July 7, 2016

5 “Knows” for the Brandery Class of 2016

Congratulations to the Brandery Class of 2016! #startupcincy welcomes you with open arms. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of you, and most importantly my mentor assignment, Datazar. We look forward to spending more time together over the coming months. Before I get to the recommendations, I should also congratulate the Brandery founders Dave Knox, J.B. Kropp and Rob McDonald, as well as Tony Alexander, the Executive Director.

June 23, 2016

Twilio IPO and the Year of Communications?

Last night Twilio (TWLO) successfully priced its IPO above the expected range. It has raised the question about whether the IPO window is now open for VC-backed tech companies. My answer:

June 20, 2016

Ride or Die

Cleveland fans will “ride or die” supporting the Cavs, says Lebron James in his post game interview. He’s got that right!

June 11, 2016

Navigating Your Startup in a VUCA World

Building a fast-growth startup requires a number of important leadership skills. Particularly since the environment we operate in is extremely complex and fast-paced. First-time founder-CEOs may find themselves learning on the job, which can be extremely difficult. VUCA is a concept developed in the military in the last 20 years that provides direct parallels to the startup world. VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. I learned about VUCA and several other important concepts this week at West Point Military Academy.

May 13, 2016

Baby You Can Drive My Car

Yesterday Jim Scheinman and Sara Thomas of Maven Ventures were visiting us in #startupcincy. You may have seen the great news that one of the portfolio companies, Cruise, was just acquired by GM for over $1 billion. It actually closed yesterday while they were in town. We learned great insights about how the company and investors thought about the coming self-driving car revolution. And then I also see Fred Wilson’s post today on the subject.

May 10, 2016

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em

There are a few good nuggets of wisdom in those Kenny Rogers lyrics. There are also some good lessons from Kenny Rogers the CEO, including how to hold on to great people. This weekend I was in Nashville visiting my cousin Mike Zimmerman, the drummer for Kenny Rogers. Mike joined four years ago to replace Kenny’s retiring drummer of 30 years. Kenny has kept his road team together for decades.

May 5, 2016

Investors with the Right Stuff

Have you done your research to know which investors have the right stuff for your company? Here’s a fresh example of the importance of doing your research and not thinking all money is equal. Last week, Boeing announced that General Nano (now “Veelo”) was one of 12 honored with a Supplier of the Year award. That’s 12 out of 13,000 suppliers! Congratulations to Joe Sprengard and his team. This is yet another great example of the innovation taking place here in #startupcincy.

May 3, 2016

Start with the E.N.D. in Mind

Have you been 100% clear and honest with yourself and partners about your expectations for your new startup? Do you know exactly what it will take to achieve those expectations? Based on my anecdotal experiences I’ve found that many founders could do a better job defining their expectations in qualitative AND quantitative terms, and then ask a lot of questions to develop a reality-based view of what is required to get there.

April 22, 2016

Cracking into the Top 5 Fastest Growing Startup Cities

What factors determine the success rate of a population of venture-backed startups? And how is success measured? We can learn something by looking at the Top 5 fastest growing cities whose startups are collectively raising at least $200M.

April 18, 2016

If Data is the Answer, What is the Question?

How does bigger Big Data correspond to better products or services? Armed with the latest analytics tools, will data scientists now have all the answers? And who are data scientists anyhow?