October 30, 2009
Tonight those of us fortunate enough to make it out to the Pillsbury Law offices in DC were treated to a terrific panel discussion at the second iteration of Bootstrap Maryland.
Bootstrap Maryland is a not-for-profit group that brings together young entrepreneurs and the necessary tools for running a lean and successful technology business. We want to see Maryland, DC, and Virginia flourish with innovation.
The events are put on by our very good friend Jared Goralnick, one of the areas best and brightest. The first iteration was a full day conference at put on at the University of Maryland. It was a great success. This one however was a little different, a format that I liked very much and one I hope Jared continues on with to continue to grow and thrive the local technology community. It was a semi networking event put on at a local law firm that has deep ties into the local startup community in the area and featured one main panel with a great cast that gave a lot of terrific information to the eager crowd.
It was very informal with lots of questions and conversation between the audience and the panelists. Before we get too far, let me introduce who sat on the panel.
- Paul Singh – Creator and founder of Philtro, a real time relevancy search for Twitter, who just recently exited and was acquired by another company.
- Jay Virdy is the CEO and Founder of Summize, which recently sold to Twitter
- John Burke is a Partner at True Ventures, a venture capital firm based out of Silicon Valley with an office in Northern Virginia
- Steve Kaplan from Pillsbury Law
Paul had a lot of great insight and info from someone who in the past year took a company form conception to sale. He spoke of the need for speed, so to speak, just get the product out there. Don’t waste time mired in minutia because, as he said, 99% of the decisions you make you can change. Don’t spend all your time on a business plan, get a product working and go from there, because most of the time the product will change and have nothing to do with your original intent.
Listening to Jay Burke of True Ventures was a real treat. It was honest info from a well respected VC in the community with lots of great companies in their portfolio. He went over a general term sheet with down to earth language about the terms and what is really going on inside of it. He also reiterated Paul’s point about business plans, staging he has not see a business plan at true Ventures this year. Steve Kaplan offered up honest and good legal advice to the crowd. Again, following up on some points Paul made, like don’t get too creative with legal plans and documents, its gets way too complicated and costs way too much in the end.
The final panelist, Jay Virdy of Summize had some great insight into building his company and the sale to Twitter. He said “Fail Early, Fail Fast”. Get that out of the way and get back on your feet and figure out where you are going. His best piece of advice he received was from one of his investors who said if nothing else, keep it simple. Like Paul, he said speed was important, get a product up and out the door. “You should be embarrassed by your initial launch”
Overall it was a great event. The networking was terrific, meeting lots of new people and gaining a lot of great insight from some verterans in the industry. We hope to see more of these in the near future.
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