Mark Suster

Mark Suster

2x Entrepreneur turned VC and General Partner at LA-based Upfront Ventures

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 25, 2015

Discussion

Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
I run a VC firm. I used to run software startups. That's me. I love AMAs because I know what it was like when I had nobody for whom to ask the hards question or the questions I considered stupid. No question is dumb. No question is out of bounds. I'll answer anything. I was an entrepreneur for 10 years. It was hard to get access to VCs. AMAs are great for transparency and I'm grateful to Product Hunt for this opportunity.
Sydney Liu
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful.com
Hey Mark! Everybody wants a piece of your time. People cold email you, people make intros to you, you get tweeted at, people comment on your blog, etc. You’ve also been known to give people who are relatively unknown or don’t already have a huge network in tech the opportunity to build great businesses. What helps you differentiate the signal from the noise? When somebody you don’t know contacts you, what do you look for that tells you: "This person may be worth spending some time with."
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@sydney_liu_sl Thank you. Very kind. Honestly, Sydney, sometimes it's luck. I had dinner 5 years ago and sat next to a young entrepreneur named Brian Li. We struck up a conversation. I could have ended that night. But he's been politely persistent with me over the years. We have similar interest in food (especially Asian) and so we try to grab meals together from time-to-time. In fact, we're having dinner tonight! Another time Raj Suri - who had been commenting on my blog (the best place to start an online relationship with me - asked for 15 minutes of advice. So I knew he had spent time on my blog so I agreed. We had a 45 minute call. I really like him as a person. He was smart and thoughtful. So over the years we've carved out time for each other. There is no "one size fits all" but there are two stories for you. Mostly it's: likability + polite persistence + smart / interesting points-of-view + time.
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Excited to have you on PH LIVE, Mark. I enjoyed visiting LA and chatting with you about startups and Product Hunt a few months ago:
There's been a lot of discussion (for the past year but especially in the past few weeks) about inflated startup valuations and the venture market drying (see @bgurley's tweetstorm from last week). What are your thoughts on this and what advise would you give to startups seeking funding in the next ~year?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@rrhoover great question. thanks for asking. I hope you don't mind a couple of links to my blog but I just wrote about this topic this morning and yesterday http://www.bothsidesofthetable.c... http://www.bothsidesofthetable.c... with more context but in short - keep burn as low as you can but certainly "cut to scale" for your cash balance - start raising early - expect it to take longer (at all stages but especially later stages) - have the confidence to go for investors and price you want but the wisdom to accept a lower price or lessor target investor if the round is too slow. Capital matters more than maximizing price
@msuster thank you Mark. What do you mean by starting to raise early? Do you mean early in the firm's life or earlier than you would presumably need?
Paul Robert Cary
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@livmkk In my experience, both. It really is exactly how other entrepreneurs say, you need more than you thought, sooner than you thought. :)
@paulrobertcary thanks Paul. I've heard many people saying that it is better to raise investor money as late as possible, in order to increase the startup's bargaining power (ie higher valuation, more favorable term sheet). Do you think it's wrong?
Paul Robert Cary
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@livmkk Magari ne parliamo tramite Twitter :) I think it all really depends on your individual circumstances. I put my own money into my current startup, then progressively linked up with people who saw the vision turning into reality and we settled on a valuation based purely on some market sizing conjectures and belief based on my ability to get things done. Now we're looking at "proper" seed stage money and we could have used it now instead of 2 months from now when we'll get it. So I would rather have had the capital now at a lower valuation and get on a better trajectory, because the product is pretty much ready.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Hey Mark, Thank you for joining us! Because we've read so much of your work, gonna ask some hard Q's: You have so much to be proud of, but what's something you're _not_ proud of and what did you learn from it?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@eriktorenberg Every time I lose my temper I'm not proud. I can sometimes be a "hot head" and I always regret it 10 minutes afterward. I've learned over the years to try and not react immediately when I'm angry and that's helped a lot. But sometimes I can't help myself. So ... every now and again I feed the trolls on Twitter and shouldn't :)
KRISHNA DEVENDA
KRISHNA DEVENDA@kkdevenda
@msuster I read a story few days back. Its moral said, "Never react, always respond". Maybe this help you as well. :)
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@kkdevenda good one. thanks!
