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AZ Disruptors is a startup incubator for software companies.

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Entries in Startup (17)

Thursday
Apr142011

Announcing the AZ Disruptors "Pitch Day"

As the April 29th deadline for submitting your software startup quickly aproaches, we have lots of great updates to inform you about.

Right this minute, the AZ Disruptors office furniture is being assembled. This is the space that Arizona's new disruptive software startups will utilize to create the next awesome software company. As with Axosoft's offices, the space is designed for "team rooms" of up to 6 people per room. Each team room will be home to anywhere from one to as many as three new startups.

New startups will also be able to use the rest of the office facilities, including a comfortable kitchen with seating for 40, a lounge area with XBox Kinect and the Wii, a gym that's designed to kick your butt into shape and five different conference rooms that can accomodate 2 to 70 people for various types of meetings. The facilities are nice, but the real value of the space is having access to the people who have built two successful and profitable software companies, Axosoft and TransferBigFiles.com (and countless failures too).

The AZ Disruptors "Pitch Day"

The AZ Disruptors "Pitch Day" will be the day that new software startups will compete for 1 of 5 spots in the AZ Disruptors incubator. Each potential software startup will fine tune their pitch to a 10-minute presentation covering:

  • Product - What you're going to build. Demo the product or prototype if possible.
  • Target Market - Who you're going to sell it to.
  • Current Size of Market - Value of competing products being sold to your target today.
  • The Team - The people who are going to build this product and company.

Notice there is nothing in there about a 5-year projection of sales or your exit strategy. Be sure to keep that out of your presentation. We will assume that you will magically hit your projected $28 Million of sales in Year 4 and generate $10 Million in profits before getting bought out by Microsoft, Google or Apple. Save us the burden of sitting through the slides.

Pitch Day Will be Friday, May 20th

Agenda

8:00AM Arrive and Breakfast
8:45AM Event Start & Introductory comments
9:00AM First Set of 6 Pitches
10:30AM Short Break
10:45AM Second Set of 6 Pitches
12:15PM Quick Lunch
1:00PM Third Set of 6 Pitches
2:30PM Short Break
2:45PM Top 5 Pitch Winners Announced
3:00PM Wrap up

 

How's it all going to work?

The Pitch Day event will be a room full of people watching the presentations. The pitches will also be judged by a panel of 5 judges (to be announced) who are involved with the local tech community. The judging of the event will help identify the top 5 pitches.

Each of the top 5 presentors will win an Apple TV.

Being picked as a top 5 pitch does not guarantee a spot in the AZ Disruptors incubator, but it helps! Based on the presentations on pitch day, the AZ Disruptors team will select the companies with whom they intend to have further interviews to determine which companies will be selected. Selection of the companies that will participate in the AZ Disruptors incubator is expected to be completed within 1-2 weeks after Pitch Day.

Request an Invite for AZ Disruptors Pitch Day

The AZ Disruptors pitch day will take place at the event room of AZ Disruptor's newly constructed office space. We will be able to accomodate a maximum of 60 people for the event. Therefore, RSVP will be by invitation only. If you'd like to request an invitation to the Pitch Day, please use the following form:

Request an Invitation to AZ Disruptors Pitch Day (It's Free!)

Please request your invite as early as possible because we fully anticipate reaching maximum capacity.

Stay tuned to more information about the AZ Disruptors pitch day in the coming days by subscribing via email:

Email:

You will get a confirmation email.

 

Thursday
Mar172011

Hiring for a Startup

TechCrunch has a great post on hiring for a startup. It's written by Mark Suster, a VC at GRP Partners in Los Angeles. Among the 7 pieces of advice that Mark provides is "Only Hire A Players:"

Whom Should You Hire at a Startup? (Attitude over Aptitude):

There's an old saying, "A players beget A players. B players beget C players." Why? Well, A players are discerning and tend to only want to join somewhere where they perceive other A players are. B players tend to have slightly more self-confidence issues so they tend to hire people slightly worse than themselves - thus C teams.

 It's good stuff and definitely worth the read.

