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Why The SBIC Doesn – t Work For Venture Capital Anymore – Feld Thoughts

#small business investment company

#

Why The SBIC Doesn t Work For Venture Capital Anymore

There are so many things wrong in the article I felt compelled to write about it. This isn t a knock on the writer (Alicia Wallace) I like Alicia and think she does a good job. Rather, it s an example of the difference between signal and noise in any kind of reporting around the VC industry.

I’m an investor in over 40 VC funds around the world (mostly in the US) and three of them are SBIC funds. Each of the SBIC funds were raised in the 2000 2002 time period. On paper, only one is in positive return territory as a fund, but the SBIC leverage is a substantial negative factor for the LP investors in that particular fund. And, in the other two, I don’t expect to ever see any of my capital back because of the SBIC leverage. Furthermore, I don t believe any of the GPs in any SBIC-backed fund would ever take money from the SBIC again.

So I’m speaking from at least a little experience albeit indirectly with the SBIC, as I ve never been a GP in a fund that had SBIC leverage.

The article starts off saying that “Matthew Varilek has traveled across the state, proselytizing the potential benefits of the Small Business Investment Company Program.” As a partner in one of the most visible VC firms in Colorado and an LP in many of the Colorado VC firms, I’ve never heard from Matthew or anyone from the SBIC. Matthew, if you really want to have a deep discussion about why the SBIC program isn’t effective for VC funds anymore, feel free to give me a shout. I’d be happy to meet with you.

Next, there is the wonderful PR quote about the SBIC that says “Since the program s inception, SBIC success stories include the funding of companies such as Apple, Costco and FedEx when they were burgeoning small businesses.” The SBIC was instrumental in the creation of the venture capital business. The Small Business Investment Act of 1958 helped catalyze many of the VC firms created in the early 1960s. When I first heard about VC firms in the late 1980s, and my first company (Feld Technologies) started writing portfolio management software for some Boston-based VC firms, many of them had funds with SBIC leverage, although even by the late 1980s this was changing and many of them had shifted away from the SBIC. If you want to see a fun quote on it, read A History of Silicon Valley which quotes:

“ …many venture capital pioneers think the SBIC program did little to advance the art and practice of venture investing. The booming IPO market proved the model of investing in new companies, as some SBICs cash out at attractive levels. SBICs did give a boost to early venture firms, and some like Franklin “Pitch” Johnson, profiled below, thought the new law made the US “see that there was a problem and that [venture investing] was a way to do something… it formed the seed of the idea and a cadre of people like us.” Bill Draper, the first West Coast venture capitalist, has been more blunt: “[Without it] I never would have gotten into venture capital. it made the difference between not being able to do it, not having the money.” Many believe SBICs filled a void from 1958 to the early 1970s, by which point the partnership-based venture firms took off. The US government, however, lost most of the $2 billion it put into SBIC firms.

So, while Apple, Costco, and FedEx benefited, the PR would be more credible if the SBIC was trumpeting iconic companies created after 1990 or even 2000, especially where the lead investors (rather than follow on investors) had SBIC capital.

Peter Adams, head of Rockies Venture Club, is quoted a few times. I like and respect Peter, so this isn t aimed at him, but rather at the clear lack of understanding of the capital dynamics around VC funds.

It looks really great on the surface, said Peter Adams, executive director of the Rockies Venture Club, a nonprofit aimed at connecting investors and entrepreneurs. Then when you dig into it, there were some problems. Adams, who has been involved in many of the meetings with the SBA and members of the investment community, said the greatest concerns voiced by investors and venture capitalists involved management team qualifications, investment track records and the addition of debt to the equation. No. 1 for us is they want a management team with multiple people that have track records in venture capital and have worked together as a team before, he said. I can see where they re going with it, but the VC industry in Colorado has been fairly decimated through the economic downturn.

Peter is right about the context, but has two fundamental things wrong here. First, the VC industry in Colorado wasn t decimated through the economic downtown. It was decimated because of lack of performance between 2001 and 2009, just like much of the rest of the VC industry around the US. There s nothing special about Colorado in this mix, and it has nothing to do with the economic downtown. This dynamic has been reported thousands of times so I don t need to go through it again, but we don t have to look back very far to hear the drum beat from the media, LPs, and everyone else about how VC is dead. And if you re curious, it wasn t too long ago that Silicon Valley was also dying .

The other problem here is the need of the SBIC to invest in a management team with multiple people that have track records in venture capital and have worked together as a team before. Any VC firm that fits this qualification is unlikely to have difficulty raising money in today s environment, and subsequently has no need for the SBIC leverage. And, more importantly, the only firms that will look for SBIC leverage are one s that don t have this, which is a classic adverse selection problem.

Then there s this:

The recession also then plays into requirements that the management team members have been involved in a meaningful number of successful exits during a four- to six-year period. From 2008 to 2013, that was not a good time for exits, Adams said.

Huh, what? At Foundry Group, our significant exits (at least 10x capital returned) since we raised our first fund in 2007 include AdMeld, Zynga, MakerBot, and Gnip. We ve had plenty of other exits, but these are the big ones. One of those companies, Gnip, is Boulder-based and another from our older funds (Rally Software) also generated a greater than 10x return for us. Techstars (which we helped start) have also had a steady stream of significant exits, including local Boulder companies like Filtrbox, GoodApril, and SocialThing. And then you ve got plenty of Boulder / Denver monsters on paper some in our portfolio (like SendGrid and Sympoz) and others like Zayo, Ping, Logrhythm, and Datalogix. Finally, if you look across the country, the exits have been awesome the past three years.