Faraaz Ahmed
Faraaz Ahmed@faraazahmed
What do you and Upfront look for in seed stage consumer startups? How much or what sort of traction do these types of companies need to show you?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@faraazahmed at "seed stage" our bet is mostly on the team and wanting to work with them over the long term. We don't do many seed investments so we tend to be as selective at this stage as at our A round but writing smaller checks. Traction always helps but I"m not sure it's required
Jeffrey Doucet
Jeffrey Doucet@jeffrey_doucet · CEO, www.careerlaunch.io
I am currently raising a seed round for my ed-tech startup, and I wanted to ask you: how much emphasis should I place on revenue/cost projections. People ask me for them, but other than projecting revenue and market share goals, everything else seems to be a guessing game with little value. How much do you value cost projections?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@jeffrey_doucet early stage I care more about costs than revenue because revenue is tiny and often unpredictable whereas costs tell me how you plan to build your business. But what I'm really evaluating is (70%) the quality and ideas and capabilities of the team and (30%) how much I believe in the market opportunity
Shahed Khan
Shahed Khan@_shahedk · Founder @ Loom. Prev @ Upfront VC
Hey Mark ;) One of my favorite blog posts by you is "How the Hell Do I Prioritize Work, Blog & Find Balance" (http://www.bothsidesofthetable.c...) What did you teach yourself early on in your career to remove most/all distractions while focusing on the current task at hand? How has that changed overtime? And what advice do you have for others today -- that will help them be most productive?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@_shahedk I have ADD - which I talk about openly http://www.bothsidesofthetable.c... - and which makes focus for extreme periods of time difficult, but ... People with ADD can actually focus really well on tasks in which they are interested in. And that's something many don't know. We're easily bothered by "shiny objects" so when I REALLY need to concentrate I shut down Twitter, I turn off my mobile, I close all my browser tabs, I don't read email and I put myself somewhere quiet where I can't be disturbed. Also. I tend to work really well late at night so I allow myself once / week to stay up until 3am if I have stuff to get done. It drives my wife nuts (she worries about my health) but it really helps me get ahead. If you're a morning person try locking yourself in a room in the morning and cranking work but DON'T open your email until you're done with that session. Finally, I have a friend who rented a cheap apartment on the outskirts of LA that his company uses for this purpose. Their senior execs go their individually a few times a month when they need to focus, be creative and/or crank on work. I like that.
Eric Willis
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@msuster Hello Mark, Thanks for doing this AMA. Yesterday, you wrote a blog post about the stock market correction and how that could impact venture financing. I know you mentioned that your post could be misinterpreted as being "bearish". I know that we can't predict what will happen, but what is your gut feeling on the market? Do you really think winter is coming and there are some fundamental economic indicators (outside of potential triggers that the Fed could set up next month) that would lead one to believe that the "good times are over"?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@erictwillis ok. truthfully i'm long-term a bit bearish but hate saying so publicly. If you read The Accidental Superpower you'll see the demographics in this country will go through a 15-year period of difficulty because we have about 25% fewer Gen-Xers than we do have Baby Boomers, who are living longer and who didn't save enough. We live in a "geriocracy" where older people vote for their economic interest and are well organized. So we'll have lots to pay and a smaller tax base. We have a dysfunctional government that can't deal with this in a rational way. So until the "Echo Boomers" are fully in the work force and Gen-Xers retiring the fundamentals scare me. Plus, Boomers will be downsizing meaning: selling expensive housing (reducing demand, increasing supply) and selling stock holdings for retirement dollars. So this all concerns me and we know that China will go through its own issues. I'm long term hugely optimistic on tech because it will solve problems and disrupt markets. But I think we in the industry tend to over-estimate our own sense of "value"
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@msuster What's the biggest thing you've changed your mind about in the last year or so?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@eriktorenberg I was slow to see the value of SnapChat. I was wrong and am fully bought it.
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@msuster All - I have to go now as I have back-to-back calls. I'm sorry if I didn't get to your question. I'm very happy to come back and do this again soon. Thank you!
