BatKid Begins movie: interview with Director Dana Nachman #cinequest

We covered the Red Carpet opening nite of Cinequest 2015.  This is the interview with ‘BatKid Begins’ Video interview with Dana Nachman, Director ‘Batkid Begins’ & Kurt Kuenne, CoWriter/Sound Designer & Don Hardy, Dir Photography: a movie that celebrates Humanity.

Mashup of the opening nite of Cinequest 2015

Richard Titus,CEO #GLAZED

I interviewed Richard Titus, CEO @GLAZED Conference.  He spoke about London where he comes from originally & his startup  It is focused scheduling & is targeting to individuals.  He spoke about being a serial entrepreneur & about getting investment.  He is just about to close his Seed Round & about to start Series A.  He spoke about being an angel investor in London, UK & his investments. He also mentioned the difficulties in raising capital in the UK & how the ecosystem works there.

Steve Blank: Do Dysfunctional Families Breed Entrepreneurs?

Steve Blank spoke about his theory that dysfunctional families breed entrepreneurs @Smart$Money in Silicon Valley.  I find this is a fascinating subject & had shared his original article many years ago with many folks.  He also spoke about how Founders often need to move on when a startup grows.  As long as everyone is clear about this fact that Founders’ skills are more about research & that building a company requires other skills, then there is nothing wrong.  His original article which is brilliant is on VentureBeat  You can find Steve @his blog & on Twitter @sgblank

You can view Steve’s complete talk @SmartMoney Silicon Valley here

Attracting Angel Investors &/or Venture Capital #foundingmomsf

Last week I gave a talk to the Founding Moms’ Exchange in San Francisco about raising investment for female entrepreneurs.  It was a great crowd of mompreneurs & we had a fabulous conversation about the issues.

Here’s the first part of the talk!

“There’s no question that there is a gender gap when it comes to businesses attracting funding. Pemo Theodore has spent the past two years interviewing angel investors and venture capitalists to find out why women-owned businesses are so often left out, and more importantly, what we can do about it. Anne Raimondi, Co-Founder & CEO of One Jackson will join us to provide her recent real-world experience raising VC. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to learn how to perfect your pitch!”

Anne Raimondi, CoFounder OneJackson joined us for the 2nd part of the talk.  Excuse the lack of centering of the camera – my videographer was not present to ensure it was centered. Anne’s career has been focused on fast-growth consumer and consumer technology companies including Gymboree and BlueNile, where she was a member of the founding team. At eBay, Anne launched eBay Stores and headed marketing, mechandising and all seller features, and she was head of product and user experience at Zazzle. She served as VP of Product & Marketing for Insider Pages (sold to Citysearch / IAC) and VP of Marketing for SurveyMonkey before starting One Jackson. A mother of three, Anne received her BA & MBA from Standford University. When she’s not working or at swim meets, Anne serves as a parent volunteer Art Vistas docent helping to teach art in public schools.

Here’s the second part of the talk:

Importance of the Startup Pitch

Its been my experience, since my first startup 7 years ago that the pitch & deck are crucial for every entrepreneur.  Even if you are not raising money & running lean, you always need a good pitch & deck to find partners & customers.  There is no escaping it.  However I have sat through many pitches over the years and most Fail.  These entrepreneurs may have wonderful startup ideas or business models however their pitches let them down.  My former business in Dublin, Ireland put me on the other side of the cameras as an expert on TV & radio.  I saw first hand that if you don’t engage your audience, you Fail! So I was encouraged to read a venture capitalist Bryce Roberts, Partner @OATV, post on The Sad State of the Startup Pitch.  Obviously many vcs & angels are subjected to the poor quality of a pitch day in day out & it obviously was wearing Bryce down.

My VC hates the name of my company. Should I change it?

This is a guest post By Rohini Chakravarthy, Partner NEA & was originally posted on NEA’s blog What’s in a Name?  If your VC normally offers sound advice and hates the name for longer than one board meeting, it’s possible you have a naming mishap on your hands. In the absence of graver or more immediate threats … Read more

Deborah Gruenfeld: Mastering Body Language in Group Settings #tiecon

Deborah Gruenfeld, Moghadam Family Professor of Leadership & Organizational Behavior/ CoDirector Executive Program for Women Leaders @Stanford Graduate School of Business. Deborah spoke @TIECON about her research into female empowerment through body language.

The ability to function effectively within a hierarchy is a crucial determinant of managerial & personal success, yet many women struggle with ‘authority issues’ that make certain hierarchical roles & positions difficult for them.  Deborah draws on the art of acting & the science of psychology to show us how our nonverbal behaviors affect our status & power & the ability to move flexibly among different hierarchical roles.

