Women 2.0 Conference – The Rest Of The Story
May 16 2008

So here’s the rest of my Women 2.0 Conference story.  If you want to see tons of pictures (which sadly I and my deep pink Banana Republic shirt don’t appear) please check out the official Women 2.0 Conference Wrap Up post.  You can also see Sophia Perl’s (another semi-finalist) post on it here.

Friday – May 9, 2008
I took my rented yellow car and drove around the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area to meet some people.  I met Jeff Nolan, who was one of the venture investors in my first company, for lunch at a place called Buck’s.  We only just got to know each other while at my last company before I left, but he seemed to be one of the good guys.  I mentioned him in a post I did about angels and venture capitalists a while back.  We might get to work together again and this time in hopefully a more creative and collaborative way.

I tried to meet up with Guy Kawasaki later that afternoon but he had something mildly important to do like make some sort of silly book submission deadline, so we traded tweets and emails instead.  Then I went to the Stanford mall.  I’m not a big shopper, but since I had a few hours to kill, and my husband wanted me to get him a Stanford t-shirt (It’s one of his alma-maters) I wandered around a bit and read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, but was not feeling in the “now” at the time so didn’t make much progress.  So I got some hot chocolate, my rings cleaned, and happened to find a couple of light-weight jackets at really good sale prices to protect me from the Bay Area cool evenings!

Later I had the pleasure of meeting up with Maryam Scoble for wine and fabulous brie with a flakey crust. Yum! Maryam and I met through our blogs.  I initially heard about her and her husband Robert Scoble from our very own Austin based Connie Reece.  Robert even did a Qik video of me at SXSW but I don’t think that many pregnant moms or parents with newborn babies, preemies or twins are watching those videos.  Go figure!

Saturday – May 10, 2008 (conference day)

You can see the agenda for the conference here.  It was an interesting day in a tent near the Stanford golf course.  Walking in grass was a challenge for many of us who were wearing heels.  Those wearing pointed heels especially suffered by sinking into the grass/dirt, but since I would trip and fall on my face in pointed heels, I wear more flat ones.

The most interesting sound bites, in my opinion, came from the Power Panel: “Igniting the spark through strategies taught and lessons learned”

Terri Ghio, Unique Solutions and TBS Connect said: Make sure you have an audience, a secret sauce, strategic alliances, and ability to build the blocks and barriers for success.

Amy Love, Protégé Performance Group said: Build an inner circle, share your dream, think big, and have the confidence & energy to move forward.

Dr. Jwala Karnik, JwalaCo said: Be open to inspiration, tell people what you want to do, and just take the first step!

Dr. Maggie Haertsch, VOICEMAP said: Have passion and be totally committed, focused, and fearless!

Pat McEntee, AuxoGlobal said: Women entrepreneurs are different and that’s OK.  Women look at things they want to spend their time on differently.  Women build different companies. The fact that many retail companies are currently dominated by men is not going to last long, but women should build companies that men feel comfortable in.  By the way, Pat is a guy!

I mentioned the winners of the napkin business plan challenge in my yellow car post, so I won’t mention it here again, but I did want to mention one company and founder who was on one of the panels: Erica Estrada of d.light design.  She is impressive and her company is very cool!  They make affordable, small, solar power lighting units for people in third world countries who have no access to electricity.  So the kids in who live in shacks can study/read after dark and parents can cook or work after dark without having to use a kerosene lamp that not only stinks and has to be bad for your lungs, but also doesn’t last very long.  I really do wish her and her company great luck, good partners, fabulous investors and perfect timing!

I ended the day by eating sushi with the friends I was staying with.  They even took a picture of me (see below) drinking this huge cup of sake! The waitress finished the bottle on me, so the sake overflowed into its holding bowl.  I was glad I wasn’t the one driving us home in my rented yellow car. :-D

Coming soon I’ll post an update on my SEO experiences, so you might want to subscribe to read more about the birth pains of a web business.  It’s not pretty.

