Thinkspace Member: Donuts – Named to WSJ’s “The Next Big Thing 2012” List

Donuts CEO, Paul Stahura

The Wall Street Journal unveiled its third annual ranking of the top 50 U.S. companies backed by venture capital—A list that attempts to identify start-ups that could become the “Next Big Thing 2012“. Geekwire reported “… after considering nearly 6,000 companies, here are the top 50 startups that The Wall Street Journal editors believe have the the best chance at success.”

Congrats to our very own Donuts, Inc which is ranked 14th on the list! The other company in the Seattle area is Cheezburger which is ranked 28th. Pretty awesome to have both companies on this impressive list.

Updated: 9/29 @ 9:40am: I also forgot to mention that Docusign is on that list as well, ranked #6. I believe Docusign was founded in 2004, I guess they can still be considered a startup!

Here’s a link to a Q/A blog post that we did with Donuts last week.

DIY SEO Bootcamp For Startups

SEO Bootcamp for Startups image credit
You’re a visionary. Your Idea will change the world!Every time you tell someone about your idea they instantly become a believer and start spreading the word. Your energy and passion for what you do is so contagious that you are attracting talent, people want to get involved. Only problem is you need funding, cash is tight, and can’t afford to hire a top notch SEO agency.

If you’re like me you’re a jack of all trades. My trade is SEO. Little did I know, I’m also a bookkeeper, attorney, real estate advisor, human resources department, project manager, marketing director, sales manager, public speaker, and the list goes on….

So, my fellow start-up friend, let me help make you the best overnight DIY SEO expert possible! Here are some tools and insights to help with your journey!

On Page Optimization

This will show you what the Perfectly optimized page looks like

Keep in mind that 70% of all internet searches are long tail searches, a critical factor when creating your content strategy

Use this tool to do keyword research. It’s important to understand the difference between broad match searches and exact match searches. Also, understand that the long tail lives between the exact match and broad match

Don’t waste your time with the meta keywords tag

Always keep users in mind when optimizing page content, never stuff keywords into a page to rank.

Set up a profile with Google Webmaster tools and Bing webmaster tools

Submit an XML sitemap to both Google & Bing through their webmaster tool accounts. Remember, Bing controls Yahoo. Need a sitemap? Use this Generator

Use this Tool to find broken links, missing alt tags, 404 errors , and other technical issues in your site. Export the report and tell your web dev to get busy!

More tools by the Ninjas! The DIY SEO Guys best friend

SEO Tools

SEOmoz has a great SEO tool kit, some say the best. Hey, with 18 million in funding they should have a kick butt tool kit!

OpenSiteExplorer will show you all of your competitors links. Go get em! Check out the “compare link metrics” on this tool

Megistic SEO will show you how many links your competitors have generated over time

SpyFu will show you how much money your competitors are spending on AdWords, and what keywords they are using. Also, compare two competitors to see what overlapping keywords are used….target these!

Raven Tools – This is SEOmoz’s largest competitors. They have a robust suite of SEO tools for link acquisition, bench marketing, and reporting

Link Building

Use UBL or YEXT to get into the local directories

The Penguin update put a stop on manufactured link building strategies. Put every link service through the test and ask yourself, “Will my target market find this useful?” If the answer is no, stay away.

Always ask link vendors for a deliverable. If they will not show you the link URLs do not do business with them

When you get your deliverable run the domain through Open Site Explorer to see the domain authority. If it’s a high domain authority (30+) then keep the link building service. If it’s of low domain authority then get rid of the service.
Never sign monthly contracts with link building vendors, keep them on their toes with purchase orders.

Here are some vendors that deliver manufactured strategies. Your success is through vendor management : AstaMedia , Link Narwhal, Backlink Mafia, Link Fool

Local SEO

This is your local SEO bible, if you’re a local business or have plans to operate many locations it’s critical that you read this

Content Generation

Media Piston: Crowdsouring platform for content generation. Need 1000 product reviews in 48 hours, this is your source. Need affordable movie reviews writer, product descriptions, or blog content? This is a great place to start. Sidenote: The founder of this company is a local Badass (what up Joe!)

Zerys – Project management platform that connects you with a pool of writers. Find one writer or power a crowd.

Crowd Content – another content platform. Content generation is getting easy now days…..

SEO Resources

 

SEOMoz – worlds largest SEO community, blog, and user generated blog

Search Engine Journal – Search marketing trends and updates. Check out my posts

Search Engine Watch – Authority in search info. Sign up for their weekly updates and get high level major updates in your inbox….

