All posts filed under “Geeking out

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A new home for seed accelerator resources

In the summer of 2009, I wrote a paper called “Copying Y Combinator: a framework for developing seed accelerator programmes” and posted it here with links to all the background research and data that I had compiled.

Ever since I’ve received a lot of requests to share various spreadsheets, questions about the paper, and comments from people involved or interested in seed accelerators.  I’ve come to realize that while it was fine having things scattered about on my blog and in various Google Docs, it wasn’t ideal.

Today, I’m happy to announce a few things:

First, I’ve created a “Seed Accelerator knowledge base” site.  Everything I’ve written or compiled on Y Combinator and other seed accelerators can be found there.  It’s very bare-bones right now, but hope to flesh it out in the coming weeks/months.

Second, I’m starting a newsletter on seed accelerators.  (Sign up at the bottom of this post.)  I promise it will be low traffic (about 1 email/month) and high signal/noise ratio.

(I’ve also created a page on this site to make sure visitors can always find their way to anything I’ve done related to seed accelerators)

What the future holds

Eventually I’d like to turn the knowledge base into a webapp of sorts, probably tied into Crunchbase.  This will allow for better analysis of the data over the long-term.  If entrepreneurs and the people that fund them have access to key signals (1st tier – #/value of exits, 2nd tier – # still operating/alive, 3rd tier – #/value fundraised) then everyone will be able to make better choices.

If you have any comments or recommendations, please let me know!

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A new responsive design!

I’m happy to announce that this small, little blog of mine now has a responsive design!

Okay… now what the hell does that mean?  It means that no matter what device you use to come to my blog, it’s always going to be readable and look nice.  If you see this on a desktop browser, it will have multiple columns and full-size images.  If you read it on a mobile browser (aka iPhone/Android), it will just be one column, and the images will have scaled down to fit the screen.  Want a better example?  If you’re reading this on your desktop, slowly change the size of the window (drag the bottom right corner of your screen) until it’s as small as you can make it.  As you do it, you’ll see how the blog’s design changes to fit the way you’re reading it.

I wish I could say I did this myself, but in fact I used the Scherzo theme from Leon Paternoster.  If you’re a design novice like myself and use WordPress, it’s very easy to implement.

It’s hard to state how much of a sea change this is in web design, and it was all started by Ethan Marcotte.  (I’m lucky enough to count him as a brother-in-law.)  If you are a web designer, make sure you buy his book on responsive design.  Read it, and use it!

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Google+

If you haven’t heard, Google+ has launched.  It’s the start of Google’s social projects, and it looks like it’s already the start of something big.  (>10million users in <2 weeks!)

If you’re interested, you can follow me on Google+ here.

EDIT:  I’ve also done some magic so you can go to my Google+ profile by going to http://jedchristiansen.com/+

Awesome video on startups, entrepreneurship, business

This has absolutely nothing to do with Google+, but if you’ve got an hour, I highly recommend watching the video below.  It’s Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) interviewing Chris Sacca, one of the most interesting investors in Silicon Valley today.  (He was one of the first investors in Twitter, for example.)

Chris has long had a great reputation amongst entrepreneurs, and from this video I can completely understand why.

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Startup accelerators in 2011

RenaultF1Wheel

[UPDATE] -

Please see the Seed Accelerator Knowledge Base for the most up-to-date information on seed accelerators world-wide, and the startups that have graduated from them.

 

I’ve long been interested in the seed accelerator model, as started by Y Combinator.  I wrote my master’s thesis on it, and wrote a follow-up post this spring.  Recently, two things have happened that I wanted to write about.  First, I restructured the spreadsheet where I maintained a list of all companies to come out of seed accelerators.  And second, NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, a UK investment and research body) recently undertook a significant piece of research into seed accelerators.

Update to Seed Accelerator company list spreadsheet

As a part of my original paper on seed accelerators, I compiled a list of all the companies that have come out of seed accelerators like Y Combinator, TechStars, Seedcamp, et cetera.  Each accelerator had its own tab, with the details of all their companies.  I kept edit rights, mainly so that I could be sure of the details for my paper and follow-up work.

As seed accelerators have exploded in number world-wide, it’s become nearly impossible to keep this working.  There were too many tabs for different accelerators to be found properly, and it really is best if the people that run the different programs can edit the details for their companies.

So there are now individual documents for each seed accelerator program, and the original document now has links to each individual program sheet.  If you run a seed accelerator, please e-mail me and I’ll be sure that 1) I have a separate spreadsheet for your accelerator and 2) you get full edit rights for your program’s spreadsheet.  ([email protected])

Please check the new seed accelerator company directory here.

NESTA research

Kirsten Bound and Paul Miller recently undertook a significant piece of work to define, describe, and analyze seed accelerators on a global basis.  The result of which can be found on the NESTA page: “The Startup Factories“.  [Direct link to their PDF paper.]  I spoke to Kirsten a couple of times prior to and during their research, and they developed a real sense of the opportunities and challenges of startup accelerators.

While I didn’t have time to make NESETA’s half-day conference on seed accelerators last week, a friend of mine (Mark Littlewood of the BLN) did and wrote about it here: “Do we need startup factories?“.  The key element can be found at the bottom of his post, where Mark echo’s something I’ve been saying since my very first paper.  Only the best, top-tier seed accelerators will truly be of value to entrepreneurs. And the followers, the “me-too” seed accelerators that are starting to pop up everywhere, will be of little to negative value.  While in the long run it will be easy to tell between the two, in the short term I am afraid that startup founders may get fleeced.  Startup accelerators need to clearly understand their unique advantages that can allow them to recruit some of the best startups away from the Y Combinators and TechStars of the world.  If they can’t offer that level of value, it might not be worth it for them to exist.

The NESTA report is quite well written and clear.  Some of the data is a little dodgy; in particular I’m not a fan of the Tech cocktail rankings at all, since they have yet to mention what data they’re using to create the rankings.  (I personally believe that it overly weights the accelerators that more freely share data.)  But overall, it’s a great resource.

If you do have comments, please share them with the writers.  The discussion paper is currently in draft form, but they hope to finalize it soon.