Dharmesh Shah


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Y Combinator Finally Gets Some Kick-Butt Competition With Y Permutator

By Dharmesh Shah on April 1, 2010

I’ve been following Y Combinator for several years and have a (sometimes grudging) admiration for them.  The “grudging” comes from the fact that they abandoned Boston and are now exclusively running their program in the Bay area.

onstartups ypermutator

Given YC’s success, several organizations in the past have tried to replicate or improve on Y Combinator’s revolutionary micro-funding model for startups.  Most of these have not really accomplished the objective.  The reasons for their failure have been varied, but the primary one was that unlike Y Combinator, they aren’t revolutionary.  Nobody sat down and said “how do we really take what YC has done and turn it on it’s head.”

Until now.  I just read about Y Permutator.  There’s a lot I don’t like about YP — one of which is it seems to be backed by some old school venture capitalists.  Not that there’s anything wrong with them, I just have a hard time believing that those that made all of their money in the 1990s and maybe even the 1980s (gasp!) are really going to understand what it takes to start a new kind of investment vehicle.  But, I have to give credit where credit is due.  It’s different

It goes back to the basics and brings back some of the same things that made VCs so successful across the decades — but adds some new twists.

I'm going to be particularlly interested in seeing what folks like Brad Feld, Davic Cohen, Dave McClure, Eric Ries, Fred Wilson and Michael Arrington think of this.  But, somehow, I don't think the top-tier VCs are going to be shaking in their boots.

If you’re in the market for some micro-funding, check out Y Permutator and let me know what you think.  Is this the future of micro-investing?  What do you think?

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Notes From SXSW 2010 And A Fabulous Startup Dinner

By Dharmesh Shah on March 25, 2010

onstartups sxsw I am writing this on the plane trip back to Boston from SXSW in Austin, Texas.  This was my first time down to the conference that’s been referred to as “Spring Break for Geeks”.  I’ve been meaning to go for the last couple of years, but have always had some conflict.  This year, I was invited as a speaker to talk about my new book, “Inbound Marketing”, so I went.  

 

Super Awesome Startup Dinner

The highlight of my entire trip was not the conference itself, but a last-minute dinner I organized with some startup founders that also happened to be there.  Here were the folks in attendance:

1. Jason Fried, 37signals

2. Drew Houston, DropBox

3. Mike McDerment, FreshBooks

4. David Greiner , CampaignMonitor

5. Kevin Hale, Wufoo

6. David Heinemeier (DHH), 37signals

7. Adam Smith, Xobni

8. Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot (me)

This was a fantastic group of startup founders all of who have been doing some amazing things with their companies.  We spent 4+ hours at the table eating, drinking and debating some of the finer points (and not so finer points) of running a software startup.

So, what did we talk about?  A bunch of stuff including (but not limited to): hosting (managed services, colo and EC2), the importance/unimportance of a board of directors, user/customer analytics, referral programs, credit card info and the pain of PCI compliance, user incentives, employment agreements, Jason/DHH’s new book (“Rework”) and whether expensive Scotch was really any better than non-expensive Scotch. 

Sessions / Speakers

I attended as many sessions as I could, and live-tweeted many (apologies if you follow me (@dharmesh), and you’re not into that kind of thing).  In most cases, I attended the “featured speaker” session (vs. some of the smaller ones).  Exceptions were when I knew the speaker.  This was for a couple of reasons:  a) I figured it was a “safer” bet in terms of quality of the presentation and b) As a frequent speaker myself, I’m always looking to get better and watching the pros helps a lot.

On average, I’d say the sessions were very good — but not great.  A few of the sessions fell a little flat.  I’ll admit, my expectations were high because I’d figured that SXSW has the pick of the litter when it comes to who gets to speak there.  But, given the sheer volume of sessions at the conference, I can’t really blame them for all of them not hitting it out of the park.

And, Of Course, The Parties!

As an introvert, I find it hard to have a good time in large groups but I decided that if I really wanted to get the full effect of SXSW I had to go to the legendary parties.  So I did, for several nights.  Even at these, I find myself talking “shop” with smaller groups of folks which was fun.  And yes, the parties were big.  

Overall, I liked SXSW -- a lot (and will definitely be going back next year).  It was a great opportunity to meet people I've known online for years and chat with old friends. 

Look forward to SXSW 2011.  Will you be there?

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