Sound-bites from the Venture Capitalists themselves.

Have you read about the Startup Pitch Contest taking place at MobiCom this year? If not, read more about it here!

In my previous blog, I promised some words from the VCs (Venture Capitalists) themselves. This Q&A should be a teaser for you into the kind of valuable insight we will gain on this grilling process, from the experienced VCs themselves.

eugene_leeI begin by asking Eugene Lee about his career and experience with startup companies. “In my career I’ve had the opportunity to co-found a startup as well as be “CEO 2.0″ of a startup, been a VP at 3 large publicly traded companies (including Cisco and Adobe), and most recently an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at a venture capital firm.” He says. “So I’ve seen a wide spectrum of business stages, product categories, team dynamics, and leaders.”

I then ask Eugene what are the things that he is looking for as well as what are the red flags that he tries to avoid. For starters, Eugene is looking for:

  1. Passion
  2. Vision
  3. Big idea, big market, with an achievable market entry first offering
  4. Great team with complementary skills, experiences, and personality strengths/weaknesses

As for what are his red flags:

  1. Arrogance
  2. Tunnel vision
  3. Overpowering leader
  4. Great concepts but weak execution

Eugene also shared some startup tips with me. He suggests that, “In addition to having a big idea attacking a big market with an achievable market entry first offering, I also like to ask “Why now?” – in other words, what are the industry, technology, market, and competitive trends that are converging to make your idea the best thing for customers NOW?”

Claire_Portrait2We also received some learned wisdom from VC Claire Chang, who adds on what Eugene has said. She shared with us one personal sound bite of hers. She says, “One, competitive landscape – often times, entrepreneurs are so engrossed in their own ideas that they often neglect to do thorough research on what’s already out there. Once you have understood your competitors then you will have a better understanding of how to create your value proposition and your go to market strategy, which are other things I’d add to this mix of what we look for.”

This is the first time that both VCs attend MobiCom. Claire says, “As first time attendees of MobiCom, we are very much looking forward to attending the conference, learning cutting edge research.” We welcome both Claire and Eugene to MobiCom, and we look forward to the startup contest!

Remember, the startup pitch contest is today, Monday, September 8, from 6:30pm – 8:00pm. Don’t miss it!


How good is your startup idea?

startup-pitchMany students, and some professors, are interested in entrepreneurship. We are full of cool ideas, but we rarely get an opportunity to be mentored by people who have entrepreneurship experience. This year at MobiCom 2014, we are bringing the experts to you!

The Startup Pitch Contest is an original and a unique event organized by the general chair, Sung-Ju Lee. For this event, he has recruited silicon valley Venture Capitalists (VCs), Eugene Lee and Claire Chang, and entrepreneurs, namely Prof. Leonard Kleinrock.

So who gets the opportunity to pitch their startup idea? People who submitted the best elevator pitch document are selected to make a pitch at MobiCom in front of the VCs (and fellow conference attendees). “We will follow a similar format as the ones VCs run.” Sung-Ju says. After the pitch, the VCs will provide constructive feedback, as well as grilling. “One could consider this event as a practice pitch.”

What does the winner get? The winner will be invited to the office of Artiman Ventures in the silicon valley to make a formal pitch!

When asked what his hopes are for the event, SJ says “I am very excited about this event and think it will be a lot of fun, not only for the people who pitch, but also for the rest of us witnessing the event.” He also adds, “I hope the winner can share the whole experience at next year’s MobiCom, and perhaps s/he will be a keynote speaker at 30th MobiCom!” Now isn’t that a thought worth considering?

We all have something to gain from this contest. Whether we have an idea but will not be pitching it in the event, or even if we are not interested in the startup path at all, this is an experience we should not miss: to see and understand how our ideas can be challenged by experts and maybe how best to hold our own.

As a last note, have you watched the ABC TV show Shark Tank? This startup contest brought to us at MobiCom will be a “special”, albeit a customized and small-scale, version of Shark Tank that will bring all of us attendees something closer to home!

Stay tuned for comments from the VCs themselves!