Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Takeaways from MobileX Cincy

I attended MobileX Cincy on March 5th, held at the fabulous Griffin Hall on the NKU campus.  I pretty much exclusively followed the Entrepreneur track since I'm always intrigued to listen to other entrepreneurs perspectives.  Here's what I took away from each of the presentations.

Josh Pressnel - Ascendum
Head Above Water

Josh talked about being an independant mobile developer.  His mantra was get your first app out there fast, iterate quickly (within the constraints of the app review process), and keep building new apps.  Build better versions of apps you would use.  Pay attention to negative feedback and communicate with your detractors.  Offer a freemium model.  Never charge more than $1.99 for an app, and finally don't expect to get rich.  What I found interesting was that his work outside of Ascendum is presumably not covered by his employment agreement with Ascendum, in terms of IP ownership.

Dave Knox - Rockfish
Sameer Mungar - Zipscene
Josh Silverman - Study Egg
Brendan Lim - Kicksend
Entrepreneur Panel

Some of the themes here were re-iterated by the individuals when I attended their individual presentations so I'll probably leave those comments until later, but Sameer's message that sometimes you have to take your business through several iterations to find a successful one (assuming you can bring your Board and Investors along for the ride) resonated with me, given my experience at Bluespring Software.

Josh Silverman - Study Egg
Staying Lean While Going Mobile

Josh gave an engaging presentation, which should be expected given his background in teaching.  He used an interactive survey tool from Socrative to engage the audience.  This really was a lesson on the Lean Startup methodology and the problems they ran into by not using it.  The key take way, pick a mobile platform and build on it, then pick the next one and build on that, don't try and build on all at once.  Josh also talked about the need to develop strategic partnerships if you are in a market (education) dominated by elephants who have the school system budgets already sewn up.

Brendan Lim - Kicksend
Y-Combinator Experience

Brendan talked about the application and interview process involved in being selected into the Y-Combinator program, and the experience he and his co-founder had being part of that.  I think the key pieces of information I took away from his presentation however was, take all the money you can raise, not just what you think you need.  he also discussed that Silicon Valley investors prefer technical founders.  However I left feeling that now they had the money maybe they were not as hungry as they might have been when they were bootstrapping. But fair play to Brendan and his colleague, they had an idea that yielded a nice investment.  However it reminded me of a Tweet I saw today that said, stop telling us how much you have raised, instead tell us what you have accomplished.

Bill Cunningham - GCVA
Rahul Bawa - CincyTech
Rick Coplin - Tech Columbus
John Habbert - QCA
Nihal Mehta - Local Response
Investor Panel

This panel was well represented by regional Angel and VC investors.  The theme they re-iterated was that they invest in primarily teams.  I also found it interesting that John talked about how there were just not enough interesting investment opportunities in this area.  One audience member asked how early is too early, and the response was it's never too early to start talking with potential investors, and if the first meeting is a no, keep them updated.  That's contrary to everything I have read where you need to take a No as a No, and move on.  I think there is a mindset difference between Mid-west investors and West & East Coast Investors however.  I think the "coastal" investors prefer technical founders, whilst here locally I think there is a belief that the product can be built anywhere (especially offshore), by anyone, so long as the team has the right "business" talent.

Overall I thought the conference was well worthwhile and would definitely attend again.  I was disappointed that my timing was so far off in my Rocket Pitch  presentation (3 slides, 3 min, 3 questions) on behalf of ProspectStream,but VenturePax was a very worthwhile winner, and all publicity is good publicity, and I now know that we will plan to tackle iPad support first.

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