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05/14/2013

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Kyield

Hi Julie,

A nice post with obvious effort and experience so despite being a very long day I wanted to share some thoughts while still somewhat fresh.

I really appreciate the emphasis on two dramatically different models as we've experienced same from several sides as consultant first, then incubator with several ventures, a VC firm, and now with Kyield which has been the most important and challenging. I can relate to your second client-- we've been accused of the same at times, which has been true at times.

A few thoughts from our own experience and many others recently as we just went through a review with Kyield that was similar and brought in several very experienced people that span a lot of companies.

1) Our experience and feedback agrees with your position that there is no best method, and strategy must be tailored to the specific situation.

2) We totally agree with need for customer feedback, but it's also true that many customers have zero credibility in that they want others to take all the risk, then when they do as we've seen hundreds of times by less experienced entrepreneurs, customers don't support the effort. The U.S. government has earned the top dog award for this relative to data standards in my book, but they are far from alone - it's become a serious problem across enterprise SW.

So this may be why your client has resisted investing heavily in a product without customers actually supporting with dollars what they claim to support with words--many won't with good reason. This is actually a strategy that built the industry long before there was much VC-- in collaboration with customers in a custom build or quasi custom hybrid, but in my observation the vast amount of VC often backed by institutions with similar cultures, has acclimatized large social orgs to subsidies and believe they don't need to take risk.

And if we look at the P&Ls and track records of the vast majority of ventures who followed the build SaaS model, some have been amazingly high cap with massive losses and an overall failure rate that is terrible by any standards in my experience other than perhaps restaurants!

May not be the case with your client, but thought worth sharing -- it's surprising to me just how many in VC now employ themes and models based on asset allocation of LPs rather than markets, and how few understand that tech can actually be more valuable in the hands of partners and customers than end users.

We have a lot of experience with deep tech -- and have been boosters to several of the most successful companies at pre-investment --often is the case where how it is deployed isn't even physically within the realm of what customers are able to understand, other cases the tech is buried in a stack as infrastructure and customers don't even know it's there- perhaps that is an option in this case-- it's one we're often negotiating at Kyield -- different customers, and in other cases in more user /consumer products the customer doesn't even know they want it or need it yet (S. Jobs).

Speculation, but may be applicable to others and a good exercise for me selfishly as most of us are constantly re-evaluating and checking strategy. Thanks - MM

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