It keeps going. There s talk about the angel cliff (e.g. we need funds to invest between angels and VCs nope, been there remember gap capital not so effective) and the SBA rules and regulations (which I believe are toxic and inhibiting to a successful VC fund.)

One of the other problem is SBA and SBIC s behavior in governance of the fund. The paperwork is silly and the overhead is non-trivial. The control over distributions and negative incentives to hold or distribute capital often generates bad decisions when companies go public. And at least one close friend who is a partner in an SBIC fund has now found a new LP to buy out the SBIC so they could actually invest capital in their winners, rather than be limited by the SBIC s constraints on the amount of capital you can invest in any particular company.

The SBIC could be a powerful force for good in the venture capital industry. But it has to approach things very different and based on my experience with the SBA over the past decade, I don t see it happening unless there is real leadership somewhere in coordination with leaders in the VC industry. I m certainly willing to help, if only someone bothered to reach out to me.

UPDATE: It turns out my partner Seth Levine had met with Matthew a while ago. Seth said Your blog was right on and much of the type of thing I related to Matt and some senior guys he brought in. The gist of my conversation with them was pushing them to consider a different model that the current one basically led to lowest common denominator GPs and sub-optimal returns. Plus the SBIC leverage could be crushing. I don t think they have a ton of flexibility around this but they at least listened to the feedback. I m going to see a bunch of them in a few weeks I agreed to help judge a business plan competition they were hosting. Like you I m not a huge fan of the program as it has existed but I give the new guys some credit for both reaching out and trying to be proactive about thinking through this.

UPDATE 2: Matthew Varilek reached out to me and we are setting up a time to talk.


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What SBA Doesn – t Offer #businesses #to #start


#small business grants

#

SBA does NOT provide grants for starting and expanding a business.

Government grants are funded by your tax dollars and, therefore, require very stringent compliance and reporting measures to ensure the money is well spent. As you can imagine, grants are not given away indiscriminately.

Grants from the Federal government are authorized and appropriated through bills passed by Congress and signed by the President. The grant authority varies widely among agencies. SBA has authority to make grants to non-profit and educational organizations in many of its counseling and training programs, but does not have authority to make grants to small businesses. The announcements for the counseling and training grants will appear on grants.gov. If Congress authorizes Specific Initiative Grants, organizations receiving such grants will receive individual notifications.

Some business grants are available through state and local programs, nonprofit organizations and other groups. For example, some states provide grants for expanding child care centers; creating energy efficient technology; and developing marketing campaigns for tourism. These grants are not necessarily free money, and usually require the recipient to match funds or combine the grant with other forms of financing such as a loan. The amount of the grant money available varies with each business and each grantor.

If you are not one of these specialized business, both federal and state government agencies provide financial assistance programs that help small business owners obtain loans and venture capital financing from commercial lenders.

Application Forms for Non-Construction Grants

Application Forms for Construction Grants


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26 Creative Business Cards That Aren – t Even Cards – TwistedSifter #lawn #mowing

#creative business cards

#

TwistedSifter

26 Creative Business Cards That Aren t Even Cards

Contact information has gone digital but that doesn t mean the traditional business card no longer serves a purpose. Business cards these days are used to make an impression. They can be great marketing tools for your services and a memorable card can lead to new opportunities.

Below you will find a collection of 26 of the most creative business cards that aren t even cards in the traditional sense. They do however, make an impression and break through the noise.

1. LEGO employees have the best business cards

2. Bike tool that fits in your wallet

3. For Personal Trainers

4. Business card caliper

5. The Cardapult : Business card catapult

6. Business card coins

7. Business cards for plumbers

8. Beef jerky business card is good for a year

9. Music to your eyes

10. T Make a seat

11. Jack of all trades

12. Cheese grater for cheese shop

13. Business card skateboard deck

14. Musical business card comb

15. Lavender sachet business card

16. Frame of mind

17. Delivery box business card

18. Problem solving business card

19. Fabric business card

20. Stand up for creativity

21. Business card ring sizer for Jewellers

22. Yoga mat business card

23. Business card chocolates

24. Lock pick business card

25. For growing businesses

26. This business card plays Tetris

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highly recommends:

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If You Can’t Afford a Porsche 911, Buy the Mazda MX-5 RF #can #t

#

If You Can’t Afford a Porsche 911, Buy the Mazda MX-5 RF

July 6, 2017, 10:05 AM EDT

The Mazda MX-5 RF is not a luxury car.

That doesn t mean it s inferior. On the contrary, it s an affordable toy with some trappings of luxury pared down to size, like a tasty slider on a silver platter. It s not the whole thing, but with this sample size, you still get a satisfying taste of something meaty.

If you can t afford the $110,300 Porsche 911 Targa, the German brand s legendary see-through hard-top, the $31,555 Mazda MX-5 RF is a logical alternative. It s the best of any in its reasonably priced set.

The $31,555 Mazda MX-5 RF is new for 2017.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

The Hardtop Miata You Wanted

Mazda introduced the fourth generation of its tiny two-door in 2014. The RF, or retractable fastback version, is new this year.

