Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First Achilles Chicago Workout

Thanks to everyone who came out last night for our first Achilles International Chicago Chapter workout. It was a successful first get together and I'm looking forward to the workouts for the rest of the season. I also wanted to thank our partner organizations: GLASA, RIC, and Dare2Tri who had representatives come out yesterday as well.

Here's the current schedule of our races, so if anyone is interested in participating as a running guide, feel free to let me know:

April 7th: Bunny Rock 5K on the lake path in Chicago
June 2nd: Volkswagen 5K in Libertyville, IL
June 17th: Track meet (100-1500 meter events) at the Great Lakes Regional Games in Deerfield, IL
August 2nd: Terrapin 5K at Soilder Field in Chicago
September 8th: GLASA Twilight 5K in Lake Forest, IL
September 30th: Bucktown 5K in Bucktown/Chicago
October 7th: Chicago Marathon

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Self-tracking, Personal Analytics & Quantified Self

For the past few weeks, I’ve been using the Fitbit device to track my activity and sleep and now I’m hooked on the idea of personal analytics. I've now added a few other products to my “wish list” which include Basis, Zeo Sleep Manager, and the Withings Scale. After I try out those devices, I think I’ll have a pretty good measure on most aspects of my health!
The larger appeal of self-tracking and self knowledge through analytics (“Quantified Self”) is the fact that in order to improve aspects of your life, you need to first be able to analyze your body’s trends and activities. I’ve been really interested in this idea since I started using Fitbit because not only can an app or device like this help me track my health, but it also motivates me to become a happier, healthier person. Since I got started using this device, I’ve come across several great articles about the “Quantified Self” movement:
VC, Tim Chang, who invests in several personal analytics and quantified self devices, sums up the reason why I enjoy tracking aspects of my life, “Numbers, presented with useful context, provide an immediate path to better control over my own life.”

If you're interested in experimenting with this idea, here are two very useful resources for anyone who wants to discover additional tools for self-tracking:

Also, here is a list of some other ideas that I came across that I’ve been using to help with self-tracking:

-books I read/want to read: GoodReads
-movies I watch/want to watch: IMDb Watchlist
-restaurants I go to/want to go to: Foursquare and Restaurant Bucket List
-my happiness: Track Your Happiness
-my trips: TripIt
-my memories: MemoLane
-music I listen to:
-my finances, investments and spending: Mint and Pageonce and Piggie (iPhone app)
-energy usage: WattzOn
-my mood: MoodScope
-my productivity and tasks: RescueTime, Producteev, and Google Tasks
-my contacts and relationships: Gist, FellowUp and Wisdom
-number of alcoholic beverages: Tipple (iPhone app)
-my runs: RunKeeper
-my goals:
-Daily journaling: Daileez
-my favorite links: Evernote and Google Bookmarks
-blogs/news I read: Google Reader
-and for just about everything else: Daytum

I think the most fascinating website I came across while trying to learn more about personal analytics was the Feltron Report. Nicholas Feltron started creating personal annual reports back in 2005, which track just about all aspects of his life, a bit like a scrapbook, but replacing pictures with numbers, charts and graphs. It’s a really cool idea and something I would love to do if I ever found the time!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Healthbox Demo Day

I had a chance to attend my first startup Demo Day for Healthbox on Wednesday. Unfortunately, I had to miss the first five presentations, but I really enjoyed the second portion of the event and I hope this is the first of many Demo Days that I will be able to attend.
I'd have to say the most memorable part of the event was "The Healthbox Song," which you can check out below:

It was a great way to remind all the investors of each of the startups near the end of the event and it happend to be a pretty catchy tune. It was pretty amusing to see a few VCs humming along to the song in their suits as they were playing with their iPads.

Healthbox also announced that they will be moving to Boston for their next 3-month program and are currently accepting applications now. The good news is that they will be back here in Chicago around the same time next year to have another class of Healthbox after the Boston class. Good luck to all the Healthbox startups with raising the funding they need in the next few weeks.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

JOBS Act and the Impact on VC

Here's a great blog post (Getting Venture Capital Back on Track) explaining why the returns in VC have been lagging most other asset classes over the past decade. One of the major reasons traces back to the more onerous regulations surrounding IPOs after passing Sarbanes-Oxley, which increased the financial disclosure rules that public companies had to follow. Dealing with private companies and IPOs in both banking and PE, I've come to discover that just complying with Sarbanes-Oxley can cost companies over $1mm each year. That's why the new JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) should hopefully help reduce this burden, since it will give startups five years to completely comply with Sarbanes-Oxley. With all the news about Groupon and the accounting mistakes they are making after just going public recently, I think this will be very helpful for other startups looking to go public since they will have a bit more leeway in their financial disclosures.

I also found it pretty surprising that the VC industry as a whole only returned 2.6% to their investors in 2011. However, it's also important to realize that there are ~25-30 VC firms that represent 80% of the industry's profit and the rest of the firms tend to be much smaller and either break even or lose money. So entrepreneurs it's important to try and make sure that the investors you decide to partner with are hopefully one of the more respectable VCs that are generating the strong returns for investors. Not all VC capital should be treated the same, since the value, reputation and connections they bring to the table are just as essential.