With the release of our book “Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup“, my co-author David Cohen and I are taking the show on the road. Next week is Palo Alto on Tuesday, Los Angeles on Thursday, and Seattle on Friday.
In most cities, we are doing four separate events:
Pitch More Faster: Several emerging local companies will present their companies to me and several other local VCs. They will provide direct and specific advice to each company on how to improve their pitch and/or their business. This is an invite only event.
TechStars For An Hour: If you’re interested in learning more about TechStars or possibly applying, this is a great chance to come and learn about the program from me and David Cohen (TechStars CEO). We’ll talk about the results so far, what it’s all about, how it works, and much more. The event is also great for angel investors and venture capitalists who would like to learn more about how the TechStars program works, and how to get involved. These are open but limited attendance events – you need to pre-register on Eventbrite (links below).
Angels In The Architecture: A group of local angel investors, me, and a few angel backed entrepreneurs will discuss the role of angels investors in the VC / angel ecosystem. This is an invite only event.
Evening Entrepreneurial Meetup: We will have a party at night – venues will vary by city. These will be open events – sign up on Plancast (links below).
The tour is being sponsored by Cooley, Silicon Valley Bank, Microsoft, and Rackspace. We’ll be holding most of the day time events at one of their offices and we deeply appreciate all of their support. We’ll have plenty of good stuff to give away along with interesting people to meet and spend time with, including many of the people that contributed to Do More Faster.
In the mean time, the sign up links for next week’s events follow. Since space is limited, please don’t sign up unless you are planning to attend.
Palo Alto: Tuesday October 12
3:30pm – 4:30pm: TechStars For An Hour
7:00pm – 9:00pm: Do More Faster Book Tour Kick Off: Gordon Biersch Brewery
Los Angeles: Thursday October 14
3:30pm – 4:30pm: TechStars For An Hour
7:30pm – 9:00pm: Do More Faster Evening Meetup (also knows as Two Guys and a Book and Beers): The Den of Hollywood
Seattle: Friday October 15
3:30pm – 4:30pm: TechStars For An Hour
7:00pm – 9:00pm: Do More Faster Evening Meetup (aka The Easy): TechStars Seattle
Of course, if you bring a copy of the book, David and I will happily sign it.
About a year ago David Cohen and I were having a beer together talking about ways to capture all the different things we’d learned about early stage entrepreneurship from running the TechStars program. In a moment of insanity, we decided to write a book. The result is Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup.
Over the next six months, we worked with many of the mentors and entrepreneurs that have participated in TechStars. Our goal was to write a unique book full of useful information for any early stage entrepreneur. Rather than give advice or simply tell an entrepreneurial success story, we decided to blend the experience of the TechStars entrepreneurs and the TechStars mentors in an organized fashion. As a result, we ended up with seven themes (Idea and Vision, People, Working Effectively, Product, Fundraising, Legal and Structure, and Work / Life Balance) and about eighty separate lessons and stories.
We were on the verge of self-publishing it when we were introduced to a senior editor at Wiley who embraced the project and one other one that we proposed. As a result, we ended up with a two book deal with Wiley. When I reflect on things, getting Wiley in the mix has been awesome as they have helped us materially improve the quality of the book.
My professional career – since I was 19 – has been focused on entrepreneurship either as an entrepreneur, angel investor, or venture capitalist. I’ve spent a lot of time since 2005 thinking about the “science of entrepreneurship” as well as the “dynamics of entrepreneurial communities”, especially as I’ve helped bring Boulder to the forefront of entrepreneurial communities in the US. I’m extremely excited about Do More Faster and hope it lives up to my expectations. But most of all, I’m really grateful to everyone who has participated in TechStars and has contributed to the book.
The publication date is 10/4/10 and it should be in bookstores around the US by 10/20/10. David and I are doing a 12 city book tour starting in Palo Alto on 10/12/10 – all the info is up on the Do More Faster Plancast. And of course, you can follow Do More Faster on Twitter or join the Do More Faster Facebook Page.
Finally, Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup is available for pre-order on Amazon as of right now. If you are interested, go grab a copy.
As I watch Amy scurry around and put the final touches on our Homer house before we leave to go home to Boulder, I thought I’d stay out of the way and write a quick final book post on The House Advantage. I read a bunch more books the past two weeks but ran out of gas reviewing them all – see my Shelfari bookshelf if you are interested. But The House Advantage was worth mentioning.
