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TechCafe Lunch @Wowrack w/2Morrow, Gametiime, & NLP Core

Kicking off our summer events with a great lunch down at Wowrack! There will be demos, dining, and of course networking with some of the great Seattle tech community.

Our demos will be from 2Morrow , gametiime, and NLP Core.

2Morrow specializes in mobile behavior change applications. Both direct to consumer and as a white label solution.

Gametiime offers a social discovery service for runners and triathletes to discover and discuss events they love to do.

NLPCore is an immersive search and recommendations platform based on a unique natural language processing and statistical analytics technology to help financial, legal, media and scientific community find contextually relevant information from and make more informed decisions with their textual content.

Wowrack is a cloud service provider; offering various Hosting services including Managed Hosting Solutions, Dedicated Server Solutions, Colocation, Virtualization, Bandwidth Delivery and Managed Services.

Registration is on the right –>>

TechCafe Happy Hour @INRIX

INRIX_rgb

We’re going to get down and dirty with mobile in March. We’ll be at INRIX where they are making big data usable for mobile devices. INRIX deals with traffic so there is all sorts of data and of course everyone wants access to that data from their mobile devices. With all the various devices out there, INRIX is solving interesting problems with GPS, Battery Life, and so on. A rockstar team who keep finding ways to improve their product on mobile platforms and finding unique ways to do it.

We’ll hear Jeff MacDuff who some of you may know from his recent startup Buddy or perhaps his years at Microsoft working on embedded, mobile, xbox amongst other areas. Jeff has some interesting insights to share and is finally in a position to give back to the community. If you are doing anything in the mobile space – I’m sure you will learn a thing or two and meet some interesting people.

Oh, did I mention free food and drinks? Yeah we’ll have that too… You won’t want to miss this event!

 

Registration is on the right –>>

TechCafe in 2014

Wow! That is three… count em… three awesome TechCafe events this year. If you want to get in and sponsor one in 2014 – now is the time to get on the calendar. First one at One To The World, then we partnered with Turnstone and the Small Talks event series to put on an event over at Whitepages, now we’re getting ready to announce our third event over at INRIX!

There is no better way to get to know a company than spending some time at their offices over beers. Yes free beer, access to their team, it just doesn’t get better than this. Through 2008, 2009, 2010 – these events were a staple in Seattle – we got crazy and were putting on two and sometimes three events a month meeting entrepreneurs, designers, developers…. well just about anyone who cared about tech & startups were coming to these things. Thankfully some other great events started to happen. NWEN got serious about events, WTIA started putting on some good events, Seattle Tech Meetup started, Startup Grind, and so on. Now there are events all the time and we’ve gotten pretty focused on working harder on the angel investing side of the equation working with the Seattle Angel Conference as well as AoA, Zino, Keiretsu, TAGS, and a few other angel groups to help get higher quality investors and better companies onto their radar.

This year we have had an amazing outpour of requests for TechCafe events and are happy to work with so many great people to put them together. I started this whole thing in 2007, while I was sitting around wondering what some of the companies around Seattle were up to. I wanted to see their workspace, hear about their projects, meet the team… just get to know more about the cool companies in town. That same vision is the only reason TechCafe continues today – I want to open the doors to more great startups in town and let the curious people in the community in for a look, a conversation, and some free food. This isn’t about a big blow out party or the biggest name speakers (although we’ve had some parties and some amazing speakers). This is about connecting a community and making the startups that are innovating and advancing our economy accessible to those that are interested.

If you’re the curious type and want to engage with the community – I encourage you to sign up for the mailing list on the right and come to the next event.

If you want to open your doors, sponsor, or donate – feel free to reach out to me and let’s get something setup. This is about building a great ecosystem here in Seattle.

TechCafe Happy Hour w/Turnstone

After such a great event in January… we’re off to event #2! For this one we’re partnering with Turnstone and Whitepages to put on a great panel presentation. We’ll be over at Whitepages new space and we’ll be moderating an awesome panel.

