Let’s Grab Coffee


I believe in random encounters. I believe in free exchanges. But, because of professional context, a lot of people ask me to “grab a coffee”. I just cannot do it with everyone who asks.

Meeting someone takes work and time. I prepare to meet people and follow-up on meetings.

Your request is not random, you want my time for something of your interest. So, before I give you a couple of hours of my time, spend a fraction of that to tell me what your interest is about and how I can participate or help.

If you are trying to sell me something (a product, a service, a project, an idea)… Make sure I am a good potential buyer. Write a compelling summary of what that is.

If you are seeking my opinion or advice… I like to and often share my thoughts and experiences with others. Make sure you know the questions you want me to answer and read what I have already written on the subject. When you contact me, provide enough context for me to judge whether or not I can help.

If you want a favor… Why should I help? Am I contributing to a better world? Am I somehow unique in the ability to help? Why me?

If you are an entrepreneur and want to meet me, but doesn’t have any specific request, then meet me at one of the events involving the entrepreneurship community in the SF Bay Area.

If you just want access to my network of relationships because someone told you I am well-connected… I am not. And relationships are inherited through relationships, you cannot access mine without being part of the network. Build your own relationships, one person at a time.

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Thanksgiving and meaning it


This week is the time of the year when we in the US take a break from our busy lives to express Gratitude. I have plenty to be thankful for this year.

Gratitude is a positive emotion we feel in acknowledgment of a benefit we have received. Saying “Thank You” is the way to express that emotion which is the basis of life in community. It recognizes that we depend on one another to live, to be ourselves.

We get used to say “Thank You” as a matter of social protocol. This is the time to bring its meaning back to consciousness.

In my native Portuguese, we say “Obrigado“, which is not my favorite expression because it equals gratitude with indebtedness. Literally, it says “I owe you something”.

In my travels around the world I have always taken interest not only on the local word to express gratitude, but also on its literal meaning and the social attitude behind it.

My favorite form of “Thank You” is the one used in Malaysia. “Terima Kasih” sounds very friendly and it literally translates to “Receive Love”.

I am no historian or linguist, but I theorize that words equating gratitude and indebtedness have roots in a period in history where gratitude was used as social currency between levels of hierarchy, where favors were exchanged for political loyalty. Words that equals gratitude with love reflect a more equal exchange between peers.

As we evolve towards a world where stronger relationships are people-to-people rather than people-to-organization, gratitude has to be more like love and less like indebtedness.

With that in mind, I would like to say Thank You for reading, agreeing or disagreeing, providing feedback and teaching me through interaction this year.

Here is a list to say Thank You in other languages.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Launch of Graava


In 2015-2016, I joined Graava, a startup project designing a consumer camera.

On Aug 5th, 2015 we run what was arguably the most successful (from a media exposure perspective) marketing launch for a crowdfunding HW project to date. We were hoping for significant coverage, but what we got surpassed all expectations. Graava was featured in every major mainstream and technology media outlet, including TechCrunch, Wired, Forbes, The New York Times. We were also on broadcast TV a few times. A partial (but impressive) list of links to coverage is below.

So, why did the Graava project eventually fail? (of course, this is just my personal analysis).

Graava was ahead of a wave and identified and proposed a solution for a real problem: automate the edition of video footage using data and AI. GoPro, Google, Apple among other have later introduced similar capabilities in their platforms. We selected to launch a hardware product because of the appeal of a physical device.

Graava was part of a broader market experiment with using crowdfunding to validate the demand for a hardware consumer product, and then using that validation to raise venture capital to produce and deliver the product. That model has failed.

Graava raised a couple million dollars in seed money from angel investors and built a camera (I have pre-production units), but failed to raise the additional funding necessary to bring the product to market. It returned all the funds from the crowdfunding campaign to the users, switched to focus in software and launched an IOS/Android App in 2016 that delivered the same functionality using smartphones. The App was featured in the Apple store, but failed to gain the traction needed to create a viable business model. The project was discontinued later in 2016.