Sameer Noorani
Sameer Noorani@sameernoorani · CEO, Roomvine
@msuster Thanks for the insights!
Paul Robert Cary
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@msuster Thank you Mark - it's been enlightening as always.
Vikram
Vikram@j4uvikram · Associate, Nirvana
@msuster Hi Mark you have been investing big time in Content & probably have seen the MCN story playing out well. What do you think is the future of content from here? Also in Emerging countries where monetisation is a problem, how could sustainable business models be created?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@j4uvikram I never believed in the concept of an "MCN" or a "YouTube network" so I get pigeon holed on my personal views. Look - Americans watch 5.3 hours of TV per day and that hasn't changed in decades. But the type of content and the way we watch it is changing dramatically particularly for young folks. So I'm very long video startups. It will disrupt the $150bn spent in the US (pay TV + ads) and will do the same globally (where TV patterns of consumption are actually similar to the US). International monetization is always a problem but if your local cost base is lower you can afford to sell media at cheaper rates. Or partner with people who can. Also, tons of international distribution opportunities.
Vikram
Vikram@j4uvikram · Associate, Nirvana
@msuster Thanks! Agree on video consumption moving from TV to handheld devices. But in markets such as India an interesting dynamic is evolving where the aggregation play is being strongly fought by incumbents whereas creator networks are being strongly contested by disruptors. Still making sense of unit economics at scale seems to be a far stretch.
Paul Robert Cary
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@j4uvikram Pretty soon India's middle class will be bigger than the entire population of Europe. And you have a whole generation of filmmakers who can't access Bollywood. So exciting!
Mike Lenz
Mike Lenz@lenztweet · Founder, www.TipYourself.com
@msuster What retention or other metric would indicate to you that a team has found product/market fit for a consumer internet app?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@lenztweet retention. cadence of adoption. virality. several signs can point to it. but to be p/m fit all of these need to be at scale
Mike Lenz
Mike Lenz@lenztweet · Founder, www.TipYourself.com
@msuster Thanks Mark
Sameer Noorani
Sameer Noorani@sameernoorani · CEO, Roomvine
Hi @msuster There seem to be very few institutional VCs who truly do seed funding. It feels its all mostly different shades of growth funding with an increasing prerequisite of traction and engagement (making it feel more like a Series A). For some consumer products the reality its demand and physics can only be known after such a community is acquired (which requires capital) so they never make it out of their nest. Do you agree with this observation of reducing seed investment and if so, what do you think the effect on the ecosystem would be in the long term?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@sameernoorani More seed funds and angels have stepped in to fund early-stage companies. So as a result VCs are happy to cede that market and wait for traction. The funding is still there - just from different sources
Sameer Noorani
Sameer Noorani@sameernoorani · CEO, Roomvine
@msuster Thanks. And pls do more AMAs.
mikedariano
mikedariano@mikedariano
Mark, what are 3 books in different domains that you often recommend?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@mikedariano well - more details on ProductHunt books. But ... 1) american pastoral is a must read for understanding the fabric of US entrepreneurism over the decades. It won the Pulitzer. 2) Accidental Superpower for understanding current world trends and how they may play out over next few decades. And a novel I always cherished was The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I'll throw in a bonus. Everybody should read the two-part graphic novel Maus by Spiegelman. It's the true story of the author's journey with his father through post-war, concentration camp angst for a Jewish family. It's unbelievably powerful and moving. Oh. And Unbroken! There's 5.
Corley
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@msuster what is the one question that no one ever asks you, but you think they should ask?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@corleyh hmmm. hard one. i feel stumped. it seems I get asked everything. sorry! I did spend bit thinking about this. I got nothin'
Corley
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@msuster np - I appreciate you thinking about the question. 😀
Eric Willis
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@msuster Do you have your own Anti-Portfolio? Interested to know if you've passed on some investments that ended up being home runs.
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@erictwillis Uber seed round
mikedariano
mikedariano@mikedariano
@erictwillis Did you hear @sacca talk with @tferriss? They went over some of their misses.
Eric Willis
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@mikedariano I missed that one. Been meaning to catch it.
mikedariano
mikedariano@mikedariano
@erictwillis A few days late, but here's the notes for that episode http://thewaiterspad.com/2015/08...
