Demo Day

Last week I attended Demo Day for the Batch #3 companies at MSFT Accelerator in Berlin. It was a fun, well run event and all the companies absolutely rocked their presentations. (video). Every CEO gave a quality keynote presentation, each one had a specific theme that represented the personally of the company. The slides (more like pictures) were so in sync with the entrepreneurs that it felt like you were watching a movie. Clearly a lot of effort and preparation went into the event and it showed. In addition I got to spend time with Portadi, a company in the Bolt Capital family, for an update on the business. 

The frequent question asked during the after party was which company was the most attractive. Even given my bias of Portadi, especially because I've been an addicted user of their product for about a year now, for me it was all of the startups. The CEOs exuded confidence. The businesses claimed to have working product with real customers in massive markets. An investor's initial screening criteria were all checked. Based on the night, it's hard to say that any one was not worthy of an investment. Here are all the companies: 

tripdeltaWunderAgentSkooveQDatumQuantifiedCodeTandemployIPlytics and Portadi.

There is no doubt that each company will have follow up meetings with potential investors. I wonder what they will find now that the lights are gone and they peel back the layers of the onion? 

A batch 3 mashup from the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Berlin.

I’ve fallen in love with SquareSpace

I love SquareSpace. It’s the most complete ‘company’ I’ve ever interacted with: starting with how I found them to learning about their solution to starting a product trial to becoming a paying customer to being a happy active user.  

One of the main requirements for the Bolt Capital website was a 'for dummies' system that I could easily manageI learned about SquareSpace from a photography website called FroKnowsPhoto.  Jarid Polin aka The Fro recommended the solution.  I reviewed SquareSpace.com and quickly got the feeling they were talking to me, so I took the plunge for a 14-day trial.

The product is so intuitive and easy to use. I mean really really easy. I had a website designed with an hour, even with a custom logo thanks to their logo generator. They have taken a 'true' design philosophy to the product. While there is a ‘template’ framework, they kept it flexible so each customer can have their own unique design. You can make your site not feel like the others.

Next I got addicted.  I started sampling with the design template inventory, which allows changing an entire site's look and feel with a few clicks. I created new page after page in minutes to play with ideas, layouts, graphics and so on. To top it off, all the templates are designed to run on mobile devices. Awesome!

Finally there is support. I’ve had a few questions along the way and every time I got an answer back within an hour. Not only that, one answer provided me with a video showing how to solve my problem and another was answered by creating a sample page for me in my website admin console.  Absolutely rockstar customer service.

I also mention SqaureSpace at some point during my work day. My experience has been that amazing that I refer to them on how it should be done. Hats off to the team at SquareSpace. Great product, fantastic support! . 

Update: I came across an interview by Google Ventures of SquareSpace CEO Anthony Casalena. Listen to minute 17 about customer service.

There is a first time for everything...

There are many first in our lives: first words, first steps, first day of school, first time driving alone in a car, first kiss, first paycheck, first presentation, and so on. But I must say that nothing has been as intimidating to me as writing my first blog. It's not because my writing skills are pedestrian at best, but the truth is that I know 'once you blog you never go back'. You get addicted to expressing yourself, even if it's for your own sanity. And a blog is a living creature that must be fed daily in order for it to grow and mature. You are committed to it. (this is the exact reason why my wife lets me look at pictures of english bulldogs but not own one). 

Well I guess this means I have officially published my first blog. I promise to feed it often.