Archive for February 9th, 2006

Blogs, Podcasts, Why Should Entrepreneurs & CEOs Care?

If you’re a CEO of a start-up company looking for venture capital, wouldn’t it be cool to introduce yourself to a general partner of your dream VC firm by saying, “I really liked the point you made on your blog last week when you said….”
Unless you have all the introductions you need to the venture capital general partners on your wish list…read on.
I’d heard of blogging months ago. I had even recommended to clients that they consider creating a blog to communicate to a special niche they were trying to reach. However, I hadn’t experienced using one until last October. I thought it would take too much time, and I was only thinking following versus authoring. When I finally jumped in, I found out how wrong I was.
There are a couple of key elements that are the basis of my being wrong. First is the concept of Really Simple Syndication (RSS). RSS is used to follow blogs.
Now most of us in technology for 20+ years have run into technologies that claim they’re “easy to use” only to find out you need a PHD and 10 years of programming experience.
Really Simple Syndication is just that! To follow blogs all you need to do is:

  • Download a reader (like Feed Demon, NewsGator…)
  •  Find the blog sites you want to follow
  • If the site has RSS feeds, the reader asks if you want to subscribe
  • If you say yes, the site is added to your personal list
  • Bonus: based on your preferences, the reader goes out to the sites you have chosen and tells you what’s new.

How much simpler can that be?
I’ll use my experience as an example. When I finally decided to try this out, I researched readers. I decided to try “FeedDemon”. Lots of writers extolled its benefits. And best of all, they offer a 30-day free trial. (After the trial, it costs $30.)
I downloaded and installed it.  No problem. The download includes a number of sites so you have some sites to look at. One area I wanted to follow was Venture Capital (if you are not looking to raise venture, then pick another issue you want to find about and search around). I now had to find some cool VC web sites (blogs).
I started FeedDemon. It has a user interface with three columns:

    1. Left column is a list of blogs (Internet sites) you follow
    2. Center column is specific entries (a.k.a., “postings”) within a blog,
    3. Right column is a web browser (in my case Internet Explorer with a Google search window included.)

Remembering hearing Steve Jurvetson, of Draper, Fisher, Jurvetson, speak, I thought that he might be a blogger. I googled his name and found one site—The J Curve. I entered the URL into FeedDemon, which took me to www.TheJCurve.com a number of things happened:

  •  FeedDemon identified that there was an RSS feed and did I want to “Subscribe” to it?
  • I did and found that Jurvetson had listed the feeds he followed (Currently it is a link to his photographs).

So, I created a VC Blogs folder and then, with four mouse clicks, The J Curve was included in my reader.

After clicking on new site he recommended, FeedDemon found an RSS feed and asked if I want to include it. I found that many of the authors list the sites that they follow. In a short time, I had a list of 30+ sites that were authored by VCs or followed closely by them.
My next surprise came when I did a little investigation into who these bloggers are and what their role is at their firm. Again, relatively easy.  Most sites have an “About” section that at least identifies the author.
Sometimes they talk about their role, but, if not, a quick Google search, tells you all you want to know. A significant number of these bloggers are Managing Partners, Managing Directors or key General Partners in the firm. More importantly, they are more than casual bloggers and provide almost daily updates.
Now, and this is the key point of this post for start-up entrepreneurs and CEOs: you can find out…

  • What the big guys are talking about
  • What they want to hear
  • How they want to hear it, and other important things on a daily basis and from the top players in the industry.

   
Most of you would kill for some personal advice on what you should do, how you should present, what’s important to your target VC, and what turns VCs off. Well here it is! You don’t need an appointment, or an introduction and you can read it when you have the time!
Now, obviously, this is not the same as pitching, but, you should understand that you probably have a better chance of getting into Harvard University than getting VC funding. If you wanted to get into Harvard, how much prep work would you do? Well, here is one place where can do some extra prep and maybe get some attention the next time you pitch.
Here are some examples:

  • Allen Morgan, a general partner at Mayfield, posted a series on the 10 Commandments for Entrepreneurs, his ideas of the 10 most important “procedural” things to keep in mind when you approach a VC.
  • Guy Kawasaki, Founder of Garage Technology Ventures, talks about his metric of 10/20/30 or no more than 10 Slides, presented in 20 minutes and no less than 30 point type.
  • Brad Feld, Managing Director at Mobius Venture Capital, has been blogging on an important topic, IRS 409A, which any company that uses or intends to use Restricted Stock Options (RSO) in their business, should thoroughly understand and ensure they comply with.

The bottom line is if you are not already following the blogs, you are providing others, going for that same pool of venture cash, a competitive edge. Now why would you want to do that?
Over the next few days, I’m going to talk about Podcasts and then moving from a reader and listener of blogs and Podcasts, to a writer and creator.
In the meantime, I am interested in hearing from you about your experiences or questions about blogs and what other things you’d like to hear about. If you have some Buzz I should know about, you can let me know at mailto:jim@socalbuzz.com.
Note: After writing this entry, I realized it is pretty long. For those who value brevity, I apologize and will attempt to be briefer in the future

 


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