REBOUND: How to Leverage Failures into Success is a curated peer-to-peer crash course in learning from failure. It’s all about tapping into each other smartly, engaging our experiences, and creating a space where we can learn fast and learn from each other. Our panelists will discuss their experiences in building their businesses and how they have rebounded from setbacks.

Rainier Tower
Offices of WhitePages
1301 5th Ave STE #1600
Seattle, WA 98101

Thursday, February 6, 2014 from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM (PST)

Registration is on the right –>

TechCafe Happy Hour @One to the World

Welcome to the first TechCafe of 2014. Please join us for drinks, food, networking, and insights into a startup that is disrupting what most people would consider a crowded category.

Our 2014 kickoff will be a happy hour at One to the World. One to the whaat? you might say… Well, this company has been executing on all cylinders delivering great online events for companies. While there are a lot of webcast solutions out there, many are unaware of the consumerization of IT, marketing automation and analytics, and customer expectations for interactivity. The One to the World team has experience delivering huge events such as the 787 launch and the Goodwill Games and have set a high bar bar for interactive webcasts.

At our happy hour, John Vadino will offer some insights into how their product competes by adding more value to their customers. With a background in events, this team has built an amazing software product, and has a culture to compete with any in the Seattle startup scene. There won’t be a shortage of geek-trepreneurs with whom to connect.

Registration is on the right under “Attend the next Event

Where: One to the World 1000 N Northlake Seattle, WA

When: Friday, January 17, 2014 from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM (PST)