Eric Willis
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@mikedariano Thanks!!
Matt Wiseman
Matt Wiseman@mattwiseman · Product guy ex-Google, YouTube
@msuster thanks for doing this AMA. You mentioned you are very long video startups, I'm also very excited about this space. Do you see any common issues / gaps across them that aren't being built?
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
So looking forward to having you on www.thetwentyminutevc.com soon! My question is what personal trait do you think makes you uniquely positioned to succeed as a venture capitalist?
Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré
Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré@nikkielizdemere · B2B SaaS Consultant
@msuster Hi Mark! Thanks for doing an AMA. 1. What does the timeline look like for the ten years that you spent as an entrepreneur? 2. What lead you to become a VC? 3. What five books have changed your life and why?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@nikkielizdemere thanks for the question. I spent 6.5 years running BuildOnline and 2.5 on Koral. I stayed too long at my first company and not long enough at my second. I sold too late the first time and too early the second. I was going to start my next company when my VC (who backed both companies) asked if I wanted to join as a partner. I thought "why not? if it works I can stay a VC and if not I already know I can start another company." It turned out to be a great decision because I think at my age (47) I'm a better coach than player. I can't quite hit the jump shots or run as fast as I used to but I can use the wisdom I picked up to help others. 5 books ... check on my list on ProductHunt !! I put some there.
Johnny Zhu
Johnny Zhu@zhujohnny
@msuster Hi Mark! Wondering if you have any anecdotes on how being in LA has helped you in VC.
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@zhujohnny I don't have 80 other firms competing for the best deal. Thus I funded Maker Studios and did very well and predict similar successes at places like Mitu, Invoca, Vidme, uBeam and others. I can get into deals early and work closely with amazing teams.
Jon Sutherland
Jon Sutherland@jmsuth · Just a lefty pushing pixels and code ✌️
@msuster How important do you think design will be for the next generation of enterprise startups? How much do you factor in design quality when deciding whether or not to invest in SaaS businesses?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@jmsuth very. our work lives mirror our private lives and the expectations of good design leading to high productivity and enterprise-wide adoption are such that it's not mission critical. I pass on any company with poor design aesthetic or UX
Mike Coutermarsh
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@msuster Hi Mark! Is there anything you do everyday to stay productive?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@mscccc I try to stay off of social media and email as much as possible between 9-5pm. I scan emails for important, time sensitive stuff. I often only check social media if I'm waiting between meetings on my mobile. but finally - I don't feel I have to respond to each and every email and that saves me tons of unproductive time.
KRISHNA DEVENDA
KRISHNA DEVENDA@kkdevenda
@msuster what is the one line answer that help you decide on your investment in a startup?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@kkdevenda team, team, team, market, team
Danielle Newnham
Danielle Newnham@daniellenewnham · Founder, The Junto Network. Author
If you could invest your last $1M, who / what would you invest in?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@daniellenewnham If it was my last $1m I'd have 30% in cash investments, 30% in index funds, 20% in other assets. 10% in pure liquid assets. Never gamble with your final money on illiquid markets like startups
Virginia Barnett
Virginia Barnett@vbarnett323 · Serial Entrepreneur
@msuster Thank you so much for being here but also for being responsive, I have sent questions via twitter and blog responses a couple of times and I appreciate your answers. My question for today if you have time is how much of your investment decisions are influenced by your "gut" versus data?
Taufiq Husain
Taufiq Husain@taufiqhusainca · Managing Director at Polar Hills.
