InSITE is a group of business and law school students from Columbia and NYU who provide free consulting services to startup companies. I’m a big fan of InSITE for a bunch of reasons but particularly because it is one of the few programs that I am aware of that operates across school networks here in NYC. We need more of that.

Once a year, I spend an hour and a half talking to the InSITE group and then we go out for beers afterward. It’s a fun night and I really look forward to it. We did that on Wednesday night of this week. 

The talk was recorded and I’ll embed two videos that capture my talk which lasted about 15 minutes. We did about an hour of Q&A and all of that was captured as well and is available on InSITE’s YouTube channel.

Here’s the first part of my talk where I talk about the venture capital business.

Here’s the second part of my talk where I talk about sectors that I’m excited about and a bit about NYC’s role in the tech/startup world.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Mark Essel

    Free consulting, hey that’s fantastic as long as1) bad advice doesn’t sink your startup2) and it’s nothing like free dentistryI think it’s a great way for folks to learn while helping struggling startups get nearly(?) professional advice for free. I do prefer my advice from pros, even if they charge a good rate.Videos a little quiet on my phone.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Thinking back to Fred’s recent post about getting his hands dirty in Buffalo, perhaps it would be better if MBA students did the same before offering their free advice.

      1. fredwilson

        Come on guys. Many of these people have worked in real jobs for close to ten years. They aren’t kids

        1. Tereza

          Fair point.

        2. Dave Pinsen

          Many ‘real jobs’ bear little relation to running a business though.

    2. ShanaC

      You can always ignore the advice if you don’t like it… can’t ignore the dentist.

      1. Tereza

        Bad advice can be distracting and a time suck.

  2. Chris Clark

    Totally irrelevant, BUT at 1:48-1:49 in the first video, the door to the room does something really freaky. I’ve watched it 5 or 6 times and I can’t figure out what’s going on.Oh…and good talk.

  3. Mark Essel

    Hey Fred this post has one helluva quiet comment thread.I think everyone hates lawyers, even lawyers in training giving away free swag.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m not sure about that mark. there’s nothing really to comment on unless you watch the videos and that takes time. reading text is a lot more efficient.

      1. Mark Essel

        Yup, it’s the videos (everyone reads you on mobile, flashless)Man 14 hours straight- sounds like how I feel when I just begin coding too late at night (last night I got to work for 6 hours till 12:30am undoing a bad git commit, would have been better off stopping at 6:30pm).Great videos, didn’t sound too much like zombie Fred.Video 1: Interesting trend how the late stage investors are providing liquidity to early stage investors before the public market (or maybe instead of).Video 2: Yes to browser based mobile applications (and fat dumb pipes of course). The greater the bandwidth, the less intensive each local chip/interface has to be. Hell yes to NYC kicking up a healthier startup ecosystem. 20 year olds should be working at startups all night, not partying ;)Were the questions no good?

        1. Joe Siewert

          Regarding mobile apps, I think it will be interesting to see if mobile infrastructure/bandwidth can ramp up/scale quick enough to keep up with app demands. Seems like apps are pushing the limits at a faster rate than infrastructure is developing.

          1. Mark Essel

            Part of the issue is the utilization of the spectrum.Imagine if we all placed local transmitter/receivers on our homes (modified wifi?) and network them together (p2p, etc) we could potentially bypass the need for Net providers. Our local networks would connect the world (large dead zones would require optical cables, satellites or powerful beam transmitters).Distributed local networks will one day allow for internet communications at unfathomable data rates.Take for example a simple 10 gigabyte file. At first appearance it looks like a huge amount of data to go over a wireless network. First widen the broadcast so that it is transmitted in parallel streams over 1000 local network connections. Now instead of a single 10 gig transmission, it’s actually 1000 10mbyte streams finding dynamic paths to a location where the signal is recreated into a single file. Now the wireless network can only handle so much data “in the air” at a time based on frequency restrictions. But if we were allowed to dynamically dole out those frequencies to the local network many parallel layers of transmissions could coexist without interference.By the way, I’m not sure if this stuff would work in practice. Expert Wifi/3G-4G network folks would be the ones to say “Mark this can’t work because of X Y and Z”

          2. Joe Siewert

            Cool ideas. I have no idea if it would work either, but it’s fun to think about. Are you suggesting these ideas in the context of just mobile/cell carriers, or suggesting a new way of providing internet access for any device?

          3. Mark Essel

            Vanilla Internet: could provide a connection to any device.

