Last night, I went to the Silicon Valley Meetup held at Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) in Menlo Park. These have become wildly popular following a New York Times article about the New York Tech Meetup, which was standing room only due to its new publicity.
I found the meeting to be an interesting group of people. I was only 1 of 2 venture fund folks there, the other person being the DFJ guy who donated the conference room. The rest of the people were all entrepreneurs and seemed to span the range of experience, from novice to those who had done many startups.
It started out by everyone giving a short introduction (which was when I found out I was 1 of 2 venture fund folks). Then they began the presentations. The 4 companies were very interesting and ranged from very early-test phase-virtually no users to more developed business plans and lots of funding. They are:
Meetro.com - a location based IM client
Zooomr.com - a location based photo sharing service
Rrove.com - a tagging service for physical locations
Prosper.com - a community managed service which allows individuals to provide lending capital to others
Some impressions of the meeting:
1. Why aren't there more VCs at these meetings? I need to ask around and find out why. Maybe they don't want to get inundated by entrepreneurs. Me, I like to build things and like to hang out with people with great ideas.
2. It was interesting to see what Web 2.0 has wrought. Lots of tools and functions to build but hard to define a business model.
3. Naming is a real problem. Rrove was an example of that. I am certain we'll see lots of names like that.
4. There seems to be many people attempting to be entrepreneurial these days. It's nice to see, but also I can see where the learning curve can be really tough without guidance and experience. I did find a whole bunch of resources for new entrepreneurs. I hope to hit a few of these to see how they operate - My thanks to Chris, an entrepreneurial engineer who sent me these, in his own words:
This one is pretty good. I've seen entrepreneurs, angel investors and VCs attend these events. There's a StartUp-U group that helps entrepreneurs in different areas in the startup process.
This group has several SIGs and each SIG concentrates on specific areas. Since you’re into web opportunities for your fund, you may want to look at the Blogging & RSS SIG, Java SIG, Start Ups / VCs SIG and the Web Development SIG.
This one really helped me understand the Startup world. They have this one program made up of 6 events which helps entrepreneurs start their ventures. Entrepreneurs, angel investors and VCs attend these events. This group is funded by Lockheed and is more organized compared to the other groups in events. This has probably helped more than any other group and usually has a bigger audience than any other of the listed groups.
VC Task Force (vctaskforce.com)
This one seems to be popular in the VC world, I haven't attended any of their events because it's a little pricier compared to the other groups.
This is a new one.
Very exciting time to be an entrepreneur now.