Hey Mark, I have 3 questions! 1. I just read your article today called "Making Sense of the Stock Market Drops in Relation to Venture Financing". You suggested that private valuations and fundraising will be increasingly difficult as public markets get squeezed. I noticed you suggested that Seed or Series A fundraising wouldn't be affected. Why is that? I understand that it's a riskier investment round but wouldn't these round sizes be affected as well? 2. Another question I have is more related to working as as a VC. I'm sure your LPs are similar as VCs are to Entrepreneurs but how deeply involved are they? Is it just a "give the check and forget about it" kinda deal or is it more like guided advice by them etc. 3. Why aren't LPs of VC firms ever publicly talked about or reported about? It almost feels like highly secretive that VC firms don't reveal who their LPs are or who is backing their firm. I'm just wondering why that is?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@taufiqhusainca Hey, Taufiq! 1. I think for now early-stage won't slow because there are more early-stage investors and more options for this money plus it's less over-valued. If the market tanks this, too, will slow. But for now less so. 2. LPs come in different flavors: some are more active, some less so. Mostly they are more hands off than VCs with entrepreneurs because there is less day-to-day to manage. They tend to get more involved as VCs are thinking through team changes, scope changes, fund-size changes, etc. that happen every few years vs. every quarter 3. Two reason. A) Most LPs don't want to be public so there's that and B) Most VCs want to protect their LP relationships so the LPs don't get over-marketed to be others so the VC will have enough of their allocations for future funds. I think it's kind of silly but that's how it is.
Greg Bates
Greg Bates@gregbates · Co-Founder of Skratch School
@msuster Where do you see opportunity for startups to help musicians/artists in terms of content creation and audience growth moving forward? It seems like this is where artists need to excel before getting involved with agents and labels, and even guys like Gary Vee are doing web content better than most in the music/entertainment world. Do you think there is a gap there that indicates a business opportunity for companies that can help artists change their approach, or will it be a case of the artists who 'get it' first are rewarded?
Adam Huet
Adam Huet@adamhuet · Founder, Feast Software
What's your advice to startups who are based outside of the big tech cities (SV, NYC, Austin, etc.)?
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Everyone - Please welcome me in giving @msuster a HUGE thanks for taking the time to do a Product Hunt LIVE Chat, and more so for his long-standing support of us and the broader entrepreneurial community.
k arts
k arts@arkirill · Project/product manager
Where should I start if geographically far away from Bay Area, have a good team with an excellent product, but want to work on US market? Should we firstly show a growth there somehow? However, it's kinda difficult to grow away from your market, I can say, sometimes it's impossible. What's your advice on what to start?
Vikram
Vikram@j4uvikram · Associate, Nirvana
@msuster On a separate note is becoming a VC a one way road? What does it take to be a successful VC?
Shibabu Alfa
Shibabu Alfa@_shibabu · PhD, Miraicrowd
Hi Mark :)
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@_shibabu hello!
Shibabu Alfa
Shibabu Alfa@_shibabu · PhD, Miraicrowd
...EDITED
Marty McDonough
Marty McDonough@martywmcdonough · CEO, Odyssey Translator
What gets you up in the morning? What drives you every day?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@martywmcdonough it would be too cliche to say. but the only great motivator I have in my life at this point is my family. they are my tranquility, my hobby, my love and my reason for trying to succeed
Paul Robert Cary
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
Hi Mark @msuster - I'm a big fan of Bothsides. I'm building a BuzzFeed/Upworthy for outstanding indie film & video in the 3-10 minute range and follow your advice "be a tech company that distributes video." I'm based in London (www.findie.me). Other than calling Upfront like a stalker, how do I pitch to you? Can a "Netflix for indie short format" work? Thank you for doing this. Paul
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@paulrobertcary I'm pretty public about this - find a great intro. I'm not elitist. But how you get access to me tells me a lot about your entrepreneurial capabilities. I'm soooo public that if you can't find or develop a warm intro to me I'd say something is wrong :)
Paul Robert Cary
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@msuster awesome Mark - that's refreshing. I also worked in London and France so look forward to the chat.
Danny Espinoza
Danny Espinoza@abcdannye · Founder @looksyvideo
HI Mark! So what side of the table to you prefer now that you've had successful runs at both?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@dannyjespinoza If you can be on the court with time running out down by 2 points and you have the ball there is no feeling better in the world and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I miss being an entrepreneur all the time much like every retired athlete must feel. But I'm very comfortable in my role as coach, I love working with younger players and helping them better read the court.
Steven W
Steven W@mrwongsteven · Nice guys finish lunch.
@msuster How should companies effectively pitch to VCs? Or would you say that the market is efficient enough where VC's can spot a solid/growing company? What tools/analytics do VCs use to find companies that interests them?