Pebble was probably the earliest and arguably the most successful example in the consumer HW/crowdfunding model. They were early in the smartwatch wave and actually delivered a couple of generations of products before going under. Post-Graava, late in the cycle, Lily is said to have sold 60,000 drones (at $500-$1000 each) and raised $15M from major VC firms before failing without delivering a product. Between those two, a long list of projects also failed. Coin and Navdy are two high-profile examples.

Our launch video (produced by Sandwich video):

Video Media Coverage:

ABC7 News interviewed us for the evening news. See video.

TechCrunch interviewed us for the launch. See video.

TechCrunch Crunch Report also featured us. See video (6 min mark).

We were on prime time broadcast TV also in Brazil: See video.

Online and Print Media Coverage:

The New York Times – A New Action Camera, Born From a Cycling Crash

Wired Magazine –  This self-editing action camera is the future of video

NBC News – Graava Action Camera Edits Your Footage For You

Forbes – Watch Out GoPro, This Camera Promises To Edit Your Video For You

TechCrunch – A $249 Action Camera That Edits Highlight Videos For You

Fast Company – GRAAVA’S NEW CAMERA EDITS YOUR VIDEOS FOR YOU

Fast Company Design –  A smart action cam for who don’t want to edit

Mashable – Editing video is hard. Let the Graava action camera do it for you

The Verge – Graava is a new action camera that does the editing for you

VentureBeat – Graava video camera uses A.I. to automatically edit your video footage

Apple Insider – Graava camera edits its own footage using onboard sensors, Apple Watch and cloud processing

Yahoo News! – Graava camera captures and edits videos automatically

CNET – Graava camera promises to capture, edit and share your best moments

Popular Science – GRAAVA ACTION CAMERA EDITS YOUR VIDEO

GQ – CAMERA GRAAVA : VOUS FILMEZ, ELLE GÈRE LE MONTAGE

PC Magazine – Meet Graava, an Action Cam That Edits Videos for You

PC World – Graava action cam automatically finds best clips

Uncrate – GRAAVA ACTION CAMERA

Re/code – Editing Makes Good Videos Great. Can Computers Do It Better Than Humans?

Gizmag – Graava actioncam promises videos that are all killer, no filler

The Next Web – Graava camera will automatically capture and edit your tedious holiday videos

Digital Trends – If only your GoPro could edit its own footage like this smart camera

Crowdfund Insider – GoPro Killer? Graava Video Camera Uses Artificial Intelligence to Keep the Best, Tosses the Rest

9to5 Toys – The new Graava action camera uses your heartbeat to capture the best moments and make a highlight reel

SlashGear – Graava action cam auto-creates highlight reels

Ubergizmo – Graava Action Cam Takes The Pain Out Of Editing Videos

Photo District News – Graava Camera Uses Artificial Intelligence and Sensors to Edit Video for You

Shutterbug – Unique New Graava Camera Uses Artificial Intelligence to Self Edit Videos

Indirect / Syndications / International:

MSN – Graava Action Camera Edits Your Video, So You Don’t Have To

MSN – Graava Captures And Edits Video Footage

Techmeme – Graava is an action camera that automatically edits your video and prepares highlights, on preorder for $249, to eventually retail for $399  

Aol Tech – Graava Captures And Edits Video Footage

Computerworld – Graava action cam automatically finds best clips

CIO – Graava action cam automatically finds best clips

BGR – Graava is the newest action camera in the block that can edit your videos for you

Pocket-lint – Graava action cam is more like a sensor-loaded smart cam that can edit your vids

Peta Pixel – Graava is a Smart Action Camera That Can Edit Your Footage For You

Mac Stories – Graava Action Camera and watchOS 2

The Tech Bulletin – $249 Graava camera edits Highlight videos

Geeky Gadgets – Graava Smart Life Logging Camera Now Available To Pre-Order For $249 (video)

Gizmoids – THIS NEW GRAAVA ACTION CAMERA WILL ALSO DO THE EDITING FOR YOU

Poker News – GRAAVA’S NEW ACTION CAMERA EDITS VIDEO FOR YOU. YES. IT DOES.

