Entrepreneur Meetup

Yet another interesting entrepreneur meetup in Santa Clara with some local budding and established entrepreneurs. More discussion along the lines of the last meeting I attended in August, primarily focused on how to overcome the hurdle to find customers.


  • Bego Gerber: a regular attendee at the Santa Clara meetup, Bego is an independent business development agent working on a “pro-sumer” (as opposed to consumer) product that enables individuals to buy directly by from companies at wholesale prices, as well as receive rebates on the products they purchase. (You’ll need a password for his web site: ebiz)
  • Zhi-Hong Liu: an electronics engineer currently working in the financial services industry.
  • Sunil Tagare: Sunil is CEO of recently-launched Research4, a firm focused on providing information that fills the gap between the blank piece of paper provided by CRM systems (like Salesforce.com and sales teams. Sunil is a serial entrepreneur with past successes in the telecommunications industry (Flag Technologies, and Project Oxygen).
  • Tyson Favaloro: Tyson is a Business Analyst with TechStock, a San Jose venture capital firm focusing on finding and funding seed-stage ventures. He was here pounding the pavement to see what kind of entrepreneurs the meetup attracts.
  • Brendon Wilson: is a product manager at PGP who has recently moved to Silicon Valley from Canada to establish himself in the area, build his entrepreneurial skill set, and put the pieces in place that will help him eventually start his first venture.

Topics Discussed

  • The Long Tail: I raised some of the items discussed in the recent Wired article on the opportunity presented by the non-mainstream markets being opened by digital/Internet-based delivery. Discussion of advertising and the “I want it now” society – if the market lies in “the long tail”, and providers of content, services, and products are exploding, how will you overcome the barrier to acquire customers? Sunil recounted his current attempt to use Google Adwords, and just how hard it is to make your product visible. We’re talking non-trivial amounts of money to be made – just look at ring tone sales ($3 billion globally in 2003).
  • Bego proposed an interesting idea: take the Amazon Associates program and augment it. If you brought a customer to Amazon, shouldn’t you not only get a cut of the first purchase, but a smaller cut of every subsequent purchase?
  • Evolution of the “I want it and I want it now” society: things like Scanbuy, a solution to allow users to capture barcodes with their camera phone will ultimately tie the everyday physical world with the digital marketplace. Meanwhile, more applications will be built on web services to entice users to buy immediately, such as Delicious Monster, an application which allows users to track their CD/DVD/book library and find other stuff they might like (all built on Amazon’s Web Services API).
  • When the drugs aren’t profitable: Bego brought up the interesting problem posed by a new, more effective typhus (or was it typhoid) vaccine that’s been created, but won’t be profitable for its creators. And hence, won’t ever make it to market, despite all the good it could do in the third world. Are we doomed to only cure problems that are profitable? And what’s to stop drug companies from creating new viruses that they can “cure” – it sounds crazy, but it’s currently happening in the world of spyware. Perhaps it’s time for a “Chemists without Borders”? Or an open source license for the vaccine? Or a DropCash campaign to raise funds to get the vaccine out there? Then again, maybe Bill Gates has some money to put to this cause?

Interesting Books, Movies, and Events

Oh, I’ve Wasted My Life!

I read about Evan Williams (CEO of Pyra Labs, creator of Blogger) making the decision to leave Blogger/Google and move on. It was the most depressing thing I’d ever read.

From Evan’s site:

Six years is a long time. Or a little. Depending. For me, it’s a little under 20% of this life on Earth.

For the math-challenged in my audience: that’s a little over 30. This guy is only a little older than me (and he’s also a Tragically Hip fan). And undoubtedly quite well off after the IPO of Google. And a founder in a company that has played a core role in developing and nurturing a new wave of a democratizing technology that is set to be (if it isn’t already) The Next Big Thing. It’s The Next Big Thing, and he’s already Been There and Done That, made his money and is moving on.

What the hell have I been doing with my time?

Last week, I had coffee with an enthusiastic entrepreneur looking to change the world. He’s twenty-five. He grew up in India, worked in Australia, and, at the age of 21, was the youngest executive at News Corp.

What the hell have I been doing with my time?

Four years ago at FC 2000 I met Max Levchin. He was CTO of a new little startup called PayPal – PayPal was bought by eBay for $1.5 billion in a stock swap.


I spend my days working, making money, paying bills, and trying to learn what I think I need to learn for whatever the future holds. Don’t get me wrong, I like my job and I’m learning a lot – but is it the right stuff? Do I have the Right Stuff? I come home to try to figure out what I want to do, where the opportunities are, and What Matters. Working on something that Matters is of central importance to me. I go to tech events to chat and network, but I’m growing increasingly uncertain that there’s much point if I haven’t figured out what I want to work on. Nothing’s popping out at me. I grow increasingly uncertain.

What have I been doing with my time?

My biggest fear is that somewhere down the road, I’m going to turn around and ask myself this same question and be equally unsatisfied with the answer: Life happens – but is this it? Oh, I’ve wasted my life!