Scott Orn, Lighthouse Capital on Venture Debt

Video interview with Scott Orn Partner Lighthouse Capital Partners. Scott is responsible for identifying information technology investment opportunities, performing due diligence, negotiating and monitoring west coast investments. Scott returned to Lighthouse in 2008 as a Senior Associate after completing his MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. While at Kellogg, Scott interned in R&D Strategy at Becton Dickinson. Scott previously worked as an Associate at Lighthouse from 2002 to 2005, prior to leaving for his MBA. From 1999 to 2002, Scott was an Analyst in mergers and acquisitions at Hambrecht & Quist, (later JPMorgan H&Q). While at Lighthouse, Scott has sponsored investments in the software, internet, IT services, semiconductor and mobile industries. In addition to his MBA from Kellogg, Scott holds a BS in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. Scott is also a CFA Charterholder. Scott is also a Co-founder of Ben’s Friends, a network of online patient support communities for people with rare diseases.

Transcript follows & video below

I note that you guys are really interested in investing in women. I see that your portfolio is bulging at the sides with women. It’s fabulous & I just wondered to start with, what’s the sweet spot that you personally like to invest in?

Our fund’s name is Lighthouse Capital & we have a 10 year fund, just like any other VC fund except we make loans to startups & then take warrants in the company. We end up having a dual return. There are a few other people that do what we do. It’s a little nichey. But I think people agree that we’re one of the better people that do what we do: the venture lending, the venture capital loaning money to startups that way! That’s our business. Our sweet spot is either early, Series A: 3 people & an idea. Ot late stage where there’s some significant revenue maybe $10m or $20m in revenue, company is ramping & things are working & we can really help extend the runway for the company. What we do is we get in there, we loan the money to the company & they can put off fund raising for another 6 months or so, increase the valuation greatly. Then go out to the market & raise an up round. The entrepreneurs love it because it’s less dilutive. The vcs like it because their pro-rata’s on the next round are lower. And we like it because we have the interest return & we also own a little bit of the company.

Scott Orn

Is that interest paid back immediately because a lot of these startups are starting very lean obviously?

Yeah totally. It’s a typically a 3 year amortizing loan. It’s like your mortgage, you pay a little bit of interest & little bit of principal every month. There’s typically a 3 to 6 month interest only period & then it starts amortizing. Most of our companies are losing money. Our real source of repayment is the next round of capital that comes in pays us back over time. So its a little bit counter intuitive to most people. So once you get your head wrapped around that, that’s why it’s so important to help the company get to that next milestone. Because the next round of equity comes in & we get paid back & everyone’s happy. Now there’s times where the company doesn’t hit the milestone which is a whole different ball of wax. Which is where we have to work with the entpreneurs, work with the vcs to help them get the company funded.

Scott Orn

Well that’s fabulous, thanks that education. So I gather then that basically you give more than just the money?

Yes we help out our companies a lot. We don’t take a board seat. So we’re not as active as a typical vc investor. But we’re always helping introduce them to other management teams, maybe there’s business development deals there. Or helping them with recruiting. Lighthouse has a unique position as we have 100 to 150 companies in our portfolio versus a normal vc fund that might have 20. So we have a really broad reach & we see most of what’s happening in Silicon Valley & Boston & New York. Even though we make not have even taken a position in a company, we’ve seen them, we know who they are. You’d be surprised a lot of companies meet with us, maybe it’s not the right fit but then a year later they’re calling again or we’re calling them & we strike up a business relationship.

Scott Orn

I’m fascinated & I wasn’t aware of this. I think obviously a lot of entrepreneurs would be interested in this way of raising capital.

Yes it’s a great follow on way of raising money. Pretty much every good company in the valley has taken venture debt. As I said there’s a couple of other people that do what we do but we’re one of the leaders. We’ve been around for 18 years so we rode out the dotcom bust. We rode out the ’08 ’09 bust so we’re proven.

Scott Orn

Great & so tell me about the female entrepreneurs that you’ve invested in. What are some of the companies that are in your portfolio?

As we talked about I have to be kind of careful because we’re a registered investment advisor. But we have a couple of companies that I’ve worked with Serena & Lily a terrific company in Marin. They started off as a baby bedding company & now they’re growing like a weed & they’ve expanded into the living room. They do home accessories, they do linens, they do everything! They’re doing really well. Tiny Prints was a company that had a female cofounder & of course you probably saw they were bought by Shutterfly a while back. Another portfolio company that I’ve worked with & talked with is Sheila Marcelo who is just a terrific entrepreneur. She’s one of the smartest ladies I’ve ever met in my life. She’s very determined, she’s doing great! Those are just a few! We’d probably have about 10 to 15 companies that are started by women in our portfolio.

