Apply Now Launchpad LA Fall 2013

Today, applications are open for Launchpad LA’s Class 6. The class will run from mid-September to mid-January (exact dates subject to change).

Applications are due August 11th at 11:59pm. After this date, we will continue to accept applications, but we cannot guarantee review before the class kickoff in September. (Launchpad LA runs “elastic classes,” meaning that we accept companies early or late, rather than adhering to a rigid calendar for the accelerator. So, if we’re being totally honest, you can actually apply anytime; however, we make most of our investment decisions during the official application period, so we highly recommend submitting your company during this time. Does that make sense?)

Moving on…what do we look for in an application?

Several people have blogged about this topic before, and most of them are worth reading, but I want to highlight a few ways to make your application really stand out to us.

  1. Build something. We rarely invest in ideas. We want to see that you’ve built something. It helps us understand the way you think about product and design, and it shows that you’ve got the hustle to execute. Great design is definitely not required at this early stage, but it can certainly help you stand out. In any case, building something to show us is pretty much essential, and as Andrew Parker says, showing a demo is the best way to capture an investor’s imagination.
  2. Apply early; send updates. Assessing applications with a single snapshot is hard (read: impossible). We invest in lines, not dots. When you wait to apply until the end of the application cycle, we have less time to track your progress. Brendan Baker and Hiten Shah created a great presentation that explains how to communicate traction to investors.
  3. Be concise; use bullets. We’ve seen thousands of pitches and read thousands of applications. Explain why you’re awesome in as few words as possible. We will be grateful for it.
  4. Be referred by someone in our network. This doesn’t mean you should spam everyone in our network asking for a referral. If you know someone personally, or think what you’re working on will resonate with someone specific, ask them for a few minutes to learn about your business. If they like it and let us know about you, that is a big boost to your application. If you’re cold-emailing someone in our network asking for a referral, do it smartly – David Cohen and Thomas Korte have written great blog posts explaining the best ways to do this.
  5. Why is your team the right team? We want to work with entrepreneurs and teams who are working on a problem they are passionate about. Why does your team’s background and experience lend itself to solving this problem?
  6. Why now? What developments in technology, user behavior, or the broader economy make your business likely to succeed now more than ever before?

In general, if your application convincingly answers the questions laid out in the classic Sequoia business plan outline, you’re on the right track. Throw in a killer product demo and a couple referrals from people we know and you’ll definitely have our attention.

We look forward to learning about your exciting business in the months ahead. Don’t hesitate to reach out through email or social media with any questions.

Demand Media Field Trip

Like most accelerators, we sit at the intersection of startups, investors, and large companies. While investors and fundraising typically receive more attention, we also constantly connect our portfolio companies with mentors and strategic partners who can provide advice about different parts of their business. Last week, we took our current class to meet with top Demand Media executives and discuss their businesses.

Demand Media is a publicly traded digital media and domain services company. Founded by Richard Rosenblatt and Shawn Colo in 2006, the company was started here in Santa Monica, raised over $300m in venture capital between 2006-2007, and IPO’d in 2010. Lucky for us, their office is located down the street from Launchpad LA.

While at Demand, our founders presented their companies and engaged with executives to answer questions and discuss potential opportunities to integrate with Demand Media business sectors. They were also assigned a relevant point person for follow-up.

When building a startup, it’s easy to forget about big companies in your own backyard that could be helpful. It can also be unclear how meaningful a meeting will be or what engaging with them should look like. We have repeatedly found that having these conversations is often fruitful even if no direct outcome is immediate. Large companies can be amazing resources for knowledge, experience, and useful contacts for building a startup. Obviously, partnerships can be rocket fuel for distribution, and since startups are rarely in a position to offer anything in return early on, mentorship and access to people who have built, scaled, and operated companies in the past is incredibly valuable.

We are extremely lucky to have companies like Demand Media in LA who are always willing to work with our entrepreneurs to help them succeed. This is meaningful not only to our own companies, but mentors and partners are essential components to growing any startup ecosystem. While the media will continue to debate the current position of the LA startup ecosystem, a derivative is usually more telling, and it is unquestionably positive.

A special thanks to the Demand Media team: Shawn Colo, Stewart Marlborough, Julie Campistron, Maggie Jones, Jeremy Daw, Chuck Ursini and Michael Kirby.