Startup de A à Z: Présentation

Jan 15

J’ai donné en 2008 une conférence pendant laquelle j’ai donné des conseils et mon expérience sur la création et gestion de startups.

Je l’ai retrouvée sur mon disque dur il y a quelques jours, y ait modifié quelques petits points puis postée sur SlideShare.

A priori, son contenu a plu puisqu’elle a été visualisée plus de 16000 fois en 3 jours et relayé par quelques médias tels que FrenchWeb ou Maddyness

Je vous la partage ici même si je pense qu’elle peut être largement améliorée afin de traiter de toutes les nouveautés des dernières années (Superangels, Accélérateurs, Crowdfunding, Pre-orders etc…). Je suis aussi actionnaire avec Xavier Niel via Kima Ventures de quelques centaines de startups de plus. Beaucoup de choses à raconter… Mais ça sera pour plus tard…

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Les conflits entre co-fondateurs : une des premières causes de l’échec d’une startup.

Aug 27

Les conflits entre co-fondateurs : une des premières causes de l’échec d’une startup.

*****The original version of this post was written in english: Click here to read it *****

Après 13 ans d’expérience en tant que business-angel dont près de 4 ans à temps plein, j’ai finalement compris que l’une des premières raisons de l’échec des startup résidait dans les conflits entre fondateurs.

Je ne parle pas du lancement d’un mauvais produit, de dépenses excessives, ou d’erreurs de recrutement, mais bien de la destruction de l’entreprise par ses propres fondateurs.

Tout d’abord, il faut être franc, la gestion d’une startup n’est pas du tout une partie de plaisir … Cela demande  un travail gigantesque, du focus et de l’organisation. Et évidemment, pour être en mesure de maintenir l’entreprise en vie jusqu’à son éventuel décollage, les fondateurs doivent gérer efficacement leur trésorerie.

Un vrai startupper travaille beaucoup, fait face à beaucoup de problèmes, souvent et à tout moment (trésorerie, embauche, technique, marketing), il ne dort pas beaucoup et empiète allègrement sur sa vie personnelle. C’est donc beaucoup de pression dans la durée.

Je reçois régulièrement des témoignages de fondateurs au bord de la crise de nerfs devant les difficultés auxquelles ils sont confrontés.

(Je reviendrai sur la vie dans les startups dans un prochain billet.)

Lorsque vous êtes confrontés à des problèmes dans votre vie professionnelle ou personnelle, vous avez au moins deux façons de les appréhender:
(A) Le problème n’est pas de ma faute (je travaille tellement, je suis sûr que je fais bien mon “job”) … quelqu’un / quelque chose d’autre en est la cause.
(B) Le problème n’est pas insoluble, ça fait partie de la vie. Trouvons comment le résoudre.

Dans le premier cas, le fondateur (A) est presque toujours aux aguets pour surveiller comment ses co-fondateurs fonctionnent … et bien sûr, il trouve toujours à redire sur leur attitude, et conclut invariablement qu’ils sont la cause du problème !

Parfois, il trouvera que ses cofondateurs travaillent trop lentement, ou pas assez, ou ne font pas bien leur travail.

L’année dernière, le co-fondateur de l’une de nos startups m’a expliqué : “Tu sais, je viens au bureau à 8h du matin et je pars chaque soir à 23 h. Tu trouves normal que mon co-fondateur arrive à 10h du matin et parte à 21 heures? Pourquoi dois-je travailler plus que lui ?”

Ce à quoi j’ai répondu: “C’est ton cofondateur qui est dans le vrai, pas toi !”
Outre le fait que travailler de 10 heures à 21 heures, c’est déjà trop, je peux vous certifier que les entrepreneurs/travailleurs les plus productifs ne passent pas toute leur vie au bureau. (J’écrirai aussi à ce sujet dans un prochain billet.)

Dans ce cas précis, la divergence entre les cofondateurs était si forte que nous avons dû séparer l’activité en 2 entreprises distinctes. Je ne pense pas que cela ait résolu quoi que ce soit, et il est probable que le second réussisse mieux que le premier.

Autre témoignage. Un fondateur me raconte : “Mon co-fondateur est vraiment très mauvais, il a fait une terrible bourde en envoyant une lettre à toute notre base d’utilisateurs (y compris les utilisateurs non-inscrits). C’est un cauchemar !”
Ce à quoi j’ai répondu: «Qui sur cette planète peut se prévaloir de n’avoir jamais fait d’erreur ? Personne ! Alors pourquoi penses-tu qu’il soit si mauvais ? Il a développé 95% du code de l’entreprise, 99% de vos utilisateurs supprimeront purement et simplement cet e-mail en 1 seconde. Ce n’est pas si grave.»