Scott Orn

So you’re obviously very open to women approaching you or female founders. If you’ve seen success in the past then obviously you’re building on that with more female entrepreneurs? Is that right?

Well of course. I should say that it’s really easy, we have no bias. In fact we may have a bias towards women entrepreneurs because our fund was started, one of our cofounders is a woman Gwill York on the East Coast. It’s really easy when one of the smartest voices at the partnership is a female voice. You’re have no bias! And of course one of our other partners Cristy Barnes. So 2 out of 5 partners are women. So we’re miles past any kind of bias & we’re very open to that. I think some of the women entrepreneurs we work with really get that, they appreciate that. As you know in the venture game, every good entrepreneur has a choice, everyone wants to fund the good ones, no one wants to fund the bad ones. So when you find a really good company, they’re going to have options. They get to pick essentially whether it’s their venture loaner or their venture capitalist. So I think having that representation in our partnership really helps, gives us a competitive edge in a sense because they’re willing to pick us. They want to work with us – we get them!

Scott Orn

And like venture capitalists, do you need entrepreneurs or startups to be based close to you?

We do & we don’t. Actually I just did this study, it’s funny that you bring this up. I’m doing the math right now. About 50% of our deals are on the west coast predominantly Silicon Valley. But we do Seattle & we do San Diego – there’s a lot of BioTech in San Diego. I personally have 3 or 4 social media or internet companies in LA. So I’m willing to get on a plane. Our East Coast does probably 30% of the deals & that’s predominantly Cambridge & New York. And we actually had a lot of success in the Mid West. One of my best companies came out of Indianapolis, it’s a big success. We have a Clean Tech practice & Clean Tech is kind of interesting in that it’s sprung up all over the country. Our Clean Tech partner Jeff Griffor, I feel bad for him because he’s constantly flying around & misses his family. He’s all over the country, so we’re willing to get on a plane. One of my other partners is J. Hilburn that does custom men’s clothes, they’re in Texas. I go out to visit them. We’ll go where the good deals are. I think most venture capitalists are like that. Everyone says I want to be in driving distance & more convenient & then you meet the entrepreneur & the idea & you get kind of seduced & you’re willing to hop on that plane.

Scott Orn

That’s loverly, that’s loverly. And you were speaking earlier that you were raised by a business woman, correct?

Yeah so my Mom, Margaret Orn, she started a company called Elegant Clutter in Danville, CA. It’s a home accessories furniture store & she built that with her partner Gayle up from the ground floor for 25 years. So I always say my Mom’s the best business woman I’ve ever met. For 25 years she built her reputation in the community. She was very successful was able to support her family. I talk about this with a lot of women entrepreneurs, a lot of woman are balancing children & the company they’re running & it’s very difficult. But I have this philosophy that you’re kids get to see their mother grow up as a business woman, take on responsibility, have success, have their own identity – it’s super powerful! I still think about my Mom being on the city council of Danville & being able to go anywhere in the city & people knowing who she is. So it gives the mother a real identity away from the home, which I think is actually a positive because they’re successful in their kid’s eyes! Their kids actually pick up on that. So I talk to Cristy, our Life Sciences partner all the time about that.

Scott Orn

Fabulous & thank you so much for being on our side!

Of course, of course. It’s not even a side, this is the point I was trying to make. It’s smart business, it’s a way to live your life. I was fortunate that my Mom was a business woman so it doesn’t seem different or unique or anything like that to me. It’s people doing what they love to do! The key to our business is funding people who love what they do!

Scott Orn

Wonderful & hopefully more people will come to you now after this interview. It’s certainly got me enthusiastic & passionate & I’ll definitely refer people on if I hear that they need what you’re providing. Thanks so much Scott for your time today.

My pleasure, thank you so much.

Scott Orn

Lighthouse provides venture debt financing to leading Information Technology, Life Sciences and Cleantech companies. Lighthouse loans extend a company’s runway, allowing entrepreneurs to hit milestones that might otherwise be out of reach. In exchange, Lighthouse receives interest payments and equity warrants from the portfolio companies. Lighthouse has been in business for 18 years and is currently investing its 6th fund, a $270M pool of capital.

