Making Tech Stack Choices

I received this question today by email and I thought I would share my answer.

Here is my question. We are building a startup and are having to make a technology stack shift for reasons I can explain later. The startup is currently funded but we have a short time to put this together to receive more funding. Based on the skill set of the developers we have, we have chosen to go with .Net MVC 5 for a service layer, Mongo for a db, and knockout on the client side for an MVVM. One of the investors has advised us that .Net could be problematic for us when it came time for VC investors and a possible buyout later. The concern is that such investors or buyers will shy from a .Net based site. My question is simple? Is that true, has that been your experience and do you have any suggestions?

My answer was:

The answer is that yes, SOME investors and SOME acquirers will not be interested in .NET. Then again, some (for example Microsoft) will think it’s great! Don’t make tech choices based on potential exits or investors, make them on your ability to serve your customers. Create value, and things like investors and acquisitions take care of themselves. This is more likely to be an issue in a downside case, where your’e selling the company because you have to – that’s when things like tech stacks get considered as a major part of the equation. When it’s because you, your products, your customers and your data add tremendous value they’ll acquire you even if the code is written in MS BASIC with a BTRIEVE database. ;-)

Let me know in the comments if you disagree.

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Wha?!? A $5M business plan competition!

Wow, the folks in Buffalo are cranking it up. They’re created a $5M business plan competition. It’s called 43North and they will make the following awards:

1 $1m award
6 $500k awards
4 $250k awards

Head over and check it out. It looks amazing.

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Talking about startup communities at Startup Grind

Really fun time at Startup Grind. Thanks to them for putting on such a great even. Here’s the fireside chat from that event. These things never have real fires. I guess they don’t need that in California.

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1Q is too good to be true

I am an investor in a startup company called 1Q that can use your help and benefit you at the same time.  Sign up with 1Q and you (or a designated charity) receive $1 every time you respond to a multiple choice question sent to your cell phone via the app.  Companies pay $2 to 1Q for every response they receive.  Companies get market research from 1Q and you get paid.  Facebook, Linkedin, Google and other websites use your information to make money and none of them pay you.

You can receive questions based on the location of your residence, your current location and other variables.  For example, a question can be sent so that it is received only by 1Q members sitting in one of 31 NFL stadiums on a given Sunday; “Why do you drink Miller Lite?  A. Tastes great  B. Less filling  C. Not a fan  D. Never tried it.”  Companies receive a statistical breakdown of responses to their survey instantly.

You can register for 1Q at If you have an iPhone or Android phone, access the link from your phone to download the free app.  Complete as much profile information as you like (the more information you include, the more questions you are likely to receive).  If you don’t have the app, questions will be sent to your cell phone by text message.

There will be a limited number questions sent to your phone during the startup phase but questions are expected to increase significantly in 2014.  If you like the app, forward this email to your friends.

One of the big questions I wanted to ask you as readers of this blog is that this is one of those things that sounds too good to be true, and many people automatically think it’s not legit. But it is. Would you use it? Why or why not? And how would you explain it differently?

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It’s Open Angel Forum #8 in Colorado!

November 18th, 2013 is the 8th open angel forum in Colorado. This is a simple dinner in Boulder with active angel investors. We usually have 4-5 companies pitch, and around 20-25 angel investors in attendance.  Open Angel Forum started because we think startups should never pay to pitch, and we prefer a simple dinner together to a more contrived event. There’s no cost to startups, and the format is simple and friendly.

Learn more at

Want to attend as an angel investor? Register here ->

Want to attend and pitch your startup to investors? ->  (deadline Nov 5, 2013)

I hope to see you there on November 18th!


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Asynchronous Voice is my new BFF

I’ve been saying for years that I hate the phone. I keep wondering why people keep calling me on my mobile computer (which for some reason they still insist on calling a phone even though that is by far the most poorly executed capability it has). Lately, I’ve made good progress on cutting down on phone calls, so I thought I’d share so that together we can eventually eliminate most phone calls.

Internally at Techstars, we’ve been using Voxer for about a year now. It’s completely changed our ability to communicate easily and we love it. We use it for leaving “instant voicemail” for each other. You still get all the nuance of voice communications for important subjects, but everyone gets to listen and reply when they want to. It has cut way down on both email and the number of internal meetings we used to need. As a company, we now treat the various communication channels with the following priorities:

  • Phone call – very urgent or scheduled in advance
  • Text Message – very time sensitive (now) but less urgent than a phone call
  • Voxer – important but any time today or ASAP for you is OK.  <– New!
  • Email – it can wait a few days, it’s not a big deal.

Of course we communicate in lots of other ways (Jive, chat, twitter, etc). But most of our important internal communications are one of the four methods above, and we have a conscious prioritization of them internally so everyone is on the same page about expectations.

By adding in this new third priority (Voxer in our case), it’s massively cut down on the need for scheduled phone calls internally while also decreasing email which has the drawback of having no tone. Given that we’re 50 or so people spread out over many geographies, it’s had an even larger impact. I can’t recommend it highly enough for distributed teams.

Lately I’ve been using WhatsApp as well, and it’s also excellent. I’ve decided to use both. I’m using Voxer for “internal” Techstars work and I’m using WhatsApp for my investments.

So, if I’m an investor in your company via Techstars or my angel or venture funds, please use WhatsApp any time you want to chat! You’ll need my cell number to do that – just add me to your address book and you’ll see me inside WhatsApp automatically. 

Please don’t use Voxer or Whatsapp to reach out to me if I don’t already know you. We need an existing personal or business relationship for this channel to work for me. If you do reach out to me anyway, I’ll direct you to email as politely as I can (probably by linking to this post).

It’s important to understand that in both Voxer and Whatsapp, the conversations often turn real time. I often go back and forth with someone if they happen to catch me between meetings or while I’m walking to my office. It’s just that the back and forth is ‘walkie talkie’ style, and there is no social contract that I have to keep it real time. If it works, it works, without any pre-planning.

I hope this post helps you get more out of asynchronous voice communication and helps you avoid some of your scheduled meetings and email backlog.

Friends! Coworkers! Business contacts! I’ll see you in async voice land!

Note: I’m not an investor in Voxer or Whatsapp, but I wish I was. 

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