Archive - 2015

1
A Post on Post-its, Cheap Art, Lasers and History
2
A Note on Notes: Hidden Costs of Convertible Notes
3
The Pitch
4
Venture Evolved on WBEZ: The Chicago Venture Market
5
How to Lose Credibility in your VC Pitch
6
Do Not Take this Software Era for Granted (Pt. 3)
7
Do Not Take This Software Era for Granted (Pt.2)

A Post on Post-its, Cheap Art, Lasers and History

I am not much of a student of history. I do, however, believe it’s important to honor the previous generations for the contributions and sacrifices that give rise to the current generation. I’ve always liked Newton’s quote: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

The history of Origin Ventures is rooted in the success of the Quill office products company. It was started by two brothers who built it for 47 years before it was acquired by Staples. The success of Quill made Origin Ventures possible.

When we moved into our new Origin offices in January, we had a lot of wall space to fill. In addition to not being a student of history, I am also not a student of art (perhaps there is a correlation). Lacking instincts in selecting art, combined with the high cost of art, is not a good combination. As a result, I thought there might be a way to make our own art that was cheap. Furthermore, I felt it would be meaningful to use art in a way to tie Quill to Origin somehow.

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A Note on Notes: Hidden Costs of Convertible Notes

It’s been really exciting to watch the explosion of startup activity the last three years. This expansion has been characterized by technology infrastructure shifting from fixed cost to variable, proliferation of seed funds and accelerator programs, exit markets opening and other factors.

A byproduct of this increase in seed investment activity is the wide use of convertible notes. I am all for structural innovation, but I believe that the use of convertible notes has drifted away from the original purpose, and this shift is a bad thing for founder and investor alike.

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The Pitch

Yesterday, I had the chance to participate on a podcast called The Pitch. It was started by a serial entrepreneur and angel investor Sheel Mohnot that I know from my investment in FeeFighters. The podcast features entrepreneurs pitching their seed companies and investors reacting to the investment. Yesterday was only the second episode, and the podcast is number 8 in iTunes in the investment category. Tune in!

Pitch 2: Flair – w/Nick Moran, Jason Heltzer & Charlie O’Donnell

UPDATE: The Pitch won Product Hunt that day, and rocketed to the #1 business podcast, woohoo. It has since come down, but a week later is at #13, ahead of HBR, Motley Fool, GaryVee, Mad Money and many others…DESPITE me being on the podcast. Way to go Sheel!

 

Venture Evolved on WBEZ: The Chicago Venture Market

I was recently interviewed by Niala Boodhoo on the Tech Shift, a radio segment of the Afternoon Shift program produced by Chicago’s NPR station, WBEZ. It was a lot of fun to meet Niala and Melba Lara in person after hearing their voices for so many years.

We discussed the state of venture capital in Chicago and Illinois among other topics. You can listen here.

How to Lose Credibility in your VC Pitch

I estimate that I’ve sat through 4,000 startup pitches over the years.

The truth about VC investing is that it is as much about selection as it is about elimination. A huge percentage of a VC’s time is with companies that do not turn into investments. So how do you become more efficient? By eliminating deals faster and spending more time filling the funnel and with companies that turn into deals.

So it will not come as a surprise that many VCs during a pitch look for reasons to kill a deal, whether consciously or not. As an entrepreneur, if your deal is going to get turned down, you want it to be on the merits of your company. Yeah, it might sting a little that your market is too small, but you have to respect an investor if they are forthright and turn you down for a legit business reason.

What you want to avoid, however, is being turned down because you lack credibility if indeed you do have credibility. So I thought it might be helpful to compose a list of great ways to lose credibility and to screw up your VC pitch in an effort to help you avoid such a fate:

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Do Not Take this Software Era for Granted (Pt. 3)

This is the third (and last) post in a series. Consider reading the first and second posts.

Before there was the Internet, there were bulletin board systems (BBSes). Like the Internet, the BBS world had an underbelly. There was a hierarchy of people in the dark corners, a social order that I found fascinating. Up until now, we’ve been talking about the small time software pirates (users) and system operators (distributors). In this post, we ascend up the hierarchy, examining  the following roles in the ecosystem which were really sketchy, but critical to the functioning of the software piracy underground.

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Do Not Take This Software Era for Granted (Pt.2)

This is part two of a series. Read the first post here.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a predecessor to the Internet called bulletin board systems (BBSes). Enthusiasts used modems to call other computers that hosted BBSes. Those that knew how to navigate it and who were willing to break the law could download practically any piece of software for free. Here’s how it worked.

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Copyright © 2014 Jason Heltzer