Vitaly M. Golomb
Keynote Speaker // Entrepreneur // Investor
Vitaly M. Golomb is Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur, investor, author, and sought-after public speaker. He’s been involved with startups since the age of 13 and travels to over 20 countries every year mentoring the next generation of entrepreneurs. Vitaly is an award-winning designer and has guest lectured at Stanford, UC Berkeley and other universities around the world on entrepreneurship, innovation, and design. He has founded and exited multiple companies and raised millions in venture capital. (full bio)
This article originally appeared on TechCrunch on July 11th, 2015
It’s no secret that most startups fail. What’s a bit less obvious is that most startup accelerators also fail. While a few top-tier programs get the cream of the crop unicorns of the future, the hundreds of others struggle to attract teams that will produce the investment-grade companies on which their models so depend.
Over the weekend my article on TechCrunch on how accelerators are the new business school seemed to hit a good nerve. Coincidentally, it went live as I’m serving mentor duty at The European Innovation Academy, a unique, three week extreme accelerator program in Nice, France. Over 400 students from five continents have descended on University of Nice Sofia Antipolis campus to form teams with strangers, mash up their ideas, launch over 70 products, and race to 1,000 users. All in just 3 weeks. They are assisted by over 50 international mentors from business, venture capital, and academia.
It may seem impossible to produce anything of value in such a short period of time, but I submit to you the four teams under my wing: three were conceptualized and built from scratch since July 6th and one existing that made a major pivot with the help of new team members. Next week they will compete to be in the top-10 to pitch for real funding in front of a panel of VCs.
Since the second coming of startups began a few years ago, I’ve visited dozens of countries, presented to thousands of founders in keynotes and workshops, and mentored a couple of hundred one-on-one. Early in a startup’s lifecycle the most pressing questions always seem to be around fund raising. Unfortunately, most of these conversations also come with a sense of desperation where the founders are ready to sell their soul to the devil just to see their dreams come true.
From the only kind of experience that truly matters, personal, I can tell you that not all money is created equal. Most first time founders may think that all they need is the cash. In reality, this early money dries up MUCH faster than one might expect and having wrong investors on board will provide zero value in stressful situations, will likely just delay your startup’s death, AND waste your non-refundable lifetime in the process. It is crucial to take on investors who can and will help with experienced advice, connections, and personal empathy as you go through this near impossible startup journey.
Take heed, here are the types of investors to avoid at all costs… even if it means abandoning your startup with no other financing alternatives. After all, you only live once and have a limited time to become successful.