Mark Suster, Partner GRP: ‘The Cocktail Party Pitch’

Mark Suster Partner GRP Partners. Mark was Vice President, Product Management at following its acquisition of Koral, where Mark was Founder and CEO. Prior to Koral, Mark was Founder and CEO of BuildOnline, the largest independent global content collaboration company focused on the engineering and construction sectors, which was acquired by SWORD Group. Earlier in his career, Mark spent nearly ten years working for Accenture in Europe, Japan and the U.S.  Mark received a BA in Economics from the University of California, San Diego, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Mark led the investment in Factual and currently sits on the Boards of the following companies in GRP’s portfolio:,, Burstly, Factual, GumGum, Pose and Ring Revenue.

Mark gave some fabulous advice to entrepreneurs about pitching to venture capitalists.  ‘Don’t mouse around!’

Startup Interviews #data2

Martin Hack President, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, Skytree.  Mr. Hack has 20 years of experience, creating game changing technology products, services and strategies. His experience includes the management of product lines with revenues totaling $1.8B/year. He has launched ground-breaking products, driven world wide strategies and helped set de-facto industry standards. As an expert on Trusted Computing, Virtualization and High Performance environments he became a sought-after advisor to many Fortune 500 companies and government organizations including the FBI, CIA and DIA. In his past roles he was involved in all aspects of the product life cycle including engineering, product management, marketing, business development and sales. He also developed and introduced products and services into virtually every commercial and government, channel and market segment.

Martin tells me a bit about Skytree which was bootstrapped for a couple of years. Last year they raised $1.5 from Javelin Venture Partners.  He also gives some tips for raising venture.  He told me that big data is the hottest thing for the last 15 years for venture capital.

Do your homework, do your research!  Is this an investor that is familar with this area?  Do they have some background?  Maybe there is someone in your network that can help you reach out there?

Martin Hack

Hooman Radfar Executive Chairman/CoFounder Clearspring Technologies  Hooman is executive chairman and co-founder of Clearspring responsible for product and service solutions and marketing. Based in McLean, VA he was recently named one of Tech’s Best Entrepreneurs in BusinessWeek and was nominated for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year. He is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in Economics and Computer Science. He also holds a Masters of Science from Carnegie Mellon University where he researched Social Networking Theory. He is a popular speaker at major industry events such as ad:tech, OMMA events, SXSW, Digital Hollywood, Digital Media Conference, Web 2.0 Expo and CES.

Hooman tells me a bit about Clearspring Technologies services which includes Add This.  He also talks about how they’ve raised over $7m in venture capital from Novak Biddle, IVP, NEA & a bunch of prominent angels such as Ron Conway, Steve Case, Ted Leonsis & Nigel Morris, CoFounder Capital One (a great group of advisors).  Hooman also offers some tips for raising venture dependent on the stage of your business.

Try to frame your business in the context of a trend where a venture person can understand the opportunity in the context of a larger market is important!  Series A investors need to know that the team is really good & the market is really big because the product & execution often change so much.

Hooman Radfar

He also spoke about what not to do: don’t wear suits when meeting with vcs if you are a developer & feel uncomfortable – you have to sell the assets you have!  Don’t overcompensate on areas where you’re weak, rather than double down on areas where you are strong.

Tell them what you don’t know & how you plan to fill in those gaps!

Hooman Radfar

Chris Van Pelt, Founder/CTO Crowdflower.  Studio artist, computer scientist, Web engineer, and CrowdFlower co-founder, Chris pours his diverse background into his role as Chief Technology Officer (though he prefers Chief Awesome Officer). Of Chris’s work, one former colleague said, “Chris combines deep design insight with crisp, minimalist coding abilities that enables him to produce anything — soup-to-nuts applications — sometimes within minutes. And of course the impossible takes a little longer.” As Chris puts it, “Every project presents an opportunity for innovation.”

Chris spoke about Crowdflower which is a crowd sourcing company which works around micro tasks.  He told me the story around why they created this type of business.  Their revenue model is a plus cost model.


Helen MacKenzie: Focusing on Critical Mass of Capital for Women

Video interview with Helen MacKenzie Founding Managing Director Women’s Venture Capital Fund that invests in gender diverse teams building game-changing companies. Helen has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs to help them drive maximum revenue from their smart ideas. She applies strategic vision and practical financial objectives to innovative ideas – helping entrepreneurs shape their visions into profitable companies. Having accompanied dozens of high-growth companies on the journey from startup through to exit, Helen offers a clear perspective on how to leverage business acumen and strategic partnerships into financial success.

Transcription follows & video below

Its great to see more women in venture capital & I’m so excited about your fund. It’s fabulous Women’s Venture Capital Fund. You just put it right out there, no bars hold. Fantastic, I was so thrilled to see it. So tell me what motivated you guys to actually put it together & call it that name. It’s so in your face, I love it!

