On Monday January 27, three seasoned entrepreneur rock stars manned the panel chairs at an SVForum event at IBM in Foster City, Calif., giving several dozen early stage start-up founders advice on the dos and don’ts of successfully getting their tech businesses off the ground.
The event “The New Venture in 2014 – Choosing the Right Idea, Building the Team, and Getting the Venture Started” was moderated by John Lee, vice president, Silicon Valley Bank.
The software-savvy panel included Spreecast CEO and founder of StubHub Jeff Fluhr, Couchbase CEO Bob Wiederhold who was at the helm of Transitive when it was sold to IBM, and Ullas Naik, founder of Streamlined Ventures. Naik is a seed stage angel investor whose various firms have backed 200 technology start-ups. Fifty are currently active investments.
The three generally agreed that Silicon Valley is the best place to start a technology company because it’s so entrepreneur-friendly.
“The technology ecosystem is robust in the Silicon Valley. Your management team should be based here. The way to think about it is if you want to make movies, you move to Los Angeles, not St. Louis,” said Naik.
They also said to choose a co-founder whom you know well and that a company’s strategic advisors should receive some sort of equity in order to be truly useful and not just a bunch of impressive names and photos on the website.
The panelists had strong opinions on recruiting co-founders. Fluhr said that he founded StubHub with a former Stanford B-school classmate. He added, “It is best if you have known someone a long time, so choose a friend you have worked with before or know from school.”
Naik said, “I typically don’t invest in companies that have related co-founders, for example brothers or husband and wife. I also don’t like to invest in solo founders. There is too much to do. Co-founders who have just met three months ago are also red flag.”
He admitted that there are exceptions to the rule, for example, Cisco was founded by a husband and wife team.
An audience member asked the panelists to comment on the next big thing in technology.
Jeff Fluhr said Bitcoin, the alternative form of currency was intriguing.
Database company CEO Bob Wiederhold said Big Data and the Internet of Things are important in his market and driving a lot of investments.
Ullas Naik added that data and what people are doing with it as well as wearables are the next big things in technology. Naik also said, “I believe that an alternative form of currency will be big, but not Bitcoin.”
If you are interested in getting more hot tips from top technology company founders and investors, SVForum invites you to attend the APPs to Platforms event in in San Jose, Calif., on Feb. 20. Register at svforum.org. The all-day event is priced at under $200.
Follow SVForum on Twitter @SVForum.
Michelle McIntyre is a tech PR consultant with 10 awards for outstanding results at top PR agencies and Fortune 500 companies. She’s a director with Silicon Valley International Association of Business Communicators and on the executive team at TEDxSanJoseCa. She’s @FromMichelle on Twitter
Photo 1: Jeff Fluhr
Photo 2: Bob Wiederhold