How ready are you to die for an ideal?

In preparing for some upcoming InvestedIn press about the impending launch of INV.ST, I started to take a bit of an inventory of where and when I want to make some announcements.  When I came to this blog, I had 2 interesting realizations:

  1. There are more DRAFT posts on this blog than actual posts.
  2. I didn’t post once in 2014.

Some of the drafts are actually pretty interesting and compelling (how’s that for being full of myself?), and the main reason that they are still drafts is because they are incomplete.  The reasons for that?  Mostly just being too busy running a business and growing my family…or at least that’s what I tell myself.  The bigger more interesting fact, is that when I started writing some of the posts, I was inspired through frustration.  I would get home from a meeting, an event or a long day at work and “rant” to myself  on this blog in the wee hours of night (like I’m doing now) after everyone in the house was asleep and I was done with the nights work.  The next day when it came to complete and publish the post I would almost always wuss out of posting it because I was afraid to offend some person or group…which is interesting, because I pride myself on being extremely honest in person, and I think that I am mostly that way.  I think it’s one of the reasons I get asked to speak at so many crowdfunding/tech conferences.  You ask me a question, and you’ll get my opinion.  I’m calling myself out on this one.

To address the second realization, I believe it really mostly is being busy.  This last year was an insane one for me personally, and for InvestedIn.  Growing family and growing business = Alon not answering questions on quora or blogging.  Let’s change that for 2015.

I think that when I engage my peers (friends and family) through this blog (and my newsletter), it not only helps me with my business (in various ways), but also helps others.

So I am asking for your help.  Comment with topics and/or things you want me to write about.  Vote up your favorite suggestions.  I’ll try to knock them down one at a time and lets see what I can do.  If I start to slow down, call me on it!

***UPDATE!!:  On a suggestion from another 805er, I am going to take one or more of these topics and also set up a local event with a talk / panel to teach and discuss.  Please add more suggestions and vote your favorites.

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2014 – The Birth of Crowdfunding

If the Crowdfunding industry was a child, inception till now would have been the first trimester of pregnancy. The industry is not only still “baking”, we can’t even tell the sex of the baby. We haven’t yet told anyone outside our immediate family the exciting news. Haven’t even picked out the name, or the crib, or the theme for the baby’s room. You get it.

2014 will be full of terrifying, taxing and trying times that will be overshadowed by the wins, the excitement and the promise of the future. Those of us that are a part of this industry are prideful, hopeful and positively charged by the promise that this industry, nay, revolution has.

In 2014 we’ll all witness the birth of something beautiful. Something meaningful. Something powerful. With all the potential in the world.

Let’s not eff this up. It takes a village.

Crowdfunding still looks like a shrimp on the ultrasound.

Crowdfunding still looks like a shrimp on the ultrasound.

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If I want to change the world, it’s gotta start with me.

I’ve been working on online fundraising tools for years now. I’ve learned a lot and it’s been really great…but most of the time I’ve just been pissed off.  Pissed off at limitations, pissed off at shitty, ugly products, and mostly just angry that companies have the balls to charge an arm and a leg to charities and individuals whose funds would be better spent on research and their supporting communities.  I’m definitely not against making money.  I think in most cases it’s necessary to providing quality tools and products. (different argument…tangent)  The main thing that gets me going is that non-profits feel they have no choice but to use some of these offensively expensive, mediocre products…partly because of their lack of technical expertise, and partly because of the lack of good choices (among many other reasons).

I’m hoping to change that.

I’m so excited to announce that Invested.in has finally launched Good Clean Fund – http://goodcleanfund.com.

Good Clean Fund is about fairness.
Good Clean Fund is about beauty.
Good Clean Fund is about quality.
Good Clean Fund is about technology.
Good Clean Fund is about fundraising.
Good Clean Fund is about love.
Good Clean Fund is currently free.
Good Clean Fund is NOT about nickel and dime-ing anyone.
And I’m hoping that…
Good Clean Fund will serve as a big FUCK YOU to the status quo.

I’d love for you to check it out, and I’d love your feedback.  Nothing is ever perfect and we’re constantly making improvements.

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Business Rockstars segment on crowdfunding and why @AmplifyLA rules.

I’ve been meaning to write a full blog post about my experience at Amplify, but I’ve been too busy.  I’ll get around to it soon.  Until then, in this segment I did on the radio I talk a little bit about why Amplify rules.

This is my first segment on Business Rockstars repping Invested.in, talking about Crowdfunding and Startup Accelerators.

Full episode: http://businessrockstars.com/br/2012/10/business-rockstars-ep93-wed-1024/

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I’ll choose my own shit scene.

This is why the internet rules…this is something that I wrote a long time ago that really should fall under the heading of “no shit”.  Anyway, thought I would post it here since I haven’t written in a while.

At Thousand Oaks High School there were about 30 punk rockers*. That was out of about 2,500 students. We were all into different sub-genres, but when you’ve got a small core of people like that, you all bundle yourselves up and that’s your scene. We’d all go to the same shows, and the same kids would cycle through the various bands. Great. 30 kids. Can you really call that a scene, or just some kind of local gang or group?

At some point toward the second half of high school, when my friends and I started driving, we’d venture outside of our town and go to some other shows. We’d mix with kids from other schools and you would realize that there were more punk rockers around and the scene you were a part of grew by leaps and bounds. Basically, you took those 30 kids, multiplied them by the amount of local schools, added some older guys and girls, maybe a few younger ones, and now you’re one in a thousand…or more. You could feel like you were a part of something huge.

