SSE Labs' Blog

Stanford's Student Startup Accelerator

Archive for August 2010

8/26 Milestone Event: VC Panel

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Today was a major milestone for our teams at SSE Labs. We hit the three-quarters mark of the summer and held our last event at our offices in Mountain View. Each team presented to a stellar panel of our VC mentors. The panelists gave a lot of great feedback on our teams’ pitches, ideas, and products, which have developed a good deal over the summer. Participating on our panel was:

George Zachary joined Charles River Ventures in 2004. He brings more than 17 years of operating and investing experience in computing and consumer technology. George’s focus is on building great services and software technology companies. George led CRV’s investments in Areae,, GoTV, Millennial Media, Skyrider, Twitter and is a board member at Twitter.
Ben Choi joined Maveron as a principal in 2009 and focuses on investments in the mobile and Web enabled consumer services sectors. Ben joins Maveron from Storm Ventures where his board involvement included Ad Infuse, Adgregate Markets, Boorah, DeviceVM, Marketo, Mobio, and YieldBuild.

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For more than a decade, David Hornik has worked with technology startups throughout the software sector. In 2000, David joined August Capital to invest broadly in information technology companies, with a focus on enterprise application and infrastructure software, as well as consumer facing software and services.

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Rebecca Lynn joined Morgenthaler’s Menlo Park office in 2007, and she focuses on early-stage investments in mobile, health 2.0, Internet services and financial services. She serves on the boards of Lending Club and Practice Fusion, and she is a second on the boards of OpinMind and Autonet.

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Thank you to everyone who came in on Thursday, especially our mentors. It was a great way to close out our time at the offices at 401 Ellis; we’re looking forward to working closely with AOL at Page Mill! (You can read more about the move here.) It’s an exciting time as we ramp up for our Demo Day, which is less than three weeks away.


Written by ahzietsman

August 26, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Posted in Milestone

8/25 Office Hours with Asheem Chandna from Greylock Ventures

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Asheem joined Greylock in 2003. His areas of interest span enterprise IT infrastructure, software and services. He has invested in companies in cloud computing, data center, electronic payments, networking, management, security and virtualization.  Asheem’s current company boards and investments include AppDynamics, DelphixImperva, Palo Alto Networks, TechProcess and Xsigo Systems. He was previously on the boards at CipherTrust (MCAF), NetBoost (INTC), PortAuthority Technologies (WBSN), Securent (CSCO), Sourcefire (FIRE) and also invested in Aruba Networks (ARUN).

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Asheem Chandna visited us today during our last week at 401 Ellis St to hold office hours with our teams. We welcomed his advice and thoughts on our teams, and look forward to seeing Greylock again next month.

Written by ahzietsman

August 26, 2010 at 12:56 am

8/19: David Lee and Ben Choi at SSE Labs

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We were fortunate to have David Lee in the office with us tonight for dinner at SSE Labs. David is an angel investor at SV Angel, which he founded with Ron Conway. SV Angel focuses on early-stage consumer media funding.

Before SV Angel, David held business development positions at StumbleUpon and Google, and was a partner at Baseline Ventures.

David’s focus on the consumer internet and mobile space was especially relevant to our teams, and he led an interesting open discussion on a wide range of topics. Based on his experiences, he stressed a few main points:

  • Have a technical founder. Successful companies almost always have at least one technical co-founder and investors will be looking for someone technical on the founding team.
  • Set long term goals for five, ten years in the future. Then set short-term goals by looking backwards from those long-term goals and figuring out how those long-term goals can be achieved, milestone by milestone.
  • If building an app (like many of our teams are), make it the must-have app on one platform. Then quickly move it to other platforms.

Ben Choi was also in the office today. Ben is a principal at Maveron, a VC firm with a consumer focus. Prior to Maveron, Ben was at Storm Ventures, RRE Ventures, and In-Q-Tel, the VC branch of the CIA, in addition to mobile and internet technology startups. We’d like to thank Ben for holding office hours tonight with the teams, and also Maveron for hosting tonight’s dinner.

Overall it was a great night at SSE Labs – thanks so much to David and Ben!

Written by ahzietsman

August 20, 2010 at 3:40 am

8/18: Filip Kaliszan and Andrew Smolik from CourseRank at SSE Labs

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Filip Kaliszan, co-founder and CEO at CourseRank, just recently graduated with a BS and MS Computer Science from Stanford University. Andrew Smolik, VP Marketing at CourseRank, and also a mentor for SSE Labs, graduated last year from Cornell University. Filip and Andrew are now just two of the five employees at CourseRank, a course-planning tool that has already been adopted or will be adopted in the coming school year by over 170 universities. It was recently (yesterday) made public that CourseRank is now a part of Chegg, the leading site for online textbook rental (TechCrunch article).

