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And the Winner Is…

January 27, 2016 - Author: admin

Well, the day is finally here. I’m ready to announce the winners of the Neal’s Running Start program. The decision process was much harder than I ever anticipated, as I had so many good candidates apply.

In fact, I had so many good candidates that I decided to change the rules a bit.  I originally planned to bring three entrepreneurs to San Francisco, but in the end, the applications were so strong, I decided to go with four winners instead.

Congratulations to the following entrepreneurs, in alphabetical order of their company names:

  • Neal Oddens is the CEO of IncreaseOnline, which is based in Amsterdam (Two Neals, so we’re going to have to have a nickname for you, Neal O.
  • Antti Rikkien is the Co-Founder of Zero Keyboard, which is also coincidentally based in Helsinki –

All of these winners come from very different companies and backgrounds, which I think will make the whole experience more productive and interesting for everyone.  I chose all of them for specific reasons. In the next few weeks, I will do a blog post on each of them individually so you can all get to know them before they arrive in San Francisco this Spring.

I’d like to send out a big thank you to the White Bull conference in Barcelona who introduced me to some fine European entrepreneurs.  Two of the winners came through their introductions and assistance.  I hope to spend more time with White Bull this summer and Fall talking about the results of this adventure.

Congratulations to the winners, and I look forward to their adventures in San Francisco.  I’ll keep you posted as we get closer to their arrival.

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Onward to 2016

January 2, 2016 - Author: admin

Another year has passed, so like many of you, I’m reflecting on what went well, what didn’t and how I’d like to focus my time for 2016. As I review 2015, the events that brought me greatest joy stand out. Whether it was the IPO video blog series, or the Angel investment video series, or working with entrepreneurs and students at the University of Washington, I find that one theme has become clear to me – I am happiest when mentoring entrepreneurs.

With that in mind, a portion of 2016 will be include mentoring entrepreneurs in a more structured way.  In early January, I will announce 3 entrepreneurs who will join me in San Francisco for a month of intense mentorship.  I call it Neal’s Running Start. I’m bringing entrepreneurs from various corners of the world to Silicon Valley so they can learn more about Silicon Valley funding, strategies and ways of doing business. I won’t take equity in these companies or ask for a piece of the pie.  I’m merely committing time and energy to give them a running start with their businesses, because working with entrepreneurs feeds my soul.

I hope Harry Marshall will also be back in 2016 to help with the Running Start program.  Harry was the original mentee.  Though Harry is British, he is living in Spain and came to Bay Partners for three months to learn about the VC process.  He took his lessons back to Spain with him and totally changed how he operated his company.  Today, his company is thriving and growing faster than he anticipated.

His time with Bay Partners in 2013 was what really inspired me to start this program.  Harry is still a fellow with Bay Partners and has been an integral part of selecting new companies for angel investment consideration as well as selecting the final candidates for Neal’s Running Start.  Harry even came to our winery in Italy this autumn for the stomping of the grapes.  That mentorship experience has grown into an important collaboration for me, and I look forward to fostering more long-term relationships with entrepreneurs in the coming year.  Watching them grow and learn is a bit like watching your child grown up.  It’s exhilarating to feel part of their process.Vendemmia 2015 HarryVendemmia 2015 Neal

Certainly there were other successes to celebrate for Bay Partners.  We had two IPOs this year and we have two funds that are continuing to flourish and offer great returns.  Bay’s X and XI were once again ranked in the top quartile of the funds in their vintage by Cambridge Associates, and of course we are very proud of the results.  But even those results are the culmination of a lot of time spent with the founders of these companies and helping them find success through the highs and lows of running a company.

As we bring another year to a close, I’m excited for the year ahead and for the mentorship opportunities that await. I wish you all much joy, happiness and continued learning experiences in the year to come. I will continue to keep you updated here on the blog and hope you will share your thoughts and ideas as we go.

Happy new year, everyone!


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Angel Investment Series – Therapydia

November 18, 2015 - Author: admin

In my final installment for my angel investment series, I’m highlighting Therapydia. I invested in Therapydia a while back, but I didn’t truly appreciate what a great service it is until I was injured earlier this year while running the Boston Marathon.  Since then, I’ve been in physical therapy trying to get back to my regular running routine. Therapydia is upending physical therapy to focus on overall wellness.

This angel series is wrapping up as I also finalize my search for three entrepreneurs to join me in San Francisco for Neal’s Running Start program.  I’ll spend a month with three entrepreneurs helping them overcome challenges and push towards goals.  I’ll be making my final selections by November 27, so if you haven’t submitted and you’re interested, get in touch fast. You can get more information by emailing me at

Here is a look at my work with Therapydia.  And I’m not just an investor, I’m a client as you’ll see in the video.

And here’s a look at the entire series in case you missed it:

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Angel Investment Series – AdStage

October 27, 2015 - Author: admin

Continuing our series highlighting some of the companies I work with as an Angel Investor, today I’m introducing AdStage.  AdStage is a San Francisco start-up that provides a platform for deploying and managing ads across multiple online networks.  They’re a young company doing great stuff and an example of the kind of entrepreneurs I like to mentor.

If you haven’t heard already, I’m offering the opportunity for 3 entrepreneurs to come to San Francisco and spend a month with me.  My goal is to help these companies get a running start.  I call it Neal’s Running Start.  I’ll work with you like I work with the companies in this series and help you overcome challenges preventing you from moving to the next level.