Ce sont juste deux petits exemples, mais je pourrais passer des jours à vous raconter des histoires similaires et récurrentes dans presque toutes les startup … mais il y a un secret derrière tout ça:

Dans le Talmud (Kidushin, Daf 70B), nous découvrons quelque chose de pertinent et adapté à ces situations.
Cela dit : כָּל הַפּוֹסֵל בְּמוּמוֹ פּוֹסֵל

Cela signifie que lorsque quelqu’un déprécie injustement quelqu’un d’autre à propos d’un défaut spécifique, c’est souvent parce qu’il voit en l’autre un défaut qu’il a lui-même.

Dans notre cas, lorsque l’un des fondateurs pense qu’un autre co-fondateur ne travaille pas suffisamment ou ne fait pas son travail correctement, c’est probablement parce que lui-même ne travaille pas correctement.

Je ne dis pas qu’il n’existe pas de cas où l’un des co-cofondateurs est réellement mauvais, mais, la plupart du temps, cela se voit rapidement, dès les premiers mois d’existence de l’entreprise. Si cela arrive au bout de 6 mois, la plupart du temps, cela signifie que le co-fondateur incriminé n’est pas en cause ou en tout cas, que l’échec de la société ne lui est pas imputable.

Des divergences peuvent également se produire lorsque l’un des cofondateurs travaille sur un autre projet en parallèle sans l’approbation des autres co-fondateurs. Alors, dans ce cas, oui, vous avez une véritable raison d’être en colère.

Alors, comment gérer ce type de situation?
Si vous êtes dans le cas du Fondateur A, concentrez-vous uniquement sur ce que vous faites, et sur ce que vous avez à faire.
Cessez de toujours vouloir vérifier ce que fait votre cofondateur. Renoncez à essayer de le corriger, de le changer comme le ferait un père.
Comme dans un couple, cela ne fonctionne presque jamais et ce genre d’attitude conduit souvent à une séparation.

Si vous pensez que votre cofondateur peut améliorer les choses, allez au restaurant, parlez ensemble et commencez par lui demander :
- Comment penses-tu que nous pouvons améliorer la société ?
- Comment peut-on résoudre ce problème ?
- Devons-nous engager ce type de profil ?

Discutez ensemble de toutes ces questions.

Renoncez à le mettre en cause personnellement, parce qu’en bout de course, ce que vous voulez, c’est que votre entreprise réussisse.
Suite à votre discussion, formalisez par écrit qui doit faire quoi et fixez ensemble des dates d’échéance pour chacun, et arrêtez de penser à sa part de travail à lui, occupez-vous de la vôtre. Comme je vous l’ai dit, la plupart du temps, ce n’est pas lui le problème.

Si, après quelques mois, vous pensez toujours qu’il y a un vrai problème, parlez-en d’abord avec un autre entrepreneur/mentor et demandez-lui conseil. Ne soyez pas obnubilé par cette situation, cela vous desservirait.
Et si vraiment tout le monde est d’accord sur le problème, alors, parlez-en avec votre co-fondateur … et aidez-le à améliorer la façon dont il travaille… parce qu’essayer de virer un cofondateur n’aboutit que rarement à de bons résultats, et la plupart du temps cela tue l’entreprise.

Il y a quelques semaines, j’ai entendu l’histoire d’une entreprise dont le fondateur cherchait à virer son co-fondateur pour finalement être viré lui-même par les investisseurs/actionnaires … ;-)

Un dernier mot : je recommande vivement de lancer une entreprise avec au moins 2 cofondateurs, idéalement avec 3. Lorsque vous aurez des difficultés à résoudre, vous serez beaucoup plus efficaces en travaillant tous ensemble. Je vais également écrire bientôt à ce sujet.
N’oubliez pas de négocier et de signer un accord entre fondateurs pour définir précisément le rôle de chacun.
Un modèle est disponible ici

Je ne l’ai pas étudié en profondeur, mais il me semble qu’il y manque une clause d’exclusivité stipulant que les fondateurs ne peuvent s’investir dans un autre projet sans l’autorisation des autres co-fondateurs. Selon moi, cette clause est capitale.

Bonne chance !

