The news in 2010 was dominated by the rise of the Super Angel, and their affect on the startup ecosystem.
Basically, that the existence of Super Angels (individuals that are investing smaller $20-$75 million funds) was allowing too many startups to get funding, and that a bubble was being created that would burst, and would ruin the venture market. (Ever since 1999-2001 the greatest fear that investors and startups have is that a bubble will burst. All kinds of bubbles. All kinds of bursting.)
Folks like Dave McClure and his 500startups, which became (in many ways) the poster child for the “New VC” or “Super Angel” movement, started to invest in dozens and dozens of startups. Every week, Techcrunch would run stories of companies getting sub-$1mm in seed funding, and in many ways, investing in technology became “fashionable.”
I am a lazy blogger, so I wont find out how many startups received (true) seed funding (sub $1mm) in 2010, but I would bet its a big number.
The side effect of this growth in seed-level funding is that more women led startups received funding and/or interest in 2010, perhaps also more than in recent memory.
It’s not an issue of shear number of women in technology, like was talked about to death in 2010, or the lack of women in power positions or on big boards. Its that entrepreneurship is not a male only gene.
Its not about the numbers. Its about the quality.
In 2010, there were three startups that were founded by women that have a big chance to become the breakout startup in 2011:
Started by Micki Krimmel in LA (there are startups in LA?!??!) after she realized that there was no easy way to share, well, stuff, online for short periods of time, Neighborgoods took a little while to get off the ground. I met Micki in the middle of the year and over the course of six months, I watched as she continued to refine the business model. Launching in around October or so, she quickly got a ton of press around what she is doing. The “Share Economy” is certainly a growing interest, and coupled with social entrepreneurship and sustainability, Micki has hit on something interesting (although I would bet that solving stagflation by allowing employees to participate in revenue wasn’t first on the agenda).
Making it extremely simple for people to share stuff with each other, and watching that extend to corporations and organizations, she has seen some great early success. I expect that success to soar in 2011.
Started by Melody McClosky in SF (*whew*) in 2010, she received some early investment from friends of mine. I have never met Melody (although Facebook says we have 160 friends in common, so, well, there is that.), and frankly, early on, couldnt see the appeal of a site that provided storefronts for stylists and service providers (like massage therapists). So many companies have tried to replace the yellow pages and failed, I couldnt understand the appeal of something like StyleSeat.
But the SME market, with its potential of billions and billions can be cracked. Look at Etsy. And, watching companies attack it in an interesting ways (simplicity) piques my interest. I think about tattoo artists, and their need to manage a wait list as well as appointments (Jeremy Pepper’s comment below reminded me of that). In addition, when Styleseat releases some level of search functionality, it will become really interesting.
One startup I used to work for, ServiceMagic, has become the defacto place for home improvement contractors. Can Styleseat become the spot for service providers? I think so.
I can see Styleseat expand to allow anyone to use its technology to set up a page to advertise services, such as office hours, resume reviews, or even a game of backgammon.
This past summer, Lane Becker and I were hanging out in Boulder (Yes, Lane leaves SF), and talking about ways to help motivate employees (rousing discussion; I know.). “Have you seen Foodspotting?” Lane asked. He proceeds to tell me about how Alexa, while at Adaptive Path, came up with the idea. She continued to work on it while at Adaptive Path, never missing a deadline, until Foodspotting became…well, something…and she left to give it a go. I met Alexa while speaking at a conference in SF, and she had such positive energy around an app that was basically a way to take pictures of food.
Since then, she brought on Soraya Darabi, as the third founder (and I think moved the company HQ to NYC), and the team has landed deals with the Travel Channel among others. Time named them one of the best sites of 2010. More than 500,000 people have downloaded their iPhone app.
- Geolocation + Food = 400,000 Users for Foodspotting (mashable.com)
- 2011 may mark the beginning of a golden era for entrepreneurs (venturebeat.com)
- Why I hate Dave McClure and Why I Love VCs (geekypeek.com)
- Seed stage investment bubble? (dondodge.typepad.com)
- CEO by day. Derby Doll By Night. (blogs.forbes.com)