This is my newsletter #8 sent on feb 17, 2016.
Most important: please give me feedback on this newsletter as I’m experimenting. What do you think about it? Hit reply and tell me. What would you like me to write about?
Today I wrote it as I would update my investors, but I could also just take one topic like “why and how I hired new team members”. Not sure what’s best. Alternating maybe. Hit reply and tell me!
In my last email I was wondering if I should take angel funding at this stage andtwo weeks later I have about $2 million from friends who want to invest inLeade.rs. This is of course an incredible validation of the idea of a speaker to events marketplace. The only push back I got talking to my network is “isn’t it too small?” You have to start somewhere and intuitively the speaker fees, speaker bureaus fees and other event planning agency fees has to be a few billion dollars a year. It’s definitely not Facebook big but it can be big. Getting funding from friends is tricky. It feels great because your friends want to help you but you really don’t want to lose their money if things go wrong, I’m still doing it. All of my friends are also great speakers so it makes sense.
From an idea to a real business
As we’ve been building the application, I did not prioritize creating the business itself. I’m doing it now. I hired a lawyer that will incorporate the company asap and an accounting firm. It’s amazing how simple things are now. All you have to do is setup an email address accounting@yourdomain and then you just forward anything that needs to be processed there while you focus on the business itself. They take care of logging everything, tax, payroll, etc.
It makes me think about would-be entrepreneurs who never start because they’re intimidated by the logistics. Starting a business in the U.S. is definitely easy. It takes a few hours and the hassle is very small. Most countries have followed the same model and I’m glad to see becoming an entrepreneur is getting easier and easier everywhere.
Getting a friend who wants to invest in the company is nice, but having a few potential customers is even better. The last few weeks have been crazy for me. I have been to the World Economic Forum in Davos where I met hundreds of leaders and talked to them about my idea. I came back with 200 business cards I think, I still need to follow-up with them. A few large corporations told me they were really interested in a streamlined process to select the best people in the world for an event. I talked to people who were organizing off-sites for their management, small private high-end events and all the way to large public conferences. They were all interested and asked me when they could get access to the app. Most important, they all said they would be ready to pay for it. A subscription for premium access with some other small booking fees is likely the way to go. I don’t want to compete with speaker bureaus, I want to work with them, so the fees will remain small. Super happy about this.
A team of 4 already
I had talked about Jean-Jacques Borie my technical co-founder who has been with me since November 2015. I’m thrilled that two amazing people are joiningLeade.rs on the content side but also helping on pretty much everything.
Karyn Kane Williams has been working with me curating the LeWeb conference content for nearly ten years and is a content rock star. She has always been in the event business helping VentureBeat, Demo and even the White House.
Martin Talvari has organized technology events in over 35 countries and has been one of the main organizers of the 15,000 entrepreneur event in Finland, Slush. Martin’s international experience will be invaluable for Leade.rs to be international from day one.
We’re focusing on getting a first batch of curators and speakers in the system and test it with real names soon.
A few posts I wrote since I last emailed you:
Talk to you soon, greetings from TED!