Wednesday
Mar162011

The Ideal AZ Disruptors Company

I'm often asked what is the "ideal company" that AZ Disruptors will choose to incubate. So I added this question and the answer to our FAQ today:

What is the ideal AZ Disruptors startup? 

AZ Disruptors will consider any software startup for incubation. However, startups that meet the following market criteria: 

  • Crowded market
  • No dominant player
  • Lots of money being spent on existing solutions

and who can demonstrate the ability to create a solution that has these elements when compared to existing solutions:

  • Easier
  • Faster
  • Cheaper

will have a huge advantage and a likely candidate for AZ Disruptors incubation. 

Thursday
Mar032011

How to Create a Great Software Startup

From personal experience, I can tell you that when I used to think about starting a new software business, I used to be fixated on building a product that solved a new problem. I thought, in order to be successful, it was important to go after the creation of something that hadn't been done before.

I had no idea how wrong I was.

My eventual successes with Axosoft and TransferBigFiles.com certainly didn't do that: neither Axosoft nor TransferBigFiles.com were solving any unsolved problems. When I launched Axosoft's OnTime V1.0 in 2002, there were already more than a dozen bug tracking software systems on the market. When we monetized TransferBigFiles.com in May of 2010, there must have already been more than one hundred solutions to send large files that are too big to email.

So what makes a successful software startup?

If you look at the most exciting new startups, what you'll find is that the companies generally have a few things in common:

  • The problem already has dozens of solutions
  • The market is fragmented (no entity owns > 50% market share)
  • The market appears to be crowded

Who would want to enter a market with the above characteristics? It seems insane. 

How do new startups playing in a crowded space generate so much excitement? Conventional wisdom would indicate that such startups would have a hard time getting the attention of investors and they would have an even harder time in the marketplace.

At last week's Launch Conference, the overall winner of the conference was Room77. What do they do? They help you find hotel rooms. If you're asking yourself "really?" or "are you kidding me?" -- that's the right reaction to have.

Another Launch conference favorite was hipmunk.com. What do they do? They help people find flights. Yeah, really! In an Internet age that's dominated by dozens of prominent travel sites like Travelocity, Hotels.com, Expedia and hundreds of others, the most talked about and prominent up and coming startups are a couple of new travel sites. Hipmunk has generated so much excitement that TechCrunch has written about them 9 times in the past 6 months!

Look at Pen.io, another cool new startup that launched at the Launch conference last week. What do they do? They enable visitors to create simple web pages on the fly. Yeah, really!

So what makes these companies so great? They're not solving unsolved problems, so why is anyone excited about them? Upon visiting any of these sites, you will find one common theme:

A Disruptive User Experience

The user experience on these sites is unlike anything you have seen. They are brain-dead easy to use and the response times of these apps are super fast. You are in and out getting what you want done faster than it was ever before possible. That is a disruptive user experience.

So you might be thinking to yourself "yeah, but these companies are not making a profit and they might be out of business soon," and you might be right. However, these companies have a shot. Startups that are not providing a disruptive user experience don't even have a shot! They will not be written about and even worse, they won't be interesting to users.

Even if you look at well established, very large players in our industry, you'll find the same common theme. Google Search, Gmail, iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, YouTube, Netflix, Facebook and Groupon all have the same thing in common: they came into a crowded, well-established market and they provided a disruptive user experience. The easiest and fastest search, email, media player and so on. They dominated a crowded field by providing a disruptive user experience. Did I mention disruptive user experience?

There are hundreds of such examples. The big ones you know and use every day. But there are tons of companies that get acquired along the way. Like Mint.com which beat Intuit at its own game by creating a disruptively simple user experience for managing personal finance. Intuit, realizing that it was beaten at its own game, finally decided to buy Mint.com for $170 Million. Microsoft, Google and Yahoo have been notorious for buying all sorts of little disruptive companies in the $10-100 Million range. Often times, it's just to shut them down so they don't kill their main business. These companies realize the power of a disruptive user experience.