Reflections on angel due diligence

Reposted from the Seattle Angel Conference blog with permission from the author @joshmaher
As we approach deeper due diligence on the group of companies being considered for our 4th angel investment at the Seattle Angel Conference, I get to thinking about the hundreds of startups we’ve seen and reflect on the biggest challenges those startups have faced in the past. I also get to thinking about how those challenges could have been discovered earlier in the due diligence process.
There will always be challenges investing in early stage companies, some big and some small. The goal is to avoid the big ones as much as possible and understand how to mitigate the small ones. There are a lot of angel investing guides being published recently, as the historic JOBS Act general solicitation rules were put into effect on Sept. 23. I will reflect on the startups we’ve seen and the pitfalls we could have seen earlier. I won’t rehash all of those great posts (a short list of some good ones are below).
Past Seattle Angel Conference Investments
Thinking about past Seattle Angel Conference Investments, the challenges we’ve run into that have made a company “un-investable” for the seattle angel conference LLC members are quite varied. The variability is higher than most early stage funds as the people in the LLC making the investment decisions change for each investment round. This changing of the guard is a planned part of our approach to investing and training new investors. For example, one investment fund may have a medical professional, allowing us to better analyze startups in that space, while another investment fund may not have a medical professional, causing us to pass over some startups we don’t feel confident we can do adequate due diligence with our team.
Across the four rounds of investment so far, the shortcomings we see fall into the main categories that most early stage investors call out as the most important (read my series on the most important things for early stage investors for more insight here). There isn’t a specific order to the three main categories, but there is clearly a need for startups to focus emphasis placed on team, then product/market and finally the business model.
Absentee founders
We see a lot of very early stage companies and this means that many of the teams are being founded by people in the process of leaving their current job or are holding consulting roles to pay the bills. Sometimes that works well and the founders have moonlighting arrangements and solid plans to go full time on their startup at given milestones such as our investment. For others, there are no moonlighting arrangements or no solid plan to quit the day job and go full time. Founders MUST be COMMITTED and PRESENT. Finding a startup with a founder that has a minimal level engagement in their venture and the fund raising process like this is an issue we’ve seen a few times. We’ve never found a great startup that had an absentee founder on the team, yet as part of the training process for new investors we frequently entertain the idea of investing in a startup despite absentee founders making up a significant part of the team.
Other team issues we see:
  • Wrong people – we have seen a number of startups that simply have the wrong people on staff. That isn’t to say that every team must be 100% perfect, but having the wrong people on the team can be difficult if the team is not willing to change. It may be they need strong sales and have no person on the team who can make the first critical sales (see my post on Rudy Gadre’s view on founder charisma). Or it may be that they have founders taking equity or salaries and are providing no value to the business. Expect that we will be analyzing who should and shouldn’t be on the team early and have a frank conversation after a pitch or over coffee about what needs to happen to get the right team on board.
  • Wrong formation/agreements – It’s a rare start up that can get invested as an LLC, and if you don’t own the IP, you’re in a world of hurt.   Examples:– the team has formed their company as an LLC and need to take venture capital in the future to be successful, they need to be a C-corp. Check out Joe Wallin and Scott Usher’s post on incorporating an LLC.
Thinking about the product/market fit part of the equation we’ve seen a number of issues such as scaling issues, wrong people for the product, lack of competitive differentiation. The largest or at least most common issue in this area is definitely products that have no competitive differentiation.
Lack of competitive differentiation
Quite often we see businesses with a product that simply has no way to attract enough customers in a short enough period of time given the existing marketplace and existing competitors. Too often there are already many competitors in the space and the startup doesn’t  have anything incredibly unique that sets them apart. These may be great businesses and while their market is expanding they will certainly experience high growth. The difficulty comes in when the market stops expanding and they are faced with competitors who may be hungrier and better positioned than they are to expand market share.
The last issue we have seen come up with some regularity is related to the business model/economics of the business itself. This includes businesses that won’t make enough margin in relation to the other economics of their business, as well as businesses that simply aren’t raising or can’t raise enough money to move fast enough to succeed.  Companies raising the wrong amount of money because they don’t understand their cash needs is a frequent red flag or “disqualifier”.
Raising just enough money to fail
This problem plagues early stage growth companies all the time and it is fairly well documented by entrepreneurs and investors alike. Raising too little money to do anything meaningful to get to the next milestone. Raising too much money so the valuation is out of whack or the ability to raise the next round is hindered because the money was spent poorly. Raising money for the wrong reasons. Not focusing on customer acquisition in exchange for focusing only on raising money. The problem with identifying this type of problem early is that it can sometimes take really getting to know a business to be able to determine if they are raising the right amount of money and for the right reasons. Perhaps this is why the team and product/market fit come earlier in the analysis for most early stage investors. For the Seattle Angel Conference, I think most of these business model and fund raising issues will always be found in the final due diligence that we perform on the final six potential companies.
We need to get better at passing down the learning from one investor group to the next, but the complexity and uniqueness of each company makes it hard.  We as members of the LLC should spend more time studying other investors, and sharing best practices with each other, both before and during the SAC process.  Here are some great resources to use to increase your investor knowledge.  Please share whatever you find most useful with your fellow investors.
Locally, both Andy Sack and Chris Devore post insights on their investments regularly. There are a few other must reads such as Paul Graham, Brad Feld, Fred Wilson, Mark Suster, and Hunter Walk. In terms of following great early stage entrepreneurs we have some locally such as T.A. McCann, Dan Shapiro, and other great ones from around the country such as Sequoia Capital’s ‘grove’.
Regardless of whether you are a part of a Seattle Angel Conference investor fund or are doing your own early stage due diligence, identifying the pitfalls above earlier will be important for making smart decisions faster. As we continue to focus on educating new early stage investors, we will continue to look for ways to identify major pitfalls earlier in the process and leave the multitude of smaller pitfalls for later in the process.

Follow Josh on twitter @joshmaher

Loads of events from TechCafe this summer

Over here at TechCafe we’ve been proud to have been a major part in accelerating the Seattle Startup community over the last several years. We started back in 2007 as Seattle Lunch 2.0 and expanded the number of events as demand surged and no one else stepped up to offer great networking events, places for companies to demo their new products, places for people to meet investors, and forums for in-depth conversations about modern programming and business decisions that entrepreneurs and startupers need to make. Not to mention the incredible amount of hiring and job landing that has occurred at our events. We’re still committed to the community and our next TechCafe event is on August 15th!!

