Get a Visa for your Startup

Have  a startup? Thinking about living in a new city? Maybe even one abroad?

Well, you may be in luck.

If you haven’t noticed, there is a globalization of startups happening. The world is becoming not only more accepting of the startup mentality, but working hard to nurture it.  So much so that many countries now offer visas, and even cash, to startups willing to relocate.

Below are a few I’ve heard of. If you know of others let me know and I will add it to the list!

Chile

Startup Chile

Canada

My Startup Visa / Article

France

French Tech Ticket

Spain:

NY Times Article

UK (United Kingdom):

Tier 1 Entrepreneur

EU (Europe):

The EU

Italy

Italian Startup Visa

Dubai

Dubai Startup Visa

Singapore

Singapore Entrepreneur Pass

New Zealand

NZ Work Visa 

Ireland 

Start a business in Ireland

Hong Kong

http://www.rosemont.hk/worldwide-location/hong-kong-entrepreneurs-visa-/

Netherlands (Dutch)

Dutch Startup Visa / PDF

Denmark

Startup Denmark

Interested in getting a visa to the U.S?

U.S. Startup Visa Options

 

9 Ways to start learning about (or investing in) startups and entreprenuers

imgres-4“I’m looking to start investing in (and learning about) startups. Where should I start?”

I get this question a lot, so I figured a blog post may the optimal way to answer it moving forward. 🙂

Of course, it goes without saying that investing in – well – anything really, comes with its own sets of risks.  [Blah blah blah, legal jargon]

For starters, Angel.co is a great launching point (if you haven’t already signed up I suggest you do so.) There you can learn about, and meet, all kinds of startups ranging from super early to the more later types. Meet entrepreneurs, people who want to work in startups, or find a startup or syndicate and place a bet on an idea you love.

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To get in on an investment round for a pre-IPO company start with FundersClub.com and EquityZen.com. They’ll send emails intermittently letting you know when a fund is being made available.

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If you want to get shares in companies that are NOT doing rounds or looking for an investment then you’ll have to buy shares from current or former employee on a private marketplace. Sharespost.com and SecondMarket.com helps facilitate that process.

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If your goal is to just find a way to invest with more upside than a bank and less risk than a stock, I suggest using LendingClub.com for microloan investments. There you give out roughly $25 per person to thousands of people looking for them. You’ll have to keep your money in for a couple years (although there are ways to liquidate sooner if needed) but you can see about 5%-20% annual returns depending on what you set your risk tolerance to.

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Tangentially, if you are looking to meet entrepreneurs and get in on a more personal level to invest, become an advisor or just learn about the startup community, there are a few options: StartUpTravels.com that connects you to entrepreneurs around the world (full discloser, it’s a project I am working on now,) FounderDating.com and CoFoundersLab.com where you can meet other founder types to start a business are worth noting.

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If you are looking for a more in-depth look at the risks that go along with some of the investing products above you can check out my friend Daniel Odio’s blog here: http://danielodio.com/show-me-the-money-six-strategies-to-put-your-cash-to-work

Zero to One


content
I really loved this book. Peter Theil’s blunt and sometimes abrasively honest concepts are very “Purple Cow” and right up my alley. E.g. make big claims from observations and work out why they are wrong or right. Although there are some things I didn’t agree with they are done so in a way that pushes me to reevaluate my reasoning. For the many things I did agree with, it is always nice to have someone better articulate concepts and back you up with some solid experience.  10X yo self.

You can see my running read book list on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/sshadmand/books

 

Work. Life. Love. Balance. Stories From Startup Folk

Startup LoveI saw this article posted by a friend on FB by Scott Weiss a VC at Andreessan Horowitz called Success at work, Failure at home

To me pulling back the curtains behind a life, relationship or personality allows us to see the truth: that there is no such thing as the “perfect life” to aspire to. Instead we are all simply working hard on the goal of being the best people, friends and mates we can be. So don’t be so hard on yourself, learn a little, and share a lot.

With that in mind his post inspired me to post this learning from my own life as a serial startup/”entrepreneur guy” in a relationship.

 

Why You Can’t Optimize for Intimacy

The style of conversation that helps drive interaction, trust, and motivation within a business and its employees doesn’t translate completely with a person you have an intimate, loving, sensual, and sentimental obligation to.

Some things do translate well. For instance, the patience and even keeled temperament required to maintain a level of respect and openness is important to both work and home lives. On the other hand the levels of distance and tone you employ can have a stark difference between the two environments.

As an example, working on an emotional issue with a significant other doesn’t work well with checkins, progress updates, and check lists (which can be cold to a person you sleep next to every night.) While on the other hand focusing deeply on emotions doesn’t work well when communicating clear objectives and goals with peers and employees (that you hopefully don’t sleep next to – ever.) Again, there is some overlap, but the differences are monumental.