By retractable fastback, Mazda means that the hard top automatically folds back and down under the trunk, flanked by pillar-like beams on either side of the middle of the car. The idea was to make an open-top Miata that would hold the driving thrill of such a nimble, rough-and-ready car while giving it the cachet of a true hardtop. (By cachet, I mean a better, more quality look, a tighter fit to the car, and a quieter interior cabin.) With the top down, it looks kind of like those old T-bar Porsches from the 1970s, which is great.

The hardtop adds 113 pounds to the soft-top original version. What you gain in general practicality and a newly staunch demeanor both from behind the wheel and from the overall appearance of the car far outweigh the negligible loss of agility.

Its top folds back underneath flying buttress-style pillars on either side of the car.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

The Rare and Necessary Manual

The caveat here is that, despite the fact that Mazda now offers an automatic version of the MX-5 RF, you must buy the manual 6-speed in order to enjoy the full benefits of its graces. You wouldn t eat a mini-hamburger without any toppings, would you? It needs a little dressing to enhance the flavor.

In the same way, the MX-5 RF s four-cylinder, 155 hp engine needs the thrill of a stick shift to activate full enjoyment of the rear-wheel drive. The movement through the gears is crisp, short, and direct. An automatic transmission simply doesn t offer the same driving engagement, and how could it? It s a computer working the car for you. For many buyers, the MX-5 may be the first introduction to a manual transmission and to rear-wheel drive. It s worth doing them together on a vehicle so well-suited to zippy driving: They display their flavor most fully when they re mixed.

The front and chassis of the MX-5 RF remains virtually unchanged from the standard-issue MX-5 Miata.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

This is where Mazda separates itself from the pack ($25,495 Subaru BRZ; $26,255 Toyota 86; $21,600 MINI Hardtop). While those can drag (BRZ) and lurch a bit around corners (MINI), the MX-5 stays light on its feet and connected to the road, with seamless transitions through first, second, and third gear on the way to a 6.1-second 60 mph sprint time. It doesn t have a bracing sprint time, but driving it is fun. (That s not a word I use to describe many cars, which can be alternately thrilling, angry, fast, smooth, powerful, or any other of dozens of specific descriptors. This one, simply put, is fun.)

It s nowhere near as fast as the 4.5-second 911 Targa, but, then, that one costs nearly $80,000 more. Top speed on the MX-5 RF is 135 mph.

The MX-5 RF is the hardtop version of the MX-5 Miata, which comes with a soft rag top.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

Here is where the MX-5 actually beats the 911 Targa: At 2,445 pounds compared with the 911 s 3,461 pounds, its lithe body imparts such a feeling of ease when you drive it that you really don t think about driving it at all. (This also lends it superior efficiency, at 33 mpg on the highway, to the 911 as well.) It conjures the uncanny duality of being totally engaged (manual transmission, after all) but also freed from the physical constraints that so dearly cling to heavier, larger cars: I know I don t have to mention that parking such a small bauble is a joy. With the MX-5, all those spots that were almost big enough to fit your expensive sedan open up in blessed welcome.

Straightforward Performance

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The MX-5 RF has some options, though their cost doesn t amount to much more than base MSRP, and many nice things like Bluetooth, heated seats, and a 7-inch color touch-screen display come free. Brembo front brakes, a rear lip spoiler, 17 forged dark alloy wheels, a rear bumper skirt, and door sill trim plates, add $5,000 or so to the final cost. The MX-5 is more expensive than its nearest competitors, but not by much.

The interior of the car is basic but not boring, with a rounded stick shifter and optional alloy pedals.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

So, what s not to like with MX-5 RF? Nothing, really. But don t expect a roof that retracts when the car is traveling at anything more than the most excruciating snail s crawl (6 mph and under), and don t expect a throaty engine roar when you hit the gas. Don t expect multi-zone climate control, generous visibility, interior Alcantara finery, or even a back seat. (The trunk makes a great sandwich holder, though.)

Do expect to get attention for driving something cool. With angled LED headlights and a reserved front grille and fascia that accentuate its cute trim body and flying buttress-flanked sides, it communicates that its buyer has more discernment than those who own the standard-issue MX-5 Miata.

Call it the sports car in one perfect bite.

Buy the six-speed manual version of the MX-5 RF.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg


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Why The SBIC Doesn – t Work For Venture Capital Anymore – Feld Thoughts

#small business investment company

#

Why The SBIC Doesn t Work For Venture Capital Anymore

There are so many things wrong in the article I felt compelled to write about it. This isn t a knock on the writer (Alicia Wallace) I like Alicia and think she does a good job. Rather, it s an example of the difference between signal and noise in any kind of reporting around the VC industry.

I’m an investor in over 40 VC funds around the world (mostly in the US) and three of them are SBIC funds. Each of the SBIC funds were raised in the 2000 2002 time period. On paper, only one is in positive return territory as a fund, but the SBIC leverage is a substantial negative factor for the LP investors in that particular fund. And, in the other two, I don’t expect to ever see any of my capital back because of the SBIC leverage. Furthermore, I don t believe any of the GPs in any SBIC-backed fund would ever take money from the SBIC again.

So I’m speaking from at least a little experience albeit indirectly with the SBIC, as I ve never been a GP in a fund that had SBIC leverage.