Search Ranking Factors – by SEOmoz, a complete look into the Google Ranking Algo, this is true science

Google Algorithm Changes – Track Google’s Algorithm changes with this web page by SEOmoz

All of the resources in this section (Search Ranking Factors and Google changes) have been tweeted thousands of times. This is because the content is the best in the business…..That’s your goal, create the best content in your business and deliver it to those that care. If you can do this, and you’re an ethical company, Social media will give you life

Alright – this will get you started! Start-up’s stick together….before funding and after! In the comments below, feel free to ask any questions or add to the list. I’m happy to help.

About Gabriel Gervelis
@seo_pro – I’m a digital expert a search marketing samurai, social ad serving gun slinger, start up entrepreneur, & marketing master mind who’s mission is nothing less then to change the world!
Find me on Linkedin

Why Three Founders Is Better Than Two

Creating a company with a good friend or like-minded business partner is common, and allows you to both call the shots and make decisions that have a direct impact on your startup’s future.

Unfortunately, a startup founded by two people can be a tough sell. It opens the door for disagreements and ultimately legal issues that could threaten to disrupt and even close the doors of your company for good.

This is why having a third founder is preferable to many startups that want to keep things equal between the two primary partners, but have an objective third party to resolve disagreements and help keep things smooth and civil.

Imagine a startup where two owners split the company’s assets in half and everything worked 50/50. This sounds like a great deal, but business is rarely a platform for constant agreement. One founder may decide that things would work better one way while the other prefers a different method. This makes an impasse difficult to avoid, and could ultimately lead to legal disagreements between parties for more critical decisions such as a sale of the company or in matters of the startup’s direction.

How it Works
Enter the third founder. This individual would ideally bring something to the table in terms of experience and level headedness. This third founder doesn’t have to receive a significant portion of the startup’s assets. Rather, you could split the business in a number of different ways to accommodate the contributions of this third person. Here are some examples.

Minor Partnership

  • Party A: 45%
  • Party B: 45%
  • Party C: 10%

A 10% stake in a startup is usually not a significant boost in that partner’s income, and it will also limit the amount of personal investment required on this partner’s part. In many ways, this division does little more than offer the third partner a deciding vote should the two primary members of the partnership disagree.

One area where something like this would come into play is a co-ownership of a restaurant in which the head chef (typically the person in charge of purchasing and management of the kitchen) is given the third piece of the partnership in exchange for a long-term commitment to the restaurant.

You could also split a startup this way should it be decided that the third partner is willing and capable of pulling 1/3 of the weight.

Equal Partnership

  • Party A: 33.33%
  • Party B: 33.33%
  • Party C: 33.33%

There is no magic number to these types of divisions, either. You could have a mixed partnership where one founder has a larger percentage than the other two, or a division that grants an even smaller division to the third partner than 10%.

It’s up to the business owners to organize it in such a way that any two members of the partnership have the ability to agree on something and make it happen.

Things to Remember
If the two original founders often disagree, the minor third partner actually wields a lot of power within the company. You wouldn’t want to bring in someone that is inclined to take one side over another on most issues. An objective third party is often best for these types of situations, and that means choosing someone that doesn’t have a previous allegiance.

By giving them enough of the company to reap the benefits of good decision making, you’re also giving them a very good reason to make the best decisions they can regarding the company’s future. This third founder is often handed to the person the partners are most likely to turn to for advice anyway.

There are ways to work clauses into the contract that require a 100% or 75% majority decision for some things. For example, choosing to sell the company or liquidate its assets is a major decision that shouldn’t be made without the two most invested partners agreeing on. By saying that a more significant majority has to agree to make these major decisions, you’re safeguarding yourselves from emotional destruction, a common problem that startups with roots in tight friendships and families face.

From your experience, do you think 3 founders is better than 2? Let us know in the comments!

Everyday Leadership In Your Startup and Lollipop Moments

Drew Dudley presented at TEDxToronto and gave a speech that completely resonates with me. Drew spoke about “Everyday Leadership“. When I think about today’s leaders, I think about President Obama, Richard Branson, my ex-boss Stuart Mckee and the list goes on and on. Drew believes leadership is not a characteristic reserved for the extraordinary. He believes that each of us can discover the leader within ourselves.

