These last few weeks have been crazy and fun with work. As a young kid I always dreamed of the day that I would be on TV, and 20 years later those dreams finally came true. Here are the two TV segments that I did with Brazilian TV station Globo TV and the UK’s ITV for Google Glass.
Last night I attended the Techstars in NYC Workshop: Killer Startup CEO. I attended it in part because of my curiosity to see the incubators space, and because I wanted to see what type of information Matt Blumberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Return Path, had to impart on us.
To be honest a lot of the conversation was the same type of stuff that you hear at any of these fireside chats: Make sure you have a good team, it’s hard to find good technical talent, do reviews, and blah blah blah. There were a few points that he did make though that I thought were interesting and wanted to share with you.
When building your board of investors make sure they are strategically engaged but operationally distant.
You want your board to help you as you navigate the startup landscape, but you don’t want them so involved that it hinders your effectiveness as a CEO. By being strategically engaged they can help guide you with where your business should be going and improving, but by being operationally distant it allows you to focus on building your product without feeling as though you’re being micro-managed.
A good board will consume what you put in front of it.
When presenting information to your board they’ll take in what you put in front of them. So if you give a ridiculously long in-depth analysis on your day-to-day operations they may want to be more involved with the small details, which isn’t an efficient use of their time. Now, if you present a few pages of strategic goals that you need help with they can focus on those bigger picture items.
Limit the amount of investors and management on your board.
When creating a board you want to make sure that you get a diversity of views and ideas represented through your board. If too many of your management and investors are already on your board then you’re just surrounding yourself with the same mindset. By bringing in outsiders, who are still knowledgeable and creative, you’ll be able to get opinions that your team never would have thought of. They can also provide business insight onto what’s important to outsiders such as your consumers.
Key is to know what you want to get out of your board every time you meet.
If you’re going to meet you need to make sure that you have an idea of why you’re meeting and what you want to get out of it. To meet just to mark it off in your calendar isn’t beneficial nor efficient for anyone involved.
Values and culture are less changeable than product.
Everyone likes to talk about the lean startup model and being able to pivot or adapt your business when necessary. That’s great, but it’s also important to understand that there are some things that should not change like the values and culture you want your company to be built on. By creating these long-lasting ideas from the beginning product, management, and features can change, but your company could survive though those changes.
Good VC’s and Angel investors will give you their references.
Whenever you’re looking for investors it’s important not just to find them, but to make sure they’re beneficial. A way to separate the good from the bad is often the good ones will give you their references and want you to speak with other CEO’s that they’ve worked with. This will give you an idea if the investor is truly a good fit or if they just want some of your equity without being helpful.
Those were the takeaways from last night’s event that I thought I should share. Has anyone received other interesting advice from other fireside chats that you can share?
This past Thursday was the national launch of Vets In Tech. I was able to attend their NYC Chapter launch, which was held at Union Square Ventures. As a child of a Navy veteran I really appreciate these organizations that are focused on helping them transition into this increasingly popular field.
“VetsinTech supports our current and returning veterans with re-integration services, and by connecting them to the national technology ecosystem.”
The VIP guest of the evening was Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist. He gave a great speech about how he is a nerd, but now wants to be “your nerd.” A nerd that is committed to helping out veterans.
Last Tuesday I had the amazing opportunity of being introduced to Defy Ventures. If you’ve never heard of this organization then you’re missing out on helping with an amazing mission. Defy helps formally incarcerated inmates take the skills they learned while being street entrepreneurs and harnesses those traits to help them build thriving legal businesses. These street entrepreneurs are turned into Entrepreneurs in Training (EIT) at Defy. Most of the stories that we heard were about people being put away for drug related actively stemming from hard life circumstances that most people find hard to even fathom.
The night started off with me uncomfortably entering and not knowing what to expect besides people pitching their business ideas. After getting settled the staff quickly corralled us into another room to finish getting the room set up. When we re-entered we went through a human tunnel only to be greeted with bear hugs at the end. Before the evening even got started you could feel the love and passion for the work that was being done throughout the room.
We also participated in a “Step to the Line” exercise that really helped people understand the difference (and quite a few similarities) between those that had been incarcerated and those of us who were lucky enough to be on the other side of the line.
