“THE ART OF STARTUP FUNDRAISING” by Alejandro Cremades

Most of the startups out there are looking to raise successfully money to be able to run their businesses and potentially create great companies that disrupt the world. “How do I raise money?” is probably the question I get the most by other fellow entrepreneurs, especially people who are building a company for the first time.

To this day, there was no guide that I could refer until Alejandro Cremades published “The Art of Startup Fundraising.” Not only explains everything you need to know about fundraising, but it’s a great walkthrough to every possible step in the process.

I’m impressed by how Alejandro didn’t leave any detail behind in this book. Even if you “know what you’re doing” when it comes to fundraising, this book is still useful to make sure you’re not leaving anything behind. The process of raising capital is tedious and, if it’s not done right, it could end up sucking way too much time.

Also, Alejandro Cremades is the right person to write this book. He leads the vision and execution for Onevest as its co-founder and executive chairman. Onevest is a New York-based company that supports founders and investors in building successful ventures.

You can find “The Art of Startup Fundraising” on Amazon.

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“THE SLEEP REVOLUTION” by Arianna Huffington

Meditation, wellness, and mindfulness. Three words we still don’t associate with the culture of work, especially in places like hedge funds and in Corporate America. This reality is changing very fast.

Now we care about not burning out employees. We sacrifice sleep in the name of productivity, but ironically, our loss of sleep, despite the extra hours we put in at work, adds up to more than 11 days of lost productivity per year per worker, or about $2,280. That means that the annual cost of sleep deprivation to the US economy is more than $63 billion. Insane.

That’s why it’s not rare that places that were run by caffeine, alcohol, and cocaine in the 80s, are now installing nap rooms, covering meditation and gym memberships, and making sure employees don’t burn out.

Entrepreneurs normally forget about this and they overwork to the point of exhaustion, myself included. Yes, it’s important to work hard and smart, but not if it risks the entire operation. It’s difficult when you’re bootstrapping to find balance.

The sleep deprivation the world is suffering is not going unnoticed anymore. Even Apple’s last iOS update brings attention to the importance of avoiding blue-lit screens like our smartphones and laptops. Arianna Huffington started to talk about this before it was cool.

Her new book “The Sleep Revolution” proves how important is to sleep, and how much better we all are when we sleep. We are happier, healthier, more productive, and with more energy.

 

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“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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Close A Seed Round Quicker

When you’re ready to raise a seed round, it could take way too much time from you if it’s not plan to be effective. Meeting investors, pitching and getting some of them on board are not easy tasks. In fact, some investors you thought were jumping with you for sure might surprise you.

Anyway, let’s say you’re at the right moment to start  the seed round. You need to get in front of those investors, get to know them and get them to know you, and the most important part of the deal: closing it.

Let’s say you already approached those startup investors like a boss, and you want to close a deal with them as soon as possible. There are a few things you can do to make this process as quick as possible:

 

Line investors up for The Ask

Request a meeting with them or to meet in an event or something related. Disclose the reason why you want to meet with them and let them answer you. Remember this is when you already have a relationship established with them and you’re allowed to do ‘the ask’ from them.

If you live abroad, just line them up all of them for the same week. Give them some time to schedule the meeting. Reach out to them and tell them you’re going to be in town to see investors. You could do this three weeks ahead.

 

Get An Answer Right There

Most entrepreneurs feel uncomfortable asking for an answer or what would the next process be when they meet the investors. They end up leaving with nothing. Ask for an answer, and provide a system to get the answer. If the investor needs to think about it, tell them the timeline you’re working on and when would be best for you to hear back from them.

You can gently remind them about it by email and provide some updates if you have them, but it’s important you give the image that you ask for what you want, and you don’t want to lose anyone’s time.

 

Everything in writing

Investors are busy and they a lot of startups. You can’t expect them to remember absolutely everything you have agreed upon in person. That’s why you should always send a follow-up email after a meeting, summarizing all the decisions you guys have made.

If you have the meeting in the morning, send it on the afternoon, and if you go for drinks at night, send it the morning after. It has to be shortly after so the information is still fresh in their memory. That way they can validate everything you put in the email. You’re actually helping them to have all those ideas and decisions organized.

 

Know your term sheets

You really have to know and understand everything about the potential term sheet. Most investors have a very standardized system that you should know beforehand. They can work around exceptions (depending on every case), but you should find out what they normally agree to.

The best way to push for modifications is to have already signed investors with the conditions you want to implement. That way they will see you’re trying to make it fair for everybody.

 

Don’t lose momentum

It seems I haven’t learned this. It’s quite important to get things done when they’re hot. If you lose momentum, the excitement about your company will fade away. Make sure you set timelines and gently urge investors to make a decision before it’s too late.

It always helps when others are also interested in your company. Of course, you have to be careful about not being too much of a sell-out for the highest bidder. You have to appreciate who are behind the cash, and what they mean for your business.

If you don’t close the seed round on time, it might mean you can’t move on with operations, so every second counts.

 

Be honest

Don’t lie about your numbers, experience, expectations and the reality of the company. They will detect any BS you try to sell them and when they realize you haven’t been honest (because they will), they will ose trust in you, and that’s a deal breaker.

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