Now, there’s the internet. Holy crap. If a local band could get their demo to 100 kids at a local show that came from the 6 closest schools, imagine that your core 30 kids were now connected with not only the 6 closest schools, but every single school in the world. The United States has around 40,000 high schools in it. If each of those schools had 30 punkers, you’d now have a reach of about 1.2 MILLION punk rockers in the United States alone. And that is just in high school. The average local band could now have their demo heard by thousands the same day they recorded it. Insane.

The lesson here? No matter how small an idea, or how obscure a product, service or anything is…it’s 2012. You can find interested people. Do what you want. There ARE others who will be interested. You can find them.

*All the numbers on this post are off the top of my head and for demonstration only.  Why the eff would you hold me to them, anyway?!
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How we got 400+ followers on AngelList before ever raising a round…

A lot of people have been asking me to help them build up their AngelList following, so I thought I would put this blog post together.  Please let me know if you have any other tips in the comments section!

I started building our following on AngelList when our buddies at NetPlenish told me about how valuable it was for them and gave me some tips.  I figured that it couldn’t hurt to start building a following, even if we weren’t ready to raise a round yet.  So I followed their advice and dug in a little.

As I started building our following, I started making great connections and getting great meetings.  These connections consisted of great bizdev leads, intros to investors, and good connections to other entrepreneurs.  I was hooked.

Here’s a checklist off the top of my head of the things I did to build our AngelList following:
  • Goto angel.co/social and follow friends.
  • Follow your favorite startups.
  • Fill out your shit.  Personal AND Startup. (Make sure your co-founders do the same!)
    • Don’t leave stuff blank.
    • Add your team, advisors, investors and incubators to your profile.  EVERYONE.
    • Try setting the referrer for your startup to someone who is not related otherwise (someone you won’t add as an investor/advisor/employee).  Try someone who has a bunch of followers and would be willing to pimp you out.  Feel free to use me.  ;-)
    • Add multiple markets and locations. (More places to be discovered.)
  • Post an update at least once a week.  Brag.  @Mention your startup on your personal posts.
  • Share your profile on Twitter and Linkedin.
  • TELL PEOPLE TO SHARE YOUR STARTUP!  Don’t be shy about it.  See the text below that I use.
    • Send it to your email list.  Send it to people you know on AL.
    • Share startups and ask them to return the favor.
  • Post really big news as a comment on your profile.  This gets sent out.  Don’t do this too often.  Maybe once a month.  You don’t want it to overpower the comments that were made by investors and advisors.
  • Hit the “Like” button on comments about you, have your co-founders do it too.  This used to post it back into the top of the timeline.  Not sure if it still does, but couldn’t hurt.
  • Engage.  Send emails through AL, post comments, post updates.  Have your face show up everywhere.
    • One thing I did at the beginning, was message everyone who followed my personal page, with a link to the invested.in page and asked them to follow.  You can power through it by opening a ton of tabs and using cut/paste.
  • BE PERSISTENT!

It really helps our ranking and showcases us on AL when people “Share” us.  Could you go in and do that for us real quick?  It only takes a second.

Goto:  http://angel.co/invested-in
Click on the “Share” button on the upper right corner.
Click in the “To:” field and change it to “All Followers”.
Click “Send”.
No need to write a note or anything.

Again, if you have any tips I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear them in the comments.  If you’re interested in reading a much longer, way too wordy blog post I wrote about promo, and building a crowd, check it out here.
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Everything you give leaves a mark on your soul

Excited to be helping Kelly and Francis from The Joyful Activist, and Whole Foods in Venice fundraise to feed the homeless.  Over the next few weeks, the campaign will get customized and updated. Check back!

 

Free Hot Breakfast for the Homeless in Venice!
Free Hot Breakfast for the Homeless in Venice! (by Invested.In)

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…and I’m gonna use my mind

my desk at amplify.la

I’ll Call You on Your Shit. Please Call Me on Mine.

by Mike Arnesen

Mike Arnesen Guitar

About the Author

Mike Arnesen is an SEO Specialist at SwellPath in Portland, Oregon. Punk rock credentials include guitar and backup vocals for California Redemption and Future Primitive.

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Somewhere along the line, we all start to believe our own bullshit. Most of the time, it’s because we don’t have anyone bold enough to call us out and challenge us. We may not have people around who are kind enough to remind us that, in fact, we don’t know everything about our respective specialties/industries. Sometimes we do have those helpful people, but we’ve either built or were born with the unique ability to tune it out.

Well, one thing I’ve learned over the years is the importance of getting called out. One option for getting called out is to wait until someone else does it for you. However, my preference is for us to do it ourselves. Yeah, call yourself on your own shit. Continue reading

The pressure builds up day by day…

As most of you know, I am doing a FitFunder fundraiser for charity.  So far, it’s great!  As of right now, I’ve raise $409 from 22 supporters, gone on a couple great hikes, some insane bike rides and a short run.

The only scary part, is that if I don’t reach my goal of running/hiking/biking 100 miles by the end of the month, none of the pledges go through.  So far I’m at 44.2 miles, which means I’m about 14 miles behind!  Gonna make it up this weekend!

If you’ve got a minute, please check out the fundraiser:  http://fitfunder.com/100-miles-for-charity

Pics from the hikes:

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