1.) The leaders in the startup community — former founders, prominent influencers, VC / seed / angel investors — are making a substantial effort to keep the community hierarchy flat. Anybody who has been successful creating, or investing in a Silicon Valley or SF Bay Area tech company knows that some of the best ideas came to life in garages, home offices, or other “under the radar” environments. This is still true. The resource rich understand that they are only as good as their next discovery, which explains why somebody like Fred Wilson would answer 20 random emails a day from people he doesn’t know or who didn’t get to him through a referral. For those in a position of power, relevance and future success in this market is contingent upon the ability to “keep you ears to the streets”, to successfully comb the market for the next revolutionary founder or business idea…or to publicize your accessibility so the opportunities come to you. I didn’t anticipate that there would be such a sense of openness, that those who have the money to make shit happen would encourage entrepreneurs to get in touch. Regardless of your past or pedigree as an entrepreneur, good ideas play. You just have to be creative and scrappy enough to get yourself noticed.
2.) My first takeaway from day two was spot-on. The LAUNCH winners this year — Recurrency, Fountain, Detectify, OneDrop, Rise Robotics, Fiskkit, MixMax, VideoStitch, PreHire, REscour, ABRA — all solve a compelling problem, or innovate on existing business models that aren’t doing the job. The photo sharing apps, the platforms that gamefify menial tasks for no apparent reason, the umpteenth messaging idea that just shuffles existing functionalities…the “posers” to steal Chris Sacca‘s term from day one, were snubbed by the judges. Hallelujah.
My LAUNCH winner: PreHire. Our current methods for finding, qualifying, and hiring talent are woefully out of date and in no way leverage the power of our modern technologies (see my January post for more vitriol). PreHire is jumping into the fray with a platform that tests candidates’ basic reading, writing, communication, and organizational skills prior to an interview. You know that guy or gal who built the stellar resume, nailed the interview, but can’t put an articulate sentence together? PreHire ensures you identify him or her before they start firing off emails on your company’s behalf. Oh, and they built it in 48 hours.