The article starts off saying that “Matthew Varilek has traveled across the state, proselytizing the potential benefits of the Small Business Investment Company Program.” As a partner in one of the most visible VC firms in Colorado and an LP in many of the Colorado VC firms, I’ve never heard from Matthew or anyone from the SBIC. Matthew, if you really want to have a deep discussion about why the SBIC program isn’t effective for VC funds anymore, feel free to give me a shout. I’d be happy to meet with you.

Next, there is the wonderful PR quote about the SBIC that says “Since the program s inception, SBIC success stories include the funding of companies such as Apple, Costco and FedEx when they were burgeoning small businesses.” The SBIC was instrumental in the creation of the venture capital business. The Small Business Investment Act of 1958 helped catalyze many of the VC firms created in the early 1960s. When I first heard about VC firms in the late 1980s, and my first company (Feld Technologies) started writing portfolio management software for some Boston-based VC firms, many of them had funds with SBIC leverage, although even by the late 1980s this was changing and many of them had shifted away from the SBIC. If you want to see a fun quote on it, read A History of Silicon Valley which quotes:

“ …many venture capital pioneers think the SBIC program did little to advance the art and practice of venture investing. The booming IPO market proved the model of investing in new companies, as some SBICs cash out at attractive levels. SBICs did give a boost to early venture firms, and some like Franklin “Pitch” Johnson, profiled below, thought the new law made the US “see that there was a problem and that [venture investing] was a way to do something… it formed the seed of the idea and a cadre of people like us.” Bill Draper, the first West Coast venture capitalist, has been more blunt: “[Without it] I never would have gotten into venture capital. it made the difference between not being able to do it, not having the money.” Many believe SBICs filled a void from 1958 to the early 1970s, by which point the partnership-based venture firms took off. The US government, however, lost most of the $2 billion it put into SBIC firms.

So, while Apple, Costco, and FedEx benefited, the PR would be more credible if the SBIC was trumpeting iconic companies created after 1990 or even 2000, especially where the lead investors (rather than follow on investors) had SBIC capital.

Peter Adams, head of Rockies Venture Club, is quoted a few times. I like and respect Peter, so this isn t aimed at him, but rather at the clear lack of understanding of the capital dynamics around VC funds.

It looks really great on the surface, said Peter Adams, executive director of the Rockies Venture Club, a nonprofit aimed at connecting investors and entrepreneurs. Then when you dig into it, there were some problems. Adams, who has been involved in many of the meetings with the SBA and members of the investment community, said the greatest concerns voiced by investors and venture capitalists involved management team qualifications, investment track records and the addition of debt to the equation. No. 1 for us is they want a management team with multiple people that have track records in venture capital and have worked together as a team before, he said. I can see where they re going with it, but the VC industry in Colorado has been fairly decimated through the economic downturn.

Peter is right about the context, but has two fundamental things wrong here. First, the VC industry in Colorado wasn t decimated through the economic downtown. It was decimated because of lack of performance between 2001 and 2009, just like much of the rest of the VC industry around the US. There s nothing special about Colorado in this mix, and it has nothing to do with the economic downtown. This dynamic has been reported thousands of times so I don t need to go through it again, but we don t have to look back very far to hear the drum beat from the media, LPs, and everyone else about how VC is dead. And if you re curious, it wasn t too long ago that Silicon Valley was also dying .

The other problem here is the need of the SBIC to invest in a management team with multiple people that have track records in venture capital and have worked together as a team before. Any VC firm that fits this qualification is unlikely to have difficulty raising money in today s environment, and subsequently has no need for the SBIC leverage. And, more importantly, the only firms that will look for SBIC leverage are one s that don t have this, which is a classic adverse selection problem.

Then there s this:

The recession also then plays into requirements that the management team members have been involved in a meaningful number of successful exits during a four- to six-year period. From 2008 to 2013, that was not a good time for exits, Adams said.

Huh, what? At Foundry Group, our significant exits (at least 10x capital returned) since we raised our first fund in 2007 include AdMeld, Zynga, MakerBot, and Gnip. We ve had plenty of other exits, but these are the big ones. One of those companies, Gnip, is Boulder-based and another from our older funds (Rally Software) also generated a greater than 10x return for us. Techstars (which we helped start) have also had a steady stream of significant exits, including local Boulder companies like Filtrbox, GoodApril, and SocialThing. And then you ve got plenty of Boulder / Denver monsters on paper some in our portfolio (like SendGrid and Sympoz) and others like Zayo, Ping, Logrhythm, and Datalogix. Finally, if you look across the country, the exits have been awesome the past three years.

It keeps going. There s talk about the angel cliff (e.g. we need funds to invest between angels and VCs nope, been there remember gap capital not so effective) and the SBA rules and regulations (which I believe are toxic and inhibiting to a successful VC fund.)

One of the other problem is SBA and SBIC s behavior in governance of the fund. The paperwork is silly and the overhead is non-trivial. The control over distributions and negative incentives to hold or distribute capital often generates bad decisions when companies go public. And at least one close friend who is a partner in an SBIC fund has now found a new LP to buy out the SBIC so they could actually invest capital in their winners, rather than be limited by the SBIC s constraints on the amount of capital you can invest in any particular company.

The SBIC could be a powerful force for good in the venture capital industry. But it has to approach things very different and based on my experience with the SBA over the past decade, I don t see it happening unless there is real leadership somewhere in coordination with leaders in the VC industry. I m certainly willing to help, if only someone bothered to reach out to me.