Filip and Andrew were great to have in the office. As recent college grads, it was especially appropriate for the teams to hear from them. Filip talked quite a bit about his experiences building the early versions of the site for a CS class at Stanford and CourseRank’s decision to take no funding. Andrew’s marketing experiences were extremely relevant to the teams as well, as many of them are looking to push out their products or will do so soon. Overall, Filip and Andrew emphasized not getting discouraged, keeping things simple, and utilizing the networks in Silicon Valley by talking to people without the intent of getting funding.

Thanks so much for your time CourseRank! We are excited to hear more about your progress and look forward to your continued success.

Written by ahzietsman

August 19, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

8/14: Dinner with Karl Jacob, hosted by Christine Herron from First Round Capital

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Karl Jacob is a four-time entrepreneur and has been building and advising companies for the last 14 years. He also worked as a manager at Sun Microsystems and an executive at Microsoft. In his career, Jacob raised over $200 million from prestigious investors like Amerindo, Microsoft, eBay, Integral Partners, Norwest Ventures, Bay Partners, Benchmark Capital, Deutsche Bank, Ignition Partners, Vulcan Ventures and others. He started four companies from no revenue to significant revenues or being acquired. One of his companies, Dimension X, was acquired by Microsoft in 1997; and another, Keen (now Ingenio), was acquired by AT&T in 2007. Companies with Jacob as CEO have generated over $300 million in returns to investors and over $150 million in revenue per year. He has received numerous awards, including being named one of BusinessWeek’s top ten up-and-comers.

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Christine Herron joined First Round Capital as a Principal in 2008.

Previously, Christine was a director at Omidyar Network, where she developed the Media practice strategy and drove $15 million in early-stage placements. Prior to joining Omidyar Network in 2005, Christine was the VP of Marketing for Mission Research, which develops small business CRM solutions. While there, she led marketing from initial business plan authoring through the acquisition of paying customers and distribution partners. Earlier, Christine founded and led Mercury2, a software-as-a-service developer of international trade logistics systems, and managed Internet products and strategy at both NetObjects and Microsoft.

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Today we were lucky to have Christine Herron, Trish & Karl Jacob join us for a great meal catered by Gobble.  Our teams appreciated the opportunity to hear from someone who has been an integral part of many successful companies across multiple industries.

His advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? Be Relentless. Additionally, put some thought not only into your business plan, hiring scheme, elevator pitch, etc., but also know what you want to do, and what you enjoy doing.

Thanks for your time and for sharing your insights with us; good luck (although you don’t need it) with your current exciting company Coveroo.

Written by ahzietsman

August 14, 2010 at 2:06 am

8/12: Dinner with George Zachary at SSE Labs

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George Zachary is a partner at Charles River Ventures, one of the oldest early-stage venture capital firms. He specializes in consumer internet and infrastructure ventures, bringing his many years of experience at Mohr Davidow Ventures and Silicon Graphics, where he led the Nintendo 64 development team.

At dinner, the teams were able to hear about a wide range of topics from George’s experiences in Silicon Valley. His points about what situations startups should avoid in order to steer clear of disaster were especially relevant. A few of these were:

  • When considering funding, focus on how much capital your team needs get through to the next milestone.
  • Recruit carefully; consider every person you hire early as a brother or sister.
  • If building an internet service, focus on building a strong community to get consumers, investors, and employees excited

George is a member of our Board of Advisors and sponsor to our program; his help was also instrumental in developing and launching SSE Labs. He continues to be actively involved, contributing much of his time and experience to our teams.

Written by ahzietsman

August 13, 2010 at 9:23 pm

8/11: Supreet Oberoi on Valuing Excellence

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Supreet Oberoi is currently Vice President Engineering at RTI, which provides infrastructure for real-time applications in many industries. Supreet has had experience not only at Agile Software, oneREV, and Oracle, but also at Trading Dynamics, of which he was a founding member. SSE Labs is also lucky to have him as one of our mentors in the program.

As a long-time technology executive, Supreet had a lot to offer our teams in the workshop he gave yesterday in our office on Valuing Excellence. Some key points he emphasized were:

  • Do not compromise any aspect of excellence in the interest of haste
  • Consider that excellent people join teams not for the explicit benefits but to work with other brilliant people
  • Have a plan for profit from day one

Thanks for your time, Supreet! Our teams learned a lot and we hope to see you in the office again soon.

Written by ahzietsman

August 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Posted in Mentorship, Workshop