Monday, May 26, 2008

Trip in the Valley - 05/25

Starbucks at Cupertino Village is just too crowd so I have to sit outside in my rented car around Starbucks to continue using the Tmobile Internet we just paid. Sitting inside my car with two laptops on mademes me feel like two hackers trying to crack the starbucks wifi here.

Then I strongly wish that Clearwire/Spring can make the pan-US WiMax network happen asap, esp. after they got $1B funding from Google, Intel and etc. That's such a nice move and will help every such strategic investor to gain significant leverage in the market. The WiMax will just make B2C wifi device manufactures such as NetGear, LinkSys etc an irrelevant player because no wireless router needed at every home. No need to search/pay for wifi network like what we are doing. No need to buy/install/download various wifi USB adapors. Wow. The get-rid-of-linksys reminds me a cool saying I read from Paul Graham's post: Startup redefine the problem to make status quo irrelevant. So this will also make Qualcomm irrelevant so Nokia etc may integrate Intel's WiMax chips into mobile directly.

WiMax aside, yesterday I'd met two (group) of people in this Cupertino Village. J is talking about an investment opportunity in China and I wish him the best luck. He also talked about the missed opportunity for him to help EA exploring the online game market. Every opportunity has a window and the fast pacing just make every window smaller and smaller. Less and Less time for all of us to wait for a "better" time which usually means less risk.  There are always people want to take more risk than us such as younger, or single (vs. married), linving in rented place (vs. on mortgage) etc. Wait is ok but if the wait will not create any additional value for the opportunity, we lost the opportunity.

Z and G are a team trying to explore the opportunity in the wirelees space. We talked a lot about the most reasonable path to get started for a pure engineer team like them. Three typical risks need to be addressed regardless from investor's or entrepreneur's point of view are technology risk, market risk and management risk which I list in a series of importance for such an engineer team. (Again, entrepreneur and investor like VC are no difference. Entrepreneur invests time and opportunity cost such as resigning from current job. VCs invest in money and network/experience. No one wants to waste time on a bad idea. Pardon the ego.) Alwayse focus on the point where a founding team can demonstrate the most strengthen/value. So an engineer team should not (IMHO) focus on write biz plan, building financial forecast etc. Why? because at the end, the financial forecast will be very likely laughable since you may never have the experience to do so before. And that won't be the point VC may want to check either. Rather, an engineer team may focus on developing a demo to address the technical challenge they identified. Then using own contact in the industry to validate the market need which is the MOST important here for the investors. VCs may not understand the technology but they clearly see the business opportunity when the potential customer, say Verizon here, said yes we are having this difficulty that affects $100M worth revenue and would like to give this technology a try.

Looking forward to meeting more people in my calendar!

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