My friend Niel Robertson – the CEO of Trada (which we are investors in) introduced me to Jeff Ma (the author) and then also sent me a book. It turns out that I know Jeff and lived next door to his sister when I was at MIT. You also may know Jeff – he’s the main character in Ben Mezrich’s excellent book Bringing Down the House and the inspiration for he main character in the movie 21. It also turns out that Jeff is an accomplished entrepreneur. He’s had several successful companies, the most recent being Citizen Sports which Yahoo recently acquired.
The subtitle of The House Advantage is “Playing the Odds to Win Big in Business”. In it, Jeff takes on a topic that most business people avoid – statistics. He uses his experience with both the MIT blackjack team, sports statistics, and his friends experiences in these areas to explain very important statistics concepts in very clear and straightforward ways. He’s a great writer – rather than resulting in a dull book about business stats, it’s a spicy read full of stories of Vegas, sports, high speed car chases, airplanes exploding, terrorist drug lords, extreme dance parties, and … well – ok – Vegas and sports.
As I was reading it, I kept thinking “every CEO I work with and every investor I’ve ever met should read this book.” After I finished, I thought “every academic researcher who has ever written a paper should read this.” None of the statistics concepts are complex, but they are regularly misused, abused, and confused. Or ignored.
As a bonus, the book includes the Basic Strategy Chart for Blackjack. How many business books can claim that? Seriously, this is an outstanding book – Jeff – well done!
It looks like I got 25 haiku’s in my haiku contest for a copy of The New Polymath. After consulting with Vinnie Mirchandani (the book’s author) we’ve chosen Rini Das as the winner for the following haiku:
Old Polymath all men
If New Polymath a woman
Then we call it “Progress”
Amy told me she approved of our choice. Rini – “the book is in the mail.”
I snuck another book in last night before I went to bed but was too tired to blog about it. After The New Polymath, I felt like I needed something similar but different so I read Where’s My Jetpack by Daniel Wilson (CMU Ph.D. in Robotics).
It was hilarious. Following are the chapter titles: Jetpack, Zeppelin, Moving Sidewalk, Self-Steering Car, Hoverboard, Teleportation, Underwater Hotel, Dolphin Guide, Space Vacation, Hologram, Smell-O-Vision, Robot Pet, Mind-Reading Device, Anti-Sleeping Pill, Invisible Camouflage, Artificial Gills, X-Ray Specs, Universal Translator, Robot Servant, Unisex Jumpsuit, Smart House, Food Pill, Self-Contained, Skyscraper City, Ray Gun, Space Mirror, Space Elevator, Cryogenic Freezing, and Moon Colony.
Wilson talks about the history of each invention, along with their original sci-fi source as well as the actual lineage of the invention in the real world. It was surprising to me how many of these almost got commercialized but then died for – well – usually pretty obvious reasons.
Of these, the three I want the most is a Jetpack, a Hoverboard, and a Teleportation Machine. Actually, I’d like a portable teleportation machine that my jetpack fits in. Smell-O-Vision – not so much.
Tonight’s book is The New Polymath by Vinnie Mirchandani. Actually, it’s the book I read the last two nights as it was too much to get down in one night. I’ve been promising Vinnie that I’d read his book ever since he sent me the galleys a few months ago. I tossed the PDF up on my Kindle which, when I got around to it, was unreadable because of the tiny font and the way the Kindle scaled the PDF to fit the page. I promptly went on to another book and never read it.
Vinnie was patient with me and was willing to keep talking to me and provide some advice on a completely unrelated topic. When the book came out I hopped on Amazon and plopped down whatever they charged me for the Kindle version. And I’m glad I did, not just because I like Vinnie and his writing, but because it’s an excellent book.
The New Polymath was an excellent tour de force of innovation. Vinnie served up example after example after example in an interesting and relevant framework that kept things moving, unlike a lot of business books where you hit page 79 and just stall. In this case, whenever an example started to peak, it was time for the next one. Last night, I stopped and went to bed when I was about halfway through and considered letting the book sit for a few days but tonight when I finished dinner I sat down and finished it off.
The only chapter I found too long and uninteresting was the one on BP, but I couldn’t figure out if that was because of what’s currently going on with BP or if it was just too much by the time I got to it. But, like a reference on someone where the inevitable “does the person have any weaknesses you are aware of” question arises, I get to point to the BP example and say “ok – that one wasn’t my favorite, but it was minor compared to all the great stuff in this book.”
