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Archive for the ‘Speaker’ Category

11/3 & 11/4: GreenBeat 2010

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John Doerr talks about the SmartGrid

John Doerr is a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Together with KPCB’s partners, John has backed many of America’s best entrepreneurial leaders, including: Amazon, Google, and Intuit to name a few.






Redwood Systems transforms the way businesses power and control lighting to reduce energy costs and improve building performance. Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Fremont, California Redwood Systems combine three typically discrete systems (power, communications, sensors) into one low-voltage networked system.





On Nov. 3 and 4 SSE Labs along with VetureBeat was proud to host GreenBeat 2010 at Stanford University.

A general theme throughout the conference was that data may be the next big wave in cleantech. Spearheading this theme was John Doerr, who shed light to the fact that the smart grid is all about generating data on energy use. He pointed out that the next wave of innovation and investment is all about making that data useful and producing it in real time. Keeping in line with his claim that cleantech’s “Netscape moment” will rise within data oriented systems, he said opportunities opening up in data-driven cleantech businesses could well be billion-dollar markets.

We would also like to Congratulate Redwood Systems for winning the Innovation Competition. Of 10 companies that presented at GreenBeat 2010, they were voted from a panel of experienced judges as the most likely to bring the smart grid to reality. Their intelligent lighting system pitch included presenting a system that puts its lights on a network — much like a broadband network — to control lighting and make the systems easier to tune and monitor. As the winner, Redwood Systems gets the opportunity to present at DEMO Spring 2011, which takes place at the end of February next year.

The Conference included a wide variety of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, Stanford affiliates & students, as well as highly respected innovators within the cleantech space.

We would like to thank all those who came out to the conference and made it a great success! For pictures on GreenBeat 2010 click here.


Written by ahzietsman

November 24, 2010 at 4:08 pm

9/9: Dinner with John Lilly and Greylock Partners

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John Lilly is the CEO of Mozilla Corporation. He joined Mozilla Corporation in 2005 as Vice President of Business Development, and, since 2006, has served as COO and a member of the Board of Directors. Prior to this, Lilly was the founder, CEO, CTO and VP of products for Reactivity, a software company acquired by Cisco Systems in 2007. Previously, he held staff positions at Apple, Sun Microsystems and Trilogy Software. Lilly has been an active participant in open source projects, serving on the boards of the Open Source Applications Foundation and Participatory Culture Foundation.

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Tonight John Lilly, Asheem Chandna and David Thacker from Greylock Partners joined us for dinner at 395 Page Mill. He engaged our teams with an interesting discussion on entrepreneurship as well as Mozilla’s history and vision. A few of his recommendation to new entrepreneurs are:

  • “I’ve gotten my ass kicked a lot; its about longevity.” It’s always good to be reminded that successful entrepreneurs don’t give up.
  • “Try to find things that make your soul sing.” We’ve heard from a lot of our mentors and speakers that you need passion to succeed, but this was a great new way to relate passion as an emotion.
  • If you find good people, hold on to them and stay close to them. These are people you’ll know years down the line, and you never know what opportunities these relationships may lead to.
  • “Scared” isn’t a business term.

Thanks to our generous Greylock hosts for putting us in touch with John; we appreciate the help and insight you’ve been able to provide to our teams.

Written by ahzietsman

September 9, 2010 at 7:51 pm

9/3: Dinner with David Hornik from August Cap

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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. David also runs VentureBlog.

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David was a great dinner guest, telling the story of his unusual path to being a VC, including his time at Stanford University earning a degree in computer music, his career as a lawyer at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and how he came to join August Cap. He shared with us a lot of insight on what he’s learned throughout his career, and few highlights of the night were:

  • Just work with people you like. Don’t give money to people you don’t like, don’t take money from people you don’t like; life is too short.
  • Regarding entrepreneurs that he looks to invest in: “I don’t want to bet on people who need me to do anything, because they should be better than I am.”
  • Everybody’s a critic, especially his 13 year-old son.

The teams thoroughly enjoyed hearing about his experiences, relayed with his great sense of humor. Thanks so much to David for joining us at dinner, and also spending time afterwards to talk with our teams – we look forward to seeing you in the office again soon.

Written by ahzietsman

September 5, 2010 at 6:06 pm

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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

8/14: 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

7/31: Chuck Eesley at SSE Labs – Tech Entrepreneurship

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This Friday, we were fortunate to have Chuck Eesley join us to speak on “Success Factors for Technology Entrepreneurs.” Chuck is a professor at Stanford in the Management Science & Engineering department and maintains a weblog. He is also a faculty member of STVP, the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. Prior to coming to Stanford, Chuck worked as a consultant and analyst, founding Lobby 10 Consulting and also served as a mentor to teams in the MIT 100K and Ignite Clean Energy Competitions. He focuses on strategy and technology entrepreneurship, and teaches E145 (Technology Entrepreneurship) at Stanford.

Our teams were able to gain some great insight to the findings of Chuck’s research on Entrepreneurial Impact, which examined different success factors for startups. For example, he provided his data-driven inferences on the positive correlation between the number of founders on the chance of the company having an exit or IPO. His research surveyed around 8,000 MIT alumni entrepreneurs and plans to continue his research in the area.

Chuck presented a lot of information in his slideshow under a few main points that he wanted to emphasize:

  • Learn to share well with others. Chuck noted Noam Wasserman’s  “Rich-versus-King Tradeoff,” which states that there is a negative correlation between valuation of a founding member’s share and the amount of control (defined as Board control and CEO role) he has in the company.
  • Try, try again. The more ventures someone has been involved in, the more likely they are to find funding, launch successfully, etc.
  • Be careful who your friends are. Among other things, it’s important to carefully weigh important decisions like early hiring and co-founder selection.

Thanks again to Chuck for a great talk and the presentation from his unique research-based perspective.

Written by ahzietsman

July 31, 2010 at 11:44 pm

Posted in Mentorship, Speaker