OLC recently attended the September 19th, 2012 Are You Serious? event sponsored by The Hatchery and held at Mercy College Main Campus in Midtown Manhattan. Three venture capitalists/investors (Klifer Capital’s Sachin Jade, RTP Ventures’ Kyrill Scheynkman and angel investor Andrew Ackerman) heard presentations from startups Docracy, Stereotypes and Muvi.
Docracy’s mission is to provide resources that take the fear and mystery out of legal agreements. The first version of Docracy was created at an all-night TechCrunch hackathon. Docracy is backed by First Round Capital, Vaizra Seed Fund, Quotidian Ventures and Rick Webb.
Stereotypes is a social network for music listeners that helps members stay connected through music. Working across major music platforms such as iTunes, Last.fm, and Facebook Music and applications like Spotify, Songza and Rdio, Stereotypes has the unique capability of bringing people together around music regardless of where they listen to music today.
Muvi is a social movie platform and the world’s first context-based social engagement. Muvi allows users to see the latest trailers, like (or dislike) trailers and find trailers liked by other movie lovers around the world. Muvi also allows users to check movie reviews from critics and Twitter, rate movies and see which movies are liked by friends. Muvi considers itself a Buddy Media for the movie industry.
Some of the investor feedback included comments by Sheynkman who offered that Yahoo didn’t know how to make money until investors told them how, if it’s a chicken or egg choice, choose the egg - it’s all about users! He also stated that in NYC, startups generally have business people who don’t always understand technology, thus a technical person must always be a partner or cofounder. He advised the audience to use statistics to identify market opportunities from smaller market samples. He also asked the audience to check VC references by speaking to CEO’s of portfolio companies, as the investment cycle is a long ride and you have to get along with each other.
Jade also urged the audience to do their homework on potential VC partners in order to assure alignment with the team.
Ackerman felt that investors need to be wowed, otherwise they’re not going to invest in a marginally better company or idea. Ackerman also felt the term “social network” is fatigued and companies need to call themselves something else. He advised the audience not to start fundraising only when needed, but alternatively, to never stop fundraising. He also advises presenters to know and understand the important assumptions made in any presentation deck. When dealing with VC’s, Ackerman suggested finding the investor’s failed portfolio companies or “bad children” in order to learn how investors treated them. He referenced Jeff Bussgang’s book, “Mastering the VC Game” as a great resource.