We weren’t trying to be in your face with it & we didn’t name it for ourselves as general partners. And we certainly didn’t name it for any of the investors or any other people who might like to be around women entrepreneurs. We named it so that the women who were entrepreneurs or founding companies, it would resonate with them.

Helen MacKenzie

Well it certainly resonated with me, that’s exactly the reaction you got!

Good, good & that’s primarily what we wanted to do. If you look at the statistics that have been published for years & years, there is just a paucity of venture capital that gets invested in companies where even one woman is part of the management team much less cofounding it. And yet if you look at the other side of the ledger you have women who make up more than 51% of the Math Undergrads, a third if not more of the Engineering undergrads as well as the Graduate Students coming out of all the good universities, the middle end universities. Whatever university you went to, women make up critical mass & they are part of those teams that are creating new technologies or repositioning technologies. They have great ideas, their teams have great ideas. So while we are called the Women’s Venture Capital Fund, we really want to be sure that we’re investing in gender diverse teams & in diverse teams. The world is diverse & we want to reflect that in our investing criteria.

Helen MacKenzie

Great, great. I see that you’ve invested in one company. Congratulations & it was women led company. I was really thrilled about that & shared it on social media. How are you finding them? Are there many women coming to you with female led startups?

I think as one of my partners puts it ‘We have an embarassment of riches on that side!’ There are any number of just terrific companies with women involved. They don’t have to be the CEO. They don’t have to even be the founder of it. But they are involved in managing companies & growing companies & they need capital. And let’s face it, capital is hard to access for anybody in any business & women seem to resonate with the fund & the fund name.

Helen MacKenzie

I would imagine it’s sort of like a honey pot. As soon as I see that name I would immediately encourage other female startups to actually go towards you. So I would imagine you wouldn’t even have to do much marketing.

There are a number of great people & organisations that mentor women’s groups. I think you are part of Women2.0  & certainly Astia & Springboard are 2 other very well known names that mentor them. So I think you’ve got some critical mass out there on that side but you don’t have too much critical mass on the capital side. And we wanted to bring critical mass on that side.

Helen MacKenzie

Now I’m very supportive of women venture capitalists because as you know & I know from the research, so many more women are invested in when there’s more women in venture capital. I’ve often asked women venture capitalists what it’s like to be a woman venture capitalist & what are the challenges & what are the problems & how can women do that? How do you see your firm encouraging more women to get on board in the firm itself? Have you got any plans about that?

Inside our firm? I think long range we have generally talked about it. But we are kind of a new fund ourselves & have only made our first investment. So I think perhaps..

Helen MacKenzie

…not scaling just yet?

Well we don’t have our world wide domination plan figured out just yet for the world to know about. I think just like any young company we need to focus, focus on what it is we want our business to do. And right now the best thing we can do is help our first investment & subsequent investments be as successful as they possibly can.

Helen MacKenzie

Fabulous, so you’re going to build that foundation so that it’s nice & strong & then scale?


Helen MacKenzie

That’s great, that’s great. Would you have any tips for women that might be interested in getting into venture capital because it seems to be a bit of a cloudy subject. Many women venture capitalists have said to me that they don’t even know how they ended up falling into the career. And I mean the industry itself is a bit of a cottage industry so there’s no rules about how you can actually graduate yourself into the role.

I think it is similar to the same question as how do you start a startup? There aren’t any rules for that either. You get a great idea & you feel like there’s critical mass & you want to go out after it & do it. And those people who are involved, if you look at the people who are involved in venture capital today, men or women, look at how they all started. I started as a banker, I was a commercial banker, I banked the venture capital industry. I banked all the early stage companies. I banked anybody who was around them. Other people got into the industry because they were with successful startups & they had some financial background & you have to have a little bit, not a lot. Or you have technical background & it’s all about relationships. Everything is about relationships at the end of the day. Do you have those skills that you bring to the table that that particular venture firm needed at that particular point in time? Were all the stars in alignment? So how does any professional end up to be in the profession that they really want to be in & doing what it is that they love to do best. That’s how most venture capitalists end up doing this.

Helen MacKenzie

So maybe, here’s an idea of mine: so maybe just promoting the fun, the interest & the passion that most of the venture capitalists experience, which is what I have heard from most of you that I’ve interviewed, promoting that may also encourage women to find their own path into it. What do you think?

It certainly might.

Helen MacKenzie

That’s fabulous. Thank you so much. I wish you all the best for your firm. I’m totally behind you, anything that I can do for you, I really want to do that.