 

Author: | Filed under: competition, conferences, diversity, entrepreneurship, venture capital | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Johnson & Johnson Invited Me to Baby Camp!
Apr 7 2008

jjbabycamp.gif

So if you are plugged into the blogosphere you no doubt heard about Johnson & Johnson’s baby camp.  I was one of the lucky ones invited but either a) my email filter ate the first round of invites or b) I was one of the mommy bloggers who was added to the list later. So by the time I got the invite and responded, they were already full…plus I couldn’t go anyway.

I did want to blog about it when I first got the invite but since I wasn’t able to attend, I didn’t want the world to know why I couldn’t attend.  All were good reasons: 1) my husband was out of town, 2) my cousin and family were visiting from New York on a trip planned quite some time ago, and 3) they were full.

I haven’t read a lot about the outcome of the camp yet.  A few posts on the blog storm about the invite process, who was not invited, the fact that babies weren’t allowed to come, and why some were uninvited because of various reasons including they were attending the BlogHer business conference or were nursing can be read here:

Queen of SpainSo you want to talk to mommy bloggers?

City MamaNeeded something to talk about at the BlogHer conference.

Maryam ScobleFirst Night and Going to Camp

Mom 101Johnson & Johnson Baby Gate

Robert ScobleJ&J ‘breaks into jail’ with baby camp (check out the comments on this one for a nice letter from J&J trying to explain the situation)

I have met in person or communicated via email with all of the above bloggers except for one.  I’m anxious to see what happened at the camp.  Right now when I type in “Johnson & Johnson Baby Camp” into Google I only see links on the first page to posts about how they mishandled the invitation process.  I’m anticipating that they ‘saved face’ at the camp and the bloggers who attended will have much to share with us when they have a chance to write about it.  The coordinators said they would send me information after it was over so I’ll most likely do another post on this soon.

Overall, I think it was a great move on J&J’s part to make a visible first step to ‘friend’ the mommy bloggers.  Yes, they made a few mistakes but, just like starting a new business, trial & error is part of the game. If they learn from their mistakes, I’m sure it will all end up on a positive note!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, networking, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

SXSW Interactive – Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Mar 12 2008

Yesterday was the last day of SXSW Interactive and I have practically a desk full of business cards.  Our son came yesterday (yes, it’s Spring Break here) for part of it as well but went with husband this time to a panel he attended.  I was only able to make one panel yesterday and spent the rest of the time networking.  Check out my posts on events I attended on Sunday (including my take on the Zuckerberg/facebook interview) and Monday.

Robert Scoble even did an interview of me that was posted to Qik but for some strange reason (due to the 3G connection) it got broken down to 16 different few second clips.  Here’s the first one, here’s a middle one, and here’s the last clip.  They are going to try to see if they can string it together, but it’s looking doubtful.  Guess that means we’ll have to do a more official one next time!

UPDATE: Qik was able to string pieces of the video together and you can see it HERE.  Once they get Robert’s phone, they will see if they can fill in some of the missing gaps using the files on his phone.  Once they do that, I’ll embed the video in a future blog post.

The Insiders Guide to Angel Investing
angel_button_frame.jpgThis panel was not really a panel because the only speaker was David Rose.  David is the founder of New York Angels and Angelsoft, a software application that helps angel investing groups manage plans received by entrepreneurs.  He had some great info on angels and angel investing.  He mentioned that he would make his slide-show presentation available and I will update this post if and when he sends the link, but here are some highlights:

  • There are 600K new companies started each year.  Of those 350K are self-funded, 200K are funded by friends and family, 50K by Angel investors, and a mere 1200 by venture capitalists.
  • Angels are generally about 57 years old, they have a master’s degree, 15 years of entrepreneurial experience, have been involved with and/or started on average 2.7 ventures.
  • To be an accredited investor you must have $1 million in assets and have to have made $200K of annual revenue for the past 2 years.
  • The average angel investor has spent 9 years investing, had done 10 investments, had 2 exits (profitable or lost their money), and 10% of their wealth is tied up in angel investments.
  • Angels look for companies with Scalable Business Models, an “Unfair Advantage,” a Great Entrepreneur, External Validation, Low Investment Requirement, Reasonable Valuation ($1 to $3 million pre-money range),  and a 20 to 30 times return on their investment within 5 to 7 years.
  • The single most important characteristic an Angel investor looks for in an entrepreneur is Integrity.  Then they look for Passion, Experience, Knowledge, Skill, Leadership, Commitment, Vision, Realism, and Coachability.

