Press Digest (Weeks 13-14): Geeks becoming salesy?

Can you imagine a nerdy startup-owner turning into a convincing, witty salesman? The Economist has published an  article on startup marketing which brings up a valid question: if a startup consists of geeks with weak social skills, how on Earth can they stand up and sell their idea in front of a jury of venture capitalists? Maybe someone else has to do it for them… In our selection WSJ’s article tells the story of a Tel-Aviv based startup company that aims to bring Iranian and Israeli people closer to each other, despite the bellicose government rhetoric on both sides.

Geeks aren’t known for their social skills – March 21, The Economist

HOLLYWOOD portrayed Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s boss, as aloof, disinterested and awkward in all manner of ways in “The Social Network”. During important meetings with venture capitalists and potential investors Mr Zuckerberg’s character became increasingly distracted and at one such appointment his business attire was a bath robe, pyjamas and slippers.

54 hours in the life of a start-up – March 21, FT

Jess Bialecki, the 25-year-old dean of students at a New Orleans school, arrived in New York in early February with a one-page document for a business idea. She had been pondering it since the start of the year, wondering how on earth she could move it along. As a teacher, she had been amazed to see the effort that teachers put into decorating, arranging and supplying their classrooms before the start of each school year.

Silicon Valley startup gala spurs feeding frenzy – March 28, Reuters

A record 450 investors, entrepreneurs and reporters squeezed into a packed hall in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View to hear pitches from 66 teams: the latest class of the Y Combinator incubator program, deemed one of the most selective and closely watched startup boot camps in the world.

Tel Aviv Start-Up Connects Israelis and Iranians – March 30, WSJ

It started with an image shared by Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry. The Facebook page “Israel Loves Iran” has attracted over 50,000 fans and an immense amount of publicity. Now a Tel Aviv-based start-up, Rounds, is offering its technology to help connect people from the two countries. The Next Web tells the story and speaks to Rounds executive vice president Oren Levy.

London taxi app business hails $17 million – March 30,

London-based Taxi app business Hailo has secured $17 million (£10.6 million) in Series A capital, one of the largest ever first round financings for a European start-up. The funding has come from Accel Partners, the venture capital firm behind investments in Facebook, Groupon and Kayak, and will be used by Hailo to expand into new markets including the US and take advantage of upcoming events such as the summer Olympic Games in London.

Shaving start-ups: Blade runners – March 31, The Economist

Venture capitalists (VCs) are obsessed with cutting-edge technologies. But the humble razor blade has never been one of them—until now. Dollar Shave Club, a fledgling firm that wants to change the way folk buy shaving gear, has just raised over $1m of seed funding from some of Silicon Valley’s best-known VCs.

How to pitch to a venture capitalist in 15 minutes – April 4, Forbes

Dharmash Mistry has spent the last four years looking for the next billion-dollar company. A venture capitalist in London with the firm Balderton Capital, he specializes in recognizing Europe’s hotest technology startups; he’s met hundreds of entrepreneurs, read reams of due diligence and spent hours tinkering with new websites and software products.

Threat to UK access to venture capital – April 4, Financial Times

European rules on state aid have jeopardised small UK companies’ access to venture capital funding worth hundreds of millions of pounds each year, placing further strain on a sector already starved of credit. Under a measure included in the Finance Bill, venture capital trusts that invest in small growth companies could lose generous tax benefits as a result of a new cap on state-backed investment sources.