UPDATE: It turns out my partner Seth Levine had met with Matthew a while ago. Seth said Your blog was right on and much of the type of thing I related to Matt and some senior guys he brought in. The gist of my conversation with them was pushing them to consider a different model that the current one basically led to lowest common denominator GPs and sub-optimal returns. Plus the SBIC leverage could be crushing. I don t think they have a ton of flexibility around this but they at least listened to the feedback. I m going to see a bunch of them in a few weeks I agreed to help judge a business plan competition they were hosting. Like you I m not a huge fan of the program as it has existed but I give the new guys some credit for both reaching out and trying to be proactive about thinking through this.

UPDATE 2: Matthew Varilek reached out to me and we are setting up a time to talk.


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Moo Is Now Selling Letterpress Business Cards That Aren t Really Letterpress #business #laptop


#letterpress business cards

#

Moo Is Now Selling Letterpress Business Cards That Aren’t Really Letterpress

p I m pleasantly surprised by a href= http://us.moo.com/products/letterpress-business-cards.html target= _blank Moo s recently announced letterpress efforts /a . /p “> I’m pleasantly surprised by Moo’s recently announced letterpress efforts .

p The Moo Letterpress Cards are available in 12 different designs (most of which are tasteful, with elegant typography and vivid ink colors) and coms printed on a thick weighted card stock (Mohawk Superfine, 32pt weight), which is then debossed on both sides to give it a feeling of texture and depth. /p “> The Moo Letterpress Cards are available in 12 different designs (most of which are tasteful, with elegant typography and vivid ink colors) and coms printed on a thick weighted card stock (Mohawk Superfine, 32pt weight), which is then debossed on both sides to give it a feeling of texture and depth.

p Moo sent me a pack of samples to see for myself, and I have to admit, they look nice, they feel great in the hand, and there isn t a Mini Card to be seen anywhere. But let me be 100% clear here: these are letterpress in name only. Moo tells me there s no movable type involved here at all, which is the very definition of letterpress. /p “> Moo sent me a pack of samples to see for myself, and I have to admit, they look nice, they feel great in the hand, and there isn’t a Mini Card to be seen anywhere. But let me be 100% clear here: these are letterpress in name only. Moo tells me there’s no movable type involved here at all, which is the very definition of letterpress.

p You get what you pay for, and Moo s cards em are /em cheaper than real letterpress. For example, a pack of 500 two-color letterpressed business cards from a href= http://brooklynsocialcards.com/ordering-process/ target= _blank Brooklyn Social Cards /a will cost you $500. A similar pack of fake letterpress cards will cost you $339 on Moo. /p “> You get what you pay for, and Moo’s cards are cheaper than real letterpress. For example, a pack of 500 two-color letterpressed business cards from Brooklyn Social Cards will cost you $500. A similar pack of fake letterpress cards will cost you $339 on Moo.

p If ultimate letterpress fidelity is important to you and you want to see every letter in your business details branded right into a card s skin, you might still want to spring for traditional letterpress, but my guess is all but the most discerning letterpress fans won t even notice, which has got to have some small hot metal presses sweating. /p “> If ultimate letterpress fidelity is important to you and you want to see every letter in your business details branded right into a card’s skin, you might still want to spring for traditional letterpress, but my guess is all but the most discerning letterpress fans won’t even notice, which has got to have some small hot metal presses sweating.

The Moo Letterpress Cards are available in 12 different designs (most of which are tasteful, with elegant typography and vivid ink colors) and coms printed on a thick weighted card stock (Mohawk Superfine, 32pt weight), which is then debossed on both sides to give it a feeling of texture and depth.

Moo sent me a pack of samples to see for myself, and I have to admit, they look nice, they feel great in the hand, and there isn’t a Mini Card to be seen anywhere. But let me be 100% clear here: these are letterpress in name only. Moo tells me there’s no movable type involved here at all, which is the very definition of letterpress.

You get what you pay for, and Moo’s cards are cheaper than real letterpress. For example, a pack of 500 two-color letterpressed business cards from Brooklyn Social Cards will cost you $500. A similar pack of fake letterpress cards will cost you $339 on Moo.

If ultimate letterpress fidelity is important to you and you want to see every letter in your business details branded right into a card’s skin, you might still want to spring for traditional letterpress, but my guess is all but the most discerning letterpress fans won’t even notice, which has got to have some small hot metal presses sweating.

Slideshow: 5 images

I ve got to be honest. I ve never really liked Moo business cards, even after they ve been foisted upon me by half a dozen companies. Moo is a Rhode Island-based company that sells custom-printed business cards online. They get the job done, but I ve always thought Moo s efforts were just cheap and unexceptional. Except for the little stick-of-gum sized Mini Cards. of course: those are so twee, easy-to-lose, and unwieldy that the only practical use I can think to put them to is as instruments of papercut torture applied to the Moo executive who first came up with them.
There s no movable type involved here at all, which is the very definition of letterpress.

So I m pleasantly surprised by Moo s recently announced letterpress efforts. The Moo Letterpress Cards are available in 12 different designs (most of which are surprisingly tasteful, with elegant typography and vivid ink colors) and coms printed on a thick weighted card stock (Mohawk Superfine, 32pt weight), which is then debossed on both sides to give each card a feeling of texture and depth. Moo sent me a pack of samples to see for myself, and I have to admit, they look nice, they feel great in the hand, and there isn t a Mini Card to be seen anywhere.