After getting to know one another that’s when the pitching got started. What I liked was that most of the business pitches weren’t huge, difficult, and/or expensive ideas. They ranged from industrial kitchen cleaning, dog walking/board, personal training, and so forth. All of these sounded achievable, and these people just need a little more business and marketing mentoring.
I’m glad to say that I’m not the only one who thinks that this organization is amazing. There were probably more volunteers then EIT’s at the event. It was a very packed (both with people and love) room. Also, famous folks can see the impact Defy is making. Just take a look at Sir Richard Branson’s blog post about them.
Okay enough with me gushing about this organization. Be sure to check them out for yourself and follow my blog to hear more about my experiences with this group, because that event isn’t the end of it.
Have I gotten you excited about volunteering? Then click here.
Can you only donate to help this program continue? No worries, just click here.
Here’s a brief visual recap of last night’s event. It was great to feel like I was getting back in the swing of things by attending a tech event. I used to do it all the time in the Bay Area. FYI – Some of the talks were in lightening round style so I wasn’t able to get everyone’s information, so you know who the two people I don’t have captions for are below please let me know.
Skype with Rebecca Parson’s, Thoughtworks CTO, from Ecuador. She was about to give a talk on tech there too.
Next up was Christina Benavides, Director of Operations for Girls Inc NYC.
Sydney Padua is the creator of a graphic novel on Ada Lovelace. Above are some excerpts. I can’t wait to read the whole thing.
Technovation gave a great overview on their Iridescent program.
Teachley’s Kara Carpenter talked about creating technology that truly helps teachers instead of replacing them or continuing mediocre teaching.
Hack n’ Jill brings together men and women for hackathon with a “focus on 50:50 gender participation.”
The NYC chapter of Black Girls Code is doing some amazing work with introducing programming, robotics, science, and much more to girls of color. Hope to volunteer with them soon.
Know any other interesting tech events happening in NYC? Contact me and let me know.
Today celebrates Ada Lovelace and women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M) careers. Now while I don’t consider myself an official graduate of any of these degrees, since 2009 I’ve been diving deeper into tech and desiring to learn more.
Throughout my entire time working in tech I’ve mostly (or probably entirely) worked on the people facing side of technology, but recently I’ve increasingly become more interested in the technical portion. I took my first Front-end Development course last year at General Assembly and have tried a few levels of Python and Java on sites like Codecademy and Code Avengers. I must admit though that math and science were never my strong side and coding does not come easily. Sometimes writing code and understanding algorithms prove to be extremely difficult, but the least I can do is keep trying to learn. I know how important these skills will be if I want to continue my career in tech and to continue to prove relevant in the industry.
Now in celebration of the day I’ll be heading off to ThoughtWorks New York Celebrates Ada Lovelace Day! this evening and will report back on the festivities. It looks like quite a few awesome NYC female focused tech groups will be there, so as a new transplant to the city this is especially exciting. I had my go-to groups in Silicon Valley, but haven’t found them here in NYC yet.
Anyone else doing fun in celebration today?
One thing that I never thought about when moving to NYC was how much I would miss my doctors and dentist back in SF. I also never thought that I’d also be so nervous and scared to find new ones.
I assumed that I could just ask my colleagues for their healthcare providers, but that didn’t prove helpful since most of them were based in Brooklyn. Now while I have nothing against traveling to a good doctor, when you’re in a new location and still a little weary of getting around I’d prefer to keep all my medical providers near me.
This is where ZocDoc came to the rescue. I’ve never used the site before and have found all previous doctors/dentist through friends recommendations. Since it didn’t look like I had any other option I thought that I would give this a try.
The site is relatively easy to use and helps gets ride of the scary element of asking if their medical facility takes your health insurance. It sometimes feels similar to asking a cool club if they’ll let you in. Fortunately, you’re able to filter those that don’t take your insurance out immediately and then are just left with choosing the medical professional of your choice. It kind of felt similar to online dating since I was basing my selection on if the doctors looked friendly and seemed like they would have a good bed manner. There were of course reviews as well. Sometimes I find those helpful, but I always take those with a grain of salt because you never know if those are from real people or from the providers themselves.
After some deliberation I chose a nurse practitioner right around the corner of my building. When I went to my appointment everything seemed seamless and the appointment went as smoothly as any other appointment I’ve had. So overall I think anyone looking for a new doctor or dentist should give this a try.