Merci à Myriam Rosenrib pour la relecture et traduction

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Fighting between cofounders: one of the main reasons that startups fail

Aug 27

Fighting between cofounders: one of the main reasons that startups fail

****French version available here****

With 13 years of experience as a business angel  (200+ investments) and almost 4 years as a full time angel, I have finally discovered one of the main reasons that startups fail: conflicts between founders.

Yeah, often the problem isn’t launching a bad product, burning too much money, hiring bad people but the founders destroying their own company.

First, we have to say that managing a startup is clearly not “fun”. It needs a lot of work, focus and organisation. Founders need to manage cash flow efficiently to be able to keep the company alive until a potential success.

A real startupper is working a lot, is constantly facing a lot of problems (cash, hiring, technical, marketing..), is not sleeping enough and is sometimes destroying his personal life as a consequence. There is so much constant pressure for a long period of time.

I am regularly receiving phone calls or meeting with founders who are almost crying as they tell me the difficulties they are facing.

(I will talk about the life in startups in a future post)

When you are facing problems in a company or in your life, you have 2 ways to apprehend them:
(A) The problem is someone else’s fault: “I’m working so much, I’m sure I’m doing my ‘job’..so someone/something else is the cause”
(B) The problem is part of life: it is not insolvable, so let’s see how we can solve it.

In case of (A) at a startup, the founders are almost always looking at their cofounders to see how they work…and for sure, they will always find many things that are not perfect so…HE MUST BE THE CAUSE FOR OUR PROBLEMS!

Sometimes, they will say that their cofounder is working too slowly, is not doing “his” job, is taking too many breaks…

Last year, the cofounder of one of our startups told me: “You know, I’m coming at the office at 8am and leaving every day at 11pm. Do you think it’s normal that my cofounder is coming only at 10am and leaving at 9pm? Why do I need to work more than he does?”

I answered: “your cofounder is doing the right thing. You’re not.”
Beside the fact that working at the office from 10am to 9pm is already too much, I can tell you that the most productive entrepreneurs/workers are not spending all of their life at the office. (I will write about this in a future post as well).

In this specific case, the conflict between the cofounders was so hard that we needed to split the activity into 2 companies to separate them. I don’t think that this solve anything and it’s clearly possible that the second founder will succeed more than the first one.

Another time: a founder told me: “My cofounder is really bad, he made an horrible mistake by sending a newsletter to all our userbase (including unsubscribed users) by mistake. It’s a nightmare”.
I answered : “Every human in this planet is making mistakes so why do you think he’s so bad? He developed 95% of the code of the company. 99% of your users will just delete this email in 1 second.”

These are just small example but I can spend days telling you stories, things like this happen all the time at startups.

But there is a secret.

In the Talmud (Kidushin, Daf 70B), we can learn something that I almost always find relevant. It says : כָּל הַפּוֹסֵל בְּמוּמוֹ פּוֹסֵל

It means that if someone is invalidating someone else for a specific reason or default, it’s because of his own (same) default.

So in our case, when Founder A is thinking that the other Founder B is not working enough or not doing his job correctly, it’s probably because founder A is not working correctly.

I will not say that we will never see a case when a cofounder is really not a good one, but, most of the time, we would discover this very quickly at the early stages of the company. If it’s happening after 6 months, most of the time it means that he’s not the reason or, in any case, the current failure of the company is not his only fault.

Fights can also happen when a cofounder is working on another side-project without the approval of the others. In that case, yes, you have a real big reason to be upset (these kinds of things need to be written in a cofounder agreement in advance).

So how to manage this kind of situation ?
If you are Founder A, focus only on what you are doing and what you have to do. Don’t always check what your cofounder is doing. Don’t always try to correct him, change him like a father.
Like in a couple, it almost never works and that kind of situation are always finishing by a big explosion.

If you think your cofounder can improve things, go to a restaurant, talk together and ask him first:
- How do you think we can improve the company ?
- How can we solve this problem ?
- How can we hire this type of guy ?

Discuss together about all these subjects.

Never talk about him personally because at the end, what you both want is for the company to succeed.
After this talk, write on a piece of paper who needs to do what and agree together on a due date for each part and then stop thinking about him completely. As I told you, most of the time, he’s not the problem at all.

If after a few months, if you still think that there is a real problem, talk with another entrepreneur/mentor first and ask him for advice. Don’t be upset by this situation, being upset will not help.
If you find that everyone agrees that he is a problem, talk with your cofounder…and help him improve the way he works.

Trying to fire a cofounder almost never works and most of the time will kill the company.

