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It's the Right Time to Start-Up!

By Christian Ebersol, Associate, Comcast Ventures
Thursday, May 7, 2015
 By Christian Ebersol, Associate, Comcast Ventures
Comcast Ventures is the private venture capital affiliate of Comcast Corporation. The firm was established with a goal to turn start-ups into profitable businesses.

It has never been easier to start a company. There are more sources of capital and resources available to aspiring entrepreneurs than ever before: crowdfunding platforms, incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces proliferate from San Francisco to Berlin; in addition to the thousands of venture capital firms, corporations, hedge funds, private equity funds, mutual funds and angel investors are all jostling to get a piece of the action. The cost to start a company has never been lower: cloud computing, cloud storage and open source software have lowered the capital outlay required to start a business from the millions to the tens of thousands; simultaneously, SaaS tools for everything from finance to legal to HR have drastically lowered the cost of managing a business. Consequentially being an entrepreneur has never been more in vogue. As a result it has become harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. Amidst the noise and competition, how do you convince potential investors and customers that your company is unique?

As investors, we are looking for companies with answers to those questions. The most successful companies are those that delight their customer and deliver meaningful value. If you can sell a product or a service that customers rave about and do so at a price point that is favorable to both you and the company, you have succeeded. Dollar Shave Club is a great example: over a million subscribers swear by the shave they get and are saving money to boot.

The single most frustrating thing that many entrepreneurs do not understand is that venture capitalists do not typically sign NDAs. Primarily because VCs are investors and are not at all interested in trying to copy someone else's idea. Venture investors appreciate that what separates a successful entrepreneur from a failed one is the ability to execute and as such view entrepreneurs who inquire for a NDA as naive. If you are unwilling to pitch your business for 30 minutes to an hour for fear that the investor might then take your idea and build a better version of the company you are building, then you do not have the confidence necessary to succeed in building your own company.

While I am admittedly not excited about bitcoin as an alternative currency, the potential alternative use cases for blockchain are of particular interest to me: improved identity management, digital asset ownership, smart contracts and many others that we have yet to dream up. Additionally, I am excited about the increasing ubiquity of Beacons, BLE and other sensing devices in physical spaces. A breakout player has yet to emerge but the CRM tools that e-Commerce companies have leveraged to drive customer retention, store layout optimization and strategic planning based on customer behavior intelligence are finally being built for brick and mortar retail.

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