“THE THIRD WAVE” by Steve Case

I was very excited to get this book since Steve Case announced he was working on it. I started following Steve in 2012 when I read about the startup years of AOL. As many of you know, he co-founded the company back in 1991.

Since then, I was impressed by his work on Startup America, his VC fund Revolution, and even if it sounds trivial, I became a loyal follower when I realized we share the same birthday (August 21st).

THE THIRD WAVE is an excellent book that will give you perspective on the past, current, and future status of the tech revolution. As soon as I started reading, I couldn’t put it off until I finished it.

Steve divides the tech entrepreneurial movement into three waves. The first wave, when the Internet was built; the second wave, when we built apps and social networks on top of it; and now the third wave, when we’re bringing the Internet to everything else in our world.

The Third Wave entrepreneurs are those who are working on disrupting transportation, health care, education, food, energy, and other areas of our lives as a community.

My personal take from the book is understanding Case’s perspective of the role the government should have in this new future. As entrepreneurs, we often dismiss the public sector as the bureaucratic nightmare ought to slow us down. We forget that we need to take on an active role to make change happen.

It’s such a treat to read Steve Case’s stories from the AOL years and how people refused to believe the Internet would become a thing. Back when people referred to it as “the information superhighway,” there was a lot of skepticism about whether or not people would want to get online at their homes.

However, this book is not stuck in the past. It’s a manifesto for the future of America and the rest of the world. Steve uses his experience and stories to provide a vision of a better tomorrow for all of us.

Not only The Third Wave will help you understand what will come next, but Steve Case will also inspire you to be part of it. I’m sure we will look back to it in a few decades and understand he saw with great accuracy what we needed to address.

You can find The Third Wave by Steve Case at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iBookstore. Also available at Audible.

Also, the publisher was kind enough to send some copies to give away on my Facebook Page! 

 

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STARTUP TALK 002: Brett Conti from Fortune NY

I was in a café in Washington Square Park when  I met Brett Conti. I asked him to keep an eye on my laptop while I went to the bathroom and he noticed I was watching Casey Neistat’s videos.

We bonded right away. We talked about YouTubers, entrepreneurship, brands, marketing, social media and Casey. Brett is an amazing example of what it takes to execute your ideas and bring your dreams to reality.

He works very hard to get Fortune New York out there, and he keeps growing every year like crazy. It was pleasure to have him on this week’s #STARTUPTALK:

Make sure you also subscribe to his awesome YouTube channel.

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STARTUP TALK 001: Jake Cohn from Sense

The first episode of #STARTUPTALK features my good friend Jake Cohn, founder and CEO of Sense.  Sense is a personal movie concierge in your messaging app.

Jake believes that on this age of incredible technology, recommendations should be instantaneous and accurate. Also, he shared his experience as an entrepreneur and his background on Google and customer service.

If you have any questions for Jake, please leave a comment on YouTube.

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“SPRINT” by Jake Knapp, John Keratsky, and Braden Kowitz

I remember reading The Lean Startup in Fall 2011, and the revolution it made to all of the startup entrepreneurs around the globe. That book changed the way people created startups forever.

This book will change the way we create and improve new tools and services. I can’t explain how much I liked SPRING.

Jake Knapp, along with John Keratsky and Branden Kowitz, provided this amazing guidebook based on their experience working with great companies from the Google Ventures’ office.

I don’t think they left out anything at all. It’s amazing how startups will be able to create a new solution in a fraction of the time that used to take before this. With a work week-long SPRINT, companies will be able to hatch new ideas, create a prototype, test it out, and have it ready right after.

From this day on, I’m an evangelist for this methodology and I think any company would benefit from it, not only tech companies. Make sure your office has a few copies of this book, and you can implement SPRINT to the company culture.

The publisher Simon & Schuster were awesome enough to send me copies to give away some copies in my Facebook Page.

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“#ASKGARYVEE” by Gary Vaynerchuk

If you follow me on social media, you know I cannot be biased when it comes to Gary Vaynerchuk, and neither will be the millions of people who read his content every day.