So they re great. But let me be 100% clear here: these are letterpress in name only. Moo tells me there s no movable type involved here at all, which is the very definition of letterpress. Instead, Moo is still just using digital printing techniques to squirt out your business details on a pre-designed business card stock, which is the same as the company has ever done. The distinction here is that those cards come on a quality stock for a change, and get a pre-set pattern debossed on them after they are printed. You still won t be able to feel the type under your fingertips, because that part is digitally printed. It s a shame. There s a reason it s called letter press: using real movable type on high-quality card stock creates a sharp, tactile feel otherwise missing from printed text.

You get what you pay for, and Moo s cards are cheaper than real letterpress. For example, a pack of 500 two-color letterpressed business cards from Brooklyn Social Cards will cost you $500. A similar pack of fake letterpress cards will cost you $339 on Moo. If ultimate letterpress fidelity is important to you and you want to see every letter in your business details branded right into a card s skin, you might still want to spring for traditional letterpress.

Me? I m still not going to order business cards from Moo. If I m going to spend money on letterpress, I d rather give it to artisans and craftsmen, not a faceless Internet printing company. But I have to admit, Moo has me closer to making an order than ever before.

You can order Moo Letterpress business cards here .


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Copper pipes and connectors for household plumbing #copper #pipe #plumbing, #plumbing #copper #pipe #connectors

#

Copper pipe and connectors for plumbing

Modern plumbing almost exclusively uses copper pipes for water feeds and central heating pipework although some modern plastic pipes are beginning to be used. Older systems used iron pipes and in even older houses, lead can be found in the cold water supply and for the waste pipes.

Pipes

Copper has a number of advantages over the iron and lead types:

  • Copper is relatively non-toxic – unlike lead.
  • Copper does not suffer corrosion – as iron does.
  • Copper is relatively soft and easy to work with – unlike both iron and lead.

Copper pipe is available in a number of sizes commonly:

  • 8 and 10 mm – for use microbore central heating systems
  • 12 and 15 mm – generally for connections to individual taps, appliances etc.
  • 22, 28 and 35 mm – generally for long runs where use of 15 mm piping would cause excessive pressure drop.

Copper pipe is normally available in various lengths depending upon the type of stockist. Trade outlets may only stock 3 and 4 metre lengths whist small DIY outlets may hold sizes ranging from 1.5 to 2 metre.

‘Old’ imperial pipework

Copper pipework in older installations will probably be sized in imperial measurements – 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, 1 inch etc. One point to bear in mind in the UK is that the measurement quoted for imperial sized pipe is the INNER diameter of the pipe whilst the measurement for metric pipes is the OUTER diameter – this means that the 1/2 inch pipe is very nearly identical to the 15 mm metric pipe. In fact these two sizes (1/2 inch and 15mm) can generally be joined using a 15 mm to 15mm connector.

The other imperial sizes do not have ‘workable’ equivalents metric sizes – joining these imperial to metric sized pipes require the use of adaptors specifically designed for the job (3/4 inch to 22mm, 1 inch to 22mm) – these adaptors are no more expensive than metric to metric connectors, they are just designed for the job. It does seem, however, that these adaptors are becoming less available; it’s hard to find them on-line or at the major DIY stores, going to a ‘proper’ plumbers merchant probably gives the best chance for locating one.

Connectors

Connectors are specific to the size of pipe being used, a number of differing styles are available which cater for almost all needs of a pipe run. The main styles are:

Most of these are available either to accept the same sized pipes at each end or to accept different sizes, this allows a change in pipe size to be achieved simply. Connectors are also available to connect modern metric sized pipes to imperial sized copper pipe or external screw threads such as used on iron pipes and accessories (such as sink taps etc.).

Two basic types of connectors are used for joining copper pipes:

1. Compression Connections
Compression connectors use an internal ring (known as an olive) which is compressed onto the pipe as the end nut is tightened onto the body of the connector.

Compression connectors can be dismantled and reassembled fairly easily. Alternatively, if a pipe run is to be rearranged, the end of the pipe can be cut to allow the end nut to be removed, and then the connector can be reused with a new olive (olives can be purchased in small quantities).

2. Solder Connections
Solder connectors are sized to be a tight slide fit onto the copper pipe, the joint is then heated (normally by using a blowtorch or hot air gun) and the small gap between the pipe and connector is filled with solder by capillary action.

Some connectors incorporate a solder ring within the body (as indicated by the ring formed in the connector as shown above) while other connectors are plain copper and solder needs to be fed around the exposed gap after the connector/pipes has been heated.

Solder connectors are cheaper than the compression type but they are not reusable. With solder connectors it is very easy to get a water tight joint at the first attempt, but if they should leak, they can sometimes be problematic (but not impossible) to repair as they cannot be disassembled.


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The – Internet Health Test – Works: TWC, Verizon and More Accused of Slowing

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Remember back in late May when we told you about the Internet Health Test. The simple test analyzed users Internet connections from end to end, and it aimed to determine whether or not Internet service providers might be violating the Federal Communication Commission s new net neutrality rules by intentionally slowing data connections.

This week, the group behind the Internet Health Test has released the results of a study that analyzed tests performed by more than 300,000 Internet users, and it appears as though the test has served its purpose: Five major ISPs in the United States have been accused of deliberately slowing data from popular websites in dozens of cities across the country.