Thank you very much. We can use all the help we get. It’s a team play!

Helen MacKenzie

It is! Vivek Wadhwa said to me ‘Women have to help each other up here in the Valley!’ I think that’s the truth anywhere but I totally, totally support that idea. I think if you help another woman then it will come back to you in some other way.

Absolutely, it will. What did somebody say “It takes a village!” no matter where you are. We’re all part of the community, large & small so we all need to help each other.

Helen MacKenzie

And I think that’s what I see in women, that we do have that wonderful strength that when we see other women needing support, we usually rush in & help. All the best & thanks again.

Thank you very much.

Helen MacKenzie

Christina Brodbeck: Angel Investing & Startups

Video interview with Christina Brodbeck, CoFounder The Icebreak, a fun and new service that helps couples to create more rewarding relationships with snack-sized activities that take no more than two minutes a day. Facebook is for friends, dating sites are for singles, theicebreak is for couples. Prior to theicebreak, Christina was a founding team member at YouTube and the company’s first UI Designer. She later went on to lead UI for YouTube Mobile, is an active angel investor, and mentors at various places including 500 Startups and The Designer Fund.

Transcript follows & video below

I know that you’re an investor as well as an entrepreneur. Could you tell me what you’re interested in investing? What are the things that really fascinate you, the businesses that fascinate you?

I think because I’m an angel investor instead of an institutional investor, a lot of it is what personally interests me. Instead of oh this is going to get me a huge return. Areas that I’m particularly interested in are mobile because I have a background in mobile UI. Also things that solve email problems, I’m really interested in that & productivity & utility tools. Also things that appeal to a female consumer demographic.

Christina Brodbeck

Great & have you invested in many female founded businesses?

Yeah I have, I’m trying to think. Probably at least 3 or 4 of the 15 companies I’ve invested in.

Christina Brodbeck

Great & I guess if you’re an angel investor, you obviously help the founders get their business going as well as the actual money that you invest.

Yes, since I don’t invest a large amount, I’m a smaller angel investor. A lot of what I do is try & give back in terms of time. Since my background is UX & UI, most of the time I spend with companies is helping them with that.

Christina Brodbeck

That’s really great. You’ve got a fascinating business of your own. I’m particularly interested in it because my last startup was an online matchmaking algorithim for online dating sites. So I’d love you to talk a little about that business & how you evolved that.

Yes so the service is called The Icebreak and it’s a mobile app. We just released our iphone app about a month ago & then also a website. It’s for people who are already in existing couples, married, engaged or if you’re dating somebody. We help make your relationship & continue to make your relationship awesome. We give you fun activities that you can do & things to do to communicate & stuff like that.

Christina Brodbeck

What’s your secret ingredient behind the actual process & games that you offer?

A lot of it is taking a relationship that you already have & is probably a really good relationship. Or at least a relationship that you enjoy. Then giving you small nudges & small pushes but in a very fun game like manner that enhances your relationship. We don’t want it to seem like work, it’s taking something & making it very fun.

Christina Brodbeck

And what sort of responses have you had?

Yeah it’s been really interesting. I’ve learned a lot of things about men & women & how they think differently & how they approach relationship differently in the course of doing this.

Christina Brodbeck

Fabulous. Now something that I get quite a few emails from female founders is that they’re interested in how to get involved in 500 Startups incubator. I know that you’re one of the mentors. I wondered if you’ve got any tips for female founders who are interested in that?

Yes, I think honestly a lot of it (& this doesn’t just apply to 500Startups, also just to incubators or anyone in general) is Persistence & knocking on a lot of doors. I’d say the best way to get in touch with Dave or any of the people who are partners there is to go through the mentors. Try & establish a relationship with them. Maybe look them up on the mentor’s page & try & start a conversation with somebody who has either invested in, mentored or advised or started a company possibly in the similar demographic as your own. Just start a conversation with them. Then hopefully something will develop into an introduction.

Christina Brodbeck

As you said research really helps because then you can see whether or not they would be female founder friendly.

Right, exactly & as a whole 500 Startups is very female founder friendly. So you’re starting in a good place.

Christina Brodbeck

Fabulous, you don’t have to jump any hurdles.

Right exactly.

Christina Brodbeck

I know I’ve read in the past a couple of articles that have either mentioned you or you’ve actually written about women & startups. I just wondered if you’ve noticed any differences for female founders in the last couple of years.

I think now people are recognizing that a lot of spending & a lot of the consumption & the time that is being spent online is done by female consumers. So I think now there is a shift where investors are at least taking note of companies that are appealing to that demographic & they’re willing to put more money into them. I think the next step, the step beyond that is let’s invest in more female founders so they can start more companies.