Motoroids – Graava’s new action camera can also edit videos for you

Engine vs. Motor – Graava action camera edits videos for you

Demanjo News – Graava Is A $249 Action Camera That Edits Highlight Videos For You

Food World News – Go Pro Competitor ‘Graava’: This New Toy Edits Videos For you

Argyll Life Press GRAAVA ACTION CAM DOES ALL THE EDITING FOR YOU

Yibada – Graava Camera‘s AI Automatically Picks, Synthesizes Top Video Clips

Tulane Hullabaloo – Graava camera captures and edits videos automatically; preorder price $249

Uber Topic – Graava Is A $249 Action Camera That Edits Highlight Videos For You

IDG Blog – Rival da GoPro: nova câmera usa IA para editar vídeos dos usuários

Technoblog – Feita por brasileiros: conheça a Graava, a câmera que edita os vídeos por você

wwwhats news – Graava, cámara de acción inteligente que captura momentos concretos

Apparata –Betaalbare action cam monteert automatisch je video’s

Xataka – Las cámaras de acción de Graava editan los vídeos por ti

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How to think about my startup valuation?


valuation

I often get this question from early stage entrepreneurs: “How do I calculate the valuation of my startup?”

The valuation of a startup is the value of the company at the moment when the first round of venture capital is raised. Valuation should not be the focus of the early stage entrepreneur. For more on that, please read on.

Am I ready to talk to a VC?

If VC’s are willing to talk to you, go ahead and talk to them. But the conversation will have tangible consequences only if your startup is at the stage of development for a VC capital investment.

You are ready to raise VC funding when at least one of the following conditions are satisfied:

  • Users – Your B2C service has millions of users and that number is growing exponentially through social propagation. The target audience is everyone in the world. There is no business model, but who cares? You are the next Instagram.
  • Traction – Your project has a significant number of users (hundreds of thousand for B2C, several customers for B2B) and at least one business model for monetization has been validated (advertisement, commission, subscription, sales, etc.). Your startup is not a website, it is a business.
  • Innovation – Your project includes  Innovation with uppercase “I”, that is applicable to the solution of a high-value concrete problem. The innovation is either protected by patent or is very difficult to replicate. You’ve invented teleporting.
  • Resume – You have a well-formed project and a team that has previously created other companies that were successful and generated return to investors. Those investors are willing to offer capital even before the previous criteria are satisfied.

The details of the criteria above might vary slightly from a VC to another, but there is no magic. Note that VCs are professional investors investing capital from a fund that received money from other investors. The VC investor does not own the money and can only invest if they can model it based on the goals of the fund.

Seed Money

If none of the criteria above is satisfied, the valuation of your startup has no valuation.

But that should not be cause for alarm. It is the case of the vast majority of the startups. It doesn’t mean the project is wrong or has no future. It only means you need to execute further before its value creates a valuation.

If you need capital to execute before there is a valuation, you will need seed money, normally a smaller amount enough to run the company for a few months, provided by an Angel Investor.

While it is fun to guess numbers, there is usually no need to define a valuation to raise seed money. The angel investor usually receives convertible notes in exchange for the investment. Simply put, a convertible note is a loan denominated in dollars (often including interest and discount clauses) that is converted in equity participation if and when there is a first round of venture capital investment (when a more concrete valuation is defined by a professional investor).

Ok, got it. But what if I still want to guess what valuation I can get for my company?

The definition of a valuation at the raising of venture capital will take in account the structure of ownership (how many founders, how many key people) and the amount to be raised (which is a function of the money needed to execute as well as the preferences of the fund).

The investor must believe in the project and the team, so it has vested interest in keeping the team committed and motivated. There is no incentive to squeeze the entrepreneurs by defining valuation that is too low. So the actual valuation is based on real market perceptions, but ends up being a number that makes the round viable and a win for all parties involved.

Now, if after all this discussion, you really want to estimate a possible valuation, you can try at least three different approaches:

  • Financial – If you have a solid business plan, valuation can be calculated based on the execution risk and the projections of revenue and profit and a possible sale or IPO. Because execution risks in early stage are very high, it is virtually impossible to achieve much confidence in a number. Normally, the investors try to model this, not the entrepreneur.
  • Market – VC investments usually become public information. You can estimate your valuation based on the valuation of similar companies in similar stages of execution that are receiving professional investment.
  • Opportunity Cost – Calculate the amount of the time and effort applied to the project and estimate what would be its value if that effort was applied in a well established business. This is the cost of opportunity of your project. This number is irrelevant to the investor, but can be useful for the entrepreneur to continuously monitor the viability of the project (the cost of opportunity must be always below the valuation one hopes to achieve in the future).

