Friday, June 27, 2008

J-term entrepreneurs getting some press

My friend Ryan Petersen from Cluster Y 2008 just had his startup ImportGenius discussed on the Freakonmics Blog. It was also recently profiled on as well. It's a pretty interesting concept.

You should also read this post Ryan wrote for the CBS blog about starting a business while in school. A must read for any applicant who is wondering why they should choose CBS as a place to launch their startup.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Amen to the Cold Call

Mike Hirschland, a VC at Polaris in Boston just posted about how he got his job at the firm. He had a very non-traditional background but was able to make a connection with one of the partners, and as they say, the rest is history.

I remember Mike came in to see us at at the beginning of our fundraising. I remember him as a real nice, laid back guy who was enthusiastic about trying the product and someone who seemed great to work with.

Again, I think the key takeaway here is that you can't be afraid to make that cold call. They are often uncomfortable but you really don't have anything to lose in making them. So do it!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Even Darth Vader sucks at Powerpoint

(Image courtesy of this link)

One of the bloggers I follow just posted about his experience in Edward Tufte's class. Tufte is one of the foremost authorities on the art and science of presenting information, and a big opponent of Powerpoint.

Given that MBAs are going to be doing many presentations in class and outside of class (in their jobs, internships, etc), it really pays to hone this skill. I have rarely seen strong presentations and presenters, but let me tell you that it is a real joy when you come across one (or both). I think its also a great way to stand out from the crowd and your peers.

Check it out when you have a chance.

Easy way to track VC funding and M&A activity

Yesterday I spent some time messing around with Yahoo's Pipes service. Basically this free service allows you to create mashup feeds from a variety of web-based data sources (RSS ,XML, HTML, etc) and filter the output based on whatever criteria you like.

I used it to create an RSS feed that aggregates all RSS feeds from Feedburner's VC network and a few other blogs I read. The output feed is filtered based on keywords like "aquires", "Series A", etc so that now I have a way to easily track VC fundings and M&A activity without having to hunt around individual blogs. I will still read individual blogs, but this really gives me a one stop shop and saves me some time.

You can read the feed in the box below (give it a minute to render, sometimes it takes a few seconds) and in the bottom right corner you can click the title (M&A and VC funding Pipe) to subscribe to it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Uncle Richie said it best

I just sent out an update to my family about our soon-to-be-born twin girls (28 weeks, everything is looking good) and my Uncle Richie sent me this gem back in response:

That is great and enjoy these nice quiet moments while you can before all hell breaks loose.

I think that pretty much says it all!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bringing passion to your job hunt

I just read this post from a guy who was just hired by Amazon to be their Web Services evangelist in Europe. Loved it.

Although he's doing something dramatically different (from a career perspective) than what most people who read my blog are seeking to do, he shows how passion can really help you stand out in the interview process.

Give it a read.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Make sure you call your Dad

I think the subject line says it all!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How I'll try handling "unproductive" meetings

Fred Wilson, ubiquitous VC blogger just posted about taking and managing "unproductive" meetings. By unproductive, he means meetings that are typically one-sided (i.e. guys like me coming to talk to him about getting into VC) where there is a fairly good chance that only one party is getting value right off the bat.

This got me thinking as I go back into the workforce. Just as I got on the phone, LinkedIn, did informationals, etc with a variety of CBS and non-CBS related VC folks during my search, I need to return the favor, especially to the students who are at CBS now. However, in trying to kick butt in a new job, taking care of my growing family, etc there is not going to be alot of time in the day for these sorts of things. I think Fred's tips are useful ones and probably ones I'll have to put into practice to stay sane.

This tip was my favorite ('Jimmy' is Fred's friend who is not in the VC biz):

5) Try to do it right in the meeting if you can. A quick email or phone call right during the meeting can be a great way to get the thing done you agreed to do. Jimmy told me he does this a lot and I agree that it's a great trick if you can pull it off.

I had an informational a few weeks ago where the VC I was meeting with did just this. Not only did it save him time because my follow-up would be limited to a 'Thank you' versus a 'Can you', but it made a hugely positive impression on me because you're actually seeing someone who you hardly know spring into action on your behalf, right in front of you. Pretty powerful stuff if you ask me.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Recent grad benefits

Just got an email from CBS indicating some of the alumni benefits we'll be getting:

Dear Class of 2008,

Again, congratulations on your achievement! I hope that you are all enjoying some time off – you deserve it. I am writing to inform you of some upcoming events, additional graduate information and offers available to you as members of the Columbia Business School alumni network.