For me, being a startup guy in a relationship is a constant lesson in understanding those differences; not focusing on “optimizing” for your relationship but simply nurturing it together.

So in short as the title says: do not optimize for intimacy. And I know if you are a startup person you are thinking right now “I disagree, of course I can if I just…” Stop right there. I know you “can” – but don’t. — I know you think you can – but don’t! The other person may be feeling more focused and diligent (yay!) for now, but probably feeling less connected, heard, loved, or nurtured over all. Even worst they may be feeling like they are at work – and not in a “intimate relationship.” (boo!) :-p

 

 

Efficiently Inefficient: Processes that can improve quality and quantity of life

For our latest project at Socialize Isaac and I are going to increase the release cycle even further and go from a few releases per group per week, to a few releases per day. I find moving more efficiently and quickly over the years always takes a few non-intuitive jarring mental steps. (If they didn’t we would have been way more efficient as a society way earlier on in history).

Here are a couple things that always seem to be the foundation of inching your way up the efficiency hill.

1) Get to a point at which you truly trust your results, not just feel good or secure about them, but quantitative based results that have a quantitative “I trust this” number. This is what I call the “don’t look over your shoulder moment”, because if you’re looking over your shoulder to make sure nothing has gone wrong, you are not looking forward to make sure new things go right. This accomplished with unit/itests tests, or in our everyday lives marking your calendar or adding a reminder. Even at managing people in the office, time and time again setting up employees to be trusted and autonomous, with a simple audit system to make you aware only if something is wrong, has proven time and time again to produce happier, more creative, more productive employees in a company that can scale. Basically every one wins big when you make sure you create process that handles things that are set to let you know if you need to take action, and quite %100 otherwise.

2) Really reconsider what you’re are willing to bare in mistakes. This is usually a major brain switch moment. Sometimes people can work 100x more efficiently and productively if they just allow themselves to be wrong for a totally fixable 1 minute per year. Yes your server may go down once a year, but instead of working hard to make sure that never happens (which is impossible), work hard to make sure systems are in place to recover super quickly. The funny thing is when you accomplish #1 above, mixed with this #2 item, you start performing better than you could have imagined.

3) Remove process that is there to support the more intuitive faux “warm and fuzzy” feelings that keep 1 and 2 from happening.

4) Always push yourself, and those around you, to test process that offer efficiency gains even if you don’t feel comfortable at first. Comfort is often the foundation of slowness, and trying new things even against your “better judgement” are the only ways to break free.

 

For you nerds out there, here is the article from github Isaac passed on to me that sparked our latest evolution in product releases. Although this post and its sentiment are, in my book, universal throughout life and business and not code.

http://scottchacon.com/2011/08/31/github-flow.html

Use Case: Searching for PMF

Scan.me is great use case for focusing on the right customer, not just the right product.

AND that the product doesn’t *have to* be complicated or new to be wanted.

It just has to be easier to use, and packaged up better then the alternative.

http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/23/scan-gets-1-7m-from-google-ventures-and-shervin-pishevar-to-make-qr-codes-actually-useful/

 

Leave the caves and create your tools!

GAE offers a free to get started approach, along with an instant “hello word” initial environment, making sandboxing ideas and building helpful tools for productivuty a snap.

To get started, download GAE, press the plus sign in the bottom left corner. Set the directory you would like to work out of and your almost done. Well, at least you are already at the stage you need to be to start playing with the system locally, in what we call the development environment (No one can see your system but you.) Just hit the [play] button on the GAE dashboard and you are running with your first environment. Just click the Browser (the compass looking thing), or go to http://localhost:8080 in your browser, and you should see your first “hello word! It is quite reassuring to see it work so smoothly (if indeed it does), and if this is the first time you have coded, trust me they have taken out a hell of allot of pain out of the tedium it can take to get here.

Without getting into the nitty gritty of code just yet, let’s push your baby to production (That means make it live/accessible to the world). That’s right, you are about to push a web application live to production!  First create a new app at the google app engine home page and follow the steps there (setting up your yaml for upload). Your yaml file tells google which app your are updating when you do so. Not making sure your yaml matches your project is like  you sending mail through the USPS without out a “from”/”to” address.

Once complete, press the blue arrow pointing upward (the “deploy” button) and it will deploy (AKA: push to prod, go live.)

Once deployed, you can update, monitor, or even share you application with the world. And all for free. Not that this baby would get allot of attention in its current state (just a “hello world”), but if it did, it would also be scalable. I mean 10 years ago this would have cost you quite a bit of time money, especially if you didnt know allot about server configurations, apache, linux, or windows server, or…well you get the idea.

There are a few sample apps you can play with on the GAE site. If you are ready, start developing some code i Python. Maybe had a hellow world message of your own.