I heard a story a few weeks ago that a founder wanted to fire his cofounder and finally the shareholder investors fired him instead… ;-)

A last word: I clearly recommend to launch a company with at least 2 cofounders, ideally 3. When you will have difficulties to solve, you will be a lot more efficient by working together. I will clearly write about this soon.

Don’t forget to negotiate and sign a founders agreement defining exactly the role of each founder. A template is available here

I haven’t spent a lot of time on it but it seems that this one is missing an exclusivity clause saying that founders will not work on anything else beside the company without the authorization of the other cofounders. For me it’s really very important.

Good luck!
Thanks to Vincent Jacobs for the rewriting

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The email I received from Google in 2007 when they wanted to buy Zlio!

Nov 07

Little funny story:

In March 2007, we signed a term sheet with Mangrove who wanted to invest in Zlio..A few days after, I met a Google Executive who decided to buy the company.

I just found in my mailbox, the email I received from it. Please see it below. As you can see, I received this email before I signed an NDA. That’s why I’m putting it here ;-). Finally, Google needed more than 1 month to close the deal. After waiting for it 30 days, we decided to accept the Mangrove investment proposal.

For the little story, Zlio, became blacklisted/sandboxed by Google 6 months after…. It killed the company…

Do you think I regret it ? Clearly not ! See why here ;-)

PS: You can follow me on Twitter

Email received from A.H. on March 22, 2007.

Jeremie

Thanks for this.  I have had internal conversations now. We would like to move on this urgently as an acquisition. We realise you are late in your cycle and we are early in ours but frankly your idea and personal background is a good indication of strength in our mind and we have already got the internal senior nod to proceed. Add to this the fact that we share your vision and would want to execute on something similar anyway means we would like to move forward discussing with you. We believe the combination of your vision, leadership and first mover advantage with our ability to create Googlely products, our consumer and partner relationships and distribution, our checkout product and our scale infrastructure will lead to a great solution that enables you as an entrepreneur to reach your goals more efficiently. We have a pretty smooth acquisition process here at Google to make deals happen but here is how you can help us be quick:

1) sign the nda so we can start to exchange info – this is our standard nda. You should realise that we make absolutely sure that no engineers working on similar areas in Google are involved in the assessment of this deal at this stage so we can avoid tainting
2) send me captable (with names) and loan/liabilities info (Jerry tells me there are some complexities around ownership?), CVs of your team (we are especially keen on good engineering and prod people and in Israel we are already building out our team. You can delete the names on the top of the CVs if you want to protect anonymity)
3) consider location – Israel is great for your prd and eng people but relationship, partnership and business team may have to relocate to UK or US but we do have a Paris office that may be expanded – I just cant guarantee that right now.
4) consider valuation – if we are to act as quickly as you want we need strong guidance. You can give me a range and I will respond. You have indications of value from your VC termsheet and I can tell you that we will give strong monetary incentives to the people who join us in terms of bonuses etc on top of consideration for the equity of the company. Naturally, we believe we take away the risk of successful execution through an acquisition so value of the equity should reflect this.
5) send me financials
6) send me IPR/patent details
7) send me something that describes how difficult this is to do from an engineering challenge and arrange a conference call between your lead engineer and one of our deal team engineer members to have a discussion around this

I will take all this and the corporate presentation you have given me and create a presentation for internal use to our executive board (Larry, Sergey and Eric) for approval to negotiate then issue a termsheet to you

We will want to do some DD post then just like a VC, normally we front end some of this via a visit to meet you and the team but in the interests of time we can back end this but you need to be helpful with the 7 points above instead.

I hope this is exciting news for you as it is for us….

Let me know and also pls send me your mobile phone as it is not on your business card

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Welcome to KoolAgency – my New Web/Mobile development company

Oct 29

ENGLISH VERSION – (version française ci dessous)

For many years, I have had the opportunity to participate as founder, co-founder or business angel, in the creation of many companies and projects in the Internet world. For most of these companies, high-quality technical implementation of projects is often amongst the top key components of their success.

At the beginning of 2000, finding competent and experienced developers obviously was a difficult task, due to the young nature of the sector.

Personally, I thought that with time, recruiting developers or finding good development companies would become easier, but I was wrong. It has never been more difficult to recruit good developers in a company. Likewise, finding reliable, diligent and trustworthy development companies is still a great challenge today… As a matter of fact, I often face this challenge within the companies in which I invest.

A year and a half ago, in cooperation with Zlio’s former CTO, David Levy, we discreetly started offering development services to some companies we know well.

That’s how a couple of weeks later, Vente Privée entrusted us with the task of developing numerous projects on which our team has been working for several months (Mobile Web App, Facebook applications, CRM, Discussion Forums, etc.).

