Art of the Start 2004: Welcome & Opening Comments

This is part of a series of transcripts of the proceedings of the Garage Ventures’ “Art of the Start” conference held in Mountain View. See the complete series of transcripts here.

Welcome, welcome, and good morning. I’m glad to see you here at our new conference, The Art of the Start. My name is Bill Riechert, I’m Managing Director here at Garage Technology Ventures, and we’ve pulled together this conference, The Art of The Start, to help entrepreneurs and startup executives navigate the new landscape of the venture world.

As some of you have noticed, the world has changed pretty dramatically over the last few years – and we’ve noticed that too. Since we started at Garage (in 1998) working with entrepreneurs, we’ve looked at literally tens of thousands of business plans, we’ve met with thousands of entrepreneurs, we’ve put on scores of conferences, and we’ve helped fund over a hundred early stage technology companies. We decided to pull together this new conference to encapsulate the lessons we’ve learned and bring together some of the expertise from the community to share some of the mistakes and some of the techniques for success that will enable entrepreneurs to navigate more successfully in this venture landscape.

Today what we’re going to do is go through a series of sessions starting with Guy Kawasaki, who’s going to give an overview of Art of the Start. The Art of the Start, by the way, happens to be the name for Guy Kawasaki’s next book, which will be coming to a bookstore near you in just a couple of months – so you see a little cross-marketing going on there. That will give you an overview of the main themes of The Art of the Start and then we’ll do a panel to bring together some experts to talk about how you can leverage for success using the ecosystem of the venture community.

We’ll break briefly for a short break sponsored by our friends from Comerica, then come back and Bill Joos will talk about The Art of Positioning and Presenting your value proposition. I’ll be back to talk about The Art of Raising Capital and then we’ll have the President of the Computer History Museum give you a brief introduction to the Computer History Museum and an opportunity to learn about it during the lunch break which follows shortly thereafter, sponsored by our friends from the Heller Ehrman/Venture Law Group.

We’ll come back to a panel discussion with a few great venture capitalists, who are going to talk about funding your dream, followed by myself coming back on stage to talk about the other side of that equation, The Art of Bootstrapping. Another break sponsored by our friends from Mohler, Nixon & Williams, then a group of entrepreneurs who are going to talk about their successes, some of their mistakes, and give their perspectives on the whole process, ending with The Art of Rainmaking – Bill Joos will come up on stage and talk more about how to sell when you’re an early stage company, and then we’ll wrap up the conference.

We’ve got a lot of stuff. I want you to take a deep breath and get ready for this. But first I want to say a word about our sponsors. These conferences are always sponsored by a number of companies in the community, but Comerica, Heller Ehrman/Venture Law Group, Mohler, Nixon & Williams, and the other sponsors you’ve seen on the screen this morning – they represent a unique commitment, that we’ve seen, to early stage companies. What you’ve probably noticed is that other the last few years some of the brand names have abandoned early stage start-up companies. I want to particularly thank our sponsors today for showing a continued commitment to early stage start-up companies. Thank you very much.

Now, you know Garage is all about start-ups. We started, as I said, in 1998, but we have changed – I’ve talked a lot about change already this morning – we’ve changed in the environment. I just want to give you a very brief, thirty-second update on Garage for those of you who are interested. You know, when we started out we focused on helping find great entrepreneurs and helping them find great investors for their company. It was a great model during those times – we raised over a third of a billion dollars for entrepreneurs during that period. As you know, a couple of years ago the early stage/seed stage money dried up, so we had to change our model along with the world.

We changed our model. We were very, very lucky.

We raised a small venture fund with CALPERS, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CALPERS), funded our start-up so that we could go out and be a true venture capital firm focusing on seed stage and early stage technology companies. That’s what we’ve been focused on for about the last year or so, and we are very proud and delighted to have invested in ten great start-up companies during that last period, and we’re continuing to look for those seed stage and early stage technology companies – two guys in a garage, two gals in a garage, guy and a gal in a garage, straight or gay, whatever – we’re looking for the next great entrepreneurs who are interested in building the next great technology firm. That’s the new Garage Technology Ventures.

Now I’d like to introduce a person who needs no introduction. Guy Kawasaki is the founder, the chairman, and a Managing Director of Garage Technology Ventures. He, in addition to that, is just an overall great guy. He’s going to give you an overview of his new book, The Art of the Start.