Creating a successful new startup doesn't have to be about creating a product or service to solve a problem that has never been done before.  Instead, create a disruptive user experience for a common problem that has dozens or hundreds of mediocre solutions. Create your product to be the absolute easiest to use. It must provide an ease-of-use experience that causes the user to say "Wow! That was easy." When you wow the user, they end up talking about your product. They tell their friends. You don't need as many marketing dollars. Everything is easier.

Aim to wow with a disruptive user experience. Everything else will fall into place.

Wednesday
Mar022011

More About Exit Strategy

Today, I encountered an article in the Telegraph talking about the importance of the exit strategy. The article is written by Alex van Someren who is a partner in a UK-based investment fund.

For most of the article, Alex explains the importance of the exit from the viewpoit of an investor, but the most important piece of information Alex provides in the article is quoted below...

Start-Up 100: Let's talk about exits - Telegraph:

"Having said all that, delivering a great exit is a bit like a Zen mediation exercise: you are most likely to achieve the outcome you are looking for precisely by not thinking about it. Managing your business so that it delivers a great solution to a real problem, acquires lots of happy customers and makes a lot of profitable sales is the right thing to do anyway, but it's usually also the best way to get to a great (that is, a high value) exit in the longer term."

This is great advice! "You are most likely to achieve the outcome you are looking for precisely by not thinking about it." That means forget about the exit strategy. Focus on building a great company. People always want to buy great companies even if those companies have never thought about an exit strategy. Build a great company and the exit will come. Build a great exit strategy without a great company and there won't be any way to exit. Your choice.

Thursday
Feb032011

LaunchSpot is Another Tech Incubator in Tempe

Today I met with Fred von Graf of LaunchSpot, another software-focused incubator who is also in the planning phases of a Y-Combinator-like accelerator. Fred and I hit it off right away as we think a lot alike and we both have a strong desire to help the Phoenix valley become a bigger player in the technology startup world.

LaunchSpot will be slightly different in that they will provide (potentially free) co-working office space to approved tech companies as well as provide funding to startups. Their offices, which are still under construction will be located at Broadway and 52nd Street in Tempe, AZ.

I see all this activity as a wonderful thing. We have Gangplank in Chandler, LaunchSpot in Tempe, SkySong in South Scottsdale and AZ Disruptors in North Scottsdale all trying to improve the technology startup scene. If we work together, we're finally going to make a dent. It's exciting times to be a startup!

Stay tuned...

Tuesday
Jan182011

Disruption Begins

A Disruptive Technology is an innovation that disrupts an existing market. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect.

AZ Disruptors helps Disruptive Software Startups become successful. We provide tangible tools like office space, desks, chairs, Internet connectivity and even seed money to make payroll and buy equipment. But most importantly, we also bring intangibles to the table. We've created unbeatable environment that brings smart people together in a single space with successful software companies and new software startups. Everyone can have lunch together, bounce ideas off of each other, chat about the latest innovations and get mentorship from people who have been there and done that.

We know you've got questions. That's why we've put together a list of FAQs on the About Page and we've also built a Discussion Forum where you can discuss topics relating to startups.

Apply to Participate in AZ Disruptors

There are two ways to participate in the AZ Disruptors Software Incubator:

1. Apply as a Startup Software Company - To apply to participate in the AZ Disruptors software incubator as a startup with any of the following products:

  • Licensed Software (Windows, Mac or Linux)
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Web-Based Application
  • iPod, iPhone or iPad Software
  • Android Software

Use this application: Apply as a Startup Software Company

Application Deadline: April 29th, 2011

2. Apply as an Individual Disruptor - If you are interested in participating with the AZ Disruptors in any of these capacities:

  • Want to be considered as a partner with a Startup
  • Want to be considered for employment with a Startup
  • Want to participate as a potential investor 
  • Want to participate as a mentor or advisor role

Use this link: Apply as an Individual Disruptor

News and Updates

To stay up to date on the latest news about AZ Disruptors, be sure to visit the Blog and subscribe via RSS, Email or Facebook on the right sidebar.

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