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Managing Startups: Best Posts of 2011

Free Market-Research Tools -- A Sampler Small businesses can tap a variety of free resources for insights about customers, competitors and trends. Before Darlene Tenes, founder of CasaQ in San Jose, Calif., sinks a lot of money into new designs for Christmas ornaments, she sends sketches to retail and wholesale clients. They report back through questionnaires she creates on the online research service SurveyMonkey, and their reactions influence which designs become decorations. "If you have four choices and there's a strong reaction [like] 'I love it. SurveyMonkey is only one of a wealth of free tools and resources that can help you gather valuable market-research information. Survey Monkey Basic Survey Monkey Portland, Ore.www.surveymonkey.comCost: Free. BizStats Brandow Co. Related: Five Affordable Consumer Research Tools Moody's Analytics West Chester, Free. Related: A New Way to Crowdsource Customer Feedback U.S. Related: Hacking the U.S.

VC Rudina Seseri makes partner at Fairhaven Capital Courtesy photo. Rudina Seseri has been promoted from principal to partner at Fairhaven Capital in Cambridge. Cambridge’s Fairhaven Capital has promoted principal Rudina Seseri to partner at the firm, she confirmed Thursday. The promotion is effective Jan. 1, and Seseri will be one of the few women to have reached a senior investment position at a Boston venture capital firm. In a brief phone interview, Seseri said she was “happy and humbled” by the promotion. Seseri’s board seats include FashionPlaytes of Beverly and CrowdTwist of New York, and she also co-chairs the New England Venture Association. “Considering my partners’ achievements, I have big shoes to fill,” Seseri said. Other women holding senior investment positions at Boston VC firms include .406 Ventures managing director Maria Cirino, Longworth partner Nilanjana Bhowmik, Advanced Technology Ventures partner Jean George and Longwood Founders Fund partner Michelle Dipp. Technology

Some more thoughts on innovation in eCommerce I had the chance to speak on a panel about Online Shopping at a NextNY event this week. And after a great discussion, I started talking with some folks about my last blog post (which commented on how little has changed in online shopping since I founded back in 1999 -- especially given the vast amount of change that has occurred on the web outside of shopping). And I wanted to put a little more specifics/numbers to my thinking. So I did a little digging on Alexa today -- and found some data that appears to confirm my perspective: More than half of today's top 15 most trafficked websites today did not exist back in 1999. That is not a surprise, as Facebook, Youtube, Wikipedia, Myspace, Blogger, and Twitter are all new -- and are representative of the massive amount of innovation and disruption that has occurred in the last decade.Yet, of the top 15 most trafficked eCommerce websites today, just one of them did not exist back in 1999 (NewEgg - which launched in 2001).

Boston's OpenView Venture Partners raises $99M for 3rd VC fund OpenView Venture Partners has raised $99 million toward its third venture capital fund, the firm reported Thursday, and managing director Scott Maxwell said the firm plans to raise additional funding for it. Boston-based OpenView focuses on backing revenue-producing tech firms that need money for expansion — and often re-locates the companies to the Hub after making the investment. OpenView originated as the Boston office of New York’s Insight Venture Partners. Insight’s Boston team, led by Maxwell, broke off to found OpenView as an independent firm in 2006. The firm has previously raised two funds — $108.7 million in 2006 and $131.7 million in 2008, Maxwell said. Massachusetts-based companies in the OpenView portfolio include Zmags (e-commerce software), Open-e (enterprise data storage) and Intronis (cloud backup and recovery). All three were founded outside Massachusetts and moved here after taking funding from OpenView. OpenView doesn't do any seed investing, Maxwell said. Technology

The Power of News and Recommendation : Cnn veut plus de pub sur son site #Pownar CNN a décidé, mondialement, d’avoir plus de publicité sur ses sites. Et souhaite le faire savoir. Mais les annonceurs connaissent-ils sur le bout des doigts les méandres de la pub online? Investissent-ils assez? La pub est-elle assez chère? Les internautes d’hier copiaient-collaient des url dans des emails, postaient des messages dans des forums de news. Invité par Eric Mettout à venir écouter Lila King, « producer », manager de la communauté de [wikipop]iReport[/wikipop] (le site participatif de CNN) au CFJ l’autre jour, j’y croise la Directrice Marketing et Communication de CNN International, qui m’invite à venir à la présentation de l’étude Pownar : « L’information partagée a plus de valeur … » : CNN dévoile aujourd’hui les résultats de POWNAR, sa première étude du phénomène de la recommandation dans les médias sociaux Je remercie CNNFrancePR qui m’a permis de publier – en exclusivité – quelques slides de la présentation. Social media is the new inbox Poursuivons. Sans blague :-)