Companies who are interested can submit a pitch deck at, or email me at  If you’re going to be at Web Summit in Dublin next week, give me a shout and we can meet there.

In the meantime, enjoy this short video on AdStage.

And you can view the entire series here.

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Angel Investment Series – Kinders

October 14, 2015 - Author: admin

Last week, I attended the White Bull conference in Barcelona, one of the great tech conferences focusing on the European community. A few years ago, I met a young entrepreneur there named Harry Marshall. Harry ending up coming to San Francisco to spend 3 months with me learning the start-up and VC businesses and the Silicon Valley network. Harry went on to build a very successful start-up in Barcelona, and now works with me to identify promising start-ups and angel investment opportunities. Our collaboration was so successful, that he and we have partnered again to invite 3 entrepreneurs to spend an intensive month with us in San Francisco this coming March 2016.  We will help these selected entrepreneurs refine their products and companies, meet Silicon Valley influencers, mentors and investors, and develop new leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

We began screening entrepreneurs for the opportunity at White Bull and will continue over the coming months.  If you’re interested and can spend a month in San Francisco in March 2016, you can reach us at for more information, or you can submit your company’s pith deck to and Harry will receive it directly.

Many of you may have questions about what it’s like to work with me and why I might be a good mentor for your company.  To give you a taste for how I work with entrepreneurs, I’ve put together a video series about some of the angel investments I’ve made and how I work with these growing companies.  Some are tech companies, and some are not. But all are companies that intrigued me enough to make an investment and spend time helping them along their start-up journey.

We kick off the angel investment video series with a company called Kinders.  Kinders offers organic California BBQ sauces and foods.  This video captures a day I spent with them at their offices.  I will also be posting a video about my investment and mentorship with a company called AdStage and with a company called Therypedia.  You can view Kinders below, but if you’d like to view the whole series at once, you can find them on my YouTube channel.

Reach out to me if you’re interested in coming to San Francisco in March and for intense and fast-paced start-up lessons from Harry and I.  We call it Neal’s Running Start.  And bring your running shoes because we might literally be running from time to time.

And you can view the Series here:

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Neal’s Running Start – the Opportunity to Spend a Month with Neal in Silicon Valley

September 26, 2015 - Author: admin

You may recall that Harry Marshall came to spend a few months with me in Silicon Valley a couple of years ago.  Harry is from Barcelona, and wanted to learn about entrepreneurship and venture capital, Silicon Valley style.  You can read more about it here.

I have decided to revive the mentorship program I did with Harry, only this time, it will be more intense and fast-paced.  I’m looking for 3 early stage entrepreneurs who are available to come to San Francisco in March of 2016.  We’ll spend 30 days together building your entrepreneurial strength and endurance to boost your company to the next level.

Each week, you will learn a different aspect of running a successful company.  Plus, you’ll meet Silicon Valley influencers and experts who can help you along the way.  We’ll film the whole project and present a final broadcast show about the experience.  The show is meant to be a positive and inspirational overview of the challenges and successes our 3 entrepreneurs encounter along the way.

Harry will join me, imparting his wisdom and experience and serve as a secondary mentor.

Our ideal start-ups would be:

  1. Available to travel to San Francisco – Neal will cover housing, but you must cover flight and other expenses.  Part of being an entrepreneur is being resourceful with minimal resources, so this is your first challenge.
  2. Start-ups who have done a seed round and are looking for an A round, or have bootstrapped and achieved traction as listed in point #3
  3. Have some traction – a completed product, some customers, revenues
  4. From outside Silicon Valley
  5. A diverse group of individuals with various backgrounds and experiences
  6. Articulate and well-spoken on camera
  7. Have a specific goal they want to accomplish in Silicon Valley, be it customers, investors, partners or overcoming a current company obstacle
  8. Possess Neal’s identified attributes of successful entrepreneurs – Passion, Perseverance and Personality
  9. A good listener and willing to take feedback
  10. Able to obtain a visitor’s visa to the US
  11. Willing to have their experience video-taped and broadcast online
  12. Speak fluent English

If you think you’ve got what it takes, you can meet me and Harry at the White Bull conference October 6-8 in Barcelona.  Or, you can contact me at and Harry and I will be in touch to discuss next steps.

Good luck, and hope to see you in San Francisco this March!

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Graduation Season Refresh

June 29, 2015 - Author: admin

It’s graduation season and many new grads are heading out into the world, having completed their studies.  They hope to find great opportunities and success, and I know they will.  But as the saying goes, life can have other plans.  Even when you do everything right, life can sucker-punch you. In my 2013 speech to the University of Washington Foster School of Business graduating class, I talked to the students about embracing the ebb and flow of change, accepting inevitable failures, and learning the importance of giving back and remaining humble.

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Roadmap to an IPO – Part 6

April 25, 2015 - Author: admin

In the final episode of my IPO Roadmap series, Joe Spivens and Spivens, Inc. finally go public at the New York Stock Exchange.  But there are still more lessons to learn.  The journey isn’t over quite yet.

You can relive every episode here:

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Roadmap to an IPO – Part 5

- Author: admin

In part 5 of the Roadmap to the IPO, Joe Spivens and Sally Hyde of Spivens, Inc. go on the IPO roadshow.  The investors have tons of tough questions for them. However, sometimes a great speaker becomes not so great in stressful moments.  Joe and Sally figure out how to better navigate the IPO Roadshow.

If you want to watch the entire series at once, you can view it here:

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