Week 1 Post 500 Startups – AKA welcome to our new office

Personal Log Earth Date 22-2-5774

I am going to keep this post short and sweet.

To anyone who was wondering, the blog lives on!

Starting next week we are going to have a new format in which every week a different founder from our batch will give an account of what their company is up to.

On he OLSET front a lot of stuff I can’t talk about happened this week…

The one big thing that I can’t talk about is the move to our new OLSET / BTCJam office is SOMA.

Monday saw much activity moving in and putting furniture together and learning about a lot of hidden skills!

Here is an assortment of pictures of the team showing off their skills ūüôā

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It took a good part of the day on Monday but by the end of it we were OLSET!

We have a great view from the meeting room including a sunset:

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But while the rest of the office is set up and the teams are cranking along:

Bottom floor:

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And top floor (before anyone came in, in the morning):

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The meeting room still needs some work…

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A bunch of our batchmates were featured on Wall Street Cheat Sheet: http://wallstcheatsheet.com/business/8-new-startups-coming-up-from-dave-mcclures-stable.html/?a=viewall

Go: Shortcut, EquityZen, LaunchTrack, AdEspresso, uBiome, RealtyShares, Populr, OLSET and of course Dave McClure from whose stable we apparently come…

Oh, last but not least. Wednesday was a VERY BUSY day and all I had a chance to eat was Taco Bell on the way between meetings. I am sure Christine will be proud!

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Look for a post from one of our batch founders next week.

Gadi

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500 Startups week 17 wrap – 500 S takes over NY (or The weather was angry this week)

Personal Log earth date 15-2-5,774,

I am VERY happy to be back home in San Francisco where the weather is AWESOME!

Looking back, I have no idea how I spent 5+ years in NY before moving to SF 6 years ago. Awesome place, crappy weather.

OK, enough of that. Let’s get down to business.

Our 4 months at 500 Startups are OVER! The week in NY was our last week and we went out with a bang. For all of you who are feeling a pinch reading this line, no worries, this weekly blog will continue with posts from all our batch companies so you will be able to continue sharing in the joy (and pain) which is the life of batch 007 – the best batch ever!!!

I missed a couple of the events at 500 S on Monday as I flew out to NY for a bunch of meetings ahead of demo day but rumor has it that there was a very lightly attended batch meeting.

The week was supposed to be all about our demo day on Thursday but the weather gods had a something else in mind.

When I arrived in NY on Monday evening times square looked like this:

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Very clod but blue skies. This is what it looked like the next morning after the storm hit:

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Yes, this was taken around 8AM. And this is what things looked like a couple hours later when everything started turning to slush…

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At least it warmed up a bit when it was snowing…

As always with snow you also get some beautiful shots like this one of Columbus circle where I had a meeting:

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The week was filled with meetings and festivities leading up to the big day on Thursday. Unfortunately Thursday was the biggest storm so many people did not make it into the city. The demo day format was a good format. A bunch of 1:1 meetings which worked out well. Unfortunately not all the attendees showed up due to the weather.

The venue at Goodwin Procter was great and the view from their 40th floor was very cool:

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The layout where we each had a table and huge screens worked very well:

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And this was a great opportunity to not only meet with partners and investors but also catch up with our batch-mates (Nav from Reality share & Amyn from OLSET enjoying some wine):

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Even the 500 S lady founders came out in force (Maddie from Popbasic, Hana from Bounty Huntr, Christina from PlateJoy & Anjali from Partender) and showed some #500strong girl power:

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Maya, Tim, Max, Christen and the rest of the 500 team did a great job setting this up.

OK, this posting felt strange until now and I just realized why. I can’t publicly post anything about most of what happened this week as we need to make sure we follow all the regulations that we have to follow. Trust me this week was waaaaaay more fascinating than what this post makes it sound…

After the demo day the festivities started. Us “Old Guys” only went to the first couple bars. I had an excuse as I had an 8:30AM meeting with a potential partner on Friday morning and I did want to get some sleep before that.