We realized that thanks to the development-related experience we had gained in the startup world, we were actually able to launch and develop any project very rapidly, regardless of its complexity.

Therefore, some weeks ago, we decided to officially launch KoolAgency, a new Web and Mobile project development agency.

What we can and know how to do can be summed up in one word: EVERYTHING. The KoolAgency’s team, led by Michael Azoulay, Zlio’s former Project Director, can design and develop any project, regardless of its nature.

Do you want to develop and market an on-line application? Do you want to develop a mobile Web app for your service? Do you want an extranet to improve communication with your customers? Do you want an e-commerce website?

KoolAgency can take care of your project from start to end, in record time.

Send us your specifications document, even if it’s incomplete, and we will know how to complete it and technically launch your project, taking the best development decisions on the market.

A mini Web site is already available on line from today (new logo will be available soon), providing the necessary information to contact the KoolAgency’s team:

http://www.koolagency.com

IMPORTANT: Please note that despite being KoolAgency’s main shareholder, I neither manage the company nor participate much in the design and follow-up of its projects. Therefore, I remain 100% involved in Kima Ventures’ management, together with Xavier Niel.
Our objective remains unchanged: to invest in 100 projects within the next 12 months.

The development of a project by KoolAgency will not influence, in any way, my decision to invest in any specific project. There is absolutely NO link between Kima Ventures and KoolAgency, except for my role as co-founder, just as in other companies such as Leetchi, Freshplanet/SongPop, Kwaga or iAdvize.

VERSION FRANCAISE

Depuis de nombreuses années, j’ai pu participer en tant que fondateur, co-fondateur ou “business angel”, à la naissance de centaines de sociétés et de projets dans le monde de l’Internet.  Pour la plupart de ces sociétés, la qualité d’exécution technique du projet fait souvent partie des premiers et principaux atouts de leur réussite.

Au début des années 2000, trouver des développeurs compétents et expérimentés était naturellement compliqué dû à la jeunesse du secteur.

Je pensais à titre personnel, qu’avec le temps, recruter des développeurs ou trouver de bonnes sociétés de développement allait devenir une commodité, mais je me suis trompé. Il n’a jamais été aussi difficile de recruter de bons développeurs dans une entreprise, et trouver des sociétés de développement sérieuses, rapides et fiables reste encore aujourd’hui un vrai challenge… J’en fais d’ailleurs la mauvaise expérience régulièrement au sein des sociétés dont je suis actionnaire.

Il y a 18 mois, en collaboration avec l’ancien CTO de Zlio, David Levy, nous avons commencé discrètement à proposer des prestations de développement informatique à quelques entreprises proches de nous.
C’est ainsi qu’après quelques semaines, Vente Privée nous a confié un très grand nombre de projets sur lesquels notre équipe travaille depuis de longs mois (Mobile Web App, applications Facebook, de CRM, Forums de discussions…).

Nous nous sommes rendus compte grâce à notre expérience acquise dans le monde des startups en matière de développement, que nous étions tout à fait en mesure de lancer et de développer n’importe quel projet, à priori complexe, très rapidement.

Nous avons donc décidé il y a quelques semaines de lancer officiellement KoolAgency, nouvelle agence de développement de projets Web et Mobile.

Ce que nous pouvons et savons faire tient en un mot : TOUT. L’équipe de KoolAgency, dirigée par Michael Azoulay, ancien Directeur de projets chez Zlio, peut concevoir et développer n’importe quel projet informatique, quelque soit sa nature.

Vous souhaitez développer une application en ligne et la commercialiser ? Développer une Web app mobile pour votre service ? Un extranet vous permettant de mieux communiquer avec vos clients ? Un site ecommerce ? Améliorer votre site actuel avec de nouvelles fonctionnalités ?

KoolAgency peut s’occuper de votre projet de A à Z et ceci en un temps record.

Soumettez-nous un cahier des charges, même incomplet, et nous saurons le finaliser et lancer techniquement votre projet en prenant les meilleures décisions de développement du marché.

Un mini site web est disponible en ligne depuis aujourd’hui vous permettant de prendre contact avec l’équipe de KoolAgency (un nouveau logo sera en ligne bientôt) : http://www.koolagency.com

IMPORTANT : Notez que bien qu’actionnaire principal de KoolAgency, je ne dirige pas la société et ne participe que très peu à la conception et au suivi des projets. Je reste donc 100% impliqué dans dans la gestion de Kima Ventures, aux côtés de Xavier Niel.
Notre objectif est toujours le même: investir dans 100 projets au cours des 12 prochains mois.