The Internet Health Test website launched last month is the brainchild of BattlefortheNet.com, a consortium of activist groups that are dedicated to an open and free Internet. The site encourages Internet users to perform a simple test that takes less than one minute, and it analyzes data connections in an effort to determine whether or not ISPs are intentionally slowing data speeds.

According to early findings released in a report this week, the answer is yes, ISPs are indeed slowing connections in many cases.

Time Warner Cable. Verizon and AT T are among five ISPs named in the report that have been accused of deliberately slowing data traffic from certain Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). Popular web services with heavy traffic pay CDNs to help store and serve their content.

As an example, the study found that Comcast provided median download speeds from one CDN of 21.4Mbps during peak evening hours. During the same time period, AT T provided median download speeds of 0.2Mbps.

For too long, internet access providers and their lobbyists have characterized net neutrality protections as a solution in search of a problem, Tim Karr of Free Press, which is one of the groups behind BattlefortheNet.com, told The Guardian . Data compiled using the Internet Health Test show us otherwise that there is widespread and systemic abuse across the network. The irony is that this trove of evidence is becoming public just as many in Congress are trying to strip away the open internet protections that would prevent such bad behavior.

The group encourages Internet users to continue to utilize the Internet Health Test website, which can be found by following this link .


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Don t Just Start a Business, Solve A Problem #starting #your #own #business


#start up business

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Don’t Just Start a Business, Solve A Problem

Founder of Alltopstartups.com

As long as consumers have problems, they will always search for solutions. People will always look for better, faster and smarter ways to accomplish everyday tasks. And fortunately for entrepreneurs, there are still lots of rooms for improvements in existing products. That said, the biggest issue for most founders is finding these painful problems and matching them with the best solutions possible.

Here are a couple pieces of insight to get you started.

Focus on building a must have not a nice to have product. Consumers are overwhelmed with the paradox of choice on daily basis. Attention spans are getting shorter in the age of multi-tasking and only few products are getting noticed with many being a solution for a must not a want. The demand for quicker and faster results make it difficult to fully satisfy the needs of consumers. You need to be doing something different and better to make it in this world, as donsumers expect and demand more than just another product.

Solve real painful problems. Google made search better. Amazon simplified online buying and selling. Netflix solved on-demand streaming media. Uber is trying to make on-demand car service better. What can you make smarter or better?

What is the one painful problem you can solve without struggle? To grab your customer s attention, start by solving their needs, wants rarely make the cut. If your product is not a must-have, you could still find a way to repurpose it to solve a pressing need. If you have been able to identify a crucial problem that you can effectively execute and deliver to market, you will be able to create a real business that matters.

Your business should be your passion. Some entrepreneurs look to solve problems they identify with or feel passionate. They choose this path because work because less about work and more about enjoying the journey.

You will need all the inspiration, commitment and the perseverance you can get to make it as an entrepreneur, hence the need to start a business you are passionate about.

The happiest and most successful people I know don t just love what they do, they re obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them, Dropbox co-founder Drew Houston said during the 2013 MIT commencement address.

Coupled with passion, is the ability to execute. If you can t deliver, you are not in business. Products with a real need are easy to market and you won t have to convince people about the existence of the problem and the need for your product because they identify with it.

You don t want to start a business that may not survive. Do your homework, validate your idea and make sure you have a real market for your idea. Don t just start another business, solve a real problem people actually have to increase your chances of success.


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Why The SBIC Doesn – t Work For Venture Capital Anymore – Feld Thoughts

#small business investment company

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Why The SBIC Doesn t Work For Venture Capital Anymore

There are so many things wrong in the article I felt compelled to write about it. This isn t a knock on the writer (Alicia Wallace) I like Alicia and think she does a good job. Rather, it s an example of the difference between signal and noise in any kind of reporting around the VC industry.

I’m an investor in over 40 VC funds around the world (mostly in the US) and three of them are SBIC funds. Each of the SBIC funds were raised in the 2000 2002 time period. On paper, only one is in positive return territory as a fund, but the SBIC leverage is a substantial negative factor for the LP investors in that particular fund. And, in the other two, I don’t expect to ever see any of my capital back because of the SBIC leverage. Furthermore, I don t believe any of the GPs in any SBIC-backed fund would ever take money from the SBIC again.

So I’m speaking from at least a little experience albeit indirectly with the SBIC, as I ve never been a GP in a fund that had SBIC leverage.

The article starts off saying that “Matthew Varilek has traveled across the state, proselytizing the potential benefits of the Small Business Investment Company Program.” As a partner in one of the most visible VC firms in Colorado and an LP in many of the Colorado VC firms, I’ve never heard from Matthew or anyone from the SBIC. Matthew, if you really want to have a deep discussion about why the SBIC program isn’t effective for VC funds anymore, feel free to give me a shout. I’d be happy to meet with you.