Shibabu Alfa
Shibabu Alfa@_shibabu · PhD, Miraicrowd
...EDITED
Simone Panfilo
Simone Panfilo@simonepanfilo · Ceo, LOVEThESIGN
Hi Mark, great to see you here. What is your view on the LA scene? Which advice would you give to european startups planning to move there instead of the valley? Thanks!!
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@simonepanfilo LA tech is great. If you are in an industry where you need to be super close to developers SF is a better fit. For most other industries I'd say "choose life"
Simone Panfilo
Simone Panfilo@simonepanfilo · Ceo, LOVEThESIGN
@msuster Thanks Mark!!
Scott Weiner
Scott Weiner@brandwagon · iOS Development. Web Development. UI/UX.
I've seen and talked to plenty of founders constantly pounding the pavement for years to no avail. How do you know when persistence is no longer the key to success and at what point do founders need to recognize its time for a pivot or a totally new idea?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@brandwagon Impossible question to answer generically. If you've pounded the pavement for years with no success you certainly have to ask some tough questions about your: skills, relationships or business. This is a founders' market so there is definitely a strong signal to absorb and consider if it's taking too long. try meeting with some successful entrepreneurs and ask for their unfiltered feedback.
Sameer Noorani
Sameer Noorani@sameernoorani · CEO, Roomvine
@msuster And a second question if you have time: Do you think VCs are likely to panic because of the recent financial market crash?
Mark Suster
Mark Suster@msuster · Upfront
@sameernoorani no. not yet. it would take a major crash for people to panic
Ryan Fishman
Ryan Fishman@ryanfishman
My startup www.asportsmanager.com is staff management software right now specializing for sports referees. I plan on charging for the software at some point but right now I am letting people use it for free to try and gain traction and get a word of mouth affect going. Should I be charging right from the start or is not charging right away a good way to help growth. Also at what point should I start trying to raise money so I can start doing this full time instead of nights and weekends?
Scott Weiner
Scott Weiner@brandwagon · iOS Development. Web Development. UI/UX.
What industries should be the most deserving of our time and resources to reinvent through technology?
Gavin McMahon
Gavin McMahon@gavin_mcmahon · Analyzer of Stuff
@msuster Hey Mark, thanks for the AMA! I had the great pleasure of bringing you around at the Websummit in Dublin in 2013. On the way back from the main stage, you were stopped by some entrepreneurs looking for advice. As I passed that same spot almost 2.5hrs later, you were still there sharing your wisdom to the line of people that had now formed - I was fascinated by your willingness and openness to help, a quality I try to replicate. My question; what is your opinion on the New York startup scene? We're at a great intersection of tech and finance (not to mention fashion, marketing etc), and bridge the gap between the Valley and Europe. What do you think New York could be doing better?
Miklavz Nico Grmek
Miklavz Nico Grmek@miklavzg · Founder of Awesomi
@msuster what is your advice to a fresh graduated lawyer who would like to gain experience at the VC firm?
John Owen
John Owen@thejohnowen · Program Mgr, Wright State Research Inst
@msuster What's the biggest thing the community (higher education, government, nonprofits, etc.) can do to help support entrepreneurs?
Mubashar Iqbal
Mubashar Iqbal@mubashariqbal · I design, I develop, I make.
Sure you read and hear a lot of pitches, if you had one tip for a first time entrepreneur about writing or giving a pitch to a VC what would that be?
Alexander Bertha
Alexander Bertha@alex_bertha · Engagement Manager, Fahrenheit 212
Hey Mark! I've appreciated your recent posts/tweets on being an "expert" - and particularly, recognizing what you don't yet know. So what topic, category, skill, etc are you actively trying to get smarter on right now? Where do you have a professional knowledge gap that you think is really important to close?
u3k
u3k@u3k · Moskhow, Travel AI Assistant
@msuster Hi Mark! What do think is that very important industry or area of human life which is, surprisingly to you, still overlooked and in a desperate need of tech talent's attention?
Scott Weiner
Scott Weiner@brandwagon · iOS Development. Web Development. UI/UX.
Aside from looking at pitch decks and talking to founders, do you use any sort of quantitative approach to investing in startups, much like the quant funds are doing on Wall Street?