Le développement d’un projet par KoolAgency n’influencera en rien mon choix d’investissement dans un projet ou un autre. Kima Ventures n’a AUCUN lien avec KoolAgency si ce n’est ma participation en tant que co-fondateur, au même titre que dans des sociétés telles que…   Leetchi, Freshplanet/SongPop, Kwaga ou iAdvize.


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Why I’m leaving Facebook tomorrow…

Sep 13

(French Version below – Version française ci dessous)

Original posted on Facebook today…but will be deleted with my account tomorrow

Hello everyone

Before I leave completely Facebook tomorrow, I need to explain why I took this decision.

I joined Facebook on April 2007 at the early beginning of their enormous growth outside schools and universities.

I was always impressed by this company’s capacity for innovation, and the fact that they know how to keep things simple to use and understand!

They built a simple platform that can be used by anyone including my 87 years grandmother. It seems that she just reached the Level 22 at Diamond Dash ;-)

At the early beginning, I used Facebook a lot to find and read new information about the high tech industry. It was useful and productive… but more and more, Facebook became a mass market product and instead of news, my news feed now includes people posting photos of their wife/girlfriend, children, dogs, parties…,people (including me) giving their political opinion and criticizing things that they don’t understand nor know well.

All this exhibitionism doesn’t fit the way I want to live at all. For me, a private life needs to stay private. We don’t have to talk to any other people about what’s happening at home. I don’t understand why husbands are putting their wives’ pictures on their profile or watching their wives posting their pictures and sharing them to everyone. Why are you doing that ? What are you waiting for ? So many couples have been destroyed by Facebook in the last years… So many around me too…

Furthermore, I think that Facebook is really counterproductive. I can’t find any interesting information related to my business that I can’t find beforehand on Twitter, Techmeme or some other place.

Facebook is like a drug for me…it takes too much of my time…checking who liked what I said, who commented, answering, commenting again… I needed to understand how Facebook works. It’s important for my job but I don’t think I have to stay on the site to understand Facebook. (I will perhaps keep a test account in the future to test applications from our current and future startups)

We have so many things to do in our real offline life,
- so many time to spend with our wife, children, parents, friends…I really think I’m stealing my relatives’ time when I’m here.
- so many books to read, things to understand, startups to manage… I just think that Facebook is not the good place for that.

I really think that I can do a lot more by being a little more disconnected. That’s why I’m also not taking my iPhone at home anymore…and keeping at at my office for testing purposes. (or when I’m leaving my office for an entire day/week)

Last but not least, I’m a Jewish “ultra orthodox” (as they say) living in an ultra orthodox city… I haven’t watched TV or a movie since 2004. Pictures posted on Facebook cannot be compatible with my Jewish life.

This decision was really difficult to take…but I love taking hard decisions… ;-)

Thanks to all my 4726 Facebook Friends!

Remember, you can follow me on Twitter : http://twitter.com/jberrebi

– Version française –

Bonjour à tous !

Demain je quitte définitivement Facebook !
Mais auparavant, je voulais prendre le temps d’expliquer pourquoi j’ai pris cette décision.

J’ai rejoint Facebook en Avril 2007, au tout début de cette croissance énorme qui a suivi l’ouverture du service au-delà des écoles et des universités.
J’ai toujours été impressionné par leur sens de l’innovation et leur capacité à conserver un service toujours simple à utiliser et à comprendre.

Ils ont construit une plateforme simple pouvant être utilisée par n’importe qui, y compris ma grand-mère de 87 ans.
Il semblerait même qu’elle vienne d’atteindre le niveau 22 à Diamond Dash ;-)

Au tout début, j’ai beaucoup utilisé Facebook. Essentiellement pour y lire des informations sur l’industrie high-tech et ses acteurs. C’était non seulement utile, mais productif.
Puis, de plus en plus, Facebook est devenu populaire et bruyant. A la place des news d’autrefois, les nouvelles que je lis aujourd’hui incluent désormais celles de personnes qui affichent des photos de leur femme/compagne, de leurs enfants, de leurs chiens, de leurs soirées…, des photos d’autres personnes .
Ils y expriment (dont moi parfois) leurs opinions politiques ou critiquent des choses qu’ils ne comprennent ou ne connaissent pas toujours bien.

