UPDATES: Stargate is Live! | Also, see SimpleGeo's Implementation
We recently expanded PointAbout from its office in Washington DC, opening a new office for AppMakr in San Francisco (as an aside - interesting personal-interest story about the move here).
One problem with geographic separation is that the people in the other office are very abstract. You might see work coming from them in the form of code, releases, email, etc., but it's very hard for the actual people between offices to make a connection. And that inter-personal connection is very important to us as a company, so I set out to figure out a way to solve it.
My co-founder Sean aptly named this project "Project Stargate," after the science fiction Stargate movie in which shortcut paths to the Universe are opened up through a round, glowing portal (really wanna geek out? More details on Stargate here), so the name has stuck.
I'll be adding to this blog as we figure things out, and I'd really like to have your thoughts in the comments section below, especially if you've done any work to solve this problem (any Y Combinator startups out there working on this vexing issue?). Just to be clear, we all have AIM, or Gtalk, or Skype call & video chat abilities - that's not the problem. The problem is that to initiate a call or IM chat requires effort. And while it may be a very small, minimal amount of effort, nonetheless it's effort, which means that the magical moments where someone turns to another person and says "hey, I have an idea" or "can you look at this for me" are lost. And that's really, really significant. Since effort is required to establish a connection, the serendipitous connections are lost. That's what I'm trying to bring back through "Project Stargate".
AngelList is a platform that connects entrepreneurs to angel investors to raise seed stage capital.
Out of the $1.5 million dollars in angel funding we've raised for Socialize, over $1 million came from introductions made on AngelList. We were very early AngelList users under our AppMakr brand, with Brendan Baker doing a detailed analysis of our use of AngelList in his Anatomy of a Seed project. I also wrote a lengthy manifesto about our fundraising experience, and when AngelList was very new I interviewed Naval Ravikant, one of the AngelList founders.
Recently, using AngelList has changed the way I've been fundraising. Where traditionally, I've had to dedicate a block of time to fundraise full time, I can now fundraise passively, meaning just by focusing on having an optimized AngelList presence and a few specific techniques, I don't have to spend blocks of my time finding high quality angels. That is a game changer for us -- fundraising is an incredibly distracting process, and it's especially hard to innovate and iterate on your startup when you're distracted by bolstering the company's bank account. Being able to have angels come to me has given me a freedom as an entrepreneur that's just fantastic.
As I was talking to my friend Ben Young, CEO of Nexercise, about this sea-change in fundraising, I offered to critique his AngelList page to help him optimize it for this type of inbound passive investment.