Silicon Valley Writer and Co-Producer Insults the CED startup audience …and then gives the entrepreneurs a bigger compliment
On day 2 of the CED Tech Venture Conference in Raleigh, a writer of co-producer of the HBO hit “Silicon Valley” insulted the audience—and then gave the entrepreneurs in attendance a bigger compliment.
“We write the show to make fun of you…But we can’t do what you do as entrepreneurs and can’t imagine how you face the risk of failure every day,” explained Dan Lyons, who is also the author of “Disrupted.” Here’s what else is happening at CED Tech Venture.
If you are going to do Equity Crowdfunding , get a Lawyer and buy some aspirin
North Carolina recently fixed a problem and created new equity crowdfunding legislation with the NC PACES law. This was through the hard work of fine people like investor Mark Easley, the entrepreneurs behind Malartu Funds, John Hardin of the NC Dept of Commerce and lawyer Benji Smith of Smith Anderson Law, among many others. In this panel hosted by the North Carolina secretary of state’s office, it was very clear very quickly that you need to hire a lawyer to understand the complexities of the new law in North Carolina.
To be clear, equity crowdfunding is not the same as the reward-based crowdfunding where you can get the first produced version of the product if you prepay for the product on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, created by Danae Ringelmann, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill MBA grad.
I have been in the room when experienced angel investors and venture capitalists argue against pro-equity crowdfunding legislation because the startups will need later rounds of capital and the cap table gets a little funky to deal with around the challenge of a long list of unqualified or unsophisticated investors.
While I doubt you only want to read about the legal aspects discussed on this panel, I did also learn a few tips about the marketing of crowdfunding campaigns. First, the company needs to create a contest or giveaway before the fundraising begins to help collect email addresses for a successful targeted email campaign. Second, the company needs to have a compelling story with a video on the landing page of their web site about the new innovative product that makes the viewer wonder how in the world they have lived this long without the cooler that also has a blender attached.
A Legend Returns but Delivers a Warning
As I wrote in my summary of Day 1, the second day would include true rockstar entrepreneur and UNC Chapel Hill Professor / Innovator Dr. Joseph DeSimone, who wowed the crowd with innovative technology but also gave our state a reality check with a reaction to controversial North Carolina legislation.
See, Dr. DeSimone is the CEO and founder of Carbon 3D, the most advanced 3-D printing product on the market. Need proof? Sequoia Capital invested and former Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Ellen Kullman, former Dupont chair and CEO are on the board of directors.
While DeSimone and the company have moved to northern California, the company is going to need an East Coast manufacturing facility soon with 300 – 400 available jobs. But HB2 legislation will prevent them from expanding to North Carolina as Google Ventures has announced they will not invest in North Carolina until the law is repealed. This is a real problem since Gov. Pat McCrory has made trips specifically to California to attract more out-of-state capital to North Carolina opportunities.
With that political statement said, DeSimone also impressed the audience of investors, startup entrepreneurs and professional service providers with the videos of this promising technology. He admitted that his technology reminded people of the movie “Terminator,” where the evil character seems to be produced and formed by a liquid-like technology.
One of the books that I recommend to my young entrepreneurs is the classic, “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore. According to DeSimone, 3-D printing is currently stuck in the chasm because the technology is currently being used to produce prototypes and has not yet achieved the full potential of using 3-D printing in the full manufacturing process. The chasm is this dangerous gap of new technology adoption between when the early adopters who are people who buy the product before the mainstream population known as the early majority.
The difference between the current $3 – $4 billion output of 3-D printing for prototyping in the current early adopter phase and the potential when 3-D printing hits the mainstream manufacturing phase could be a $300+ billion impact on the economy. DeSimone discussed huge opportunities with the automotive, aerospace and footwear industries but is most excited about the potential of medical industry for 3-D printing.
Silicon Valley veterans bring a casual and humorous feel to the starched investor conference
I have been attending this conference for over a decade, back when we all got our suits pressed and shoes shined. Today, the suits are replaced by T-shirts, jeans and even hats. Yes, even the investors. Anthony Pompliano is a new generation of venture capitalist with his new fund Full Tilt Capital. Pomp, as he is known to his friends, is a no-nonsense, direct communicator who has a goal of making 100 investments of $100,000 very quickly. Pompliano just recently announced this new three-month-old fund after returning to the Raleigh / Durham area after moving to the Valley to work for Facebook and Snapchat.
So, back to Day Lyons of HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” Among the many funny things Lyons said, people have told him the show hits a little too close to home for their comfort. Many of the story lines on the show have simply come from stories the writers have overheard in coffee shops and cocktail parties around the Valley.
Lyons quickly dove into the history of the show and talked about the importance of each team member at Pied Piper, the pretend startup that is the focus of the show. He discussed why both Erlich Bachman, the BS artist, Bertram Gilfoyle, the neurotic server developer, and Jared the MBA all have an important role on the startup team. Only the BS artist could find a way to get the investment deal done by insulting the VCs and the MBA is necessary because a team made up of only engineers would be a nightmare.
To continue the diversity theme of this year’s conference, Lyons also made fun of the theory that startup founders should hire “people they want to have a beer with.” This is part of the problem leading to the “bro” culture and the lack of diversity in the tech startup scene and joke that this leads to a frat boy culture of “bros investing in bros who only hire bros.” Thoughts?