My next task will be trying to find the right dentist on ZocDoc, so I will be sure to update this if anything bad happens with that experience.
To all you self-proclaimed geeks, startup entrepreneurs, nerds, vc’s, and so forth I’d like to ask a favor. Can someone please point me in the direction of where you all typically hang out?
I’m in startup starvation right now. Coming from the Silicon Valley I couldn’t move without bumping into a co-founder of this startup or someone who had invested in another startup. In NYC I’m finding it a little hard to find the official tech startup locations. Here is what I’ve come up with so far, but someone please let me know if I’m totally off or if there’s something missing:
These have been popping up all around the world, but since NYC is the birthplace I can see how entrepreneurs and geeks in general would flock to this mecca. This one I’ve been to and there’s definitely a great crowd of folks all intensely working on their projects, but still willing to chat to strangers such as myself.
Still on the list of places to visit, but not sure what it’s like exactly. Heard they recently hosted a Music Education Hackathon which sounds amazing. Hopefully will be able to check this off the list soon.
The website looks fancy and the place looks amazing from a decor aspect, but not sure if I just like it cause it looks cool or if it actually is worth going to. Guess I’ll have to check it out, but need to see if I feel like spending that amount just to see a space.
While all of these places look great there’s the downside that to really enjoy all the benefits you have to be a member. I’m wondering if there’s a cafe or some place normal that entrepreneurs go to just hang out and chat similar to Coupa Cafe and the Creamery in SF. I did find this article from the Business Insider, but it was written in 2011.
So in conclusion can someone please share an updated list of places for startup groupies like me to go to visit. If there isn’t one, or if the places from that list have change then I’ll try doing the leg work and putting something together.
All my friends in San Francisco know that I am a serial volunteer. I love to help out at events where I’m interested in the organization and the mission that they’re working towards.
So I thought that it was a perfect match that the first NYC event I volunteered for was the S.H.E (She Helps Empower) Summit Press Event. S.H.E Summit events are happening all this week with the official conference kicking-off this Friday. The line-up looks amazing and hopefully I’ll be able to still make it to some of the conference after work. If not I’ll be closely monitoring what happens through Twitter.
For the actual event I helped at it was held at the BCBGMaxaria Showroom near Times Square. I also thought this was a perfect match since I used to work for them in college and immediately returned my paycheck with all the clothes I bought.
It was great to see so many amazing women early on a Monday morning networking and prepping for the inspiring week ahead. There seem to be a good mix of press that came to listen to the Sallie Krawcheck and Claudia Chan as they started of this busy week.
After reliving the high of the networking/volunteering buzz I hope I’m able to find more exciting events like this to attend and chronicle on this blog. If anyone knows of similar events or great non-profits to help out please let me know. I can’t wait to get to know the city, the inspiring women who work here, and the impactful non-profits that are run here.
Of all the things to that could stress and seriously depress me I never considered moving to NYC to be one of them. The majority of this stress coming from a little thing known as apartment hunting. After almost of hunting I’ve located a place, but here’s a quick overview on apt rental sites and how useful they really proved to be.
After all my searching I still believe this is the one housing search site to rule them all. While the interface may not be updated and plastered with pretty pictures of beautiful homes (many of which you really could never afford) this is still the best way to find a place. Many users are not up-to-date on the array of other sites that they can use to host their listing, but it’s simple and easy. You of course have to sift through the scams, but I feel that you come across the gems much quicker.
I liked the visual of where all the listings were placed throughout Manhattan. It also did a good job of aggregating listings from Craigslist, Airbnb, and more. Unfortunately, there seemed to be something lacking. This could be because I saw many of the listings on Craigslist already. They should update their system and take off the pins where author’s posts have already been deleted. That would help prevent me from feeling the bitter disappointment when I realize that the room that sounds perfect has already been snatched up.
This site is suppose to help you by immediately notifying you when a listing pops up that fits the filters you’ve set. I didn’t see any listings come through during my search, but maybe I just have to be more patient.
I signed up and honestly forgot about this site. I signed-up hoping that it would have some magical knowledge that could find me the perfect rental, but alas it was another one of the many sites that seem to pull up only a few listings that I could easily find on Craigslist.
And yet out of all these new technologies the one solution that still proved to be the best was the age-old thing of word-of-mouth. I was able to find a place through a co-worker and am thrilled to have a solid place to call home awhile.