Gary is one of the loudest people in the tech world and one of the very few who are entitled to do so. At age 30, he started a YouTube channel for his family business WineLibrary back when vlogging wasn’t even a thing. That was in 2006.

Since then, his 3-million-dollar family business grew up to $60M. Not only he proved his marketing abilities, but Gary also became a prolific business angel, investing in companies including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Uber, and Birchbox before co-founding VaynerRSE, an early stage startup investment fund.

After a while, he decided to leave WineLibrary’s daily operations. In 2009, he founded with his brother AJ Vaynerchuk a social media agency called VaynerMedia. In a very short period, VaynerMedia is considered one of the best in their category, if not the best.

I still remember when Gary posted the first #AskGaryVee episode on YouTube in Summer 2014. It was such a treat to get advice and content from Gary on a regular basis. As of this day, the show has around 190 episodes, and most videos gross over 50K views.

It was a genius idea to collect the best advice he has given and put them all together in this excellent book. This book is not aspirational nonsense; it’s practical very direct advice you can implement right away.

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If you’re thinking of starting a business, sell more, or if you want to learn better marketing practices, please buy this book. If you get the audiobook, you get even more content that is not available in the book. And, of course, subscribe to Gary’s YouTube channel, the amount of content and free advice he’s giving you is INSANE, and you should appreciate it.

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Meeting with Casey Neistat

At South Summit 2015, we invited Casey Neistat to come and talk to the entrepreneurs in Madrid and share his story with Beme, his new ventures.

It was great showing Casey around and having him in Madrid for at least 24 hours. Even though I suggested Casey for the event, I almost didn’t see him because I was just returning from Paris.

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I was surprised to see I made it to his vlog in the two days he was here in Madrid. Kind of odd, but awesome at the same time!

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Startupbootcamp E-Commerce in Amsterdam

As part of the Fik Stores team, I was participating in the e-commerce program event organized by Startupbootcamp in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It was great to see over 20 different European startups who are working in the e-commerce industry.

We had a great time there, and it helped us to understand more about the e-commerce technology that is available in Europe and what are the priorities when it comes to investing and market capping.

Thank you to the Startupbootcamp team for inviting us and letting us use their available tools.

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How To Deal With Big Competitors

Entrepreneurs with early-stage startups tend to press the panic button when big tech companies are about to enter their field. They start going mad, their motivation goes South and they truly believe the fight is over.

What these entrepreneurs don’t realize they have become their biggest competitors. Usually, the amount of startups that have died because a big company entered their field is not substancial at all.  Usually, what kills startups is the loss of motivation and willingness to go on is what ends up killing their startup.

Just think about big tech companies from 10 years ago that have disappeared. People used their services for a reason and a purpose. When they decided to drastically change or expand, hurting the core experience, people decided to go somewhere else.

Remember, big competitors have more to lose than you. There’s a logical reason why the risk they’re taking is way higher than yours. A lot of them could lose their core in the process expanding the company, hurting the stock price, investors, and pissing the board off.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg flew out to LA to meet Snapchat in late 2012 to know more about their vision. According to the press, he told them about Facebook’s upcoming Poke app referring to it as a Snapchat killer. It doesn’t sound good when a big competitor is about to enter your field and eat you without any mercy.

Perhaps at the time he wanted to pressure them into selling or maybe it’s just the press trying to make Snapchat into another Hollywood story (alongside with Facebook and Twitter), but it clearly didn’t work. Snapchat did amazing for themselves and the app made by their big competitor failed massively.

Of course, I really can’t tell this story in depth since I don’t personally know Mark Zuckerberg yet. I consider him one of the best entrepreneurs of our generation and he seems like a remarkable human being. What’s important here is the lesson behind: Snapchat grew to become one of the big guys.

 

What about Meerkat vs. Periscope?

Of course, recently we have the example of Meerkat vs. Periscope. Even though it might seems that Periscope is winning, it’s a long way to go. I believe Meerkat will end up being the winner, if the execute correctly. Even though Twitter has been “bullying” celebrities into using Periscope instead of Meerkat, fans feel frustrated because of the comment limit on Periscope.

