Jon Soberg is a managing director at Blumberg Capital.
The long term potential of the JOBS Act looks very promising, but the implementation so far feels like watching paint dry.
Crowdfunding is getting a lot more hype in the aftermath of the JOBS Act implementation, but there's a long road ahead.Early stage risks
I have been on the record as a strong believer in crowdfunding for projects, causes, and pre-orders, but have voiced some concerns about equity crowdfunding.
My grandfather passed away this morning, at the age of 92. Today has been a tough day for me– I miss my grandfather even more than I thought I would. It is especially tough knowing how difficult this is for my dad- it breaks my heart to see him this sad.
At the same time I find myself being thankful for many things. My grandfather lived a very long, and fruitful life, and was quite healthy right up to the day he died. He was out at a restaurant with my parents just 3 days ago, joking and having fun. Still living life. He died today in his home, and both of his kids were with him. I hope when I go, I can say the same.
But, this post is about living life, and the example my grandfather set. Whenever I spoke with my grandfather, from the time I was very young, until very recently on the phone, he would always say “I’m doing great! I’m so lucky!” Over the past few years, his short term memory had been fading, so I would get to hear those words repeated several times in a conversation, but I never tired of them. He would say, “Oh, I’m getting old, forgetful, not what I used to be, but I’m doing great, lucky to be alive and healthy!” He always had a joke, or a lighthearted comment, many of the self deprecating sort, and always getting back to being lucky. Growing up it was the same. He was always cheerful, loved to take us swimming, fishing, camping, or just hanging out. And, we always heard how lucky we were.
He was lucky. His father emigrated from Norway to the US (and changed his name, or had it changed by accident when he arrived). He had plenty of stories of hard work to pay for college. He was on the swim team (and had the most efficient swim strokes I have seen anywhere). He loved to tell stories about winning wrestling matches against kids twice his size because he was quicker, more determined, and maybe a bit more strategic. He was a pilot in the Pacific theater during WWII, and used to love to show me the collection of old WWII guns he amassed from his travels in the war (I never did ask him how he brought them all home). He never told me about the tough parts of the war, but always focused on how lucky he was to fly, to be with the brave friends, and to survive.
After the war, my grandfather was an executive at a couple of construction firms in Duluth, Minnesota. We would drive around the city and he loved to point out all the different buildings he had helped build, and was immensely proud of what he contributed to the community. ”We built that hospital” or “We won that project because we did that special design”, or “we worked extra hard on that one, and barely won it.” Every drive had a story. He was the guy who did the final estimates, and then supervised projects. He could do math in his head that most had trouble doing with calculators, and always pointed out the common sense angles that he used to win. He won most of the projects he bid, and he would usually say it was a combination of “luck and a bit of hard work.” He built his own house, and loved to show me the specifics, the tricky parts, and the things that others wouldn’t notice. Always paying attention to the details, and always working just a bit harder.
As a father, he loved his kids more than anything, even though I know he worked more than he would have liked. From all of my memories of him, and I have many amazing memories over the years, the one I recall most strongly was two summers ago. My family went to visit Minnesota, and he met Melina and Nadia for the first time. He thought the world of the girls– I don’t think there was anything in the world that could have made him happier than spending time with them. He kept repeating, “Jon, you are so lucky. Cherish every minute with these girls.” And, given his short term memory lapses, he repeated it enough that it is my strongest memory of him. There are times now I wonder if the short term memory failure was just a hoax so he could get his point across!
I believe that luck is not just about chance, but is also about being ready and able to take advantage of opportunities. My grandfather is a case and point. He always spoke about “luck”, but he helped make his luck, and I don’t ever recall a time when he was not “doing great!” Always quick with a joke, a word of encouragement, and full of love for the world, Grandpa Ray was always grateful, and in a word, he lived life “lucky.”
Thank you Grandpa Ray. I hope to live life “lucky” like you, and we all miss you very much!
Bitcoin's roller coaster ride over the past few months has been well documented. We watched Bitcoin's meteoric rise in value from $33 at the end of February (then an all-time high) to a peak of nearly $266 on April 10, followed by the crash of as much as 70 percent.
