I thought I’d write this post to recap the first 72 hours of launching the New Platforms Fund thru Herman blackbook. Upon waking up this past Friday morning, we received front page coverage on TechCrunch with a less than stellar headline and then became top billing on Mashable. Upon logging onto Twitter, started receiving DM’s from friends and folks I’ve never met with strong support for both the New Platforms Fund and Herman blackbook.
The initial gut reaction that most people had to the fund, as illustrated on TechCrunch, was in some cases negative, as $1-3k investments are in themselves, small. Yes, that amount of money is extremely small, but what we’re trying to fund are simple applications of technologies off of innovative platforms from the napkin or alpha stage. Beyond the dollar, we’re offering our network of Herman blackbook, which has been billed behind closed doors as the next generation of Allen & Co.
The response has been tremendous. Within 12 hours, we had over 40 serious submissions ranging from from applications on Twitter, the iPhone, Android, and the Google API. There were some miscellaneous submissions but we discarded them as they didn’t reside on a platform. As of writing this on 6pm on Sunday afternoon, we have doubled our submissions and are combing through each one in-depth.
I also had several members of the press reach out to me and spoke to them about the vision of what Hb and the New Platforms Fund has. The press, most notably some of the top financial periodicals and tech reporters of industry mags were asking me about why we chose to fund companies that do not own the platform in which they are building upon. Very valid question and I used to wrestle with this as well. My standpoint is that a rising tide raises all ships – meaning, we can make a platform more valuable by building on top of it. No one ever said that innovation comes without risks.
We finished going through the first 50 ideas submitted and have written down why we aren’t going to be moving forward with many of them. I thought it would be beneficial to all entrepreneurs out there to see why ideas may be rejected as this is a great learning experience. These are posted on Hb, but I’ve also pasted here:
- We do not have any existing domain knowledge in the particular market of which these ideas/concepts were submitted. The power of Hb is more than just money; it’s our network and experience. If we fund certain ideas, we want to ensure that they have the best opportunity to succeed.
- Not a big idea. Some of the ideas we’ve seen are just not big enough in terms of opportunity.
- Competitive environment. The market which the ideas/concept fall into are crowded and we’d rather place our bets in a less crowded space.
- Market opportunity is limited. If we need to approach the market with only a 3 month window to generate revenue, we are most likely to pass.
- Idea doesn’t sit ontop of a platform. Our fund is all about being part of an ecosystem and platforms such as Boxee, Appnexus, Twitter, etc. Your idea should sit on top of a platform.
- Explanation of idea was not clear from the description.
- While we are investing in ideas and concepts, we couldn’t figure out the business application for it.
- As much as we love video games, film, and music, we don’t invest in specific projects such as a new game, movie, or band. We will however invest in services around an industry. We try to stay away from very hit driven businesses.
- No barriers to entry into the market.
- Who is the team leader? Should have experience relevant to the idea.
- Lastly, not within the funds scope.
Each bullet point above is at least a blog post in itself. Feel free to comment and I’ll respond in-depth if you want to learn more.
Looking forward to more submissions and making the Hb process a learning experience for everyone.