The Center Bar was pretty cool:

photo 1¬†And a couple min later this happened (aparently Phil fromEquityZen &Christina from Platejoy are now engaged….):

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I can’t wait to see those kids. Tons of secondary equity & healthy food, who needs genetic engineering???

It was great to catch up with Allen Liu one of the awesome 500 S mentors who has been helping us out right before I flew back to San Francisco. Allen even managed to find a little coffee shop called Little Collins which is named after little Collins street in Melbourne and has the same ambiance and coffee. Great memories from a past life:

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Many of our batch-mates stayed in NY for the weekend and reports are coming in via all social media channels about their festivities including some good pictures:

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Well, I guess that’s it for this posting, but as I said above, not to worry the story of batch 007 is just starting and the next chapters will be written here and posted in all the major publications soon!

Off to the next chapter.

Gadi

500 Startups week 16 wrap – Demo Day Goes BOOM!!!!

Personal Log earth date 8-2-5,774,

OK, let’s start by saying that there is absolutely NO WAY to capture the experiences of this week in a blog posting (well, at least not for me…).

Let’s do this in order…

Sunday was a very disappointing Superbowl (not that I care too much who won, it was just not a good game!). But before the game, 500 S’s Mark Seldana hosted a fantastic champagne breakfast.

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This was followed by a superbowl viewing at 500 S. Dave brought the kids who were fascinated by the game!!!

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Monday kicked off with the LAST batch meeting.

The whole 500 S crew was there. We had a very interesting discussion regarding what we can and can’t say at demo day and it got very personal between Dave and Greg…

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After the batch meeting we met with Jennifer McCormick, one of the UX mentors for our last mentor meeting and some great feedback on our UX.

On Tuesday we had a bunch of meetings and some good time to prepare for the big day on Wednesday!

Apparently the morning was cold. When I showed up in the office Daniel from Populr & Gina from WePlann seemed a bit chilly.

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And then it was Demo Day in Mountain View. Great production by the entire 500 S team and awesome presentations by all our batchmates – Go 007!!!

We showed up at Microsoft in MV in the morning to get set up

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Each presenter had their own way to present.

Some like D2 from Anyadir Education stood on stage and recited their presentation

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While others like Maddie from Popbasic just used some uppers ūüôā

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We had good division of labor in the OLSET team. While I was preparing to pitch the team was hard at working getting $hit done!

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And then we were off to the races. Dave got us started but then Christine Tsai took over and put on a show the entire day

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We were in the 2nd group to present and this is what it looks like standing in line waiting to present after Tom from 3Sourcing & Aakash from Shopseen:

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I can’t really talk about all the pitches because there is way to much to say but I can at least share some pictures of all the great presentations at the end of this blog posting. See below.

I will call out the fact that for some reason we didn’t get a picture of Hitesh from SilverPush presenting (I can confirm that he was there) but then I did see him post the following picture so I can only assume he pitched somewhere else at the same time. Now, that is impressive technology!!!

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We got the opportunity to get some great pictures and meet awesome investors, reporters and partners after the pitches.

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We got some amazing press coverage after the event and had a lot of follow up meetings scheduled. Here are a few links to some press where OLSET and many of our batchmates were featured

1. TechCrunch: http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/05/its-almost-like-im-writing-checks/

2. The Next Web: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2014/02/06/10-favorite-companies-500-startups-seventh-accelerator-class-demo-day/

3. Silicon Valley Business Journal:  http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2014/02/06/heres-whos-trending-from-500.html?page=all

There was quite a bit of celebration at 500 after the presentations and we had a Looooong night following up on all the meeting requests. Some of had time toplay FlipCup:

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Thursday was whirlwind of meetings and on Friday we had the batch 007 Goodbye Party (no worries, we are all hanging out in NY next week).