Cristian Espinoza
Cristian Espinoza@crisgarner · Founder @ http://startupreef.co
@msuster Hi Mark, I'm a fan of your podcast, I'm wondering what is your opinion about crowd investing, specially for latino america and developing countries where we don't have angels nor VC firms.
Daniel Rubin
Daniel Rubin@danielrubin109 · VP Operations, Urban Place
Hi Mark, I've seen your post of your favorite apps/products (link below ICYMI), but what newsletters are you subscribed to? http://www.bothsidesofthetable.c...
Aaron Taylor
Aaron Taylor@theaarontaylor · BizDev, Personify.ai
@danielrubin109 Hopefully to Israel Startup Weekly: http://eepurl.com/7XOWj
Marko Islamovic
Marko Islamovic@marko_is · Founder @ Gigrove
@msuster Hello Mark, the reason education costs are high is because the market lacks innovation. What are your thoughts on this? Is this due the fact that government is largely influencing the market for education or something else is the cause for the prices to be so high? Should people be encouraged to start a business in this area taking the fact that the market for education is heavily influenced by government? Thanks.
Teresa Hammerl
Teresa Hammerl@colazionearoma · Socialmediapreneur
@msuster Do you remember where you last asked an AMA question and did you get an answer?
Rathna Sharad
Rathna Sharad@rathnas · CEO/Founder @FlavorCloud
Hi Mark, Thanks for your time. What are your thoughts on increasing diversity in startup founders and within the investor community?
Timothy Chen
Timothy Chen@timchenga · CEO Sereneti Kitchen
@msuster, what's your thesis around the digital home kitchen? Cooking is still done the way it was over 100 years ago, it's one of the only few things that you don't "push a button, set it and forget it". Food is the largest spend of any consumer's daily life. Do you believe the innovations around delivery will be paralled in smart appliances?
Marty McDonough
Marty McDonough@martywmcdonough · CEO, Odyssey Translator
What is your opinion on equity crowd funding?
Inbal Shenfeld
Inbal Shenfeld@ishenfeld · Chief Communications Officer
Hi and thnx 4 the AMA. Any thoughts about the wearable market. And not just I phone. It's a r0B market during2014 and thought to be 200Bin 5 years. Yet VC, most of them don't invest in seed for hardware. Thoughts? Advices?
Laksman
Laksman@laksman · Entrepreneur
Hi Mark. Do you feel like founders need to be technical and thus able to build the product themselves?
Paul Tomkinson
Paul Tomkinson@paultomkinson · Founder, Textras
@msuster Hey Mark, do you see the LA tech scene EVER matching or usurping the Valley overall for hot new consumer products?
Taylor Crane
Taylor Crane@taykcrane · Product @ Hello Alfred
@msuster I'm looking to start investing a small amount of money in the stock market (tech sector only). Any advice if I'm intentionally looking to be extremely risky? E.g. Bitcoin.
David Smooke
David Smooke@davidsmooke · founder/ceo @hackernoon
---
Scott Weiner
Scott Weiner@brandwagon · iOS Development. Web Development. UI/UX.
YC created a Request for Startups (http://www.ycombinator.com/rfs/) in what seems like a bid to stop engineers from solving first world problems (or none at all). How do you think we can scale this, or educate entrepreneurs about real problems we should be working to solve?
Phillip Yang
Phillip Yang@geekyyang
Hi Mark! Thanks so much for doing this, and thanks Ryan for setting this up! My question for your would be: When you are presented with a Pitch, how would you say you evaluate their score? Ex: 50% product, 50% the person? As a VC, what's the most important thing you look for in an entrepreneur?
Andrew Brackin
Andrew Brackin@brackin · Growth at Visor
What is Upfront's model? Are you looking for one unicorn or a larger number of smaller wins.
Jo-Anne Reynolds
Jo-Anne Reynolds@spikebeejo · Founder/CEO SpikeBee.com
@msuster What is your advice for a non technical founder who is trying to find a technical co-founder to get their business to the next level. Where to begin, what to look for, how to cover your butt in the structure of the agreement etc
Patrick maloney
Patrick maloney@malopatrick · Marketing & Partnerships @ Startup Grind
Hey Mark! I'm the Marketing Manager for Startup Grind and I've loved learning from you via publishing our podcasts. You've so graciously spoken at our events and I was wondering how you think entrepreneurs can balance time spent building product and time spent building a network and getting out and learning from those who have done it all before?
