50 Coffees: Kartik Raghavan of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

We had the opportunity to meet up with Kartik Raghavan in Los Altos, CA today.  Kartik was introduced to us by our landlord and has quite the resume.  Kartik is currently the advisor to the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and has tons of amazing experience.  He was an advisor to the Obama For America team and a VC at Trilogy Equity Partners & Shasta Ventures.  Before that, he was with Microsoft in quite a few roles. You can see more on Kartik here.

It was great to meet with Kartik, his experience and knowledge in the technology world is extensive and he had some great feedback for us.  It will be great to meet up with him again to show him the progress we are making with PayrollHero.

(L – R) Stephen Jagger, Kartik Raghavan, Michael Stephenson

(50 Coffees)

Stanford University Hosts Peter Thiel

We drove to Standford University today to hear Peter Thiel speak to the students as well as take questions from the crowd.  Peter is quite the tech entrepreneur, co-founder of Paypal, first outside investor in Facebook and has his fingers in many of the hottest startups in North America.

Peter spoke about his time at Stanford, the bubbles that he sees (education was one of them), his investments and what he thinks the future looks like.  It was an interesting talk with lots of questions ranging from clean tech to how the Thiel Fellowship works.  He also told a few stories about the early days at Facebook.  All in all it was a great event!

FailCon.com – Share Your Failures

FailCon.com – “FailCon is a one-day conference for technology entrepreneurs, investors, developers and designers to study their own and others’ failures and prepare for success.”

The PayrollHero team attended FailCon 2011 in San Francisco today.  It was a fantastic event and a great spin on technology conferences.  Each speaker told their story of failure and how it landed them where they are today, what they learned from it and how they moved forward after it.

The standout speakers from my point of view were Joe Gebbia from AirBnB and Travis Kalanick from Uber.com.  Joe talked about AirBnB’s rise and its unlikely road to success. Travis said by the end of his presentation that we would all be “dripping in failure” and that he was the biggest failure of them all.  (He mentioned at one point he was sued for $250Million dollars)

Photos from the event.

HiGear Event at Tesla Showroom

HiGear.com, the vehicle rental site that allows you to rent cars directly from their owners held an event tonight at the Tesla showroom in Menlo Park, CA.  It was an event designed to showcase the HiGear product offering, Tesla vehicles and some of the HiGear vehicles that are available on the Silicon Valley area.  The PayrollHero team as well as some friends from Vancouver ventured out to the Tesla showroom to check out the event.  You can see some pictures below as well as a few more on the PayrollHero Facebook page.

(L – R) Adam Baechler, Sophia Sit, Michael Stephenson

“Brews and Views” With Authors Jason Mendelson & Brad Feld

Jason Mendelson and Brad Feld were the guest speakers at today’s “Brews and Views” out in Silicon Valley at law firm Dorsey & Whitney. Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson are the co-founders of the Foundry Group as well as co-authors of the book Venture Deals.

The event was a panel of sorts with Jason and Brad sitting in the front of a group of about 70 technology enthusiasts with lawyer Ted Hollifield asking them pre set questions as well as coordinating the ones coming in from the crowd.  Here is the event details:

In a time of volatile market forces, a shifting venture capital landscape and game-changing new technologies, entrepreneurs are reassessing and adapting their goals and strategies for raising money in today’s dynamic business environment.  Beyond negotiating tips and tricks, what forces and incentives do startup entrepreneurs really need to understand once they’ve landed and are assessing the sought-after term sheet?  Entrepreneurs will gain invaluable insights into the finely-nuanced forces and incentives rarely disclosed openly so they can expertly navigate getting the most from investors.

Please join Dorsey & Whitney in welcoming special guests Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson, co-founders and managing directors of early stage VC firm Foundry Group, and co-authors of the new book “Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist.”

Join us for an afternoon of lively point/counterpoint banter moderated by Dorsey’s lead business and technology practice partner Ted Hollifield, a VC lawyer and legal expert on term sheets, who will discuss with Brad and Jason What Really Matters section of their new “VC Deals” book.  These experts will offer invaluable insights that entrepreneurs need to know for negotiating and working with startup investors.  An open Q&A will also give attendees opportunity to ask their own questions from all three experts.

This late afternoon event includes tasty grub and arguably the valley’s best European-style microbrews provided by Devil’s Canyon Brewery Company in Belmont, as well as a chance to mix and mingle with other entrepreneurs, VC’s and professionals from around SF/Silicon Valley.

This was a solid event with lots of great information being shared by Jason and Brad.  Many of the “tips” shared by them were about how to deal with their VC colleagues at other firms and what to expect if your trying to raise money.

Jason Mendelson and Brad Feld taking questions from the group

50 Coffees: Dick Hardt

I have met up with Dick a few times in Vancouver and had the opportunity to see him speak.  So when we arrived down in San Francisco, he was one of the first people I reached out to as he has been living down here for quite some time.  Dick responded to my email and suggested we meet up soon as he was going back to British Columbia in the coming days.  So, Mike and I took the opportunity to meet with Dick and drove across town to meet him.

Dick Hardt is a seasoned entrepeneur with a few businesses under his belt.  He was the founder of Active State (which Sophos bought in 2003) and founder of Sxip Identity.  He also had a stint at Microsoft and has been doing some public speaking over the years.  (his most famous talk is here)

It was great to meet up with Dick to learn about his experiences in the US and how he had made his way through the VC landscape.

(50 Coffees)

50 Coffees: Loic Le Meur of Seesmic

I emailed Loic Le Meur, the founder of Seesmic, co-founder of LeWeb (the largest tech conference in the world) and OTD client to see if he had some time to meet up for a coffee.  Loic responded quickly and suggested that Mike and I pop by the Seesmic offices and then grab some lunch down the street.

When we arrived at Seesmic, Loic introduced us to his team and show us around their San Francisco headquarters.  They have a fantastic space and just steps from many of the Silicon Valley powerhouses (Zynga is a couple blocks away).  We walked from the Seesmic offices to a cool little restaurant behind one of the many warehouse type buildings in the area.  It was great to chat with Loic, learn what Seesmic was up to as well as hear the fantastic developments going on at LeWeb and what attendees can expect from this years conference.  Over 4000 attendees have registered for LeWeb thus far!

(L – R) Michael Stephenson, Loic Le Meur, Stephen Jagger

(50 Coffees)

50 Coffees: Pat Gallagher of CrunchFund

As part of our effort to meet with as many of the talented and experienced people in Silicon Valley as possible, we figured we might as well start with one of the most recognized names in the tech startup space, Michael Arrington and his new team with the CrunchFund.  Mike Stephenson and I have met Mike Arrington before, about 4 years ago at the TechCrunch40 event in San Francisco.  I connected with Mike a few days ago on Facebook chat and asked if he was going to be back in San Francisco anytime soon.  (He was in Mexico at the time).  He said he was going back to Seattle but that we should connect with his business partner Pat Gallagher.  Mike connected Pat and I via email and suggested that we meet up.  Michael Stephenson and I drove to San Carlos (about 40 minutes from San Francisco city) to meet with Pat at Peets Coffee.

It was a fantastic meeting.  We explained what we were up to, a little bit about our experience over the past 10 years and where we wanted to take PayrollHero.com.  Pat had some great feedback for us and explained what the CrunchFund was all about and what they were looking to do with their resources.  All in all it was a great meeting and Pat encouraged us to reach out to meet up again to go through the product with him and MG Siegler.

(50 Coffees)