Next, there is the wonderful PR quote about the SBIC that says “Since the program s inception, SBIC success stories include the funding of companies such as Apple, Costco and FedEx when they were burgeoning small businesses.” The SBIC was instrumental in the creation of the venture capital business. The Small Business Investment Act of 1958 helped catalyze many of the VC firms created in the early 1960s. When I first heard about VC firms in the late 1980s, and my first company (Feld Technologies) started writing portfolio management software for some Boston-based VC firms, many of them had funds with SBIC leverage, although even by the late 1980s this was changing and many of them had shifted away from the SBIC. If you want to see a fun quote on it, read A History of Silicon Valley which quotes:

“ …many venture capital pioneers think the SBIC program did little to advance the art and practice of venture investing. The booming IPO market proved the model of investing in new companies, as some SBICs cash out at attractive levels. SBICs did give a boost to early venture firms, and some like Franklin “Pitch” Johnson, profiled below, thought the new law made the US “see that there was a problem and that [venture investing] was a way to do something… it formed the seed of the idea and a cadre of people like us.” Bill Draper, the first West Coast venture capitalist, has been more blunt: “[Without it] I never would have gotten into venture capital. it made the difference between not being able to do it, not having the money.” Many believe SBICs filled a void from 1958 to the early 1970s, by which point the partnership-based venture firms took off. The US government, however, lost most of the $2 billion it put into SBIC firms.

So, while Apple, Costco, and FedEx benefited, the PR would be more credible if the SBIC was trumpeting iconic companies created after 1990 or even 2000, especially where the lead investors (rather than follow on investors) had SBIC capital.

Peter Adams, head of Rockies Venture Club, is quoted a few times. I like and respect Peter, so this isn t aimed at him, but rather at the clear lack of understanding of the capital dynamics around VC funds.

It looks really great on the surface, said Peter Adams, executive director of the Rockies Venture Club, a nonprofit aimed at connecting investors and entrepreneurs. Then when you dig into it, there were some problems. Adams, who has been involved in many of the meetings with the SBA and members of the investment community, said the greatest concerns voiced by investors and venture capitalists involved management team qualifications, investment track records and the addition of debt to the equation. No. 1 for us is they want a management team with multiple people that have track records in venture capital and have worked together as a team before, he said. I can see where they re going with it, but the VC industry in Colorado has been fairly decimated through the economic downturn.

Peter is right about the context, but has two fundamental things wrong here. First, the VC industry in Colorado wasn t decimated through the economic downtown. It was decimated because of lack of performance between 2001 and 2009, just like much of the rest of the VC industry around the US. There s nothing special about Colorado in this mix, and it has nothing to do with the economic downtown. This dynamic has been reported thousands of times so I don t need to go through it again, but we don t have to look back very far to hear the drum beat from the media, LPs, and everyone else about how VC is dead. And if you re curious, it wasn t too long ago that Silicon Valley was also dying .

The other problem here is the need of the SBIC to invest in a management team with multiple people that have track records in venture capital and have worked together as a team before. Any VC firm that fits this qualification is unlikely to have difficulty raising money in today s environment, and subsequently has no need for the SBIC leverage. And, more importantly, the only firms that will look for SBIC leverage are one s that don t have this, which is a classic adverse selection problem.

Then there s this:

The recession also then plays into requirements that the management team members have been involved in a meaningful number of successful exits during a four- to six-year period. From 2008 to 2013, that was not a good time for exits, Adams said.

Huh, what? At Foundry Group, our significant exits (at least 10x capital returned) since we raised our first fund in 2007 include AdMeld, Zynga, MakerBot, and Gnip. We ve had plenty of other exits, but these are the big ones. One of those companies, Gnip, is Boulder-based and another from our older funds (Rally Software) also generated a greater than 10x return for us. Techstars (which we helped start) have also had a steady stream of significant exits, including local Boulder companies like Filtrbox, GoodApril, and SocialThing. And then you ve got plenty of Boulder / Denver monsters on paper some in our portfolio (like SendGrid and Sympoz) and others like Zayo, Ping, Logrhythm, and Datalogix. Finally, if you look across the country, the exits have been awesome the past three years.

It keeps going. There s talk about the angel cliff (e.g. we need funds to invest between angels and VCs nope, been there remember gap capital not so effective) and the SBA rules and regulations (which I believe are toxic and inhibiting to a successful VC fund.)

One of the other problem is SBA and SBIC s behavior in governance of the fund. The paperwork is silly and the overhead is non-trivial. The control over distributions and negative incentives to hold or distribute capital often generates bad decisions when companies go public. And at least one close friend who is a partner in an SBIC fund has now found a new LP to buy out the SBIC so they could actually invest capital in their winners, rather than be limited by the SBIC s constraints on the amount of capital you can invest in any particular company.

The SBIC could be a powerful force for good in the venture capital industry. But it has to approach things very different and based on my experience with the SBA over the past decade, I don t see it happening unless there is real leadership somewhere in coordination with leaders in the VC industry. I m certainly willing to help, if only someone bothered to reach out to me.

UPDATE: It turns out my partner Seth Levine had met with Matthew a while ago. Seth said Your blog was right on and much of the type of thing I related to Matt and some senior guys he brought in. The gist of my conversation with them was pushing them to consider a different model that the current one basically led to lowest common denominator GPs and sub-optimal returns. Plus the SBIC leverage could be crushing. I don t think they have a ton of flexibility around this but they at least listened to the feedback. I m going to see a bunch of them in a few weeks I agreed to help judge a business plan competition they were hosting. Like you I m not a huge fan of the program as it has existed but I give the new guys some credit for both reaching out and trying to be proactive about thinking through this.

UPDATE 2: Matthew Varilek reached out to me and we are setting up a time to talk.


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