Worldwide Alumni Club Event: Please join us on or around Wednesday, June 11, 2008 as we celebrate and recognize the global alumni network during the second annual Worldwide Alumni Club Event. Alumni clubs from around the globe will be hosting events such as happy hours, dinners, panel discussions, and walking tours to provide opportunities for alumni, students and new admits to network and connect with one another.

Reunion 2009: Save the date for Reunion Weekend 2009, when your class will celebrate your 1st year Reunion. The weekend, scheduled for April 3-5, 2009 will be a perfect time to catch up with friends, network with classmates, attend faculty presentations and enjoy activities coordinated exclusively for your class.

Access to Angel: Originally we had said that access to Angel would only be available for 90 days following graduation. Good news – this has been extended. You will now have access to Angel for two years following graduation.

Membership to the Columbia Club: The Columbia University Club of New York is offering a special membership opportunity for 2008 graduates. This limited time offer includes: no initiation fee, regular dues, 15-month membership (June ’08 through August ’09), free use of the gym for the summer months and 50% off your first overnight room stay (up to three nights). To take advantage of this special offer, you must sign up by June 30, 2008. For more information, visit, call 212-719-0380 or email To apply online, visit

Job Search: The alumni website is a valuable tool in any job search, featuring a job database and resume upload. Post a Job is a convenient place for employers to advertise job openings to current MBA students and/or alumni, while Job Search allows alumni to explore current job postings by keyword, company, industry, function and more. Visit Alumni Career Services on the alumni website for more information.

Stay Connected: Make sure to log onto the alumni website and update your contact information. By staying in touch you will have access to a wide variety of events each year that spotlight star faculty, notable alumni and key industry executives.

Great tips for those starting internships

This is a post from my friend Marquis, who I used to work with at Scient (my first job out of undergrad). Marquis later went to Stanford GSB and then on to McKinsey (and he is still there).

He gives a bunch of tips for those of you MBAs starting your internships. Take a look.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

VC Holiday Card

I thought this was pretty good, even if you're only marginally interested in VC. It's an e-holiday card from the guys at Blueprint Ventures. They do corporate IP spinouts and have a pretty interesting model. We met them during the Silicon Valley trip this year. They mentioned the card when we met them but I forgot about it until an acquaintance sent it to me the other day.

Anyways, here is the Youtube video. BTW, there is some action on the job front, should have good news shortly...

Advertising 2.0 - CBS style

Today I went to the Advertising 2.0 conference being held here in the city after a morning meeting with a VC.

This is an event that (as most tech/media conferences) would have cost an arm and a leg had it not been for the excellent legwork of the MMA (Media Management Association), and specifically the efforts of my man Siva. He was able to get the club a huge discount on tickets and thus a bunch of media-focused students like myself were able to attend. I saw at least three other CBSers there and I think there were another 3 or 4 kicking around.

I went to a couple of the sessions. The first one was a panel about search marketing. I didn't think it was that great but I did have to leave in the middle of it (yup, to do a phone call with a VC) so maybe I missed the meat of it. The second was the ending session of the day and was a panel that included the CEO of Digitas as well as a senior manager from CNET and a variety of other new media shops. They focused pretty heavily on brand management in digital media and how the internet advertising space continues to morph.

Anyways, the point of this post was really to share that the MMA kicks ass! They are incredibly active, bring in amazing guest speakers, and have a passionate group of student leaders who want to make sure CBS stays at the forefront of MBA media programs.

If you have even the slightest interest in media or new media, make sure you join the club when you start school.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Never too late for career services

I went up to school today to speak w/Regina Resnick, who is the head of career services at CBS. I wanted to talk to her about how my job hunt was going and also get her opinion on how I was going about things. While I was at school, I also hit the Career Resource Center and took a look at some of the 3rd party compensation surveys they keep on file. Very useful stuff.

On my way into Uris I bumped into one of my classmates who is starting a luxury mobile phone company. He was coming to campus for a business meeting with a potential partner. I also saw a couple of guys from my cluster, one who was heading back to his home in Morocco at some point today. Once my kids get a little older we'll have to pay him a visit! :)

After spending an hour or so at Uris I had lunch w/a former colleague of mine who finished the HBS MBA program a year ago. I was curious as to how the other side lives so I asked him about his HBS classmates and how they were liking the jobs they took post-MBA.

Turns out that there are a bunch of folks (mostly folks who went the consulting/banking route) who ended up leaving their jobs within a year and going to do something else. I thought that was interesting.

The friend in question definitely took his own path and started a company post-MBA, which I am (not surprisingly) very psyched about. I wonder how it will be for my class?

I guess with the economy a bit iffy, I would anticipate some more people gutting it out at jobs they might not be happy with, but I dunno...