But Bitcoin prices are not the story. The opportunities that Bitcoin creates and the new virtual algorithmic currency companies are the true story.
Jon Soberg is a managing director at Blumberg Capital.
In Germany, and in many other countries, Rocket Internet is a constant topic of startup conversation, while in the U.S., there is a dearth of knowledge about the incubator.
I just finished another trip to Germany, where I am actively investing (seven investments in the past 18 months). Several investments have been made along with Rocket Internet and Global Founders Capital (the fund managed by Oliver Samwer, Marc Samwer, and Fabian Siegel).
I recently had a Twitter conversation with a great friend about an article that really hit home for me. A recent Pew Research study concluded that more fathers feel they aren't spending enough time with their kids than mothers (including working mothers), and I have to say that it was like someone had done the study at my house.
I am a father who loves my children more than anything in the world.
A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of taking my two daughters to the Maker Faire. It was one of those experiences that left me feeling like a pretty cool Dad (and that doesn’t happen all that often!)
In the interest of full disclosure, I had some extra incentive for the trip– one of my friends is the founder of Molnari, the world’s first flying motorcycle company. When I first met Deszo Molnar, I came home and told Melina about the flying motorcycles. She thought it was the coolest company I had ever met (and I concur). For a school assignment this year, Melina had to write a persuasive essay in school, and she titled it “Why My Dad Should Invest in Flying Motorcycles.” It was so awesome, I sent it to Deszo, and it is on his website. http://www.molnari.com/gyroblog
At a family party a few weeks ago, I had the chance to introduce Melina to Deszo, and he told her that he would take her and her sister for a ride in the motorcycle (but not fly). Her eyes got big, and there was a combination of excitement and a little fear that I could see. Excitement trumped fear, and we arranged to make it happen at Maker Faire.
I was totally excited to expose my daughters to some of the really innovative ideas, companies and people at the Faire. It was everything we expected and more. Some awesome innovation, and more than a few odd inventions and things I’m not sure will really find a market.
Melina and Nadia loved the next generation lights– some pretty cool stuff there. They were dumbfounded by the tapigami http://tapigami.com, and I was amazed at the amount of time spent on it– it reminded me of the reaction I have with some of the exhibitions in museums of modern art. There is a combination of respect, wonder, and pure disbelief that this is being done.
The robots and some of the creations with legos were just plain off-the-charts. Coming from a background in robotics, I love all the innovation that I see in that arena, and the fact that robotics is really coming into its own, both in the business and the consumer world, makes me very excited about all the opportunities ahead.
Both Melina and Nadia have decided that we need a 3-D printer after taking a look at the things that were built by Makerbot, Shapeways, and others. 3-D printing is really one of the game-changers globally– this technology has changed our world forever. We haven’t even begun to see what this does to manufacturing, to innovation, and to global economics. Made in the USA will mean something different going forward. I’ve already decided that my girls need to learn how to use 3-D modeling software– yesterday. At Maker Faire, they both walked away with little souvenirs courtesy of the very generous woman who showed Melina and Nadia the printer and some of the creations.
Then onto the highlight of the day. We went to the Molnari booth just as the Faire was closing. After telling the girls a bit about the motorcycle, Deszo put Melina in the back seat and drove her around for a while, drawing attention from everyone. She was grinning ear-to-ear, and totally excited. Nadia was supposed to be next, but one of the Faire officials told us that we couldn’t drive the vehicle until the Faire was completely clear of people, which he thought would be an hour or two. Then he looked at Nadia, and her dejected face, and said he couldn’t keep her from a ride. She got her turn, and I think she was even more excited than her sister.
There is nothing like seeing a look of sheer happiness on the faces of your children, and as most parents can attest, it doesn’t happen every day! For me, this was an all-around winner– I exposed Melina and Nadia to some of the coolest technology anywhere, and got to see the looks of wonderment and the huge smiles of pure enjoyment!
Giving up half of your company for a mere $250K seems an absurd proposition. Only offer on Shark Tank? Bad business school case study? I must have missed a zero or two, right?
If that sounds bad, how about half of your company for $90K? Crazy?
No. This is the reality in many places outside of Silicon Valley (and especially outside the US).