Welcome to SL #37! There has been quite a bit of discussion over the past year or so about the possibilities of a Y-Combinator type venture fund here in the Southeast. After a few failed efforts (notably Boostphase), we finally have one off the ground here in Atlanta. David Cummings and Sanjay Parekh, two of the founders of Shotput Ventures join us for a chat about this new venture model, the Atlanta early-stage scene, and other things that melt in the sun.
Mike brings the heat and rolls the bus over a group of entrepreneurs that just can’t seem to understand the value of someone else’s time. Another great selection of listener emails and a dash of StartupLounge humor to top it all off. Enjoy!
Sponsors for this episode:
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Shownotes and Interview Questions:
As usual, we had lots of related follow-up questions and side discussions, but here is a good sampling of the questions we asked on the show:
- Give us your 30-second elevator pitch
- Have you modeled yourselves after any other funds or investors with a similar profile?
- Why do we need Shotput Ventures here in Atlanta/Georgia? Why did you start Shotput?
- Are you investing only in Atlanta-based or Georgia-based companies?
- Talk about the Shotput Ventures model. Take us through your process?
- How can such a small amount of cash ($15,000-$20,000 per venture, depending on team size) make an impact?
- How did you come up with a 5-10% share?
- Where are you getting your deal flow?
- How many submissions have you had so far?
- How do you evaluate the opportunities?
- Where are you in the fund operating process? Are you meeting the timeline provided on your site?
- What are the keys to making Shotput Ventures successful?
- Now that you’re investors, what are you learning about the market or the investing business?
- Can you talk a bit about how you recruited the handful of principals behind Shotput?
- How does setting a finite end date (August 10) alter or impact your investing model? Why do you have a finite end date?
- Is the economy affecting your model at all?
- If this is successful, will there be a Shotput II?
- How is the rest of the venture community responding?
- What will define success for Shotput Ventures?
- What are your thoughts on the Atlanta startup scene?
Listener Emails Read and Answered on the Show:
Dale: Gentlemen, first off I want to thank you for all that Startuplounge does for the community in Atlanta. I appreciate the efforts and look forward to thanking you personally at the upcoming February event. I am getting very close to launching my own startup as a first-time entrepreneur. I know that bootstrapping will only take me so far, and I will probably need to raise a small round of outside capital at some point. I know that before any investor puts their cash into a deal they go through what is called “due diligence”. I am petrified of this, as I have never been through it before. Can you shed any light on this process, and specifically what I’m going to be in for?
BigSkyCountry: If all I have is an idea, is there a resource such as an incubator that will help me put together the technical team to help bring it to life?
“YellowJacket” Mark: Scott and Mike I love this podcast! … my question: what makes a great company name these days? I’m stuck, please help.
Roberto: Everyone says that a “down” market is a great time to start a company, especially if you have the wherewithall and the means to float the business. But what if you don’t have the cash? Should I just go get a steady day job right now and play the waiting game until the economy stabilizes and I have some more cash available personally? I’m worried that investors are on the sideline right now and won’t be interested in my deal.
David Cummings, CEO, Hannon Hill
A business and technology enthusiast, David Cummings founded Hannon Hill Corporation, an Inc. 500 company, in January 2001. Hannon Hill’s goal has always been to provide strategic web content management (WCM) solutions, with an emphasis on personalized customer service.
A WCM subject matter expert, David’s articles have been published on O’Reilly’s XML.com and OnJava.com, in addition to popular web development sites such as SitePoint.com. He has presented at the Silicon Valley Web Guild, Silicon Networks, Atlanta Electronic Commerce Forum, and the Independent Computer Consultants Association. With more than 10 years of software development experience, David is an experienced programmer and has written code for commercial applications in Ruby, Java, PHP, ASP, and Visual C++.
David is a member of the Entrepreneur’s Organization and serves as chairman of the board of the Technology Association of Georgia Content Management Society. A native of Tallahassee, Florida, David earned a bachelor of science degree in economics from Duke University and studied at the London School of Economics. David blogs at DavidCummings.org.
Sanjay Parekh, Founder, Startup Riot
Sanjay is the founder and organizer of Startup Riot and Startup Dinner and also serves on the board of directors or advisers of a number of startups. Previously Sanjay was a founder of Digital Envoy where he was the CEO and later the Chief Strategy Officer. Sanjay is the inventor of Digital Envoy’s patented NetAcuity IP intelligence technology. Digital Envoy was acquired by Landmark Communications in June 2007.