When you start feeling saucy, try and create a model. A model is a data structure you can save, or persist, data to your system. Again to you newbies out there, this is the equivelent of your granfather telling you, “back in my day I had to walk up a hill in the snow to get to work, and up a hill in a blizzard to get back.” Setting up a database on a production server was a skill on its own, but to create one that is scalable, and without the need to architect it is amazing. You see, based on the models you create GAE intuitivley creates your “database”, stores it efficiently, and assumes where indexes need to be placed. You really don’t have to understand any of this, but if you want to you can look up those terms have at it: indexing, database, architecture, MVC…. Like I said, I’m just an old guy complaining about hills.

If you are still a bit timid about getting started, don’t worry there is a baby step in between these tween sized steps that can help you get ramped up before you start churning out lines and lines of code. Click on the “SDK Console” button on the GAE dashboard. It will open up a web page that is running locally, on your stage environment, that gives you windows into your system to hack around with. (This console lives inside your development app, so don’t forget to run your new app to get access to it.) Once in the console, click “Interactive Console”. There you will have a very rudimentary terminal that you can write temporary test scripts in. The output is shown on the right of the screen. This is a great place to get errors, make mistakes, and go nuts! (Note: The SDK Console also houses your development DB, so you can check to see what data you are saving after you have attempted to save it.)

Note: The easiest way to get started as a newbie, in my mind, is by using Python in GAE. Java, although awesome, is a bit more advanced.

I recently used GAE to create a few projects to help out the team. One for TeamCity monitor to view coverage reports and if a build is broken or not. And also one for Pivatol Tracker to help our press and marketing interpret what is coming out of the product pipeline, if its ready, and what are the stories of value within. I will post templates for those projects in the near future.

Politifact

Politifact
Politifact

I heard about this site while listening to an interview on NPR. In this interview the host asked thier guest some questions as to why “they are so angry” at thier local senator. The guest replied that he is a liar and signed bills to allow a rediculous measure in an unwanted bill. She was irate at the situation, what was interesting is how the host then turned to a guest from Pilitifact who seemed to have researched the case and found taht many of the angry protesters points were driven by rumors as the references to documents they made were unsubstantiated. Now I am perfectly aware that Politifact is yet another level of abstraction from the “real truth” just like any other news agency.  What is interesting to me, after I browsed around thier site is the fact that they give you thier opinion and consolidate every reference and statement into linkable sources on the right hand gutter of the web page. It’s like having your own senate secratary gathering the facts for you so you can make your own informed descisions on a topic.

Fact-o-meter Ex.
Pants on Fire

They give a summary of statment or claims made by our politicatns and then exmine their refernces and sources and rate how true the statememnt is on a “truth -o-meter”.  Their meter varies from basic true or fals all the way down to “Pants on Fire” for those claims made that are not only exagerated but baseless.

Pulitzer
Pulitzer

They also show you links to all the references and sources they reveiwed so you can digg into the claims yourself and form your own opinion. The site definitely fills a need and will ecome popular enough so that our politicians are more careful when trying to exagerate claims just to gain the viewers attention. ALso a nice reference for Politifact is thier wininnging of the 2008 pulitzer for national reporting after only being luanched in 2007.

Balsamiq, an interesting taste of things

Balsamiq.com
Balsamiq.com

Balsamiq.com is a web application (that also comes in a downloadable software version) that allows users to quickly create mockups for web sites and iphone products.  I was skeptical at first, but 2 things made me pretty happy with thier approach to this common problem.

Mockup
Mockup

The first was the choice they made to exagerate the concept of fuction over form. Their toolset, or stencils are purposly quasi-poorly hand drawn graphics that have a major lack of attention to detail.  As the owners of Balsamiq.com put it, “it encourages critisism” … “so that people don’t get attached to ‘that pretty color gradient'”. The secod thing I liked after playing around with the app a bit was the way they decided to implement the editing process of these draft like stencils. Most implemetations of design toold have properties panels that allow you to change many aspects of a feature, but not only do those properties get complex but since you are given many properties you try to use them in various combinations and often times doing so has unwanted results i.e. certain border style doesnt work well with large boxes with italic text.

Edit Mode
Edit Mode

At balsamiq.com the stencils are all pre fab and standard, not much is expected of them other then being better then just a place holder. Content is, for the most part, the only thing you can change and they use a simple text edit box when that content needs to be changed. When you double click a stensil the data is presented in a markdow laguage. i.e. buttons that are hard to align and choose width and colors are nothing more then a comma delimited list in edit mode —  (button 1, two, and three). When you click of the text box the buttons are created for you.

They truly stuck to the motto of just use the bare essentials and KISS paradigms to set the expctations of the designers and reviews while making the process of creating dead simple. Which in the end created a great mockup tool, allowig you to focus on what you shoud be focusing on ayways — workflow and content placements.

Give it a try @ http://balsamiq.com/demos/mockups/Mockups.html