David said most angel investors don’t end up making a ton of money from angel investing.  In fact most lose money.  Many invest because they want to give back and help other entrepreneurs.  He even offered us a joke that goes like this:  How do you make a small fortune angel investing? You have to make a large fortune first! :-)

He then went on to talk about the process of applying to an Angel network and described what the entrepreneur as well as the Angel investor sees if they are using the Angelsoft software application tool.  If you are an entrepreneur, he suggested you submit your plan at www.angelsoft.net/entrepreneurs.   They will soon be launching a site called Open Deals where entrepreneurs who don’t have access to a local angel group can submit their plan.  For a full list of angel groups, check out the Angel Capital Association site and their directory of angel groups.

All in all, I had a great time at SXSWi.  I look forward to attending next year and maybe even being a panelist!

Author: | Filed under: angels, conferences, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, fundraising, new york city, venture capital | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

SXSW Interactive – Monday, March 10, 2008
Mar 10 2008

It’s been a long, fun filled day at SXSW Interactive today.  So this post won’t be as meaty as my previous SXSW post.  I met tons of people today and many people who know me and who I know from twitter.  It was so cool to have so many people come up to me and say, ‘hey, aren’t you @aruni on twitter?’  I guess I kind of stand out in a crowd. :-)  I probably gained about 30 followers just from tweeting about the panels I attended.  Here’s a quick overview because honestly I’m kinda worn out:

The Care and Feeding of Your Startup
This panel was made up of some local entrepreneurs from Unwired Nation as well as a venture capitalist from Texas based DFJ Mercury and a couple of others.  Some key insights:

  • Someone needs to serve as the “Belief Engine” for your startup which I took to mean the “evangelist” but I thought that was a unique way of saying it.
  • Make sure your product fits into your users way of life and they don’t have to drastically change what they are doing
  • Understand if your concept is a feature or a business.  It could be a feature that expands into a business.
  • You should aim to exceed investor’s expectations.
  • 9 out of 10 entrepreneurs can’t go the distance so they really should identify a strong mentor.
  • Make sure the people you hire have ‘karmic velcro’ which means they have the fortitude to stick around when the going gets tough.
  • There are 3 key people you need in a start-up.  1 in charge of product, 1 handling business development who can close the early deals, and 1 evangelist.
  • It’s not appropriate to go to VCs in the first 2 years of a business, because in the first 2 years you are still assessing the market risk.  Almost all the VC deals that occurred with Web companies in early stage have not worked out and they are struggling to get their money back.
  • Keep two sets of books.  One you show your investors and one with even more aggressive numbers that you aim for internally.

True Stories from Social Media Sites

This panel was moderated by Guy Kawasaki, who was so kind to put my blog near the top of his new AllTop Moms site.  It was notably a panel of 5 women and 1 guy.  Two of the women were twitter pals so when I got up to ask a question and say ‘hi’ one of them was tweeting about me.

I had my son with me at this panel because he’s home for Spring Break so I wasn’t able to take a lot of notes or do many tweets because half way through he wanted to play a game on my phone!  He actually did really well, scribbled a bit, and then drew a funny looking dinosaur who he felt the need to show was pooping.  Such a funny kid!  He wanted me to go up to the mic and say something, but when I tried to get him to come with me, he got shy…he is only afterall 5 1/2.

The panelists discussed their great and not-so-great experiences using social media.  What funny and sometimes unbelievable stories they shared!

I met up with my husband after that panel and we took our son for a late lunch at Bennigan’s and then he took him home, and I went to the BlogHaus to network with more bloggers.