The five largest fourth-quarter venture deals in Boston (slide show) Courtesy | Third Rock Ventures #1. Agios Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge biotechnology start up focused on developing new cancer treatments. Agios Pharmaceuticals and Rapid7 led the Bay State's venture capital deals in the fourth quarter, and incidentally both announced their big checks on the same day, Nov. 17. Click on the photo on the right to open a slideshow with the full list. Massachusetts companies raised a total of $959 million in VC funding in the quarter, across 93 deals according to CB Insights. That made for the state's best quarter of the year in terms of VC deal count, and the second best by dollars raised (behind the second quarter, when Bay State companies raised $1.14 billion in VC). Technology

The Founder Institute: Helping Founders to Build Great Companies Microsoft BizSpark - Microsoft BizSpark is a global program that helps software startups succeed by giving them access to Microsoft software development tools, connecting them with key industry players, including investors, and providing marketing visibility to help entrepreneurs starting a business. Microsoft BizSpark is a worldwide partner of the Founder Institute, providing software, support, facilities, and mentoring to many entrprenuers within the Fouder Insitute network. Learn more about our partnership here, and sign-up for BizSpark here. Créée en 1989, Brunswick Société d’Avocats accompagne ses clients - investisseurs financiers et PME françaises et internationales et leurs dirigeants - dans leur quotidien et dans leur développement. Cap Digital est le pôle de compétitivité de la filière des contenus et services numériques.

NH's VentureX startup pitch competition launches Wasabi Ventures, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based venture capital firm with an office in Manchester, N.H., is bringing some attention to the New Hampshire tech startup scene. The firm has launched VentureX – New England, a startup pitch competition to be held Jan. 26, 2012, at the abi Innovation Hub. The competition will award $30,000 to a for-profit tech startup that has raised less than $100,000 in funding and brought in less than $100,000 in revenue in 2010. The one winner of the 10 finalist teams receives $10,000 in Wasabi Angel Fund seed funding, $20,000 in engineering and product management services from Wasabi Ventures, and a free year of residency at abi Innovation Hub’s WV EDGE Acceleration Center in Manchester. Wasabi Ventures describes itself as a firm that combines venture capital, startup incubation and consulting.

Q&A on Micro-VC Funds, With Someone Who Actually Invests In Them We’ve spent a lot of time lately discussing micro-VCs, including last week’s news on Floodgate ($73m fund close) and 500 Startups (new $30m fund being raised). So I spent some time discussing the phenomenon with Chris Douvos, who invests in mico-VC funds through his role as a managing director with The Investment Fund for Foundations: How long have you been investing in micro-VC funds, or super-angel, funds?? We’ve been active in this space since around 2005, and have invested over time in several of the archetypal managers. Who are those archetypical managers? Well, the main one is someone we actually haven’t given money to: Ron Conway. I love the O’Reilly AlphaTech guys, whose differential is that they’re leveraging the larger O’Reilly ecosystem. How do you define a micro-VC fund? I was at a Silicon Valley Bank shindig the other day, and people were talking about segmenting the space. The idea wasn’t necessarily to supplant VCs, but to be a value-added early processor of companies.

Is venture debt the new venture capital? Tim O'Loughlin, director, Eastward Capital Entrepreneurs often get confused as to when to raise venture capital versus venture debt. Their confusion is understandable as the terms of venture debt and venture capital converge at the margin and misconceptions abound. Equity is permanent and debt must be repaid, right? The primary difference between venture debt and venture capital is that debt must be repaid. I can already hear the skeptics squirming in their seats saying, “Whoa!? 1. 2. 3. Lee Hower - Blog - The Institutionalization of Social Games... Get Used to It The Institutionalization of Social Games… Get Used to It July 29, 2010 The social games market has exploded onto the startup scene in the last three years. We all know about the remarkable growth of companies in this space, yet we tend to forget that Zynga was founded in July 2007. But the social games business has clearly entered a new phase of institutionalization. 1) Production Values Going Up – Every social game developer I speak to agrees that production values are increasing. 2) Low/No Cost Customer Acquisition Is Largely Gone – This has been true for some time (6-12mo), as social networks like Facebook changed the way in-game activity could be published to status feeds. 3) IP Starts to Matter – Disney didn’t buy Playdom for a huge user base or massive current revenue stream. 4) Zynga is Still Huge – Followers of the social games space know that Zynga has repeatedly broken records for the rapid growth of games like Farmville and others.

6 Google-backed startups in Boston (slideshow) Courtesy | Google Rich Miner, partner at Google Ventures in Cambridge, says West Coast tech titan Google can't ignore what's happening on the Massachusetts startup scene. Rich Miner says Boston hasn’t historically been thought of as a place where consumer-oriented tech startups blossom. But that, he said, “is an outdated sort of view of Massachusetts.” Miner’s Google Ventures practice in Cambridge is aiming to prove it. The firm, whose LP is Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), has invested in six Massachusetts companies since it began investing here in 2009 (two years after Google launched in Cambridge at Miner’s urging.) Click on the photo to the right to open a slideshow and find out more about the companies. The six companies are all consumer-facing, or at least have the potential to be, Miner says. If you aren't getting the new Startups & Venture Capital daily, you can sign up here: Technology