How To Invest in Startups

This is Mr. Cranky's Official Guide on How To Invest in Startups. Now a better topic than How To Invest in Startups would be Why The Hell Would You Want to Invest In Startups but that's another article. Also, a warning. These are my opinions, based on experience as a limited partner in Venture Fund and an Angel Investor. Do not make investment decisions based on this article! Got that? It's just observations of the various choices and the relative benefits and pitfalls of multiple investment methodologies. No primer on how to invest in startups would be complete without a primer on the state of Venture Capital. Venture Capital Investment today is divided into the Haves and the Have Nots: The Haves (THs) - a group of venture funds who raise money from top financial institutions and endowment funds. The THs don't have to actively go out and raise money, there's a long line of Limited Partners ready to invest well over $1 million dollars in the fund to get access to the "best deals." If you're reading this to learn something, you can't invest in any of THs. THs get access to the best deals and in order to limit competition...

Important Factors in Startup Success – Guest Infographic

This post is a guest infographic courtesy of Salesforce.com. Outlining the most important factors that drive sales growth.  Those factors? 14% - Funding (The fund to mount an effective sales campaign) 24% - Business Model (Your sales ecosystem including strategic partners, lead gen system, sales methodology) 28% - Ideas (Creatively thinking of new ways to attract clients) 33% - Team (The right people in the right seats) 42% - Timing (Selling horse whips in 1915? Bad timing) Click To Enlarge Via Salesforce...

Bobby Ocampo and Blueprint Equity

When I wrote the post, Angel And Venture Capital Are Broken – Part II, I highlighted two innovative variations of traditional Venture Capital, Proof Fund and Private Access Network. Then a few months later, I sat down with Bobby Ocampo of Blueprint Equity. Bobby introduced me to yet a third variation, that of his new fund Blueprint Equity. If you're from DC and you live in a hefty bag (basically that means those of you who get your DC Startup news from the Technically.DC and DCinno, the startup equivalents to getting your world news from Fox News), you probably don't know Bobby Ocampo. So let me catch you up on stuff that doesn't come from some inane, Jonathon-Perrelli-esque, self-promotional, press release. Bobby did 3 years at a Venture Capital firm, Grotech, followed by five years at Revolution. You all know Revolution right? Because even Technically DC and DCInno can spell Steve Case and Revolution Ventures. According to SEC Filings, Blueprint Equity raised $54 million dollars of a $75 million dollar fund. What makes Blueprint Different than other funds located in C besides the fact that Bobby just picked up and moved to San Diego? Got that, Mr. Ocampo left town and opened up shop in San Diego....

Dingman Angels 2019 Season

I use to be a Dingman Angel. What's that?  The Dingman Angels is a group of Angel Investors hosted by the University of Maryland, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.  I was a Dingman Angel from 2008 until I stopped making angel investments in 2013 (and don't ask me because I'm not going to start again now). I was fortunate enough to attend the February 2019 meeting of the group and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the presenting companies. The University's Stan Smith, Venture Investment Manager, recently took the helm of the group and under his leadership, the group is attracting great startups looking to raise capital. Stan Smith is a unique guy to be working in Academia...

Trustify – The Fat Lady Sings

It ain't over until the fat lady sings. In the case of Trustify, the fat lady sings. She's singing loud and clear. With the Danny Boice, Jen Mellon nuptials (look it up in the dictionary, pretend Harvard boy Boice) in shambles, the company being sued by a long line of creditors so long that many people are asking the courts to start a Disney World Fastpass-like service. As I reported earlier in the week, Boice is contacting anyone with an email address and asking if they want to buy $1 million of his personal worthless shares in a worthless company for $1.50 per share. Basically he's asking, "who wants to buy -$5.00 shares for $1.50. Nobody...

LifeFuels is a Punchline to a Joke.

LifeFuels is entering its 5th year as a company. Actually, LifeFuels is not a company, it's a punchline to a joke. What do you call a company that has been in business for 5 years and has no product, no sales, no nothing of any value except for press releases? Lifefuels is not a company, LifeFuels is a punchline to a joke. On April Fools Day, 2014, Life Fool Jonathon Perrelli founded LifeFuels...

An Idea is not a Company

An idea is not a company. It does not matter if it's a bad idea, like a $200 battery operated Jonathon Perrelli (JP) designed water bottle and connected phone app that feeds fuel pods to humans (in other words a glorified liquid PEZ dispenser). A bad idea is not a company just as a great idea like sliced bread is not a company. There are several requirements to qualify as a legitimate company and those requirements include engaged constituents, team members, customers, industry partners. and a product. Sorry JP, but an idea is not a product and LifeFuels is simply a bad idea with no product, no customers and no sales is neither a product nor company. The other day, I was approached by young ideator (having an idea does not make you an entrepreneur), in search of the answer to the question, how to turn his idea into a company. He began his presentation by citing all the societal and health benefits of his product. They were easy to understand and yes, it could improve health outcomes. I got his point in two minutes. It was a good idea. Unfortunately for him, an Idea is not a company. Now even though I kept assuring the...

Marcus Bullock – Flikshop

In 1996 15-year-old Marcus Bullock, founder of Flikshop, stood in front of a judge. Tried as an adult Marcus was sentenced and served 8 years in an adult maximum security prison for felony auto theft. For the next 8 years, in the heat of summer, this young man would go out to the prison yard, dressed in a winter coat, stuffed with magazines...