Prior to founding Digital Envoy, Sanjay was a founding employee of Arris Interactive, where he played a pivotal role in various markets throughout the U.S., Asia, and Europe for product deployment. His efforts helped secure over $1 billion in client contracts at Arris Interactive.
Sanjay has served as a technology and strategy consultant for numerous startups, corporations, and organizations and has served as an expert witness for the Department of Justice (U.S. versus Extreme Associates). In 2004, Sanjay was named one of ten Outstanding Young Atlantans by Outstanding Atlanta, one of the “Top 40 Under 40″ Georgians by Georgia Trend magazine, and a 2004 American Marshall Memorial Fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States. In 2003, Sanjay was named to MIT’s Technology Review TR100 list as one of the top 100 young innovators of 2003 and one of the “Top 50 Entrepreneurs” in Atlanta by Catalyst Magazine. Sanjay was also named a Technology Pioneer with the World Economic Forum in 2002 and 2003.
Sanjay is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Sanjay has an electrical engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. You can find Sanjay’s writings on his blog and his Twitter account (@sanjay).
Comedy Break Lyrics:
Featuring “Frank’s Garage”, by Steve Goodie, a Bob Dylanish tribute to going green … with cars. Enjoy!
So you’re in an economic pickle
With your great big sports utility vehicle
Can’t afford the fuel, can’t sell it
Can’t trade it, what the hell you gonna do?
I know a guy, he’s been turning wrenches for years
You should give him a try, and yes, you can pay him with beer
Come on down to Frank’s garage, bring him your big old motor
He’ll take your SUV apart, and build you two Toyotas
Forget bio-diesel and solar
He’ll cut your SUV in half, and make two Corollas
Tired of getting thirty gallons to the mile?
Need something smaller than your domicile (that means your house)
Come on down to Frank’s garage, with that Hummer you’re so fond-a
He’ll take your SUV apart, and build you two damn Hondas
He’s got the tools, and a price you can afford
He’ll cut your SUV in half, and make four Accords
Gas is twenty bucks a quart
But Frank don’t want you in no import
See how many Mini Coopers he made
Out of one excessive Escalade
Escalade, Escalade, Escalade, Escalade
Escalade, Escalade, Escalade, Escalade
Come on down to Frank’s garage, with that big old Dodge Dakota
He’ll take your freakin truck apart, and build you eight Toyotas
Frank’s not out there hugging tree-es-es
He’s cutting Navigators into Prius-es-es
Frank once worked at the Hummer plant, but last year he got fi-red
Now he turns two-ton Tonka tanks into tiny little hybrids
Come on down to Frank’s garage, just east of Escondido
He’ll take your SUV apart, and build you a fleet of Geos
There’s no need to fret bro
With a new Suburban and a case of bourbon, he’ll make you sixteen Metros
Yeah come on down to Frank’s garage, it’s worth the wait in line
Come on down to Frank’s garage, it’s two for one all the time
Yeah come on down to Frank’s garage, are gas prices killin ya?
Come on down to Frank’s garage, yeah you can run on one cylinder!
Enjoy! To play it, use the tools at the top of this post – you can play it via the embedded Flash player by pressing the big play button at the top, or download it to play on your computer or MP3 player. You can also take advantage of our iTunes feed.
Podsafe music used within this episode:
- Underground by Roadside Attraction
- Frank’s Garage by Steve Goodie
- All the Money in the World by Hutch
Our format is a little out of the norm as far as podcasts go. We treat our efforts as a true “show” rather than a super-concise (limited) vehicle for delivery of information. Therefore, the podcasts can run a bit long (actually, it is largely driven by the guests and their responses.) While we try to have very substantive discussions, we also try to have a lot of fun along the way (and that tends to elongate the programming a wee bit.) Our theory is that if we are having fun during the show, hopefully, you will be having a little fun listening as well.
Here is the breakdown for the show, in case you want to hop around.
|Under the Bus/Look Who Gets It||07:08|
|Main Discussion Topic:||34:00|
A special thanks to David and Sanjay for coming in and hanging out with us!
We welcome your continued feedback as well! If you have an interest in appearing on the show, becoming a show sponsor (hint, hint), have some suggestions for topics, have feedback, or would just like to email us and tell us to “shove off”, we invite you to contact us.