“We’ve taken this title of leader and we treat it as if it was something that one day we’re going to deserve, but to give it to ourselves right now means a level of arrogance or cockiness that we’re not comfortable with. And I worry sometimes that we spend so much time celebrating amazing things that hardly anybody can do that we’ve convinced ourselves that those are the only things worth celebrating, and we start to devalue the things that we can do everyday. – Drew Dudley”

Last week I wrote about “Transparency: Too Much Or Not Enough In Your Startup Culture?“. I mentioned that we have a daily huddle and we share one thing that we appreciate about someone on the team. For me, I see leadership every single day in every single one of my employees when they are able to share what they appreciate about someone. Each of my employees has the ability to be extraordinarily powerful in each others lives.

In Drew’s speech he talks about how he was giving out lollipops. I’m not going to even try to paraphrase the story that he shares so I would highly encourage you to just go watch the entire TED talk. I will quote Drew one more time:

We need to redefine leadership as being about lollipop moments, how many of them we create, how many of them we acknowledge, how many of them we pay forward, and how many of them we say thank you for.

In our thinkspace culture we have three core values, one of them is:
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  • Wow Customer Service, Every Engagement, No Exception.

[/listplus]

When I think about this core value, I also think about how my team is creating “lollipop moments” every single day for each of our thinkspace members and their customers. There’s something really special in that. Every single day we can be leaders.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Tom Peters:

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”

What are some of your “lollipop moments” in your startup company?

5 Types of Tweets To Get Your Startup More Attention

No matter who you are or what business you’re in, it’s hard to deny that Twitter has changed the landscape of communication between companies and customers. It has opened the doors for open and personal exchange, and now your startup can build a personal relationship with a growing amount of people with a minimal amount of physical effort.

Because interactions are limited to 140 characters, it doesn’t take very long at all to answer a question or break down that invisible barrier and have some direct contact with your audience.

Here are five types of tweets that can help you get more attention on Twitter.

Thoughtful Questions
People love thinking about insightful questions. Depending on the type of business you’re in, these questions can come from a broad range of topics and ideas. A science fiction community might enjoy discussing what color their lightsaber might be, or which planet they would most like to see from orbit. Likewise, a car dealership might ask its followers to list their favorite car movie.

Either way, it encourages an open dialogue and breaks down that business/individual barrier. It’s very easy to expect nothing but self-promotion from a startup’s Twitter account. This makes it all the more surprising when they find themselves retweeting your question and sharing their own answers.

Mentioning Members of the Community
Wouldn’t you feel more inclined to pay attention to someone if they were actively paying attention to you? By taking a moment to scan your followers’ accounts for witty or useful information, you may find something worth sharing or drawing attention to.

Did one of your followers tell a funny joke? Share it and make sure to call attention to that follower. You may even benefit from regularly featuring customers and/or followers and encouraging your audience to follow them.

Twitter is also a great platform for thanking people for taking the time to check out what you have to offer and/or making mention of it to their own audience. By replying to them directly, only the individual and anyone following both of you will see it, unless someone views your page directly. This helps you avoid flooding people’s streams while still maintaining that extra personalization that could make a world of difference for your follower.

Useful Tips and Information
If you’re tweeting to a mostly local audience, take a moment to find some interesting local events and share the news with your community. The more useful your account is, the more likely your followers are to recommend it (and your business) to their own community.

Useful tips are also extremely sharable. That means you stand a better chance of having your brand shared with a greater number of people if what you’re tweeting has value. Keep it pithy and keep it useful. People will appreciate it and respond accordingly.

Promotional
Let’s be honest – Twitter is, at its heart, a very promotional tool. At best it’s an abbreviated form of mass communication. While you really shouldn’t self-promote all the time, it’s expected and understood that people follow you because they want to know what’s going on with you and your startup.

Try to keep self-promotion down to about 20% of your total non-reply tweets. Just because someone gives you a follow doesn’t mean they necessarily want to hear just about you and your brand every time you tweet. Remember, just having your Twitter handle pop up in their stream at all promotes you. The contents of your tweets should be relevant to the needs of your target audience.

Personal
Perhaps the most important tip in this list is that Twitter is best utilized when it’s personal. If you’re tweeting on behalf of a brand, that’s fine. But try to break down that fourth wall and let your personality shine through.

While people may have a difficult time connecting with your startup, they may feel a bit more inclined to relate with the actual people at your your business – especially if they know that these people are directly behind the Twitter account.

This doesn’t mean you should tweet about these people – or anyone else at your startup – should tweet about lunch every day. But it could make an impact on your potential customers by by emphasizing the emotional impact of whatever it is you’re interested in. Ask followers what they think about something. Take a moment to interact with a few of them directly.

