Tag Archives for Y Combinator

Booming or Busting?

A view of downtown San Jose, the self-proclaim...Image via Wikipedia

Very strange reading the papers in the UK and hearing news from the USA about budget cuts and contrasting it with the talk by Paul Graham at the Y Combinator Startup School 2010.

Graham’s talk is all about lots of clever money seeing the quick returns on startups in Silicon Valley and wanting some of the action.  The angels are forming Super Angel groups and the VCs are prepared to invest smaller amounts for first rounds of £300k.  The valuations are going up and up so it is a good time to raise funds providing, as always, you make great progress and can justify a higher valuation at the next round.  Lack of progress can lead to a lower valuation and a dreaded downround or no round.

Ignore the gloom about budgets and get out and start a great company.  But whatever funds you are offered, use a great business plan resource and keep exceeding the targets.  Graham pointed out the recent effect of small startups funded by angels being bought up early giving returns of 10x to angels in one year.  As returns have to be related to time, these 10x returns in one year are way ahead of the returns angels received in even Google where they had to wait five years.

Are you Booming or Busting?

But take great care as ever!

PS Do listen to Ron Conway et al talking at Startup School.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Teams from the start

Watching Ron Conway, top Silicon Valley angel and super-angel, on my iPhone speaking at a Y Combinator event for start-ups was amazing.  Could not have done it a couple of years ago.  Sadly the streaming rate to the iPhone means that the picture and voice is not perfect but am sure it will be next year.

Of the part I was able to watch, Conway was saying that he sold his last start-up of which he was CEO in the mid nineties and made the decision to invest in Silicon Valley companies starting up in the Internet space.  He invested in Google, need more be said and has recently started investing in New York.  In answer to a question about sole entrepreneurs, he said that great companies are built by great teams so you might as well have a team at the start or at least the nucleus of a team.  Then you can use a business plan resource to work out the value the team has to create to make it worthwhile for a team.

You can still do it the Imsense way with a very small team but a number of investors, angels and VCs, but perhaps it will be harder to create real value.  Not sure that Ron Conway would be satisfied with 2x return.

So teams it is from the start!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Will Rapportive change the Cambridge Cluster?

Image representing Rapportive as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase

Great news that Rahul Vohra and his third venture, Rapportive, has gone viral with over 100,000 downloads.  Click here for the full story on Rapportive.  Briefly Rahul opted out of his PhD, helped start www.mo.jo, joined the start-ups at Redgate Software and toyed with a game based on a book and then came Rapportive.  Rahul left Cambridge to join Y Combinator and tap into the Silicon Valley scene.

Y Combinator invests an average of $17,000 in each start up – now over 280 companies – for around 10% of the equity.  Then Rapportive raised some $1 million from Silicon Valley angels.  I asked Rahul if he had given any of his early backers in Cambridge, UK, a chance to invest and he replied on Facebook “Rahul Vohra Philip: yup, there are investors from Cambridge. Neil Davidson, John Taysom, and one other who prefers to remain anonymous :)”.

Redgate appears to have a policy to go for growth and show that you can build a major technology company without offering equity to employees except a tightly controlled scheme.  If founder Neil Davidson sees Rahul grow fast, will this change his view?  Particularly if he sees them then grow new companies with their “winnings”.  As Redgate plays a major part in the Cambridge Cluster, including providing the chair of Cambridge Network, this could have a major impact on the Cambridge Cluster.

Silicon Valley keeps ringing the changes.  First companies were sold that made a profit, then the social network companies were sold which made no profits but had millions of users and now people are buying teams of geeks.  An example is Motorola buying 280 North for the geek team.  Up 280 is another success from the Y Combinator stable.  Up 280 raised less than Rapportive with a reported $250,000 in a 2008 angel round.  Interesting to try to guess at the final equity ownership.  The Equity Fingerprint was: two founders, then Y Combinator, an angel round and hopefully options for the team.

Guesstimates:

Round 1: Start -up:

Two founders – 50% each;

Round 2: Y Combinator arrives:

Two founders – 45% each, Y Combinator 10%

Rounds 3: Angels invest $250,000 and say 10% option pool:

Round 4: Two founders –  22.5% each, Y Combinator 5%, angels 40% and 10% option pool.

Guess that Y Combinator and angels would be paid out on completion with the founders and option pool vesting over a couple of years.  But a great deal for the geeks.  Congratulations.  Not as good as Xensource in Cambridge, UK, but not bad!

The world keeps spinning; will Rapportive make the Cambridge Cluster spin faster?  Will Rahul return to Cambridge with his winnings and tell us all about his business plan resource, become an angel and a serial entrepreneur?  How long will we have to wait?  The clock is ticking……..

Enhanced by Zemanta