Yesterday morning the sun was shining and 200 of Rhode Island’s startup leaders gathered at Betaspring to hear Angus Davis, Swipely founder and CEO, interview Josh Kopelman, First Round Capital founder and Managing Director, talk entrepreneurship.
I’ve been to a smorgasbord of fireside chats, panels and keynotes where accomplished entrepreneurs and venture capitalists speak. This one was different.
No one in the room had anything to prove. No talk about East vs. West Coast investing or about leaderboards ranking startup companies, VCs and cities that have a shot at dethroning Silicon Valley.
This left room to cover more inspiring ground.
Josh talked about:
How First Round evaluates deals: Get to know entrepreneurs and who’s best equipped to “fill in cells”, seeking out the market and customer data they need to de-risk their business.
How to identify a great entrepreneur: Look for the “heat seeking missiles” that aim at a target, but constantly scan the environment and adjust course as they separate signal from noise. Just look at First Round portfolio companies Fab and Swipely that successfully landed in different markets from where they started.
Why to have a co-founder: Being a sole founder is lonely and hard. You’ll benefit from having a confidant, to work through doubts with and together determine the 90% of advice from investors and customers you should ignore.
Why a VC will pass on you: Your business doesn’t fit venture return profiles (but still may be big for you!) or they’re just not into the team (which they’ll never tell you!).
Why it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur: We have more access to information and seed stage funding than ever before, and can build and market MVPs faster and cheaper than before.
But above all, Josh’s call-to-action for entrepreneurs and Providence is to be stubborn, stay optimistic and become great storytellers. As a marketer, the last part is music to my ears. Entrepreneurs have to tell stories to sell stock in their company, products to customers and content to journalists to help amplify their message.
At Swipely, we’re proud to take Josh’s Philly baton and share why Providence is such a vibrant place to live, work and grow a big business - in absolute, not comparative, terms. And yesterday was a perfect example with local leaders who invest in, advise, report on and found startups coming out to support this mission.
And as a native Rhode Islander, Josh and Angus’ talk was a proud moment not just for Providence but for every city that’s reinventing itself and creating jobs through technology. That’s the story we should tell.
Elizabeth Ducoff is a Senior Manager, PR and Marketing at Swipely. You can follow Elizabeth (@elizabethducoff) on Twitter by clicking here.
* Event photo credit - Ted Nesi @tednesi