Christina Brodbeck

I just read, I think yesterday, that there’s a female venture capitalist firm just opened & has just invested in a female founded company. Gee even in a year, I’ve seen massive, massive change of consciousness around it.

Yes it’s really cool, it’s awesome.

Christina Brodbeck

Thank you again for your time, it’s been delightful interviewing you.

Thank you so much

Christina Brodbeck

Naomi Fine: Protecting IP for Women

Video interview with Naomi Fine, author of “Positively Confidential” is president and CEO of Pro-Tec Data, which she founded in 1985 to help companies manage and protect confidential information, privacy, and intellectual property. Since Pro-Tec Data’s inception, Naomi has served as its principal consultant, incorporating legal, digital security, corporate security, human resource, and audit disciplines. Naomi’s depth of knowledge comes from working with hundreds of world-class companies to identify sensitive information, assess needs for protecting it, develop tailored information protection strategies, establish policies and procedures, and provide training and tools that secure competitive advantage.

Transcript follows & video below

Naomi welcome! Fabulous book that you’ve just launched ‘Positively Confidential’ & I’ve really learnt quite a bit just hearing you speak. I wondered today whether you’d be interested in giving some feedback for women entrepreneurs. Obviously your information about IP is important for women entrepreneurs generally but also particularly if they’re going for vc funding. So I wondered if you could tell me is confidentiality more or less relevant to women entrepreneurs than men?

I think that confidentiality is equally relevant. So the question is what is the predisposition of a woman protecting something as confidential. I’ve worked with many women entrepreneurs who tend to feel that it’s important to share their good ideas & enthusiasm for their new product. They may tend to be more generous with what they divulge & be less careful about protecting their information. Protecting information is so key particularly in today’s marketplace because by protecting information you help to establish it as a trade secret which is a very important part of intellectual property & the intellectual property portfolio. It’s also the foundation of having patents. So if you are going for funding & you’ve got an entrepreneurial company, one of the most important things is for you to show that you’ve got intellectual property assests. I always advise entrepreneurs & particularly women entrepreneurs, because they tend to value what they have less, & so by going throught the information they’ve developed & thinking about how they’ve solved problems they can identify that information, those ideas as intellectual property. This helps them to increase the value of their property, which helps them to get funded.

Naomi Fine

And it would increase confidence too, I would imagine, because then it becomes much more tangible & real what you are contributing?

That is absolutely correct. I worked with an entrepreneur, a woman who had a fitness related company & she didn’t even think she had intellectual property. It wasn’t until after we had a long talk that she went through this process of really inventoring what she had. When she realized how much she’d developed in terms of new ideas, innovative thinking & combining fitness with the social networking infrastructure that she came to believe that she had something even more valuable than what she had thought.

Naomi Fine

It’s an ongoing problem, I think, for women. I remember years ago a friend of mine at LaTrobe University in Melbourne told me that women tend not to even acknowledge their success as their success. They often accredit it to other people & I think we do tend to be a little bit too open to our ecosystem or our environment in acknowledging or getting that clarity. That sounds so fascinating & exciting to me, that that sort of process that you did with that woman could actually give her some sense of a container of what it is she is actually doing. I wondered how women can protect information that they have to share with vcs & angels when they are going for investment or funding?

This is such an important question because there’s this balance between wanting to share information that will make the vc or angel funder interested in the investment. At the same time holding back & letting them know that you have the maturity & sophistication to not reveal information that is very confidential unless there is some agreement or understanding that it will be kept confidential. So I always recommend to my entrepreneur clients that they ask the vc firm or angel investment firm what their policy is around confidentiality. Some will actually say: We don’t want to receive any confidential information because we will not be bound by any kind of confidentiality restrictions. And if that’s the case, then in a presentation to that funding source, the woman entrepreneur could say something like “We’ve got an algorithm for our software that is highly proprietary & we’d like to tell you about it here. But as a VC that has let us know that your policy is not to maintain confidentiality, we aren’t in a position to divulge that information because if we did we could diminish our intellectual assets which are part of what makes our company so valuable. As you know the name of my book is “Positively Confidential” & the point is that it can be a very positive aspect of selling a company, to say that you have the maturity & sophistication to protect your intellectual assets. So by presenting it in that way it’s very helpful & some vcs will say: Well we will not sign an NDA but what do you need from us in order to share what we need to know to figure out whether or not this is a good investment or not. Then you have an opportunity to say to them: Well I understand that you will not sign a contractual agreement indicating that you’ll be legally obligated to protect our information. But could we agree between us that you will not share this information with our direct competitors. And if they say yes to that & then you follow up in written email or letter to them, thanking them for their time & for reviewing your investment & at the same time reinforcing that: As you know Sir or Madam we presented our ideas, including some very confidential information. We know that you won’t sign an NDA but we hope that you will at least abide by the agreement that you made with us that you won’t be sharing it with our direct competitors. And again this is very positive, it says you are astute, you are mature as a business person in protecting your intellectual assets which is going to be very important to a vc or other potential funders.

