In 2010 I was transitioning from New York City to San Francisco to help my buddy Jim with his startup and launch a sales tool called Feedgen. Jim and his co-founders were participating in the first ever class of a new startup accelerator called Angelpad. Jim said some very solid things about the program and it’s mentors so I decided to apply, was accepted, and completed the program.
My team and I were not able to raise money and it’s safe to say that we failed, however it was a learning experience nonetheless.
Jack Smith is one of the top startup advisors in the world. He’s originally from London, UK and has been living in Silicon Valley for half a decade and has founded companies Vungle and has help launched many popular startups like Coin, Survios, and Onfleet.
I first met Jack in 2011 through Thomas Korte’s Angelpad startup incubator. He was launching Vungle (currently a top adtech company) and I was doing a sales tool startup called Feedgen (which failed).
I pinged Jack recently and I picked his brain. Here’s the interview:
This post is in acknowledgement of my very dear friend Aslam Najeebdeen.
Why? — because we must acknowledge and support people in our lives — for no reason at all. Love and help others and good things will happen.
I met Aslam in early 2011 via a Ruby on Rails IRC chat room while trying to find software development help. I was one of the founders of a startup called Feedgen, which we were incubating at SF-based Angelpad. We had just raised a little money, but not enough to hire engineering help in Silicon Valley so we went offshore — Aslam was based in Sri Lanka. At first I didn’t interact much with Aslam because he was doing mostly front-end CSS, HTML, etc — and my co-founders were handling that stuff. I do remember our Skype interview and couldn’t help but feel that this guy was special.
I arrived in Silicon Valley for the first time in 2006 when trying to raise money for a social travel startup that my partner and I bootstrapped from my graduate school apartment in Tallahassee, FL. We had decided to pack up and head to the “motherland” to try to raise money and recruit engineers. I remember trying to find engineers to work on equity cause we had no money and VCs at the time were not buying our argument.
Since those days we have both learned a heck of a lot and have both gone through success acquisitions; he was at Mint.com that sold to Intuit and myself at MoPub which sold to Twitter.
For as long as I could remember, I have been obsessed with entrepreneurship and startups. Over the last 12 years, I can’t recall a day that has gone by that I have not at least thought about this topic. However, what I have also learned is that no matter how much “success” you seem to have, it’s never enough.
For me I’ve always had some startup idea to dive head first into and kinda ignore the other aspects of life. What’s crazy is that I never really understood the power of having a balanced life. And that life really is…well, has to be bigger than just business. I began to truly understand this after my startup Feedgen went under in 2011.
I was a participant in the Spring 2011 Angelpad class, which happened to be the 2nd class conducted since the program was founded summer of 2010. My view on the program was perhaps a tad different from some of the other founders. I was about to be 30 years old and had spent my entire 20’s trying to build my own companies. In fact, since my junior year of undergrad, I have done everything from door-to-door sales to running a nightclub promotions company to launching a travel-based social network called myTripz.com; which by the way, was largely funded by my mother taking a second mortgage on her house, just to give me enough to cash to bootstrap the company (I love you mom!)… Angelpad was a complete no-brainer for me. I figure it was just what the doctor ordered — luckily was I right.
There are a few things that I think Angelpad really did well:
• Mentors: Every start up typically finds a particular mentor that they essentially bond with. This mentor really starts to get close to the team and provides very granular advice.
• Social Proof: Thomas Korte is a great marketer. Between his connections and the brand he has built in a short period of time, it was very clear to us that doors would open if we built something that was compelling and performed well as a team.
• Product Market Fit: As several other founders have suggested, Angelpad focuses heavily on building the right product, at the right time.
• Connections: Based on participating in the program my network has grown tremendously.
The @mopub team is awesome. I believe this is the next big thing on the horizon. Great leadership and talent coupled with a fun environment (check out their facebook page — do I see Mopub promo models?!) is a winning story.
Now I must admit that I am pretty close to the management team. I’ve known them for a while and have always known they would do something great. The thing is that I am NOT just supporting a bunch of friends; I honestly believe that Mopub will emerge as one of the leaders in its space. The market is for the taking and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. The cool thing about Mopub is that they are a bunch of ex-Admob and ex-Google guys who really understand the space; in fact help helped define it and are now taking it to the next level.
I’m definitely excited to see what CEO Jim Payne and crew are working on over the next few months. Knowing these guys, it should awesome.