Stratoscale acquires Tesora

Yesterday it was announced that Tesora had been acquired by Stratoscale, here are some of the articles that were published about this.

and this official announcement by Stratoscale

Thanks to all of you who emailed, texted, tweeted, called, and pinged me on IRC 🙂 I’m overwhelmed by the volume and all the good wishes. I’ll reply to each of you individually, sorry it may take a couple of days for me to do that.

To all of our investors and advisors, first in ParElastic and later in Tesora, thank you all for your help and support. To everyone at Tesora who is moving to Stratoscale, all the very best to you. It has truly been a wonderful six years working with you and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Doug: It’s been especially awesome working with you these past six years. You are a great leader of people, and you have built and managed a truly exceptional team. People in your team like you, respect you, are comfortable approaching you with the strangest questions, and are willing to work with you over and over again. Not an easy thing to pull off over the extraordinarily long period that you’ve been able to do this. You were clearly not an easy taskmaster and your team consistently delivered miracles. But along the way you managed to ensure that everyone was having a good time.

Ken: No entrepreneur can have hoped for a better partner than you. It has been an extraordinary ride and it has been truly my honor and privilege to have taken this ride along with you. I think you were instrumental in building a company which was a very special place to work, where we built some excellent technology, got some marquee customers, and had a lot of fun doing it. I’ve learned a lot, about startups, about technology, about business, and about myself; thank you very much for this awesome experience.

Several of you have asked me “what’s next for Amrith”. I don’t know yet, I’m trying to figure that out (thanks to all of you who have offered to help me figure this out, I will certainly take you up on that).

In the short term, I’m going to continue to work on Trove, finish up my term as the PTL for Ocata and continue to work on the project as we begin the Pike cycle.

What comes later, I have no idea but if you have ideas, I’m all ears.

Say no to pay-to-pitch schemes!

The dust-up yesterday in the Lean-Startup-Circle-Boston mailing list about yet another pay-to-pitch scheme is pretty distressing to me personally. I think it is unfortunate that these schemes are actually allowed to continue because they prey on the entrepreneur. Kudos to all who voiced their objections to this spam, and thanks to Abby for putting a stop to it.

I believe that pay-to-pitch schemes are a shame, and I continue to be appalled by them.

Not long ago I was a rookie entrepreneur, all wet behind the ears and looking for my first investor to fund ParElastic. And one of these “pay-to-pitch” schemes found their way into my mailbox. Naive as I was I asked for more details. Here’s part of an email I got in October 2011,

Wanted to confirm you received my previous email with the details you requested regarding the opportunity to have ParElastic recognized as one of the Top Innovators presenting to our leading group of investors at The New England Venture Summit, as well as make sure you’re aware that the first round deadline to apply is this Wednesday, October 26th. (Final deadline is November 9th).

Let me know if you’d like to submit ParElastic for a Top Innovator slot and I’ll send you the summary outline to fill out for our review.

I have also included below, an updated list of VCs confirmed to speak (more to be announced shortly).

So I sent off for the summary outline and here’s a part of the email that I got in response.

Fee to present: $1,485 (there is no fee to apply)

The deadline for company submissions is November 9th, 2011.

OK, I never pitched at NEVS 2011. I think it is a shame for people to actually attempt to gouge an entrepreneur almost $1,500 for the opportunity to pitch a bunch of potential investors. (The gall of it, to say it is $1,485, no fee to apply). I heard also of an angel group near Boston that charged entrepreneurs to have the opportunity to pitch. I swore not to pitch to such folks and I did not have to (luckily).

Many have written about the scourge of pay-to-pitch. From the Foundry Group blog, an article by Jason Mendelson, from Sajad Ghanizada’s blog, from the Driven Forward blog, from Fred Wilson’s blog,

I know the feeling of desperation at wanting to get funded and I’m thankful that there are plenty of things that one should consider first.

  1. If you, as an entrepreneur spend any money on a pay-to-pitch scheme, that is money that you don’t have available for what really matters; building a product, identifying customers, and building revenue. If you have a product, you have customers and some revenue and you wish to treat this “fee” as a cost of doing business, that’s one thing. But if you are not yet at that point, don’t waste your money on pay-to-pitch schemes.
  2. The value of an introduction to a potential investor is only as good as the person from whom the introduction comes. Build your network and get introduced to potential investors through your own network.
  3. There are many organizations in the Boston area (and the same can be said in most tech communities) that can help you much more than a pay-to-pitch scheme can. A list of some that I know of are provided below. If you know of others, please post a comment.
  4. There are any number of entrepreneur focused events in the Boston area each week, find one in a topic area that is best suited for your own interests and attend a couple. You’ll find not only a lot of fellow entrepreneurs but also many opportunities to grow your own network and meet potential investors and customers. They are also a great place to hire people to join your new enterprise.

