UC Davis Startup Hub

I was honored to be invited to hear pitches from UC Davis students this past weekend as part of the 2017 Startup and Innovation Panel put on by the Startup Hub. UC Davis students are only two hours from San Francisco, but in many ways, in a different world. The Startup Hub aims to foster a startup culture among students on campus.

The students came from across the campus and there were some interesting ideas:

RoboNurse = in home medicine dispensary for the elderly

MarbleMosaic = a discovery app for college students to learn about student organizations and events = a color matching algorithm focused on apparel

VitalLinkTechnologies = a personal health alert system

Courser = a class discussion app for students and instructors

There's a lot of talent on campus and I hope to see more of Silicon Valley pay attention.



Because a good idea should seem obvious, when you have one you'll tend to feel that you're late. Don't let that deter you. Worrying that you're late is one of the signs of a good idea. Ten minutes of searching the web will usually settle the question. Even if you find someone else working on the same thing, you're probably not too late. It's exceptionally rare for startups to be killed by competitors—so rare that you can almost discount the possibility. So unless you discover a competitor with the sort of lock-in that would prevent users from choosing you, don't discard the idea.

~ Paul Graham

Who Cares?

Start a company. Do consulting. Work for a company. I've been going back and forth between these options - stuck in the thinking that these are the only options. As I try to step back and reorder my thinking, one memory keeps playing itself like a broken record. I was talking on a panel about entrepreneurship at Stanford University. It was me and another guy (younger than me) who started a company. I explained that I thought passion was a large component of entrepreneurial success because it is what can carry you through what are sure to be the many rough spots in the experience.

My panel partner objected. He believed that the only thing an entrepreneur should worry about and/or needed was a profitable business model. He could have left his comments at that but instead he turned to me and said, "You know what your problem is Alicia?"

I pulled my upper body back steadying myself for the blow (childhood habits die hard) and unfortunately never even questioned whether I had a problem. I was sure I did.

"You care how you make money," he sneered, emphasis on the "care."

I didn't know how to respond and thus, didn't. But his words have cropped up for me ever so often. Especially when doubt and uncertainty clouds my vision, my possibilities as a person.

Is it wrong to care? Does caring automatically hinder my judgement or thus makes me ill-equipped to be an entrepreneur?

I don't know that there is a right answer. Everyone has their own way of approaching a problem. His is maybe more analytical than mine, but it doesn't make his right. Even when business can seem so black and white.

My way is how I approach my life. I care. I care deeply about the things I do, the people in my life and how I live my life. It's not everybody's cup of tea and many might cringe at my earnestness, but it's who I am. So who cares? I do.

The Mary Meeker Slide Deck

It's 112 Slides but the 2012 summary is simple: mobile is where it's at. Here's a round up of the companies (mainly hot start-ups) and innovations in various industries that she mentions in her report:

1. Life stories: Facebook's Timeline

2. News/Information Flow: Twitter

3. Note taking: Evernote

4. Drawing: Paper by Fiftythree

5. Photography:

6. Diaries: Path

7. Scrapbooking: Pinterest

8. Magazines: Flipboard

9. Books: Kindle/iBooks

10. Music: Spotify

11. Sound Recording: SoundCloud

12. Video: YouTube/Netflix

13. Video Creation/Production: SocialCam/Viddy/GoPro

14. TV: YouTube/Bleacher Team Stream

15. Communication: Voxer

16. Navigation: Waze

17. Sports: Bleacher Report

18. Home Improvement: Houzz/One Kings Lane

19. Cabs: Uber

20. Yellow Pages: Yelp

21. Coupons/Local Services: Groupon

22. Cash registers: Square

23. Window shopping: Fab

24. Marketplaces: Etsy

25. Manufacturing: Zazzle/Shapeways

26. Personal Services: Zaarly/TaskRabbit/Fiverr

27. Funding: KickStarter

28. Lending: Lending Club

29. Business Collaboration: Salesforce/Yammer/Jive

30. Recruiting/Hiring: LinkedIn

31. Focus Groups: Affectiva

32. Signatures: DocuSign

33. Healthcare Access: ZocDoc/Teladoc

34. Education: Codecademy/Coursera/Khan Academy

35. Rewards/Satisfaction: Klout/FourSquare/Zynga

36. Crime Awareness: Crime Mapping

37. Thermostats: Nest

Areas where she didn't identify a company? Data - companies that can find a "needle in a haystack" or as I would put it, derive meaning from large data sets.  Looks like a big opportunity there.

Finally, it will be interesting to see where all these companies are one year from now.  You'll still be reading here, right?

Start-up Business Resources

Starting is difficult. Here's a list of business resources you may find helpful.  

Invoicing: freshbooks, excel


Payment: Paypal, Square


Accounting: quickbooks, xero, inDinero


Payroll: paychex, adp, intuit, workday


Expenses: expensify


Group collaboration: google docs


UX/design testing: usertesting


Web analytics: google analytics, crazy egg, kissmetrics


Mobile storage:, dropbox


What else should I add to the list?

Why Starting is Difficult

Remember last year? How about Q3 of last year when people were still talking about a potential tech bubble? Well it definitely wasn't in early-stage investing. Check out these stats:  

Investments By Stage Of Development Q1 2012

Expansion: $2.5B, 260 deals, 35.92% of investments

Later Stage: $2.3B, 186 deals, 33.37% of investments

Early Stage: $2B, 341 deals, 28.14% of investments

Startup/Seed: $179M, 89 deals, 2.57% of investments

"The majority of last quarter’s deals were in the form of expansion and later stage investments, while startup funding made up only a fraction of total investments."

Data is from

89 deals kids. 89.  And not just in Silicon Valley.