opportunity to help judge a session on Media & Mobility at the LAUNCH Silicon Valley Conference in Mountain View. Five companies presented:

  • AppSmyth which provides a mobile loyalty platform for retailers and brands
  • KlickEx, a currency exchange service that helps consumers in markets around the world avoid paying banking fees
  • Moodstocks provides an API and SDKs that brands can use to build image recognition into your apps
  • Notous develops application software for NFC (near field communication and RFID software and hardware integration services.
  • Wiz Communications which describes itself as a “disruptive cloud-based over the top push mobile messaging exchange”

It was an impressive group and while each company had a unique offering, there was one a common theme that many shared:  enabling brands to reach their customers on mobile.

Where we are today in mobile reminds me a lot of the early days of social media when many big brands were struggling to figure it out.   A number of interesting start-ups emerged that helped companies not only understand how to better engage with customers, but also how to mine the information they were getting from them to build better products and experiences.

Fast forward to today and brands are now challenged with how to reach and engage with their customers now that they are spending more and more time on their mobile devices.  It’s an exciting time and space and I look forward to see which players emerge as the leaders.

Until then, congratulations to KlickEx for being named one of the day’s companies “Most Likely to Succeed” and to all of the companies for a job well done.

Do Aspergers, ADD and dyslexia make you more likely to be an entrepreneur? June 3, 2012

Posted by jeremyliew in founders, startups.
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The Economist in it’s latest edition suggests that business needs people with Asperger’s syndrome, attention-deficit disorder and dyslexia:

 Julie Login of Cass Business School surveyed a group of entrepreneurs and found that 35% of them said that they suffered from dyslexia, compared with 10% of the population as a whole and 1% of professional managers. Prominent dyslexics include the founders of Ford, General Electric, IBM and IKEA, not to mention more recent successes such as Charles Schwab (the founder of a stockbroker), Richard Branson (the Virgin Group), John Chambers (Cisco) and Steve Jobs (Apple).

It also gives some data on ADD among entrepreneurs, and more anecdotal info on Aspergers among entrepreneurs, which I think would be the least controversial claim in the tech world. Which founders do you know that have Aspergers, ADD or dyslexia?

Direct Selling; Is it the Next Driver Of Startup Commerce Companies? April 14, 2012

Posted by jeremyliew in Uncategorized.
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I just wrote a guest post on TechCrunch asking. “Is Direct Selling The Next Driver Of Startup Commerce Companies?” We’re seeing lots of exciting startups using this old channel to drive very fast growth.

Financial services disruption sneaks up from below. March 19, 2012

Posted by jeremyliew in Uncategorized.
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A couple of weeks ago I did a guest post on PandoDaily about how big data + machine learning is creating new opportunities in lending. What’s interesting is that most of the disruption is starting in the bottom end of the market; unbanked and underbanked lending and payments. That is not an accident. I did another guest post today at PandoDaily explaining why disruption in financial services comes from below.

What is the right age to found a company? February 29, 2012

Posted by jeremyliew in founders, startups.
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I read a story in this weeks economist that surprised me. It claimed that founding new businesses is not just a young persons game, but rather that the average age of a founder of a tech startup was 39.

Research suggests that age may in fact be an advantage for entrepreneurs. Vivek Wadhwa of Singularity University in California studied more than 500 American high-tech and engineering companies with more than $1m in sales. He discovered that the average age of the founders of successful American technology businesses (ie, ones with real revenues) is 39. There were twice as many successful founders over 50 as under 25, and twice as many over 60 as under 20. Dane Stangler of the Kauffman Foundation studied American firms founded in 1996-2007. He found the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity among people aged between 55 and 64—and the lowest rate among the Google generation of 20- to 34-year-olds. The Kauffman Foundation’s most recent study of start-ups discovered that people aged 55 to 64 accounted for nearly 23% of new entrepreneurs in 2010, compared with under 15% in 1996.

There is definitely an availability bias (dominated by people like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates) that leads us to think that tech startup founders drop out of college to start their companies. But I did a quick and informal poll with my partners and found results consistent with Wadhwa’s findings. Roughly 50% of the founders of our current portfolio were in their 30s when they founded their companies, with roughly equal numbers in their 20s to their 40s:


I went one level deeper, and compared the ages of the founders of internet companies to those of infrastructure companies:



Here we start to see a difference – although half of founders in both categories are in their 30s, the remainder tend to skew to their 20s for internet companies and to their 40s for infrastructure companies.

This squares with my intuition more- what do you think?