Thanksgiving 2013


It is again that time of the year when we in the US take a break from our busy lives to express Gratitude (and eat, shop, etc).

Gratitude is a positive emotion we feel in acknowledgment of a benefit we have received. Saying “Thank You” is the way to express that emotion which is the basis of life in community. It recognizes that we depend on one another to live, to be ourselves.

We get used to say “Thank You” as a matter of social protocol. This is the time to bring its meaning back to consciousness.

I grew up in Brazil and my native language is Portuguese. We say “Obrigado“, which is not my favorite expression because it equals gratitude with indebtedness. Literally, it says “I owe you something in exchange for this”.

In my travels around the world I have always taken interest not only on the local word to express gratitude, but also on its literal meaning and the social attitude behind it.

My favorite form of “Thank You” is the one used in Malaysia. “Terima Kasih” sounds very friendly and it literally translates to “Receive Love”.

I am no historian or linguist, but I theorize that words equating gratitude and indebtedness have roots in a period in history where gratitude was used as social currency between levels of hierarchy, where favors were exchanged for political loyalty. Words that equals gratitude with love reflect a more equal exchange between peers.

As we shift towards a world where stronger relationships are more equal and transparent, gratitude has to be more like love and less like indebtedness.

With that in mind, I would like to say Thank You for reading, agreeing or disagreeing, providing feedback and teaching me through interaction in 2013.

Here is a list to say Thank You in other languages.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Road to Continuous Delivery in SW Development


(this post originally written for Daitan Blog)

Once upon a time, people just wrote code and then run it to find how well it worked. Working individually, the developer was able to iterate quickly until the software was useful to solve a real problem.

By the 1990’s, as software became more complex, it was broken into separate and independent sub-modules developed more or less in isolation by individual developers. Each sub-module was tested, the system was integrated back together, then tested, staged, released, deployed. Software development cycles stretched over several months (or several years).

The pendulum is swinging back. Software engineering is now evolving towards shortening the feedback loops and minimizing the time it takes from code being written and being in production. This time, we want to do it with more quality and predictability. The tools to achieve that are processes, automation, and collaboration.

Process Agility

Moving across the levels depicted on the picture above (Source Code Control, Build Automation, Test Automation, Continuous Integration, Release Automation, Continuous Delivery) is not simple. It involves not only changing processes and automating them, but also changes in culture and organization.

  • Source Code Control – Single source code repository with version control.
  • Build Automation – Compile and Build applications without human intervention.
  • Test Automation – Execute unit, integration and service tests without human intervention.
  • Continuous Integration – Developers integrate code into a shared repository (which triggers automated build/test) often.
  • Release Automation – Packaging, deploying and post-deployment testing without human intervention.
  • Continuous Delivery – Every change to the system is releasable. Release can be done by the push of a button.

Continuous Integration

Continuous Integration (CI) is the practice of accelerating the daily commits of code by software developers. If in the past developers would work for weeks before trying to integrate their work to the main tree, in a CI environment you want developers to check-in their work several times a day.

A CI server monitors code check-outs and check-ins by developers and, as often as practical, it builds the system and runs unit and integration tests. If there is any failure in the process, the CI server alerts the developers. A broken build gets the attention and top priority from the team.

CI requires test-driven development and automation.

Benefits:

  • CI does not eliminate software bugs, but it accelerates their discovery and keeps people from going in the wrong direction for too long.
  • The system is always in a state that can be released to users. That provides more flexibility to the business and enables the automation of the release process and delivery to users.

Continuous Delivery

Once you are doing Continuous Integration and is able to automate the deployment process, you can consider extending the process and automation all the way to the end-user. Continuous Delivery (CD) is the practice and ability to rapidly, reliably and repeatedly push out enhancements and bug fixes to customers at low risk and with minimal manual overhead.

The automation system let changes to the system be released on a granular basis. Releasing features just to a subset of users and being able to seamless roll back to a previous version become possible.

The result is that there is no delay between enhancements and bug fixes being implemented and available to users.