Online Adulation: Use Don’t Abuse Your Fans

This panel had an editor from CNET as moderator and some pretty fabulous bloggers including the infamous Dooce whose current post is called Fueled Entirely by Advil.  

I was sitting next to Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home during this panel and she was twittering away.  She had her laptop so she could do it much faster than I could so I let her take over so go read her twitter stream if you want to read all about it.

Went back to the Bloghaus after this panel and met none other than Darren Rowse (aka Problogger).  Someone took a picture of us and said he’d email it to me so I’ll post it when I get it…assuming he remembers.

Conversation Starters

This event was hosted by DELL and Federated Media and they booked the entire Iron Cactus restaurant on 6th and Trinity.  Richard at DELL was the lead blogging rep from DELL, who I had met a few weeks earlier at an Austin Tweet Up.

Because I’m twitter friends with Kim Haynes, I volunteered to help with registration since it was an RSVP only event.  Of course, that meant I had access to extra drink tickets and people wanted to get to know me! 

The key speakers were top blogger and FastCompany.tv producer Robert Scoble (aka Scobleizer) and Shel Israel of Global Neighborhoods.

I met so many twitter buds at Conversation Starters, including the famous Chris Brogan, and throughout the day that it would take me all night to type up their names.  Already, this post is longer than I thought it would be!

Stay tuned for my next SXSWi post on Tuesday’s events.

Author: | Filed under: blogging, conferences, entrepreneurship, networking, social media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

15 Tips For Traveling With Baby – Guest Baby Tip
Feb 10 2008

I babble about business, babies, and parenthood on this blog, so those of you who come here to read my posts on entrepreneurship but do not have babies, please forward this post to your friends and family who do have babies. For those who have babies and dabble in business, these tips might be right up your alley.  If you have babies and have no interest in business, then send it on to the folks you know who are knee-deep in business and encourage them to have a baby! :-)   To see other great baby tips, check out the baby tips category.

Maryam Ghaemmaghami Scoble was kind enough to let me re-publish her January 30, 3007 tips on traveling with baby that she said was inspired after I asked her if she would write a guest baby tip for my blog.  She also sent me an adorable picture of her looking at baby Milan.  Maryam has been working as an event planner since 1995 and is now taking time off to be with her newborn son.  Maryam’s husband, Robert Scoble, is none other than the “Scobleizer” a strong presence in the blogging community.  Maryam spends her free time blogging about living, loving, and working with geeks as well as life, love, and everything else.   If you are new to the blogosphere, you might not have heard that she and Robert had a baby, but they did and now she has great tips to share!

Traveling with Baby? Here are fifteen things I’ve learned.

milanandmaryam400x267.jpgI honestly thought that my days of traveling adventure would be over once our baby was born. Not so! Barely four months old, Milan has accompanied us without much fuss to Paris, London and Vegas, traveling via Trains, Planes, and even on a bus. We are headed to Geneva next.

If you are traveling with child I highly recommend checking out My Traveling Buddy website.

Baby Center has a great checklist on things to take with you while traveling with child.

My advice based on my own experience:

1) Don’t pack too many little bags and suitcases. You will leave things behind or else won’t be able to carry all of them together. While it was easier before to have smaller, lighter suitcases, you now need to try and consolidate as much as possible. Remember in addition to the suitcases, you also have to push the stroller and you only have two hands :) I used to pack a suitcase, a carry on and a bag for each of us and it worked perfectly before, but now one of us has to push the stroller while the other carries everything on the cart. My heart goes out to single parents!

2) Don’t forget the baby Bjorn or other form of baby carrier with you. You need to check in your stroller and sometimes have to walk long distances before claiming it back after you get off the plane. You can check in the stroller right where you check in to get on the flight, but you won’t get it back when you land until you walk all the way to baggage claim. In London, we had to walk far and long, and wait quite a while before getting our stroller back. Thank God, I packed a baby carrier with me.

3) Don’t forget the bottle washer and soap. It’s hard to wash bottles without the bottle washer and the soap at the hotels or airports might be too fragrant for the baby. I had to send Robert out to search for a bottle washer in Vegas and I had a hard time finding a perfume free soap in beautiful Paris, home to many famous perfumes.

