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Alladin and his oil filled lamp! It's all the spirit of Amouage! It was bright and beautiful that October day; the sky was clear, the air was brisk but cold for a late October day in New York City.

Later, when people spoke about what happened, they always began by saying what a beautiful day it was The class bowed, then swarmed Solange, some hugging her and others a bit shyer, staying back hoping Solange would notice them New York Cool: In this Issue. New York Cool:. Well, you no longer need to shoot grainy cell phone photos. All About Film Film reviews, festivals etc David H.

Party to Celebrate G. New York Cool Productions. He looked just like the others—the tall, blond men who terrorized New York City six months ago. Sell your own data. This list is just a small sample intended to illustrate that evolving attitudes towards personal information and new regulatory regimes have opened a window for commercial opportunity. Perhaps folks will take the Tesla approach and try and monetize an affluent user base.

Another possibility is finding a user base that is narrow, but highly viral and connected, like Facebook in the early days. We often read in the press about new tech companies and innovations. Typically though, the innovations that get attention are ones that consumers can relate to or can participate in such as social networking or scooters.

One example is our investment in Vic. Their first product focuses on accounts payable. We believe, however, that this use case is a great example of the ways in which learning loop software can be trained to do tedious tasks that people do today, freeing people up to do more interesting and creative work.

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Accounts payable is just the beginning for Vic. Their roadmap envisions many of the mundane tasks that accountants and bookkeepers currently perform being done by AI, leaving accountants and financial specialists free to apply judgment and help with systems and controls and other higher value add activities. Governments that have seen local tax revenues decline have become more aggressive at collecting taxes from online merchants and a recent Supreme Court decision have greatly expanded liability for sellers.

LumaTax will also use artificial intelligence to help spot which transactions are subject to or exempt from the wide assortment of sales and use taxes. Our investment in Fullcast. Sales ops is a function that involves building systems and processes to assist in sales team productivity.

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This unification enables dynamic changes so that, for example, when an employee leaves, the system automatically reassigns her accounts to other sellers without any additional intervention. In looking at these investment areas, one might be tempted to think that they are niche markets.

There is quite a bit of evidence to the contrary. In some cases these may be orchestration layers for enterprise tasks that are currently managed manually or in siloed systems. These developments create real opportunities for startups. If you have any comments or suggestions about this post, please let me know. Reference calls are an incredibly useful source of information. On the flip side, this post should be a heads up to founders on what investors are going to ask about when they conduct reference calls. Setting the context.

The calls tend to take only 15 minutes, but build in an additional 5 for the inevitable delay in getting connected. I do this to lessen the negative signal if we decide not to invest. The questions : The following six questions are the framework for the call. The softball : How do you know the person? Allegedly hard question. Many of the most successful founders have weaknesses that they acknowledge and compensate for by surrounding themselves with the right people. In my case, marketing is not one of my talents. Fortunately, he disregarded my advice and called the company Square.

For example, there was a founder who seemed really smart and hard working, but had a hard time communicating verbally. This seemed like a real challenge for selling, recruiting, leading and many other key activities that he was seeking to do as the CEO. I asked two people for whom he had worked about his ability to communicate, and both agreed that this was a challenge, though neither had mentioned it as his weakness.

The necessary question Are there any ethical or behavior issues to be aware of? Columbo special Anything else I should have asked? Pay it forward. Conclude the call by thanking the person for her time and offering to return the favor. This information has proven to be incredibly valuable and I hope to be able to return the favor someday.

Other considerations.

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A few other things can make for an effective call:. After my preliminary burst introduction, I try to only ask questions. A learning from my lawyering days is not to be afraid of silence. Go with the flow : Sometimes things take an unexpected turn. Do off list references : When we decide to dig in, we tell founders we will be reaching into our own networks to find out more about them. Understand what you are asking about : We are not actually expecting to get uniformly positive feedback. Many great founders have a disagreeable streak. The buried treasure. While you can get a good sense of a founder by spending some time with the person, it always helps to get to know the person better by talking with people who have worked with her over many years.

Calling this information buried treasure may border on being clickbait, but a methodical reference call done by a prepared investor can unearth real value. Cowboy Ventures was started with a mission to back the most promising startups at the earliest stage — seed. Because our firm is small, we have great decision-making agility and operate in a more personal way, without the formality and overhead of larger firms. These founders and the companies they are building are a huge part of what makes Cowboy Ventures great.

At the time, very few partners had left a large VC firm to start a new fund from scratch, and even fewer women in retrospect, none. While we are always looking for uncharted territory for new potential investments, the focus of our third fund will remain the same in terms of our values and how we work:. We are open for business to meet with tech entrepreneurs across the US, whether their target customer is a consumer, a small business or a large enterprise.

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That said, here are a few areas where we are on the lookout to find new opportunities:. What these folks have in common is a unique insight about a large customer opportunity and a vision to build a new product or service for that market. Venture investing is a people business to us. Our goal at Cowboy Ventures is to find great people who have special sauce and help them on their journey, starting in their earliest days when not everything is baked.

In the early days of a startup company, founders may be fortunate enough to be faced with a dilemma: raise a seed round or try to go straight to Series A? To some, this question has an obvious answer: raise a Series A if you can. That simple answer, however, neglects a critical dynamic in the startup market, and may shortchange your startup for the long term. For the mere mortal founders, however, there is more to consider than simple dilution math.

At any given time there is a cadre of companies that are viewed by the tech community as being at the head of their class. These companies reap a tremendous reward from this perception in terms of the quality of people, investors, partners, service providers and media coverage they are able to attract. So while startups usually view their competition as companies that offer a similar product or service, in reality, all startups are in competition with each other. Your financing strategy should take into account how to become one of these top companies.

Being a top company is not simply a nice to have; in this environment it is a matter of survival. In short, more companies than ever are competing for the same number of Series B rounds.

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By raising a seed round, a company buys itself more time and money to get to the Series B financing and therefore increases its chances of making it through this critical milestone. Another benefit of a seed financing is it gives a company more time to find its footing. A seed round gives the founders 18—24 months to build a team, bring an initial product to market and iterate on that product.

During this time, the team can deeply understand customers, find the segment of the market where the product solves a real need and start to figure out the right go to market strategy. This simply takes time and much trial and error. Knowing the bar for a Series B financing is higher than ever, why not give your startup more time for this critical exploration?

Some will argue that a startup could just raise a larger round and not spend it. A startup with cash on the balance sheet is just more likely to spend more on a nice office, stretch to pay an executive who is making big money in her current job, or even start spending a bit more on customer acquisition to reach growth goals. Like the astronauts on Apollo 13, startups with limited resources seem to miraculously solve intractable problems without additional spending. Why tempt yourself? Raising a Series A round requires fewer proof points than a Series B. Accordingly, a seed round gives founders the opportunity to focus on a smaller number of milestones for the next fundraising.

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This in turn makes it more likely these milestones will be reached. For example, a seed stage company CEO in a software company can be focused on obtaining and delighting a few key customers in order to show sufficient traction for a Series A.