          4. fredwilson

            Totally. That’s what I was saying in one of those videos. Probably not in the first two though

          5. fredwilson

            Because we don’t have telecom policy that encourages all out competition and investment

      2. Tereza

        agree it’s the videos. not much to say. even for me.

  4. andyswan

    I feel like I’m in an elevator with a bunch of my favorite people…and no one is saying anything.[looks up at numbers ticking by slowly….sighs]”So….anyone here going to SXSW?”

    1. JLM

      I reside in Austin by God Texas. It is nice here, my azaleas have begun to set buds. It is warm, sunny and lazy today.If any Fredlanders come to SXSW, I will take ya’ll to where they have the real BBQ and Tex-Mex and cervezas (which the locals don’t tell the tourists about).If you are polite, I will even pay. If there are enough folks, we can even stage our own Fredland SXSW event.Game on! On Earth as it is in Texas!

      1. andyswan

        I was hoping to meet you down there in the land of my birth. I’m in.Will be there Fri and Sat next week (12th and 13th). Let’s do this.

        1. JLM

          OK, we got 2!I will even see if I can arrange a bottle of Garrison Brothers Bourbon — they released their first bottles last week. A Texas bourbon!Let’s go, Fredlanders!

          1. andyswan

            Can’t wait to try that bourbon.Andy at andyswan com

          2. fredwilson

            i am really bummed out that i can’t go to SXSW this year. nothing better than Austin in march with ten thousand geeks taking over the town

          3. Tereza

            Awww bummer! I’ll be at Sodom on the Schuykill instead. My loss.With a little of that bourbon you might’ve convinced me to elbow onto someone’s panel as the token bee-ahtch.Next year.

      2. Mark Essel

        Now I really want to go.First a Pappy bottle with Andy attached (I don’t drink, I just like when Andy get’s his Pappy).Now dinner with my favorite financial wizard.

        1. andyswan

          Be there or be [ ]

          1. ShanaC

            ah student and I will enjoy the quiet…

      3. Guest

        Count me in.

        1. fredwilson

          Damn. I gotta figure out how to get down there for this.

          1. andyswan

            Get there Fred….this kind of party is always worth a quick down and back 🙂

      4. Guest

        Oh wait, sorry, read it wrong. I’m in la-la-land. Having a baby soon so no travel for a bit. Have some delicious Texas treats for me.

        1. JLM

          Well, if the baby were born while your were here IN Texas for SXSW, he/she would be a Native Texan. When the Revolution comes, that could be very, very important!

          1. kidmercury

            as kook capital of the country austin seems like it might be a rather promising place to be when the inevitable revolution comes, relative to the existing options. but as for the rest of your state…..seeing rick perry get the GOP nomination is the most hopeless i’ve felt since texas bestowed bush jr upon us. this is almost as bad as the terminator being governor of california. too bad, especially since texas had medina as an option.

          2. andyswan

            Regardless of the pansy-politics, Texas is the one place I’d want to be if the shit ever REALLY goes down. Luckily, I have the roll-out birth certificate to obtain entry.Seriously….it looks like a King’s proclamation. 🙂

          3. fredwilson

            You are sounding like the Kid JLM

        2. Tereza

          are you the baby catcher, or the one who’s doing the work? ’cause no Texas bourbon for you!

      5. fredwilson

        ‘If you are polite, I’ll even pay’. Nice one JLM

  5. ShanaC

    I’m sort of interested in what’s the deal with the growth with the secondary liquid market where companies stay private and how these semi-exits work. Is it good for these companies to stay private, and how does it work when the CEO leaves his/her positions financially and emotionally while the company is private? These companies are supposed to be high growth- does this change how returns look because it will slow down pressure for returns since there is now a different kind of liquidity pressure? How does this work when there are multiple partners as a syndicate in the investment and then it goes to a liquidity event in the private market (I saw that WSJ article last week about companies and Venture, syndication, and unhappiness, and wondering how this new development would affect liquidity since that was a minor thought passing through that article) I mean I recognize this is new and that P/E analogy isn’t quite analogous (new company versus old company and some parts about size)- I really would love to hear more thoughts about how this is working out though and thoughts about predictions about how it should work out.Since it came up. That point I still find interesting. That’s me personally though- anybody else here find something interesting???

