What do American Idol and LA-based VCs have in common?

25 Oct

VC funding and American Idol

*Pic courtesy of Rickey.Org

We recently had a chance to stop by a “Meet the VCs” event organized by LAVA here in Los Angeles.

Here are some observations & lessons learned:

Taking a page out of dating in the digital age, the event’s basically a speed dating night where VCs move from table to table with, with three entrepreneurs at each table pitching their respective startups. By the time the 7th round rolled around, it was pretty evident that the VCs were pretty fatigued—something I could totally sympathize with.

I mean, there’s only so many times you can hear different variations of the same pitch about members-only shopping sites and Farmville knockoffs without starting to feel like you’re living in some perverted tech version of Groundhog Day.. 

All this to say, I don’t think I’d ever want to be a VC and certainly not one who has to endure hearing pitch after pitch about different variations of the same technologies only to bring the letdown. As Mark Suster said, saying “no” to entrepreneurs is not all that fun.

That notwithstanding, it still remains somewhat of mystery to me as to what makes or breaks startup funding—kinda like the way it is for performers trying to break into the music business.

I mean, you can have all the talent in the world but if you don’t ever get that once chance—that golden opportunity, that world stage—to strut your stuff, you’ll never get noticed and you’ll never land a record deal. Or, will you? Say what you will about shows like American Idol or The X Factor, but I think it’s fair to say that those shows have forever changed the landscape of the music recording industry because—at long last—you didn’t have to come with industry connections or a bag full of money to get a record deal. Obviously, I’m oversimplifying everything, but I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to say that shows like American Idol leveled the playing field for would-be music hopefuls by democratizing the auditioning process. Not independently wealthy enough to cut and distribute your own record? No problem. Not Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter? No problem. These shows promised the world’s music hopefuls that all you needed was sheer and raw talent and you, too, could have a chance at a real recording career.

And, so it is with VC events like LAVA where the best and most talented startups are the ones that get noticed and—ultimately—gobs and gobs of funding. Or, is it? To be sure, VC events like LAVA can be seminal moments of opportunity for a startup but at the end of the day, a company’s got to have the talent (i.e. IP) to back it up and so we continue to refine and build out the best possible localized e-commerce platform possible in the confidence that the end product will speak for itself.

Some shout-outs for a few other startups we met there:

Phillip Butts’ LinkedIn-killer idea- Have you ever wondered who that person is on the business card you exchanged two days ago? Phil has an idea for a great app that leverages multimedia to keep track of new contacts and allows you to make referrals.

RedNook.Com- Not really a “members-only” designer home decor portal, but Great, modern design aesthetic.

GamerGrub- Specialized food for gamers for whom (video) gaming is a part-time job.

Love to hear some comments from fellow LA entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs!

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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Uncategorized


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