“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders.

Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

“As for the future, your task is not to forsee it, but to enable it.”

from The Wisdom of the Sands by Antoine de Saint – Exupery

SkillSlate Raises $1.1 Million in Funding

Investment co-led by Canaan Partners and First Round Capital

New York, NY – October 20, 2010 – SkillSlate (http://www.skillslate.com), a website for easily finding individual service providers such as tutors, dog walkers, and personal trainers, today announced the closing of its first round of institutional capital, co-led by Canaan Partners and First Round Capital, along with participation from a number of prominentNY-angel investors, including Jason Finger (Founder &Former CEO of SeamlessWeb), John Caplan (Founder & CEO of The OpenSky Project), John Goldsmith (Board Member of Gerson Lehrman Group), Kal Vepuri, Josh Abramowitz, and Matthew Grodin.

SkillSlate helps consumers find individual service providers online, enabling users to search thousands of business profile pages complete with pictures, prices and reviews. These one-person businesses often provide great service at highly competitive prices, but, until SkillSlate, have been hard to find online. Many individual service providers lack a web presence – and are thus underrepresented in search engines,where 82% of people look for local services. SkillSlate’s technologyensures service providers’ pages surface highly in search engine queries, driving greater web visibility for their services and helping more potential customers find them.

“Fifteen percent of the US workforce is individually employed, yet they are underrepresented on the Internet. SkillSlate gives individual service providers a way tomore effectively market themselves to consumers. With the support and guidance of Canaan and First Round Capital, we can now move forward in executing our vision,” said Bartek Ringwelski, co-founder of SkillSlate.
SkillSlate allows consumers to easily filter through individual service providers to find the ones that exactly match the criteria they’re looking for. To build out these filtering tools, the company has taken a focused approach with regard to both service type and geography, ensuring there are a sufficient number of service providers for consumers to receive relevant search results in their area.SkillSlate is currently focused on the greater New York metropolitan region, but plans to expand nationally in the future.

“Although individual service providers tend to be less expensive than companies, finding them online isn’t easy. Search engines tend to favor larger, more established companies, while classified sites don’t give consumers any specific criteria about the people providing services,” saidDan Ciporin, Venture Partner at Canaan Partners. “SkillSlate makes it easy for consumers to find detailed information about service providers by emphasizing pictures, prices, and reviews. Equally important, SkillSlate gives these self-employed individuals the search engine visibility they need in order to be found where a vast number of consumers are looking.”

SkillSlate recently re-launched its site with 3,500 service providers in 10 service categories throughout the New York City area. The company will use this round of funding for technology development and to expand its service category breadth and depth.

“Skillslate will provide value to both buyers and sellers of local services by reducing friction in the discovery and quality assessment process. Their unique approach solves a real problem for both sides of this large and inefficient market,” said Phineas Barnes, Principal at First Round Capital.

About SkillSlate

SkillSlate allows consumers to easily find local individual service providers like tutors, dog walkers, and personal trainers. SkillSlate aims to empower the more than 16 million individual service providers in the US to more effectively market their services directly to consumers online. SkillSlate provides detailed professional and personal information including pictures, fees, and reviews within a searchable, sortable directory where consumers can find service providers that fit their specific needs.

About Canaan Partners
Canaan Partners invests in visionary entrepreneurs and provides them the networks, insights and operational guidance required to build high-performance technology and healthcare companies. Founded in 1987, the firm has raised eight funds and completed more than 78 acquisitions and 53 IPOs. With $3 billion under management and a worldwide footprint, the firm is committed to catalyzing the growth of innovative digital media, communications & mobility, enterprise and clean tech companies. Among its successes are Associated Content, the people’s media company; VOIP equipment supplier Acme Packet; CommerceOne, the company that pioneered B2B ecommerce; DoubleClick, the leading online advertising solution; Match.com, the most popular online dating site in the world; and SuccessFactors, the global leader in on-demand performance and talent management solutions. Other Canaan investments include 3Crowd, Active Networks, blip.tv, Blurb, Cardlytics, iYogi, KABAM, Lending Club, ON24, OpenSky, Prime Sense, SOASTA, Tremor Media and Zoosk. Canaan maintains a presence in California, Connecticut, India and Israel. For more information visit www.canaan.com.

About First Round Capital
First Round Capital is a seed stage fund dedicated to helping talented entrepreneurs build remarkable companies. Often providing a company’s first outside capital, the team at First Round likes to take an active role and work with the founders to launch a new product or service. First Round Capital invests nationally and has offices in San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia.

This comes directly from Paul’s http://www.paulgraham.com/startupmistakes.html

18. A Half-Hearted Effort

The failed startups you hear most about are the spectactular flameouts. Those are actually the elite of failures. The most common type is not the one that makes spectacular mistakes, but the one that doesn’t do much of anything—the one we never even hear about, because it was some project a couple guys started on the side while working on their day jobs, but which never got anywhere and was gradually abandoned.

Statistically, if you want to avoid failure, it would seem like the most important thing is to quit your day job. Most founders of failed startups don’t quit their day jobs, and most founders of successful ones do. If startup failure were a disease, the CDC would be issuing bulletins warning people to avoid day jobs.

Does that mean you should quit your day job? Not necessarily. I’m guessing here, but I’d guess that many of these would-be founders may not have the kind of determination it takes to start a company, and that in the back of their minds, they know it. The reason they don’t invest more time in their startup is that they know it’s a bad investment. [12]

I’d also guess there’s some band of people who could have succeeded if they’d taken the leap and done it full-time, but didn’t. I have no idea how wide this band is, but if the winner/borderline/hopeless progression has the sort of distribution you’d expect, the number of people who could have made it, if they’d quit their day job, is probably an order of magnitude larger than the number who do make it. [13]

If that’s true, most startups that could succeed fail because the founders don’t devote their whole efforts to them. That certainly accords with what I see out in the world. Most startups fail because they don’t make something people want, and the reason most don’t is that they don’t try hard enough.

In other words, starting startups is just like everything else. The biggest mistake you can make is not to try hard enough. To the extent there’s a secret to success, it’s not to be in denial about that.

Man in the Arena

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”