The festivities started with a viewing of the Movie Crocodiles on the Yang-Tse – the Story of Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba. This was set up by Patai from Builk:

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The future tenants of 1 Bluxome apt 418 can be seen here. We hung out with our office-mates to be – BTCJam.

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And many other festivities including Dave showing off his love for More Cowbell:

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Here are pictures of all the presenters at demo day, I’ll let others in the batch add more comments and thoughts!

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One week to go!

Have a great weekend

Gadi

500 Startups week 14 wrap – Preview day goes Boom!

Personal Log earth date 25-1-5,774,

Now worries, that was a GOOD BOOM!

Wow, things are really heating up as our demo day draws near.

We had a local peek this week with preview day. Preview day is a small demo day where many 500 Startups LPs and mentors come to see our pitches in preparation for demo day. More about that later.

Monday kicked off with an international prep session. Angelika Blendstrup came in to help international founders perfect their accent. Considering the quality of the pitches on Wednesday I would say РGREAT JOB. Rui from Careira Beauty pitching:

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And Hana from BountyHuntr:

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The prep session was followed by the weekly batch meeting. The 500 S team was there in full force:

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Most of the discussion was around the upcoming demo days.

On Tuesday we had a dry run for the Wed preview day. This was a full dress rehearsal (sans the partying later). Celso from BTCJam put on a show:

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And Brian from MailLift shared the importance of sending hand written letters and how customers like Adroll are seeing a great lift in conversion rates using their service.

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This is a good panoramic view of prep day:

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And then it was preview day! Wednesday started with a bang. This is how the office looked at 10AM…

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I was a bit concerned that I am in the wrong place but turned out the teams were just getting in a bit later. Within a few hours we were in full force:

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And then the pitches commenced. MC Christine Tsai did a great job getting us on and off stage with awesome support by Tim Chae and Max F-S.

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Dave McClure helped kick things off and then headed to the back to hang out with Parker and enjoy the fruits of their hard work:

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James Levine sat beside them and enjoyed his hard work as well:

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There were a lot of great pitches and things flowed well. I’ll share more about the actual pitches on the real demo day. We don’t want to ruin anything.

And then there was much drink and celebration.

Tom from 3Sourcing showed up his socks:

 

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and we had great food:

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The teams needed to relax after the pitches by playing cards:

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Then we headed to a bar to chill and Daniel from Populr who worked all night to create an app for accredited investors to show interest in companies showed that he can crash anywhere if needed:

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Apparently there was a loooong night of Kareoke that followed but I missed it.

Teams recuperated on Thursday and on Friday we were right back to pitch prep with VCs from Grelock.

All in all very good week. 1 more full week to go before demo day.

500 Startups week 13 wrap – Things are warming up

Personal Log earth date 18-1-5,774

Things are getting very exciting at 500 S. Next week is our pitch preview day for 500 Startups LPs and mentors.

Pitch prep continued this week and many of the teams are making huge strides and starting to deliver great presentations.

I promised 3 of our mentors who came in a number of times this week and provided a ton of value that I would give them a shout-out. So, James Levine, Rob Neivert and Marvin Liao. Thank you for heckling us and proving that in 2014 the 2 old guys from The Muppet Show (Statler and Waldorf, I looked it up) have turned into the 3 mentors :).

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In all honesty, a huge thank you to Rob, James, Marvin and all the other mentors who provided great feedback and direction. Last shout out to Tim Chae for organizing the pitch prep events.

Now back to the week’s activities.

We missed the weekly batch meeting as we had meetings in SF on Monday. Great view of the Bay Bridge from where we had the meetings.

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Mark Seldana from 500 S posted the travel founder interview he held with Oliver Comargo from WePlann and me about founders focused on travel at 500. You can find the recording here: http://buff.ly/1dOjz28

On Tuesday Patrick Collison from Stripe dropped by and shared much wisdom on starting stripe and all his learnings about hiring, culture, growing the team and focusing on accelerating development. Very insightful and helpful.

