Dates sometimes have a way of being funny. On a sunny day of July 18, 2011, I resigned from my position as a Vice President at Summit Partners, a venture capital and growth equity fund here in London. We grabbed some beers with ex co-workers, said good bye, and I jumped off the cliff to become an entrepreneur. On July 18, 2012, precisely a year later, we have closed the seed round of funding for our startup, YPlan (yes – the curtain has opened up on what we’re up to!) from an A-list of investors, and started preparing our business for a serious take-off. Having gone through a roller-coaster of a lifetime, I wanted to share how our timeline looked like, and why the decision to leave my cushy job has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I’ve participated in Seedhack FinTech this weekend, together with Gil (@Don_Gil) and Reza (@rjzzleep) we won the best demo award. We wanted to own church donation market (~$50bn size in US alone). To achieve this we’ve created HolyLight – a platform for churches to manage their church goers & donors and a mobile app which enables to donate online, on-the-go, with social gamification elements to increase donations.
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As you will know from the previous blog post, we have spent the end of November and most of December in Silicon Valley meeting with dozens of entrepreneurs, VCs and angels. While we were working through a number of business ideas at the same time, the key for us was to figure out whether to base our startup there or in London. As expected, the findings were not straightforward with both places having their distinct benefits for startups. What we decided to do as a result of all the learning is the following: start the alpha / beta testing in London, and then depending on traction we may need to transplant the business to the Valley. This is what made us decide this way. Read the rest of this entry »
Starting a new business is exciting in many ways, one of them being that you get to chose what technologies and tools you want to use. While we’re at a very early stage, this post will discuss the tools we’ve been using from day one to help me and Rytis communicate, share and experiment with our thoughts and ideas. For technical tools, programming languages, databases, web-frameworks and so on please follow this blog, there will be future posts once I stop playing with everything I can get my hands on and get into proper development.
Freemium is not a new business concept. Microsoft has been allowing piracy or being purposefully lax about it since the day it started, thus effectively adopting one of the first large scale freemium models (in MSFT‘s case, the premium feature that only legal / paying users received was support). While still at Summit Partners, I helped source, execute and manage the firm’s $100m investment in AVAST Software, a freemium anti-virus vendor based in the Czech Republic with 187m users at the time of writing (vs only 600m home PCs in the world…) Ever since, I became convinced that freemium is the business model of this decade. Here is why. Read the rest of this entry »
Just like watching TV with popcorn in hand won’t make you a Hollywood actor so reading books won’t make you a good entrepreneur. But it can certainly make you smarter and help avoid the most common pitfalls that everyone including the smartest is susceptible to. Amongst the plethora of books on start-ups and entrepreneurship, we though the following titles are particularly worth reading and learning from, each of them for a specific reason. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list though, or a list of technical or industry specific literature; rather, this is our personal take on what’s worth your time if you are thinking about your own business or are already running one.
A real or perceived lack of good startup ideas is one of the biggest excuses for sticking to whatever corporate job you have as Rytis discussed on a previous blog post. Having spent several months ideating and going through multiple idea generation approaches and techniques, I wanted to share our discoveries and to show you that coming up with a good idea is easier than you think. As they say, ideas are worth dime a dozen, but once you come up with something really exciting you’ll hurry to set up your own business immediately. Once you do, you will soon discover that approximately 100% of start-ups try, fail and pivot their business concepts before finding the winning formula (e.g. YouTube pivoted from online dating to video sharing, Instagram – from Foursquare lookalike to photo-sharing, etc). That said you still need an idea to pivot from, so here are some thoughts.