Silicon Valley 2.0: Lots of Little Bets


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  • Nice work
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  • Great presentation with many nuggets of wisdom.
    Not sure about the only 70-85% conservative failure(no exit)
    rate of slide 10..typically would be a lot higher, maybe even

    Risk profile of entrepreneur catered to by incubators quite
    different as evidenced by slide 24/31/32/33 (25-100k seed) which
    will discount full opex. Will also exclude most startups with HW elements or novel technology (not an integration play on existing platforms) requiring a defensible IP strategy & with longer time to revenue; unfortunately still the purview of traditional VC/corporate or Govt investment.

    All in all, an awesome set of slides and a solid strategy for a fast
    changing technology/market and investment landscape..worth every entrepreneurs' time to peruse
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  • Very nice
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Silicon Valley 2.0: Lots of Little Bets

  1. Silicon Valley 2.0 Lots of Little Bets + Moneyball for Startups Dave McClure (@DaveMcClure) January 2013
  2. Dave McClure Founding Partner & Troublemaker, 500 Startups00’s & 10’s:• Investor: Founders Fund, Facebook fbFund, 500 Startups• Companies:, SlideShare, Twilio, WildFire, SendGrid• Marketing: PayPal, Simply Hired,, O’Reilly80’s & 90’s:• Entrepreneur: Founder/CEO Aslan Computing (acq’d)• Developer: Windows / SQL DB consultant (Intel, MSFT)• Engineer: Johns Hopkins‘88, BS Eng / Applied Math
  3. 500 Startups Global Seed Fund & Startup Accelerator• What is 500? – $50M+ under management – 20 people / 10 investing partners – Silicon Valley HQ + Incubator – SF, NY, MEX, BRZ, IND, CHN, SE Asia – 800+ Founders / 200+ Mentors – 20+ confs/events per year – Focus: Design, Data, Distribution• 400+ Portfolio Co’s / 30+ Countries – Wildfire (acq GOOG, $350M) – Twilio – SendGrid – TaskRabbit – MakerBot – 9GAG – Viki
  4. 500 Startups: Global Seed Fund startup investments in over 30 countriesLast 6 months added: Germany, Korea, Peru; Russia & Turkey in Q1/13
  5. Venture Capital 2.0: Lots of Little Betsaka “MoneyBall for Startups”
  6. Changes in Tech Startups• LESS Capital required to build product, get to market – Dramatically reduced $$$ on servers, software, bandwidth – Crowdfunding, KickStarter, Angel List, Funders Club, etc – Cheap access to online platforms for 100M+ consumers, smallbiz, etc – A few big IPOs @ $1B+, but LOTS of small acquisitions (<$100M)• MORE Customers via ONLINE platforms (100M+ users) – Search (Google) – Social (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) – Mobile (Apple, Android) – Local (Yelp, Groupon, Living Social) – Media (YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr) – Comm (Email, IM/Chat, Voice, SMS, etc)• LOTS of little bets: Accelerators, Angels, Angel List, Small Exits – Y Combinator, TechStars, 500 Startups – Funding + Co-working + Mentoring -> Design, Data, Distribution – “Fast, Cheap Fail”, network effects, quantitative + iterative investments
  7. Web 2.0 + Lean Startup 1. Startup Costs = Lower. 2. # Users, Bandwidth = Bigger. 3. Transaction $$$ = Better. Building Product => Cheaper, Faster, Better Getting Customers => Easier, More MeasurableIterative Product & Marketing Decisionsbased on Measured User Behavior
  8. Think Different.
  9. MoneyBall 4 Startups 1. Make Lots Of Little Bets 2. Count Cards (Monitor Progress & Stats) 3. Double Down on Winners
  10. 500 Strategy: “Lots of Little Bets”*1) Make lots of little 30% bets pre-traction, Capital early-stage startups2) after 6-12 months, identify 70% top 20% performers and Capital double-down higher $$$3) conservative model assumes-5-10% large exits @20X ($50-100M+)-10-20% small exits @5X ($5-50M) 10 *See Peter Sims book: “Little Bets”
  11. Startup Investor Ecosystem Bootstrap, KickStarter, Crowdfunding Y-Combinator Angels & TechStars Incubators ($0-10M) SV Angel (Conway) SoftTech (Clavier) “Micro-VC” Funds Floodgate (Maples) ($10-100M) Felicis (Senkut) First Round True Smaller VC Funds Union Square ($100-500M) Foundry Group Atomico Andreessen Larger VC Funds (>$500M)Greylock Sequoia
  12. Angel* List: It Rocks. • Startups & Investors • Activity & Metrics • Platform & APIs • *ps – not just for Angels, or USA
  13. Early-Stage Risk Reduction• 1st Mtg: Crazy, Idiots, Liars or Crooks?• Product: does it work? (crappy, not perfect)• Market: are people using it? (not their mom)• Revenue: will people pay for it? (just a few)• Growth: how will it/they scale? (online? offline?)• Finance: what will it cost? – Q1: cost to get a customer? – Q2: how & when do you make money?