It was kind of fun to see lots of friends and colleagues as examples. This was an unexpected surprise as I hadn’t previewed the book in advance and had never talked to Vinnie about it. Like any good polymath, Vinnie covered a lot of different ground. While there was a tech / IT / Internet focus, there was plenty of cleantech, energy, bio, and broad business (non-tech) examples. And there were a couple that were deliciously surprising and unexpected.
Vinnie gave me a copy of a book to give away to one of you, demonstrating his command of social media marketing. I’ve decided to run a competition – the best haiku with the word “polymath” in gets the book. Leave your haiku in the comments (make sure you use a valid email address so I can email you if you win.) Show me what you’ve got.
Update: A few folks emailed me that they couldn’t find the Kindle Version of The New Polymath. For some reason it’s not linked to the hardback edition.
Tonight’s book was Inside Out by Barry Eisler, one of my favorite mental floss writers. Several (four?) years ago when Amy and I were up in Homer, we became obsessed with Eisler’s John Rain books. I miss John Rain but if foreshadowing is to be believed, I expect the next Eisler book will include both Rain and his sidekick Dox.
If you like Eisler, Inside Out is fast paced and fun. I found it appropriately cynical about torture, the government, and everything else that was covered, except for the one gratuitous and fully predictable sex scene which was nicely done.
Time for something serious tomorrow – I’m finally going to take on something I’ve been promising the author I’d read for about three months. Oh – and I am doing a run in the morning and P90X Legs and Back and Ab Ripper in the late afternoon no matter what. Yoga, on the other hand, isn’t happening tomorrow.
On page 89, the book’s unnamed protagonist said “My brain hurts.” I thought to myself, so does mine.
God’s Debris is Scott Adams’ first non-fiction book (yes, that Scott Adams, the father of Dilbert.) Well – it might be fiction, it might be philosophy, or it might be a novella. Or maybe it’s something else. But it’s fascinating. And challenging. But short. It was tonight’s book (although the night is still relatively young so I’ll get started on the next one in a few minutes.)
This is not a religious book, nor is it a slam (or endorsement) of religion. It is, in Adams’ words, a thought experiment. One of the two characters is an old man who turns out to know everything. He explains, through a series of short chapters on different subjects, all of the great mysteries of life. While it’s easy to argue with some of his assertions, the old man (who turns out to be called The Avatar) explains things in a simple way that – while not bulletproof – is compelling. Some of the chapter titles give you a quick feel for what is going to be covered: Free Will, Science, Where is Free Will Located?, Genuine Belief, Delusion Generator, Reincarnation, UFOs, and God, Free Will of a Penny, Evolution, Skeptics’ Disease, ESP and Luck, Light, Willpower, Holy Lands, and Relationships.
When I finished it, I hopped on Wikipedia and discovered that Scott Adams wrote a sequel called The Religion War. I really want to read it on my Kindle but it’s only available in physical form so the atoms are now in the mail to me.
One of my favorite things about the month I spent each year in Homer is reading. We don’t have a TV here and, other than going out to dinner for some extra fresh halibut, Amy and I end up spending almost every evening at home reading, writing, or knitting (well – she knits). I usually consume about a book a day (a few take me two days – so it ends up being five a week, or about twenty over the month.)
Today’s book was Grumby by Andy Kessler. And it was just fucking awesome. On July 1st Andy sent me an email with the following description of the book.
“its a very funny novel set in Silicon Valley (and Wall Street), about a hacker that creates the next great consumer electronics device (believe me, you’ll want one) and then the rollercoaster ride of getting screwed by VCs, hacked, the deluge of orders, Chinese manufacturing, privacy issues and going public amongst the chaos of competition and rivalries. the technology is its own character, eyes, ears, voice and face recognition, GPS, spy software and a wise-ass personality.”
I don’t know Andy very well, although we met last year at Defrag (he was the opening speaker) and our paths have crossed a few times. I’ve read all his books and am a huge fan so rather than wait for him to send me a pre-publication copy, I just went online and spent $7.96 on the Kindle version which is available now.
Andy pretty much nails every aspect of the rise and fall of a garage startup in Silicon Valley. His fiction is great – it’s fast paced (thanks to many short chapters), full of dialogue and great characters, and lots of startup / entrepreneurship / Silicon Valley cliches. He spares no one and there were many times where I cringed in remembrance of something that hit a little too close to home. Way to go Andy – you nailed it.