Great questions so far. Mark, I read the TechCrunch piece about LP's starting to attend YC Demo Day to be closer to the action. Do you see this trend impacting GP/LP relationships moving forward? Also, can you talk about your biggest miss as a VC? What kept you from pulling the trigger?
Anson Kao
Anson Kao@anson_kao
Introvert or Extrovert - what would you call yourself, Mark? Any thoughts on how this distinction plays into entrepreneurship? Cheers
Evan Zhou
Evan Zhou@evanczhou · Co-Founder, STEEZY
@msuster Hey Mark! Do you have any tips for early stage companies in LA? More specifically resources to take advantage of and looking for angels? Thanks! Also, still waiting on the next episode of Bothsides TV to drop!
Brian Shultz
Brian Shultz@brianlshultz
Hey Mark - thank you for taking the time to answer questions today. I was hoping you could reflect on your time at b-school and how it has made an impact (i.e. career, personal development, etc).
Jaakko Piipponen
Jaakko Piipponen@jaakkopiipponen · Founder, Expert To Help
Thanks for doing the AMA! With regards to Homejoy and Zirtual running out of money, what resources you'd recommend for new & non-business-y founders to ensure they have proper understanding of burn rate, runway and other key financial metrics?
Kyle Lee
Kyle Lee@chillfoodguy · Seeking, in the world.
How important is it for people with ADD to ask questions? To stay engaged and seem interested. Can this ever be a bad thing?
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
Being an entrepreneur/VC/blogger takes a lot of hustle, what are your go-to "outlets"?
Marty McDonough
Marty McDonough@martywmcdonough · CEO, Odyssey Translator
Regarding your family. Do they influence what you invest in? As in what would this product be like for them in their future? Some people invest time and money in hardware companies. Some love Saas. Some investors have a passion for a problem they want to help solve. To you have that?
Martin Roth
Martin Roth@themartinroth · Director of Sales, zlien
@msuster There series of posts you put together on selling (http://www.bothsidesofthetable.c...) is as good as anything I have found either on the internet or in books. The framework of "1) Why buy anything? 2) Why buy mine? and 3) Why buy now?" was instrumental in how I developed the sales messaging and cadence for my team; and the stuff on journeymen, mavericks, and superstars is golden. Was all of this advice written with the entrepreneur in mind? Or was this written for anyone on the sales side of a startup? I'm currently VP of Sales for my company, but I started out at the first sales person. We have a team of 7 now, and scaling sales is still really flipping hard. Most of the content out there seems to suggest that an entrepreneur just go hire that great VP of sales, as if they are just waiting to join the company. It seems more realistic VPs of sales grow into that role, but it's tough to find the content that teaches you how to become that great VP of sales. What advice would you give young sales people who read your blog and who are trying to be great in sales ( or in business in general)?
Rama Veeraragoo
Rama Veeraragoo@esqrama · Founder, CEO GoodRipple
@msuster Hi fellow Boothie! Can you give us an example of something you have learned from an entrepreneur and thought - I did not think of that - that may be useful to us other entrepreneurs? Thanks!
Pedro Almeida
Pedro Almeida@pmarquesalmeida
@msuster thanks for your time. I am Portuguese and I am seeing Portugal becoming a hot ecosystem (http://www.forbes.com/sites/alis...) . Have you ever been in Lisbon? Are you planning to invest in Portuguese startups? Would be great to have you here sometime! Happy to offer more info on Portugal in case you are interested on. Thank you, Pedro Almeida
Vlad Ciurca
Vlad Ciurca@vladciurca · Executive Producer, Techsylvania
Hi @msuster. You wrote on your blog (more than once) that your grandfather is from Romania and i was wondering if you ever visited or if you're planning to in the near future. We're doing a new edition http://techsylvania.co next year in May and it would be great to have you check out 'The Magic of Cluj'!