The problem most startups, corporations, and even individuals have with Twitter is that they miss the mark on keeping a two-way line of communication open. It’s easy to fall into that trap of throwing out one-way promotional material.

The real trick to maintaining the attention of your audience is to surprise them by letting them know just how much you appreciate that attention. Personalization, relevance, and value makes all the difference.

If you’re a startup reading this, what types of tweets do you think work best? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

Q&A With Thinkspace Startup: Donuts Inc.

Thinkspace is home to several startups, all with incredibly unique stories to tell. This week, I had a chance to talk with Paul Stahura, CEO and Co-Founder of Donuts Inc.– just one of many of the startups that call thinkspace home. Here’s a little bit more about this up-and-coming company and Paul’s advice for other entrepreneurs.

What is Donuts, and what do you do?
Paul: Donuts is in the Internet domain name business. This time next year, the web addresses you type into your browser won’t be just “cnn.com” or “battle.net”. The string of characters after the dot, which is known of as a top-level domain (or TLD), will include hundreds of new options, like .APP, .PIZZA, .NEWS, .INSURANCE, .DENTIST, .MUSIC, etc. Donuts has applied for hundreds of these new TLDs.

How did Donuts start?
Paul: It was founded by four industry colleagues who decided to team up, organize a new company, and make an assertive effort to really expand Internet naming. We incorporated formally in 2010, raised a lot of funding, and are in the process of securing our applied-for TLDs.

Who is on the Donuts team?
Paul Stahura, CEO and Co-Founder
Richard Tindal, COO and Co-Founder
Jon Nevett, EVP Business Affairs and Co-Founder
Dan Schindler, EVP Sales & Marketing and Co-Founder
Mason Cole, VP Communications & Industry Relations
Kevin Wilson, CFO
Alvaro Alvarez, VP and General Counsel
Stella Luu, Research Associate

How much funding have you raised, and from whom?
Paul: Well over $100 million from multi-billion dollar investment funds. Donuts is backed by Austin Ventures, Adams Street Partners, Emergence Capital Partners, TL Ventures, Generation Partners, and Comerica Bank.

What is the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?
Paul: The most challenging is also the best part about it…no two days are the same. You have to be very well prepared, learn all you can, and run hard at the opportunity. You never know sometimes what’s around the bend.

If there was one thing you could have done differently, what would it have been?
Paul: Career-wise? I’ve been pretty blessed. When I left school, I was interested in robotics, engineering, new ideas and invention. I still am. But I’m happy to be doing what I am with Donuts.

What advice do you have for others thinking about building a startup of their own?
Paul: Learn everything about your market you can first, and then create the solution to the market’s pain. Too many entrepreneurs get that backwards.

What’s your favorite thing about being part of the thinkspace community?
Paul: Well, we’re new here so we’re still getting to know everyone. It’s a great space that encourages creativity.

Anything else you’d like to share?
Paul: Follow us on Twitter (@donutsinc) and watch for updates. There are lots of new and interesting domain names soon to come.

Transparency: Too Much Or Not Enough In Your Startup Culture?

Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz, has a corporate culture of transparency. Rand spoke to the local chapter of the Entrepreneur Organization recently. Based on the story that he shared with us, it sounded like he was a person that was not very transparent in the early days of Moz. However, today Rand is more like Ryan Gosling (though clearly better looking) and is happy to share all. A recent Forbes article ranked Rand #1 in an article: 10 Leaders Who Are Not Afraid To Be Transparent.

If there’s a President in the world of transparency, it’s definitely Rand. A couple days ago, he posted his own performance review. In it, you can see that Rand challenges himself aggressively. SEOmoz has made their funding decks open to the public, which is unheard of. They share all of their failures (and their successes) with the world so others can learn from their experiences. This impacts their company culture.

How Is Company Culture Created?

Someone once said to me that if you don’t create your own culture, you will get a culture by default. The culture that I have been forming at thinkspace for three years has been focused around a few different pillars.

[listdot]

  • Core Values
  • One Page Strategic Plan
  • Daily Huddles
  • Top Grading

[/listdot]

A blog post on each of these things would barely be sufficient as there are books written on each topic. None the less, I’ll take a stab in the upcoming months describing how we use those pillars at thinkspace to help organizational efficiency and create company culture.