  14. Early-Stage Startups: Your “Due Diligence” Is An Illusion(Better approach = write a quick, small check then wait ~6 mo’s)• Problems in Early-Stage Due Diligence: – You Might Be Able to Detect Idiots & Liars, but… – Not much history, product, customers, or revenue (yet), so… – You probably can’t figure out Winners (yet).• The New Due Diligence = Incremental Achievements – “Due Diligence”  Trusted Referrals + History – “Great Team”  Functional Prototype + Usage – “Size of Market”  Evidence = Customers, Revenue• The Odds Are: They Suck, You’re Wrong – You’ll Be Wrong 4x out of 5x. (If U Don’t Suck). – In 6 Months, You’ll Know If They Don’t Suck. – In 1-2 Years, You’ll Know If They’re Awesome.
  15. Bet on Singles, Not HomeRuns. (Look for Ichiros, Not Barry Bonds)
  16. Platforms 2.0Search, Social, Mobile
  17. Platform ViabilitySuccessful Platformshave 3 Things: Features Features1) Features2) Users3) Money Growth Profit Nirvana .. Profitable Users Users .. Growth Money Money
  18. Distribution PlatformsCustomer Reach: 100M+ • Search: Google, Baidu, Yahoo/Bing, Yandex • Social/Games: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TenCent/QQ • Mobile: Apple (iOS), Android • Local: Yelp, Groupon, LivingSocial, FourSquare • Media: Video (YouTube), Blogs (Tumblr), Photos (Pinterest) • Comm: SMS, IM (WeChat, Line, WhatsApp, Kakao), Skype, Phone/Voice, etc
  19. Web 2.0 Business Model: KISS (“Keep It Simple, Stupid”)• 1) Re-invent Web 1.0 Businesses – Make a Website, a Widget, an App – Sell Stuff (Transactions, Subscriptions, Affiliate)• 2) add Web 2.0 Technology – Search, Social, Mobile, Local, Media, Comm – Google, Facebook/Twitter, Apple/Android, YouTube – Email, SMS, Ecommerce / Payments• 3) Get Customers, Make Money – Distribution, Distribution, Distribution – (Customer Acq’stn Cost) vs. ($Rev. Per Customer) – Low CapX + Profitable Web Businesses
  20. More Acquirers (tech + non-tech); More & Smaller Acquisitions1. Mature Internet Platform Co’s: – GOOG, MSFT, YHOO, EBAY, AOL, AMZN, AAPL, INTU, ADBE, FB, TW, LNKD, GRPN1. Non-Tech “BigCo” / Consumer Verticals buying tech startups (for distribution)• BigCo = Lots of Customers, $$$• BigCo = Bureaucracy, Innovator Dilemma• Outsource Innovation; Buy Talent / Products• Acquiring LOTS (Small) Startups• Great for Founders, Investors  * Mint acquired by Intuit in Sept 2009 for $170M
  21. Lean Startup, Lean VC Customers, Metrics, Iteration. Invest BEFORE Traction; Double Down AFTER.
  22. The Lean Startup• Progress ≠ Features; Measure Conversion• Talk to Customers; Discover Problems• Focus on “Product/Market Fit” (good solution)• Fast, Frequent Iteration (+ Feedback Loop)• Keep it Simple & Actionable
  23. Startup Incubators & Metrics Lots of Little Bets. Most FAIL. (but a few succeed :)
  24. Incubator 2.0: Fast, Cheap, FAIL• Incubators = supportive startup ecosystem (+ angels, VCs)• Efficient use of investment capital ($0-100K)• High fail rate (60-80%) => large initial sample size
  25. Incubator 2.0: Education, Collaboration, Iteration• Success based on: – MANY, small experiments – common platforms, customers, problems & solutions – physical proximity, open/collaborative environment – Domain-specific mentors & expertise – fast fail, iteration, metrics & feedback loop• Incremental investment; high-risk, but high-reward
  26. Education & Community• Mentors, Investors• Design, Data, Distribution• Platform Partners• Sponsors & Strategics• Marketing & Visibility
  27. Product, Market, Revenue• Product: assess functional use, improve design/UX• Market: test usage, distribution channels• Revenue: test cust acq cost, revenue, *timing*• Work on Pitch, Help Find Co-Investors, etc
  28. Hacker, Hustler, Hipster• Hacker: engineers & developers• Hipster: design & UX• Hustler: marketing & business1.Build functional prototypes2.Improve UX so people convert3.Scale customer acq & distribution
  29. Outlier Competition + Modeling Success Behaviors• You want min 3-5 “rockstars” to compete• Rockstars to model success for others• You can’t assume >20% rockstars• Therefore, pick 5x5 = 25 teams• 3-5 rockstar teams emerge, compete, win• 5-10 *other* non-rockstars learn• Prune losers quickly
  30. Winners, Losers, Tweeners• Winners #WIN (with or without you)• Losers #LOSE (with or without you)• Tweeners #TWEEN – They might win with your help – They might lose with your help – Be helpful, but don’t dally – Note: you might be wrong about the losers & tweeners, so don’t be an arrogant a-hole.