Tout cet exhibitionnisme ne correspond pas du tout à la façon dont je veux vivre…
Pour moi, la vie privée doit rester privée, sans révéler ce qui se passe à la maison. Je ne comprends pas pourquoi des maris exposent des photos de leur femme sur leur profil ou regardent leur femme afficher leur photo et les partager avec n’importe qui.
Quel est le sens de tout cela ? Qu’en attendez-vous ? De nombreux couples ont été détruits par Facebook ces dernières années … Beaucoup, y compris autour de moi …

Par ailleurs, pour moi Facebook est devenu vraiment contre-productif. Je n’y trouve plus toutes les informations intéressantes liées à mon domaine d’activité, informations que je peux par ailleurs trouver sur Twitter, Techmeme etc.

Facebook est devenu une sorte drogue pour moi. Cela prend trop de mon temps : vérifier qui a “liké” ce que j’ai publié, qui a commenté, qui a répondu, qui a à nouveau commenté etc…
J’avais besoin de comprendre comment fonctionne Facebook. C’est important pour mon job, mais je ne pense plus devoir y rester pour comprendre – éventuellement, je garderai un compte test pour les applications de nos startups actuelles et futures.

J’ai tant de choses à faire dans ma vie réelle, hors ligne,
- Passer le plus de temps possible avec mon épouse, mes enfants, mes parents, mes amis … J’ai vraiment l’impression de leur voler du temps quand je suis sur Facebook !
- Il y a tant de livres à lire, de choses à comprendre, de startups à gérer … Facebook n’est tout simplement pas un endroit compatible avec toutes ces activités.

Je suis persuadé que j’ai beaucoup plus, et mieux à faire en étant moins connecté ou un peu plus souvent déconnecté.
C’est aussi pour cette raison que je ne prends plus mon iPhone quand je rentre à la maison… je le laisse au bureau.
Si je l’emporte, c’est quand je quitte mon bureau pour une journée ou plus.

Enfin, et ce n’est pas la moindre des raisons, je suis un juif “ultra-orthodoxe” (comme ils disent) qui vit dans une ville ultra-orthodoxe … Je n’ai pas regardé la télévision ou un film depuis 2004.
Les photos postées sur Facebook ne sont pas compatibles avec la vie juive que j’ai choisie.

Cette décision a été très difficile à prendre … mais j’adore prendre des décisions difficiles … ;-)

Merci à mes 4 726 amis sur Facebook !
Et souvenez-vous, vous pouvez toujours me suivre sur Twitter : http://twitter.com/jberrebi

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Guide: How To Present Your Startup’s Pitch Deck

Jan 17

(The original post in french can be found here. Because of its success, we are translating it in English and hopefully in other languages. Do not hesitate to leave comments and suggestions)

Since the launch of Kima Ventures with Xavier Niel in February 2010, we received thousands of pitches from around the world. The vast majority of business plans are received via our website, which is linked to our database of start ups.

We have invested in over 130 start-ups (some are visible on our site) in 18 countries, from China to Nicaragua through Pakistan, Israel, Norway or Switzerland.

Reading business plans can be fun, but for this to be true, it needs to clearly answer the questions on the investor’s mind without going into unnecessary detail.

For instance, there is no need to present the evolution of the e-commerce market over the last 10 years when you present a start-up selling pins on the Internet.

You really have to realize that an investor receives a large number of projects. You can be the most motivated entrepreneur, you may even think that you have an idea to rival Google and Groupon, but do not think this is enough to convince an investor.

Examples such as :
“I told all my friends about it, and they believe it’s a killer idea”.
“We already have 30 users; this proves that there is a need”.
will not convince an investor. You have to be pragmatic and provide some real and factual elements to prove that you have a project with high potentials.

These elements must be as concise and precise as possible.

Here’s how to present your company in a few slides. Please note that the quality of this slide deck (clarity, design, setup) is as crucial your project itself.

An investor once told me when he saw a friend’s pitch: “I don’t know anything about this market but I have never seen such a great presentation. I want to invest.”

Personally, the fact of seeing a well crafted presentation let me think that the execution of the project can be equally good. (not always the case I agree ;-) )

Let talk about content now.
Here’s what you need in your business plan.
Ideally target between 10 to 15 slides for a first contact. You can double some of the slides below if it is strictly necessary.

Slide 1: Name + Company logo + Baseline + Vision.

Example 1: Google : let’s reinvent online search
Example 2: Kima Lab, become the go-to tool to help create business plans/pitches for entrepreneurs.

Slide 2: Be sure to explain who is in the operational team.

You will notice that you have not yet described your product. That’s fine.

