Jason Calacanis, Mahalo CEO: Interview
Jason Calacanis is the CEO of Mahalo.com, "a human powered search engine," as well as the former co-founder of Weblogs, Inc. and GM of Netscape. His latest mission (quest?) is to ensure that entrepreneurs are never forced to pay to pitch to angel investment firms.
Jason was kind enough to provide his take via e-mail on a wide range of topics, including his involvement with Open Angel Forum, the latest doings at Mahalo and in the blogosphere, and the future of the New York Knicks.
What is Open Angel Forum, and what’s your involvement with it?
Open Angel Forum is a movement to create a *free* forum for angel investors and startup companies. It is a for profit effort that will not profit from charging startups access to angel investors.
The format will be like any other angel forum: a handful of startups will pitch a room filled with angel investors. If there is a match the investors will follow-up with the startups and make an investment. We're going to start in Los Angeles, where I know two dozen high-profile angel investors, then we will move on from there.
You’ve always been something of an iconoclast. Do you see your current campaign to end the practice of angel investors charging entrepreneurs to hear pitches as part of some larger “quest”?
When I was coming up as an entrepreneur I had to fight for everything I got and there was no clear roadmap of how to be successful. I've been more successful than I probably deserve, so I've been spending 10% of my time trying to give back to "the game." That's why I started the TechCrunch50 conference with Mike [Arrington], that's why I angel invest and it's why I started This Week in Startups. I like to share what I, and others, have learned. I think entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing.
Is the practice of charging entrepreneurs to pitch similar to agents charging aspiring writers/actors to review their work/resume?
They are just as predatory and slimy as "model agents" who charge aspiring models for head-shots and modeling lessons. It's repulsive, and no real angel investor charges.
What stage should startups be in when they approach OAF and what range of funding will be invested to successful entrepreneurs?Continued on the next page