Naomi Fine

I know you mentioned about facebook & that whole drama that happened with the Winklevoss twins. Because there are many stories floating around the venture capital industry about vcs who have listened to people’s ideas & then used them (misused them). Is there any legal recourse if we went throught this process as you’re suggesting to be as protective as we can, to institute that in writing, even though we’re not getting an NDA? Any at all legal recourse?

Well if you don’t have a non-disclosure agreement in place & you have freely divulged information to another person or organization, you probably don’t have legal recourse. Unless there is some implied agreement. Now I did mention the facebook situation with the Winklevoss twins & because they settled, we really don’t know all the facts of that case. But from what we saw in the movie, there was no requirement of vow of secrecy on Mark Zuckerburg’s behalf or that he would sign an NDA. Yet in that case, the Winklevoss twins did get a $65m settlement. So what could be the basis of that settlement is that there’s this implied agreement that when you work with someone, you have an implied agreement to protect their intellectual property & specifically their secrets & confidential information? It’s been implied in case law for decades & that is enforcable. But that is very different from a non-contractual arrangement which is a non employer/employee arrangement, non vendor & hiring person.

Naomi Fine

Yes so really what I’m hearing is that we don’t have as much protection when we are taking our ideas out there to funders.

That’s right, in fact the only place that there may be some protection is with an employee. Because a contractor or a vendor without a contract, in most cases they own the results of their work, even if you’ve paid for them to develop whatever it is that they’re developing. So without a contract to the contrary, there’s an assumption that a third party contractor or vendor owns the results of their work.

Naomi Fine

Thanks very much that’s a great education. So you’ve given us some great feedback about why we need to be much more aware(& I’m definitely much more aware of this now). Is there anything else that you would like to add for women entrepreneurs about confidentiality?

Yes I think that women tend to be more trusting generally with people. One of the things that confidentiality can do is to provide a stronger basis for trust. So while women tend to want to share information & believe that if the other person seems like a nice person & an intelligent person they might be more inclined to share with them. I think it’s important for women to know that in this world a lot of people are not aware of how many people are out there whether they be spies or people who are conducting economic espionage or competitive intelligence to try & gather information about what’s happening in the business world. But there are people out there with malicious intent who will take information & use it against the best interest of the woman entrepreneur. I think we tend to be as women, more trusting, than the actual environment suggests we should be. There’s also reason to be very positive & to feel that there are good reasons to engage with others. But it’s so important to trust but with a strong foundation for that trust, even if it’s someone that you know. I work with primarily with Fortune 500 Companies & I’m often asking them about where they perceive the highest risk of losing their most valuable information. Interestingly enough often times its from inadvertence or lack of awareness. It’s when people engage in a conversation with someone & think this is an interesting person, I want to be helpful to them so I want to share information, without thinking this could be very valuable to the company. (This may be confidential.) There is another aspect to information is that when we are working, for example entrepreneurs women or men. When you’re in startup mode you are working 190% of your time & maybe every waking & unconscious hour of your time on the startup & so it may start to feel like it’s commonplace. It’s something that you are so familar with that you forget when somebody else asks you, about what you’re working on, that actually it’s very valuable. It’s common to you, because you live it, eat it, breathe it, sleep it. But it’s not common to everyone & it may be something very valuable to protect. So that’s another thing to keep in mind.

Naomi Fine

Really, really lighting the lamp of awareness & it certainly has opened my eyes. I really appreciated meeting you & hearing your feedback. And of course, hopefully everyone will buy your book “Positively Confidential” on your website.

I just want to say that this is a book that could really help entrepreneurs because entrepreneurs are so busy doing so many things. Confidentiality & establishing intellectual property is so important so to have the ultimate how to guide that makes it easy that consolidates in a very comprehensive way what anyone needs to know about confidentiality & protecting information, I think could be really helpful.

Naomi Fine

I think it’s valuable, very valuable & you’ve certainly got a fan in me. Thank you very much.

Thank you Pemo, I really appreciate it.

Naomi Fine

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