Another problem Periscope is not addressing is sexual harassment on women. I wasn’t aware of this since I’m a guy, but when I saw my female friends Periscoping, I was shocked by the amount of obscene comments made by perverts. Since you can opt-out of posting your Periscope comments on Twitter, it’s a free zone for sick people without any consequences.

 

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Approach Startup Investors Like A Boss

Back in early 2012, I was trying to figure out who to launch my now-failed startup Pathfinder along with my co-founder. We were very naive at that at the time. I was trying to pull from my experience on fundraising at other stuff, and I was just stupid. I had no idea how to run a startup back then.

When it comes to approaching investors, I was delusional. I even sent what was probably the worst email you could ever possibly send to investors I had no connection to, like Ashton Kutcher. The email was long and awfully written. I expected him to have enough time to read the long-ass email, download a 10MB PDF attached, because, you know, he probably doesn’t get that many emails and letters from random people all the time.

I have learned and grown so much since then. I also have gained weight and lost hair. When it comes to startup investors, I have learned a few basic tips about it:

 

Avoid cold emails

If you’re asking for money directly in a cold email, it’s probably not going to work. You literally have to be the best thing ever, catch the investor with a good mood and with some time in their hands, and get them curious enough to open the email.

Most successful startup investors I have talked to, just a very few of them admitted to only have invested in a single deal originated by a cold email, while the vast majority hasn’t invested in any startup like that.

 

Do your homework about the investors

Don’t spam. Analyze them and find out as much as possible of how they prefer to get approached by startups. Maybe they respond to cold emails, maybe they prefer a specific format when they get an email, maybe they like to try out the product first.

Make sure they invest in your industry and they look for early stage startups. They disclose this with as much details as possible on their website to make sure not to get time wasting pitches.

 

Nourish a relationship with them

Work with them a little bit before going for the ask. You don’t go on a first date to ask that person to marry you (at least in most modern cultures). You have to build trust and a relationship with the investor first. You should also figure out for yourself if you want that person in your business.

Business angels not only bring money to the table, they bring know-how, connection and advice.

 

When emailing, expect no more attention than 2 minutes

Go straight to the point without much more. You can give details further on or through a document with the specification you need. But don’t make it so difficult to people to understand what you want from them.

And again, sending an email to Ashton Kutcher with a 10MB PDF attached is the worst way on getting in touch with him. And just don’t attach anything when you’re reaching out to investors or journalists. Whenever attachments are necessary, use Dropbox.

 

Starting with an NDA is a deal breaker

Normally, startup investors are not willing to listen to yo if the first thing you’re requesting is to sign an NDA. As it is, they’re super busy and they need to move with their affairs. They listen to new startup ideas and companies hundreds of times every week.

They can’t keep track of everything they sign. Why would they sign if your pitch is probably bad? This is actually what they would think of you if you ask for an NDA.

 

 

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5 Reasons Why Having No Competitors Is A Bad Sign

People get unmotivated to pursue their startup ideas when they realize someone else is already doing it. To be honest, it’s quite difficult to think of product or a service that hasn’t been already created before. They key is in the execution, the team, and how you approach the product.

In fact, not only is very unlikely for you to have no competition, it’s bad news for you if you don’t. Here are the reasons why:

 

You haven’t done your homework

The fact you claim that you have no competition might mean you haven’t looked hard enough. If this is the case, it portrays you as a person that is not too deep into the industry to be able to lead a startup in it.

 

The market is not big enough

The problem could also be that you’re aiming for a very specific market. Maybe too specific. It doesn’t have to be a huge market, but you should make sure it’s big enough for your startup to be able to scale.

To have a great startup, you have to be able to grow it and make a profit, even if it’s a long term goal. Remember, startups are companies, they’re not meant to be hobbies.

 

Your competition already tried and failed

You haver to check if someone was trying to tap into that kind of product and failed. It would be ideal if you can get in touch with the people behind those failed startups. You can learn so much from them, and make an educated decision in how to proceed. You should ask them about why they failed.

 

You’re ahead of your time

This is extremely unlikely to be a reason not to find competitors. Most people would be trying to be using another way to solve the problem you’re trying to solve. So even if it’s not an actual product, find out how do they solve it instead.

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