You Get The Culture You Tolerate

Even with these pillars in place, there needs to be consistency across the company. Bending rules for just one person and not allowing other people to do the same thing creates an unpleasant confusing work environment. It’s bad for the other employees and it’s bad as a leader. No one should ever be above the rules. I’m also not a fan of “It’s my company so it’s my way or the highway”.

Employees Are People Not Cyborgs

The hard part about this is when you’re just starting up a company, it’s extremely challenging to think about the various things that might come up because there’s a wild card. Employees are human beings, not cyborgs. Depending on the people you hire, they will request stuff that you couldn’t even begin to imagine. Mix in entitlement, expectations, personality, and prior baggage from other managers and companies where they have worked and it creates an infinite number of things that might come up.

The flip side to this is become a cyborg yourself and run things in a black and white manner. That is a culture of machines. The problem with this is there’s no humanity in running things like a cyborg. I choose to run a company that focuses on being remarkable and human to our customers and can’t be done without humans. I can’t turn myself into a cyborg.

Screw Appealing to Gen-Y

Some leaders try to figure out all the different types of generational differences between boomers, Gen-X, Gen-Y, and Millennials. I was that guy. I’ve read tons of articles, graphs comparing this generation versus that generation, heard at least three expert speakers on this subject with my last person being Jason Dorsey at the EO MIT Entrepreneurial Masters Program. I’ve educated myself enough to make a decision that it’s stupid for me to try and try to appeal to Gen-Y or any generation for that matter. Creating stereotypes around one generation or another is not smart. Not all Gen-Y are un-loyal and self-centered. Not all millennials are adultolescent and entitled. Not all Gen-X are naturally skeptical, most loyal to individuals not companies. Not all boomers just want to fit in and are ok with delayed gratification. Stop stereotyping.

Create Your Own Startup Culture

So rather than try and appeal to these various generations — create your own culture. When you hire people you have to share with them ‘this is our culture’ and ‘this is what it’s like to work here’. Rand said “Hire people that don’t always agree with you, but they need to share your core values and care about the company”. You have to create an on-boarding process and make sure that they clearly understand what the expectations are and what are the outcomes and consequences. One thing that we just added to our on-boarding process is making sure the new hire picks a mentor within the company. Someone that can help guide and share with them what it’s like to work here. Remember the old adage: You are hired for what you know, you are fired for who you are.

A Culture of Appreciation

I’ve had many failures (too many to count) but one that weighs heavily on me is not sooner implementing a culture of appreciation. This one bites. It’s got to flow in all directions, up, down, and all around. It’s easy to lose mutual respect and appreciation for each other. Disrespect comes from lack of appreciation. It’s easy to judge people and lose respect for people. The way that we are addressing this is during our daily huddle we say one thing that we appreciate about another team member or even another person in the thinkspace community that has positively impacted our day. While I love hearing about wins during our daily huddle, the thing that I look forward to the most each day is what my team appreciates about each other.

Happiness Index

TINYPulse – Date Asked: September 11, 2012

At thinkspace, we keep track of our Net Promoter Score (NPS). That is the indicator for us to know whether or not our customers would refer us to other people. It’s our measurement for whether or not we are doing a great job or just a good job. I’ve also just implemented an Employee Happiness Index (TinyPulse) through my friend David Niu’s company TinyHR (I’m in private beta and you can email him if you want to join his beta). It’s similar to the NPS but it’s for employees. Our Happiness Index is a 9.2 out of 10. The system wide benchmark (average of all companies in the system) had an index of 8.2. A score of 1 being extremely unhappy and about to quit – to 10 being extremely happy and jumping for joy. If my employees are happy they are likely going to be providing incredible customer service. They also will be fun to work with too. The goal for me is to come work every day see that my customers and employees are as happy as possible. I’m the Chief Pot Stirrer for a reason!

I’m still learning like mad. I’m still making tons of mistakes. I would love to hear what is one thing that you do in your company to create an amazing company culture? What is one of your biggest failures in creating your company culture?

5 Things Startups Should Blog About

When you think about building a business around a product or service, the farthest thing from your mind may be starting a blog on your company’s website. That’s completely understandable, though the benefits of having a company blog can be well worth the effort.

A company blog enables you to keep your customers (and investors) informed as to the status of various projects and establish your business as a leader in your industry. You may even grab some customers that might never have heard about your brand had it not been for a helpful blog post that answered a question or problem they were experiencing.

Think about it – people don’t randomly seek out your business unless they have a problem that requires addressing. Either they’re looking for a better app for their phone or even a place to go to relax. Your blog is a value-add for anyone willing to visit your site and see what you have to offer.