    1. Cflexman

      Shana,I find the direct secondaries market really interesting, especially with the emergence of exchanges like SecondMarket. I agree with Mark Suster’s point that founders need to be able to take something off the table to help counter for the reduced salary they’ve taken over the course of the start ups life. This of course is all referring to employees selling shares not firms selling their portion/investment in the pref stack. However, I do know that firms like Saints Capital will actually buy out VC’s investments.I wonder if there’s really enough data out there to see how what type of impact it will have or even if it will ever be shared.Btw I didn’t see that WSJ article, when was it posted?Anyways, just something I’ve been spending a lot of time reading into, find it to be a pretty interesting new element to the capital markets.

      1. ShanaC

        Here is that article- dated February 26. 2009 (but I read last Friday, andyou will need a subscription)…I also agree that founders need to take something off the table- this is aquestion of balance and timeframe. A secondary private market means thefounders could leave the table and the company is still private. I’m notsure that’s the point either….

        1. Cflexman

          I think the 2ndary markets just came about as a function what is happening in the VC landscape today with longer liquidity horizon’s etc. even for quality companies.Maybe its naive, but I personally hope that founders and other early employees wouldn’t leave due to the passion they have for the idea and the company that they brought to life. Additionally I wonder if there are provisions that prevent the employees from liquidating 100% of their holdings, though that’s more speculation then anything. I also think its useful to consider that the price paid for the shares in theory isn’t on par with what they will be worth at the time of the liquidity event, so the employees to retain some incentive to work and increase the value of the Company to maximize the value of their remaining holdings. Again a lot of this is speculation but good food for thought.

    2. fredwilson

      I think its great. Being public breeds short term thinking. Staying private and getting liquidity seems ideal to me

      1. Wavelengths

        Some companies and concepts need the benefit of longer-range thinking and effort. Being influenced by the public perception does undermine that.It seems to me that staying private while getting liquidity (and rewarding founders) is a powerful way for a company to continue to stay focused, particularly if the product(s) is/are more complex, or require a longer development cycle.Incidentally, I think this is also a problem with the way our democracy plays out, with election cycles and opinion polls influencing the “value of our national stock” by having such a strong influence on the actions of politicians, and policies set by our government.

  6. Taylor Brooks

    I appreciated your response on the comScore/Calacanis thing. Most wouldn’t dignify a response, glad you hit back.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s me being me. Not necessarily me being smart

      1. Taylor Brooks

        I know, I didn’t saying anything about smarts. Just glad that’s in your character.

  7. paramendra

    I thought I saw a link to The Atlantic article on unemployment at your blog yesterday, and responded to it with a blog post – http://democracyforum.blogs… – and now I don’t seem to be able to figure out which particular blog post of yours had that link. But here is my response blog post.I will be watching all of these video clips. That’s for sure.And I had been wondering what InSite was (…. Now I know.

    1. fredwilson

      It was on my tumblog

  8. Chris Voss

    Great insight Fred. I like the point that mobile phones will make it that mobile will eclipse desktop devised by 3-5 times. What a future that market will hold.Chris Voss

    1. fredwilson

      Give props to mary meeker for that

  9. paramendra

    Okay, so I watched all 12 clips (and commented on a few of them at my blog post), a 13th is missing, one where Fred is having beer with the students.

    1. fredwilson

      There are some photos of that on the InSITE blog

  10. Brian Rothenberg

    Fred – thank you very much for coming by and speaking with us. It was a terrific event and I enjoyed meeting you on the way to the bar.

  11. Patrick

    The “free dentistry” comment made me laugh; I’d be happy to get a checkup from a dental student; just not a root canal.This looks like a great event; I wish we had something like this as part of my EMBA at Temple University in Tokyo.However we did have representatives from some Japan-based international companies come in during an international strategy course and gave us real-world issues to solve.Although they may or may not have used the ideas we came up with, they did admit that we came up with some approaches that they hadn’t thought of before. And sometimes that can make a difference.

  12. Guest

    Thank you so much for sharing this talk. It helped me better understand current trends and found it quite interesting.There was an issue with the sound, but you can always go the extra mile for good content.

  13. enrolled agent study guide

    I’m a big fan of InSITE for a bunch of reasons but particularly because it is one of the few programs that I am aware of that operates across school networks here in NYC.

  14. Maxiosearch

    I have read about this guys on other blogs as well. It seems that they are performing great works.I wonder if they have gone through to help small business owners and entrepreneurs on their questions. It would be interesting to exchange point of views there with them!

  15. fredwilson

    good advice

  16. Dave Pinsen

    Better would be coffee/espresso before the talk, beer after.

  17. andyswan

    or pappy.