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33m users to zero: Lessons from the Branchout flameout

Social recruitment business Branchout raised $49m and grew to 33m users. Today Techrunch is reporting that they are in a firesale situation.

I think there are two lessons here:

Growth without engagement is fragile. Branchout did an amazing job of attracting users to the service, but they used spammy tactics and too few of those users became [...]

A cambrian explosion in AI – but how will new services surface?

Dag Kittlaus, founder of Siri, wrote on Techcrunch yesterday to predict that A Cambrian explosion in AI is coming. He notes that there has been “massive uptake of assistant services spurred by Apple’s Siri, Google’s Now and Microsoft’s Cortana” but says these services are still in their infancy. The missing piece is an ecosystem of [...]

The importance of reading

I’ve just come from a presentation Seedcamp from Richard Reed, one of the founders of Innocent Drinks. For those that don’t know Innocent is a 15 year old startup that makes smoothies and veggie pots. They are now 90% owned by Coca Cola and the company has been valued at ‘over $0.5bn’.

Richard gave [...]

Supercomputer AIs are progressing science faster than scientists

From New Scientist a week or so back (apologies for the long quote, but it’s worth it):

IN MAY last year, a supercomputer in San Jose, California, read 100,000 research papers in 2 hours. It found completely new biology hidden in the data. Called KnIT, the computer is one of a handful of [...]

A brief history of founders and co-founders

At some point in the last few years it became conventional wisdom that co-founding teams are better, so much so in fact that when Paul Graham stepped down as president of YC recently his number one tip to entrepreneurs was ‘get a co-founder‘. Similarly Dave McClure talks about the ideal founding team comprising a [...]

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge meme – nothing to peak in 16 days

Techcrunch has a good write up of how the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge meme started in Boston and spread around the globe. Speed with which it moved is incredible. As you can see from the chart above hits on the ALS.org website went from nothing to their 2.5m peak in sixteen days. The [...]

Crowdfund and then raise VC – breakdown by sector

One of the things we talk about here at Forward Partners is backing a hardware startup at the idea stage and then helping them launch a crowdfunding campaign. It ‘s nice to think that the crowdfunded dollars could provide leverage for our investment and build a company’s profile so it can raise a Series A.

Kickstarter is five years [...]

Latest Google X project – Project Wing: delivery drones

Delivery drones, aka Project Wing, is the latest project to be announced by Google X, the Google department that houses many of their most exciting projects including self driving cars, Project Loon and Google Glass. As you can see from the video below they are using a hybrid plance/helicopter design that takes off vertically and then rotates to fly like a [...]

Impress investors with your execution of the fundraising process

Semil Shah wrote a good post yesterday with advice for entrepreneurs raising money. He makes a number of good points and the full post is well worth a read, but if I was to summarise it in one sentence it would be ‘impress investors with the way you execute your fundraising process’.

That means:

[...]

Gandhi on customers: this dude was way ahead of his time

I came across this quote at the weekend:

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part [...]