This session was followed by a pitch prep session. Antonio from Careira Beauty kicked us off:

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As our time at 500 Startups draws to an end it is time to find a new office for OLSET back in San Francisco. I went office hunting on Wednesday and saw some interesting offices:

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This process continued on Friday and Saturday and we are pretty much down to deciding between the back room of a dental spa and a room above a car wash. Yep, that’s how we roll…

We launched a new version of the OLSET site on Wednesday. You can check it out at http://www.olset.com. We also had a couple great articles posted about our progress in tnooz and skift. You can read more here:

tnooz article: http://www.tnooz.com/article/olset-funding-hotels-anydo-personal-assistant-android-white-label-B2B-travel-startup/

Skift article: http://skift.com/2014/01/16/startup-raises-500000-to-add-smart-hotel-bookings-to-productivity-apps/ 

Thursday kicked off early and this is what 500 S looks like at 8:15AM:

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At noon we had a great founder presentation by Sean Percival. One of the growth mentors at 500 and a former founder himself. Sean talked about the ups and downs of starting and closing a company. Great presentation from the heart! Max Fram-Schwartz did a great job interviewing Sean.

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On Thursday afternoon the Startup2startup group held a networking event at the office. Great opportunity to meet other founders and learn from their experience.

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Imagine my surprise when I showed up in the office at 8AM on Friday and Maddie from Pop Basic and Nick from Populr were already there. Great opportunity to have a quick breakfast with a couple good friends and founders.

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Turns out that Nick pulled an all nighter on Thursday. Well, I guess that if your choice is going back to a studio apartment and snuggle with Daniel and Jared, or stay in the office I know what I would choose ūüôā

Friday afternoon we had both pitch prep and a visit from the TechCrunch team. They were filming a series about accelerators and hopefully caught some of my pitch and will share it):

20140117_140926Arka from Sidelines App was preparing for his pitch and showing off his colors. A little fight broke out with a few 49er fast but no-one was seriously hurt.

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I guess I’ll wrap this week up with GO 9ers!

Wish us luck with the preview pitch day next week!

500 Startups week 12 wrap – Pitchslapping!

Personal Log earth date 11-1-5,774

We’re Baaaaaack!

After a couple weeks off for the holidays the activities have resumed at 500 Startups.

The theme of the week watch Pitch Prep. As pitch days approach we are all starting to figure out our pitches, what works, what doesn’t work and what people love and hate.

We had a number of amazing investors and advisers come in this week and critique our pitches. As you will see below they had great feedback. You very quickly learn to focus on a few points:

1. Grab the audience attention in the first 15 seconds or lose them forever.

2. Don’t give them any opportunities to go down rabbit holes. If you bring up anything that distracts them and they start thinking about something else. You lose them forever.

3. Be memorable. There are 30 companies pitching and we all have a great story. How will I be remembered?

4. Focus your pitch on the people who care about you. Very few companies are interesting to all investors. At least 50% (and in many cases 90%) of the investors are not focused on what you do and are not likely to invest in you. Make sure that your pitch captures the attention of the investors who care.

5. Don’t be boring and don’t confuse them!

I am sure there are many other key points but those 5 are a good start. I’ll leave it to others (and future posts) to add more pointers.

So, let’s get to the activities of the week.

As usual Monday kicked off with the batch meeting:

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Meeting was a bit sleepy as many teams were not back yet due to the horrible weather all around the country (except California :)).

Most of the discussion was about demo days and the prep we need for them. Dave McClure and Christine Tsai also collected feedback from the batch to see who needs help with making some noise about their team and raising money! The next few weeks will be very interesting. At OLSET we are shooting for an investor marketing blitz this coming week.

