Last week, Scott Kirsner organized a dinner over at Microsoft in Cambridge.
It was a nice get together with a number of old and new friends. Everyone at the table is focused on improving the local tech scene in their own passionate way. We all shared our respective efforts. It was wonderful to hear what everyone was working on.
Bill Warner is an inspiration. He is doing more than his part by being a successful entrepreneur, tireless leader, angel investor, conference organizer, industry ninja and the heart of TechStars Boston. I feel like a lazy slog every time I see Bill.
Jeff Bussgang is driving a number of things including Stay in MA. David Beisel started and runs WebInno. Kate Imbach runs MobileMonday. Nabeel and I got OpenCoffee Cambridge going. I’m trying to get rid of non-compete agreements in this state. Shawn Broderick, Tim Rowe & everyone else at the dinner is pushing their own efforts in a super positive direction. And the collective impact is tremendous. Things are happening in this town.
On Friday, Scott wrote up his thoughts from the dinner in Boston Globe. I made a comment over the dinner that Scott shared in his article:
“Bijan Sabet of Spark Capital said that one way to invigorate the start-up ecosystem here, and perhaps even create big companies in emerging industries, is to go into "crazy mode,” funding all kinds of ideas – some of which may seem nutty or insignificant. Some may just need $10,000 to get going, not $10 million.“
I’d like to explain that one a bit.
Over dinner someone made a comment in response to seed incubator programs like YC and TechStars and stated we were funding "feature companies” and we need provide “tough love” instead of being a cheerleader for these startups.
And that’s when I blurted out my “crazy mode” line. Because I couldn’t disagree more with that sentiment actually.
I want to see local VCs and angels fund more YC and TechStars startups – not less.
Many early/seed stage web startups begin life focused on solving one simple thing and in a capital efficient manner. In reality they have no choice. Yet, if they can nail it, they can start building tremendous value. And their capital efficiency is a gift to everyone. We should do more of this not less.
Pefect example: Dropbox was a YC seed funded company. I think most missed Dropbox because in the early early days of the company it probably was considered a feature or something Google/Microsoft/Apple/xyz big company could do overnight. Plus there were a number of competitors in the market.
The idea might be conceptually simple but they nailed the user experience which is everything and definitely not simple. The technology just works. Dropbox may have started life with a small seed but they have become an amazing company and have built a killer product with a solid business model.
Many successful consumer web startups began as capital efficient startups focused on nailing one thing. Consider Facebook, Twitter, digg, linkedin, craigslist, flickr….I could go on. Imagine what they looked like on day 1. In the early days they might look like features or even toys.
With all of that in my head, I instinctively threw out my “crazy mode” comment.
If I could take it back, I would.
Because I dont’ believe funding these companies is crazy.
It’s the future.