Organizations that may be able to help you!

I’m proud to be associated with organizations like TiE Boston and in particular the TiE Challenge initiative.

Local groups like MassTLC organize an unConference (the next one is November 1st) and there are tons of opportunities for mentoring and networking. Yes, I realize that the unConference is not free but if you are a 1-3 person start-up, a $180 entry fee that gives you a one year membership to MassTLC is a whole lot more reasonable than a $1,500 entry fee for a single chance to pitch.

I have not (personally) been part of the many incubators in the Boston area but my company was for over a year a resident of Dogpatch Labs in Cambridge. Techstars  used to be in the same location as well.

There are many business plan contests in the Boston area. They are a great opportunity to pitch and all of the ones that I know of have been free. If you went to one of the many fine educational institutions in the Boston area, check whether your school has one of these. Maybe there’s a “venture forum” that is part of your business school?

I was incredibly fortunate to have been introduced to Foley Hoag LLP and I know that they have helped me and many first-time entrepreneurs in the Boston area.

My experience

My own experience has been that in the Boston area there are many very successful entrepreneurs who are willing and able to help, and they do this in many ways. And most of them participate in mentoring and angel investing as a way to give back to the community.

There are many benefits to building your own network and connecting with people through that network. Yes, I agree that it is frustrating and hard for many of us introverted engineer types to actually go out there and hang out with other people and try and make connections. And the pay-to-pitch schemes prey on this frustration and desperation.

There are many things should be much higher on your list of things to pursue, before you go fritter away good money on a pay-to-pitch scheme.

 

Say no to pay-to-pitch!

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if this then that (@ifttt)

Great service called “if this then that” (ifttt). Allows you to create tasks based on specific triggers from one of about forty channels.

I’m thrilled that ‘starring an item’ in Google Reader is a channel.

When a trigger occurs, you can have ifttt generate a specified action.

I have one …

When I post this article, it will be automatically tweeted … Very cool, check them out!

Do one thing, and do it awesomely … Gimmebar!

From time to time you see a company come along that offers a simple product or service, and when they launch it just works.

The last time (that I can recall) when this happened was when I first used Dropbox. Download this little app and you got a 2GB drive in the cloud. And it worked on my Windows PC, on my Ubuntu PC, on my Android phone.

It just worked!

That was a while ago. And since then I’ve installed tons of software (and uninstalled 99% of it because it just didn’t work).

Last week I found Gimmebar.

There was no software to install, I just created an account on their web page. And it just worked!

What is Gimmebar? They consider themselves the 5th greatest invention of all time and they call themselves “a data steward”. I don’t know what that means. They also don’t tell you what the other 4 inventions are.

Here is how I would describe Gimmebar.

Gimmebar is a web saving/sharing tool that allows you to save things that you find interesting on the web in a nicely organised personal library in the cloud, and share some of that content with others if you so desire. They have something about saving stuff to your Dropbox account but I haven’t figured all of that out yet.

It has a bookmarklet for your browser, click it and things just get bookmarked and saved into your account.

But, it just worked!

I made a couple of collections, made one of them public and one of them shared.

If you share a collection it automatically gets a URL.

And that URL automatically supports an RSS Feed!

And they also backup your tweets, (I don’t give a crap about that).

So, what’s missing?

  • Some way to import all your stuff (from Google Reader)
  • An Android application (more generally, mobile application for platform of choice …)
  • The default ‘view’ on the collections includes previews; I will have enough crap before long where the preview will be a drag. How about a way to get just a list?
  • Saving a bookmark is right now at least a three click process; once you visit the site, click the bookmarklet and you get a little banner on the bottom of the screen, you click there to indicate whether you want the page to go to your private or public area, then you click the collection you want to store it in. This is functional but not easy to use.

I had one interaction with their support (little feedback tab on their page). Very quick to respond and they answered my question immediately.

On the whole, this feels like my first experience with Dropbox. Give it a shot, I think you’ll like it.

Why? Because Gimmebar set out to do one thing and they did it awesomely. It just worked!

Embracing opposing points of view

In a blog aptly called “Both Sides of the Table”, I read a post entitled “Why You Should Embrace Opposing Views at Your Startup”.

It is a great post by Mark Suster and I highly recommend you read it.

If your startup lives in an echo chamber, and the only voice you hear is your own, it is most certainly doomed.