So, what should your startup blog about? You wouldn’t get very far talking about breakfast or some unrelated topic that doesn’t pertain to your business. There are, however, several things you can write about that will vastly improve your chances of turning readers into customers.

Blog About Your Company

One of the most important things to blog about is your company. Be sure not to make these posts aren’t overly promotional. Instead, give an update about the latest product or service your startup is developing – and be transparent about the good and the bad that is happening. This is especially important if you are taking pre-orders or crowdsourced funding.

You don’t have to give all of the details, but people love knowing about what’s going on behind the scense. Being active on your blog means staying fresh in the minds of your customers, especially when you have a product coming soon.

Your customers are also a great source of material for you to blog about. Do you have a customer with a story to tell? Consider sharing that story with your community. Perhaps someone was able to take something your company created and turn it into something entirely different? These stories help build your company’s reputation and directs the attention back to the customer.

Blog About Related Interests

If your startup is a related to photography, you might consider blogging about photography tips and the importance of good lighting. You may also want to discuss trends in the industry – and how your product offers a unique solution. You could also hare information about what might be coming in the next few years in the world of photography and cameras.

Blog About Local Tips

Startups that depend greatly on local business should involve themselves directly with the community. You may want to write about issues concerning the local community and recommend some local events such as festivals and concerts happening soon. The more value you add as a member of that community, the higher your chances of the community reciprocating interest in your project, and thereby increasing your chances of success.

If you’re a food truck, for example, you should definitely blog about local produce sources they would recommend, or share some recipes (not necessarily the secret ones). Every startup should strive to personalize their brand more than anything. As far as as food truck, if your head chef has a few tips for home cooks, share them on the blog and make sure his/her name is on the post.

Blog About Members of Your Team

Startups should also feature members of their team and put a human face behind your startup. There are a million different startups out there that promise to revolutionize the way people think about this and that. The ones that last are generally the ones that people connect the most with.

Putting a face behind various aspects of your company makes it easier to decide to stick around. People love knowing who is behind product development or hearing the story of how the founders came up with the idea of starting the company.

Blog About Your Products

When blogging about your products, consider the things you can’t or haven’t said in your promotional materials. Offer a value to the customer such as alternative uses or perhaps some helpful tips and tricks that can improve their experience with your product.

It’s important not to make every single post a promotional piece. Instead, feature aspects of the product that isn’t obvious or answer common questions in a longer form than a simple Q&A can facilitate.

These are just some of the many things your startup can start blogging about from day one. Keep in mind that there is no golden path to success that works for every business. The evolution of business over the past five years have proven that success comes to those that take the initiative and drive the most value before, during, and after the sale.

What would you blog about to bring value to your customers?

What the Return on Investment Looks like on a Startup Like Pinterest

The return on investing in a startup can be really hard to anticipate. I was reading an article on Tech Crunch titled “The One That Got Away” which highlighted how one investor had the opportunity to invest in Pinterest but passed.

Let’s get real about investing in startups first before we talk about what happens when you invest in the home-run. You could invest $25K and you could even be helping that company out further by opening connections to customers, other investors, helping the person find a co-founder, developer, helping them find employees all of which are invaluable to that company. The truth is you might not see a single dollar back from investing in a startup.

However, if you get crazy lucky and invest in a company like Pinterest you could have seen something like this: A basic $25k investment in Pinterest at $5 million valuation would mean $7.5 million in value at its current $1.5 billion valuation, a $50k investment would be now worth about $15 million.

One of the most interesting things about Pinterest is that it’s been stated on New Media and Marketing: Some believe that Pinterest users live and influence almost everyone within the ultimate social graph and that from a marketing standpoint Pinterest users find and share a lot of great information. Pretty impressive for a startup to have it’s valuation increase to over a billion in a few short years with only 13 employees.

What are some of your expectations when you invest in a startup? Do you like to get involved with the strategic direction? What’s your primary reasons that you invest in startups?

50/50 Equity Split Among Co-founders

It’s never a good idea. We hosted a Founder Institute event tonight and Dave Parker said something like “If you go 50/50 with your cofounder, you’ve already failed as a CEO. You can’t even make the first tough decision right”. I totally agree — there’s a ton of decisions that a CEO has to make and it’s no where close to being the same.

Dan Shapiro once said “50/50 isn’t a business decision, it’s a compromise”.

What are your thoughts on this?!

Here’s another blog post that I wrote: How to Divide Equity to Startup Founders, Advisors, and Employee