4) If you are using formula, make a bottle ready before going through security screening. They won’t let you carry a bottle of water but they would let you carry the milk through. The bottle would be safe for an hour and two and you are not forced to run around and look for bottled water in the airport. The security officer in the Vegas airport told me that I could get out of line, mix my formula with water and go through again if I wanted to. I didn’t want to wait in line again, but next time, I will just make the formula ahead of time.

5) Check in early for your flight so you can make sure your baby has a bassinet on board. You can’t reserve one on the phone and if too many babies are traveling on board, you may lose out to those who checked in before you. We were late to check in for our flight to London and couldn’t get a bassinet as there were twenty other babies traveling on board. We got smart on the way back and checked in early :)

6) Make sure your baby is sucking on a pacifier or a bottle during take off and landing. The air pressure won’t hurt their ears as much. We were feeding Milan while the plane was taking off and landing and he fell asleep each time without crying.

7) If traveling by train find out where the bathroom with diaper changing table is located and book your cabin close to that. I had to walk through over ten cabins while the train was moving with a baby that badly needed a change, all the while worrying if we were going to reach the station soon.

8)Pack enough formula and diapers. Babies sometimes show allergic reaction to different brands of diapers. It’s also very hard to find the same brand of formula while traveling abroad and babies stomach often react to new brands.We ran out of formula in Paris and I couldn’t even read the instructions on the formula I bought and had to trust the reluctant pharmacist advice. Luckily Milan liked the new formula and it worked fine for us. Next time, I will pack extra formula though.

9) Having a travel system based car seat and stroller (we use Graco) works best because you can use the car seat in the cabs, buses, trains and cars, and then place the seat easily in the stroller when walking around. The stroller folds easily and is light to carry around. You can also use it as a cart to carry stuff around.

10) If you have older children I suggest running them through the airport to let them exert some of that extra energy so that they are good and tired and ready to sleep in flight. Planning travel during their sleep time is also a good idea.

11) With older children taking some cheap new toys and coloring materials helps keep them occupied during flight. When Patrick was younger, I always bought him a bunch of magazines so he could read them during the flight and of course he had his trusty hand held game players.

12) Remember that there are different rules for traveling with babies domestically vs. internationally. For example, babies traveling on your lap can fly for free on United inside the US but you have to purchase a ticket for them while traveling abroad. It usually comes to about 10% of your adult fare plus taxes, etc.

13) You need a valid passport for children traveling abroad with you, even if your child is only four months old like ours.

14) Before traveling make sure to check with your pediatrician about any medical issues you need to be aware of. Traveling with babies under three months is not recommended and some airlines won’t even allow a new born to fly. Depending on the country you are traveling to, your baby may need to get special vaccinations. I packed over the counter  gas-relief medicine and baby Tylenol with us just in case.

15) Last but not least, check the weather and pack accordingly for your child. It was raining hard in London and Paris and we looked around for a long time before we were able to find a waterproof plastic cover for Milan’s stroller.

Bon Voyage and Happy travels!

______

If you like this tip, you might be interested in our other recent guest baby tips:

Throw A Baby Kegger For Your Buddy by Clay Nichols at DadLabs

Keeping a Baby Food Journal by Neena at A Mom’s Life at NeenMachine.com

Increasing Milk Supply by Carole Hayes at Alias Tex

Note to new readers: these tips are based on our experiences, as well as those of our friends and readers. Please always consult with your doctor before implementing any tip that might impact the health of your baby. If you have a tip you’d like to submit please send an email to blogger at babblesoft dot com.  Please check the ‘baby tips’ category to make sure your tip (in some form or fashion) hasn’t already been posted. If it has been, feel free to comment on that post and support the tip. We also welcome respectful challenges to the tips because as is noted in our inaugural baby tip ‘everything is relative!’ We will, of course, give anyone who submits a tip we publish credit and lotsa link love!

Author: | Filed under: baby tips, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »