– Mar ’13

In looking at the experience of running nReduce, I decided that my next attempt at helping startups would be based on three ideas.

The Result of them is

1) AirBnb

My favorite story about AirBnB is about when they pitched Greylock. Apparently the AirBnB founder said that peoples largest fixed asset were their homes and that AirBnB was going to make that asset liquid.

Apparently, as the legend goes, the partner immediately got it and started throwing golden termsheets at the founders.

I immediately go it. I saw the net worth of the world as this big stacked line chart with different asset types grouped together. I saw the rush of reputation based online market places quickly working down the asset food chain, by creating marketplaces for everything from boats tobikes.

Regarding founders, it was simple, their largest asset was their equity. And right now besides getting into an incubator, that equity is largely illiquid. I wanted to create something that would enable them to use that assets to help build their company.

And if you look at any pitch deck for investment, what startups spend their money on is talent.

2) The Cockroach

I have never really been a big follower of Paul Graham, he is definitely knowledgeable and an awesome dude but for some reason I am more a Ben’s blog fan. Anyway, I have heard people tell me about his Cockroach strategy and I like it. It says:

The goal of a startup is to not die.

If you don’t die for long enough, you will succeed.

What does that mean to me? If I was going to start another company, instead of the desperate rush to gain traction to convince an investor we were the next hot thing, I would expect that I could not raise money and I would create a lifestyle that would allow me to just settle back and build the company over time.

So, first off, that meant I had to learn to code.

I joined One Month Rails this February and I am happy to say that pretty much everything on this site has been designed and coded by me. (Did get some help from awesome peeps)

Besides coding, the cockroach strategy also meant that I couldn’t do this full time.

This is a nights and weekends project for me.

My main Job is running Emotional Brain Training and fighting the global obesity epidemic.

I have no interest in raising capital and am looking to build HelpStart over the next years.

It just means that no Netflix for me 🙂

3) Focus

In the aftermath of nReduce, I asked myself one question: Who did we help?

When I ask myself that, one founder immediately comes to mind.

He was in our first demo day where he got introduced to an incubator and got accepted. He now has raised capital and is building a team.

It was not the sense of accountability that helped him nor getting advice nor the sense of community from having a cohort.

It was that someone decided to believe in him.

That changed everything.

So in starting again, I decided to focus solely on that.

Getting that first person to believe in a founder.

So that is me. That was the purpose of HelpStart.


Okay so what happend?  Well if you look on the home page, I got all my friends who could help startups to sign up.  Then I started asking around about transferring equity as payment and that is where everything got stopped.  So there are some cool new ways of eShares but the real issues is accounting for the equity.  If you give shares it is a big legal thing and also you have to treat it as income, so HelpStart would have to pay taxes on all the equity / so would the person doing the work.  Anyway, side projects that involve lawyers are not my cup of tea, so I killed it.

But the good side is that I got to learn about the mechanics of giving people equity and I built my first real product in ruby 🙂

Developed by Joe!  #Boom


Categories: Work

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