You may wonder why so few TechCafe events lately… There are an incredible number of events that have begun to pick out niches in the wide field of events and we’re pretty darn excited to have been foundational to these events getting started and now becoming critical to the community. Events like Poker 2.0, Seattle Tech Meetup, HackerNest, Startup Grind, HackerNews, Ignite Seattle, Startup Weekend, Lean Startup, not to mention all of the events at Eastside Incubator and SURF Incubator the list goes on and on with great events.

With so many great events we are choosing to put on LESS events. We are focusing on GREAT events. We are deciding to find unique startups (like Currently who we are working with on the next one) that we can work with or event concepts that are less of the same thing and address specific needs in the community.

One need that we are focusing heavily on is funding. Early stage funding is a critical component to accelerating companies to find out if they will succeed or fail. To start with we are partnering heavily with the Seattle Angel Conference. If you are a budding entrepreneur looking for funding or a budding angel investor looking to go through our training program – you need to be a part of these events! This is exactly what the Angel Conference specializes in! The conference itself will be in November; however, the investors and startups need to be registered by the beginning of September. Btw, If you are interested in sponsoring a conference full of early stage entrepreneurs and investors please let me know!

So here’s the schedule – advance of most people knowing the schedule of events we’re working on. We’ll post to all the blogs and mailing lists in due time, but since you have been a member of the TechCafe mailing list for all these years, we wanted to share with you before we really started publicizing these.

Date

Speaker

Topic & Registration

Location

Time

8/5/2013

Joe Wallin

Agreements Entrepreneurs Need in Place for Angel Investing

SURF Incubator

3:30PM

8/13/2013

Rudy Gadre

Angel Investing with Rudy Gadre

Think Space Redmond

6:00PM

8/15/2013

Currently, Cairncross, & TechCafe

Pioneer Square Rooftop Social

Cairncross Rooftop

4:00PM

8/19/2013

TA McCann

Data Vault – Entrepreneurs Preparing For Due Diligence

TBD

5:30PM

8/27/2013

Greg Gottesmann

5 Important Things for Angel Investing Term Sheets

Think Space Redmond

6:00PM

9/9/2013

Tolis Dimopolous

How to Pitch to Investors

SURF Incubator

3:30PM

Yes that is A LOT of events!! You’ll notice the specific speakers and topics that are focused on the issues related to funding. Most of these are being put on in conjunction with the Seattle Angel Conference (Yes Josh is assisting behind the scenes with the next conference).  If you miss the old TechCafe events and don’t want to dive deep on funding startups… not to worry – the event on the 15th will have a bit of a profile of Currently and a few words from Cairncross.

As usual, you may want to follow Josh’s blog where more details on the events and investing will be published. All TechCafe specific stuff will still be posted on the TechCafe site. You may also want to start following the Seattle Angel Conference blog as there is a lot of great content there as well.

If you have an idea for an event, want to speak, want to sponsor, etc. Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are always looking forward to connecting with new people and ideas.

The TechCafe Team

P.S. This post is sponsored by KStream Media – stock market education and training. Register for the newsletter – Thinking with Waves.

TechCafe Happy Hour @Appature

If you are counting, this is the first event of the year! We’ve been busy (details on Josh’s blog). We still love putting on tech events in Seattle though!! If you are itching for great events in between TechCafe events you should check out the events at Surf Incubator and Hub Seattle. We feel great that the community is growing here and are honored to be a part of it!

At TechCafe we work with awesome startups and technology companies to offer brilliant technologists a few things for free. Sure you’ll be stuck in Appature‘s slick offices. Yes you will have to participate a little in the technical talk at the event or at least listen to the discussion that Derek Slager (VP of dev at Appature) will lead.

Derek’s talk will explore “Life in the post-jQuery world”, and some of the challenges of evolving a very large client side application. This should be an interesting topic for anybody building modern web-based applications at scale.

You will also meet some other interesting developers, program managers, designers, entrepreneurs, etc. So there is a price to pay to drink the free beer and eat the free food. You will also hear about a job opening or two at Appature… Did I mention that Appature has announced their sale to IMS? Well you’ll likely hear more about this as well.