Monday afternoon we started with pitch prep. This process will continue every day until the Mountain View demo day on Feb 5. Each company decides when and how many times they want to pitch. Every day we have different mentors (some of them were very kind and came in multiple times) and they provide feedback and direction. Our strategy was to give 3 different pitches, 1 each day, see what people like and don’t like and hone in on the one that works best so I can run with it starting next week. After giving my 3-pitches, I think I am going to try a 4th version next week (yes, they loved the 3 that much :)).

I don’t remember exactly who pitched on what day and which mentors were in on what day but here are some pictures and mentor pointers from Monday through Wednesday.

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Patai from Builk got us started.

Marcus Ogawa, James Levine, David Shen, Marvin Liao and a few other mentors were in and shared the love!

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Hana from BountyHuntr experimented with a bunch of different versions of her pitch

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I don’t recall who the feedback was to (probably best that I don’t remember) but Marcus definitely had the most pointed feedback to one of us saying “I felt like you opened the kimono and showed me all your warts”. Aka, Waaaaaaaay too much info that led me down a bunch of rabbit holes.

Brian from Mailift got the best logo feedback from Angelika Blendstrup, I’ll leave that yo everyone’s imagination.

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 We also got to experience pitches from Silverpush:

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Atish from EquityZen:

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Prof’ D2 from Anyadir Education:

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And many others. My apologies to all the pitchers and mentors I did not mention. I’ll catch you next week…

On Wednesday Oliver Comargo from WePlann and I had a travel founder interview with Mark Seldana from 500 Startups. I’ll post a link to the interview next week at it is not online yet.

I wasn’t at 500 S on Thursday as I started looking for offices in San Francisco for our post 500 days but Gina from WePlann posted this picture of Sunset in Mountain View. I think this is Shri from EquityZen but I am not sure:

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The 500 startups team had an offsite later in the wek and we received some pictures. Looks like they didn’t suffer too much:

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The week wrapped up with a visit by the Japanese minister for innovation at 500. Good to see that Silicon valley is inspiring innovation around the world.

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Have a great weekend and let the fun continue!

 

Gadi

500 Startups week 11 Wrap – Big push before the break

Personal Log earth date 22-12-5,774

Week 11 came and went. Right before we have a couple slow weeks at 500 Startups for the holidays, we had another big week.

The week kicked off with the batch meeting. This week most of the 500 S team was focused on interviewing teams for batch 8, but Parker Thompson was kind enough to run the meeting and others trickled in over time.

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Daniel from Populr was VERY excited about the meeting. He might have been caught on tape sleeping during the meeting. In his defense he did apparently pull an all nighter Sunday night.

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Ah, the joy of sitting next to me…

On Tuesday,Ben Ling from Khosla Ventures came to 500 and told us about his investment strategy & focus. He shared both hos current focus and his strategy when he was an angel investor. Very good insights for those who are fundraising in the batch.

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Ben’s presentation was followed by an afternoon & evening with Sami Inkinen from Trulia. Sami both had a mentor session with us and then a fireside chat in which he shared a lot of insights about company culture, company growth and his experiences on what to do and what not to do. Sorry, fireside chats are not recorded so I can’t share them…

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We worked form the city on Wednesday but rumor has it that some of the other teams had great mentor meetings.

On Tuesday we also launched our GA partnership with Any.Do to all their android users. Now whenever an Any.Do user puts a task to book a hotel they can automatically do that via OLSET. Exciting times.

On Thursday Kris Duggan from Badgeville gave a pitch on enterprise sales 101. Great insights for those who do not have B2B sales experience.

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And then it was Friday, aka pitch day #2 for the companies that did not pitch last week.

We had a whole gamut of pitches. Some great, some in need of improvement. All, on their way to doing well on demo day.

Jonathan from Launchtrack got us started:

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Dave McClure jumped in and provided some joyful feedback

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There were a bunch of other pitches, I didn’t take all the pictures but then Pouria from CityBlis played Emily and pitched

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We set up the batch with an easy way to book hotels for the NY demo day on OLSET. A coupe teams already booked. Fun times.

 

Happy Holidays!

Gadi