  31. fbFund REVfbFund REV: Facebook “Social” Incubator: invest in startups, apps, websites based on Facebook platform & Facebook Connect.• 22 startups @ ~$35K each (< $1M total)• 3 month program: Technology, Design, Marketing, Business topics• Success: 8 startups raised $500K –> 5 Series A -> 3 Series B (+ 3 small exits)• Wildfire Interactive acquired by GOOG for $350M (>50X) 
  32. The Lean VC: Lots of Little Bets, Incremental InvestmentMethod: Invest in lots of startups using incremental investment, iterative development. Start with many small experiments, filter out failures, and expand investment in successes… (Rinse & Repeat).• Incubator: $0-100K (“Build & Validate Product”)• Seed: $100K-$1M (“Test & Grow Marketing Channels””)• Venture: $1M-$10M (“Maximize Growth & Revenue”)
  33. Investment Stage #1: Product Validation + Customer Usage• Structure – 1-3 founders – $25-$100K investment – Incubator environment: multiple peers, mentors/advisors• Test Functional Prototype / “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP): – Prototype->Alpha, ~3-6 months – Develop Minimal Critical Feature Set => Get to “It Works! Someone Uses It.” – Improve Design & Usability, Setup Conversion Metrics – Test Small-Scale Customer Adoption (10-1000 users)• Demonstrate Concept, Reduce Product Risk, Test Functional Use• Develop Metrics & Filter for Possible Future Investment
  34. Investment Stage #2: Market Validation + Revenue Testing• Structure – 2-10 person team – $100K-$1M investment – Syndicate of Angel Investors / Small VC Funds• Improve Product, Expand Customers, Test Revenue: – Alpha->Beta, ~6-12 months – Scale Customer Adoption => “Many People Use It, & They Pay.” – Test Marketing Campaigns, Customer Acquisition Channels + Cost – Test Revenue Generation, Find Profitable Customer Segments• Prove Solution/Benefit, Assess Market Size• Test Channel Cost, Revenue Opportunity• Determine Org Structure, Key Hires
  35. Investment Stage #3: Revenue Validation + Growth• Structure – 5-25 person team – $1M-$10M investment – Seed & Venture Investors• Make Money (or Go Big), Get to Sustainability: – Beta->Production, 12-24 months – Revenue / Growth => “We Can Make (a lot of) Money!” – Mktg Plan => Predictable Channels / Campaigns + Budget – Scalability & Infrastructure, Customer Service & Operations – Connect with Distribution Partners, Expand Growth• Prove/Expand Market, Operationalize Business• Future Milestones: Profitable/Sustainable, Exit Options
  36. Going Local, Going Global web gets bigger -> world gets smaller
  37. Global Trends• Growth of Global Languages (see – 1B+ speakers: Mandarin, English – 300-500M+ spkrs: Spanish, Arabic• Smart Device Proliferation – mobile, tablet, TV, console, etc• More Young, More Old ($$$) Users Online• More Bandwidth, More Video, More Social, More Mobile• Wealthy Chinese + Indian, Web + IRL Globetrotters ($$$B)• Acceleration of Global Payment, E-Commerce• Dramatically Reduced Cost: Product Dev, Customer Acqstn• Global Distribution Platforms – US/EU: Apple, Facebook, AMZN, GOOG (Search, YouTube, Gmail, Android), Twitter – Asia: Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba, Sina, NHN, Yahoo-J, Softbank, Rakuten, DeNA, Gree
  38. Thanks • Want more info? Go visit: – (our company) – (my blog) – (our fund)