Describe precisely the founding team, it’s experience, specialties and roles within the company.
Feel free to add hobbies to highlight your temperament.

There must be a minimum of two founders to succeed:
1 sales person + 1 tech person or 1 product person + 1 tech person.
The ideal is a team of three founders:
The sales/marketing person + the tech person + the product person.
or the tech person + the product person + the business/finance person

You can of course recruit necessary skills later, but nothing beats a good team of cohesive and complementary founders .

I will write another post about the importance of the founding team later.

Do not be confused if you have no experience … Just demonstrate why you think you are the most appropriate person to properly implement your project.

Slide 3: Explain the product very clearly

Briefly explain the product. Ideally, your grandmother should understand what you say – some investors may not be more competent than your grandmother on some topics anyway.
Really, I’m not kidding. Make a test with non-professionals to verify that your presentation is clear and that your product is understood.

Slide 4: Show the product.

You should definitely show your product (if it’s already live) or your prototypes. If you do not have a prototype, use precise mock-ups of what you plan to deliver.
Some tools allow you to make mock-ups like Balsamiq Mock-up, but you ideally want to present the project’s design or your online site.

Slide 5: Economics and scaling Forecasts.

Provide the following:
• Revenue per transaction
• Gross margin per transaction.
• Net margin per transaction.
• Planned transaction per unit of time (day, month)…
• Cost of acquisition (for each channel)

Please present your figures over time (It is very likely that your gross margin evolves after a product launch and as you achieve higher volumes of sales)
For instance, if you have an e-commerce web site, your shipping costs will get down as volume rises. Same for all your operational costs when you get economies of scale.

If your service requires high level of resources (server, bandwidth, ..) it is likely that your costs will decrease with time too. To make it simpler present it in 2 parts: before scaling / after scaling

It’s still too early to build a financial plan (see below). The goal here is to understand how much you actually earn on each transaction.

Slide 6: Describe the project situation and current progress.

Where are you in your roadmap? Is the site / product ready? Already launched? Since when? Do You already have customers?

Slide 7: Numbers.

If your service is already live, or selling products … how many customers do you have? How much revenue have they generated in the last 30 days? The last 12 months? Since the launch of the project?

What is your customer/user acquisition cost so far?

Provide as many meaningful figures as you can. That is the THE most important slide.
Simply put, demonstrate that the revenue generated with your customers is more important than the cost to acquire them. Not so simple.
And if your model does not work yet, describe practically why you think it will be working in the future work.

Slide 8: Market Size.

AStartup investors want to make at least 10X on each of their investments. You need to show you’re in a big market and that your company can get big.
A typical VC will not be interested in a business that can generate less than $ 100M in revenue within 3-5 years.

Your market sizing needs to be realistic. If you run a mobile application to monitor heart rates, don’t show the size of the mobile applications market in general. This will not help anyone.

Slide 9: Describe the international deployment strategy (if any).

It’s cool to plan to conquer the world, but as you know it is never simple. Explain specifically how your product will be deployed in other countries.

Slide 10: Do mention all your direct competitors and differentiation factors.

An investor will have to check your competitive environment before investing. Do not hide competitors from us because you will get blamed for not knowing your market.
Describe your real position in the competitive landscape.

Slide 11: Your financial forecasts.

Give details of your expenses and income over the next 3 years. Show something simple but detailed enough to determine whether your approach is realistic. (Excel allows you to dream, but selling a B2B product to 5000 customers per year with 3 sales reps may be difficult).

Slide 12: Your Financial Needs.

Provide your past fund raising data, what you plan to raise today, and under what conditions. Do not write “Conditions: to be discussed.” Offer something.

Slide 13: Your Contact Info.

First Name / Last Name / Email.

Some other tips:
- Do not send your presentation in PPS format (which requires the reader to view it in full size)
- Do not use animation in your PPT presentation.
- Feel free to incorporate a little screen-cast demo of your product. You can create it with Camtasia or Screencast.com.
- Prepare your presentation in ENGLISH. Your investor may be anywhere.

To conclude, submit your project to Kima Ventures through this link.

Even if you already answered to our questions in your presentation, answer them again precisely in the form.

Ps: thank you Fabrice Grinda, Myriam Rosenrib, Pascal Emmanuel Gobry, Jacques Sitbon, Uriel Bitton, Amir Banifatemi, Alban Denoyel, Yael Rozencwajg for their translations, proofreading and corrections.

Sorry for not posting as often as before on this blog (although I plan to remedy to this). You can follow me more frequently on Twitter.

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