In case you haven’t been following TechCafe over the years, Appature has sponsored an even EVERY year for the last five years of TechCafe’s existence. That means they have been giving free food and beer to startupers and technologists for years and are doing it again. Over here at TechCafe – we can’t imagine the Seattle technology community thriving without companies like this supporting the community.

So join TechCafe for an early happy hour at Appature to talk tech and meet some great peers in the industry.

Registration details are on the Attend the next event page.

This year, TechCafe is also partnering with the Seattle Angel Conference. If you are a new Angel and are not participating (you should be). If you missed the deadline to pitch to the group – there will be another opportunity in the fall. If you want to attend the conference (May 16th)itself where the six finalists will pitch go sign up . If you are interested in sponsoring a part of the event, there is always room for more sponsors.

If you are interested in hosting/sponsoring a TechCafe in the future, don’t hesitate to reach out. Please forward this invite to great people in the community that you think would be interested in attending or sponsoring in the future, our tech community is growing and you are a part of it.

We are looking forward to connecting with you at this TechCafe event or a TechCafe in the future.

Hack Autism

If you haven’t heard about the Hackathon for Autism yet, I highly recommend you take a look and plan on attending.

Registration is – Hackathon for Autism

 

March 22nd – 24th

Microsoft’s Bing Fund is creating a series of Hackathon’s around Autism, where we will invite technologists, designers, subject matter experts, and people living with Autism (both families and individuals) to participate and help us produce prototypes which we will continue to build on at subsequent Hackathons.  Depending on the feedback from the first event we will likely modify the themes at each subsequent events to focus on specific areas.   If you have any comments or questions about our Hackathon for Autism or you would like to volunteer please reach out to us here.

WHERE


SURF Incubator Exchange Building 821 Second Ave., Suite 800 Seattle, WA 98104

SPECIAL GUESTS


 

  • Wendy Stone, PhD, UW Autism Center
  • Raphael Bernier, PhD, UW Autism Center
  • Dr. Gary Stobbe, Seattle Children’s Hospital Karen Kaizuka, Seattle Children’s Autism Guild
  • Dan Feshbach, Chairman, Teachtown
  • Karen Kaizuka, Seattle Children’s Autism Guild

WHAT


Sequential learning aimed at increasing independence for critical everyday tasks at home and school. Designing an application based on one of three use-case scenarios below to leverage new technologies to support a functional model to complete the given task. The underlying application framework should be exposed through a set of services to empower manipulation of the application to adapt to future services.

Age 3-5 This scenario will involve designing and delivering instructional & motivational content that the child finds engaging and rewarding. The content itself will be dynamic and will be expected to evolve with usage to keep the child engaged and well positioned to learn new tasks.

Age 5-12 This scenario will revolve around basic tasks related to getting ready for going and coming back from school. It should facilitate parent and school-driven customizations based on each child’s unique circumstances.

Age 12-20 This scenario will revolve around critical skills necessary to utilize public transit for a young adult to transport him/herself to and from a destination. It should facilitate multiple modes of transit, integration with real-time transit data, geo- awareness of the young adult (via mobile/tablet) and capitalize on other data available with respect to his/her surroundings.

OUTCOME

The hackathon will be expected to generate a collection of prototypes. These prototypes will be judged by a panel of subject-matter-experts and parents. Winners will be awarded TBD. The winning Intellectual Property will be contributed to the open market for monetization and/or further development/research.

 

 

More TechCafe coming this year

In the meantime, don’t forget to submit your registration to present at the next Seattle Angel Conference. The deadline for companies interested in participating is this week and similarly if you are an investor you should get yourself registered soon.

There are a few events coming up for those of you interested in Angel Investing – one yesterday (which I missed). There will be another on Thursday for those of you on the eastside:

SAC III Eastside Angel Investing 101

February 28th 6:00pm

Thinkspace, 201 164th Ave NE ,Redmond

http://sac-iii-eastsideangel101.eventbrite.com/

There will also be an event next Thursday as well hosted by the MIT Forum:

Thursday March 7, 2013

5:30 pm to 8:30 pm

One Union Square Boardroom

Seattle WA

http://www.mitwa.org/events/venture-lab/meet-angels-1

 

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