November 15, 2013

An interview with John Borthwick

John Borthwick (his Twitter) is the CEO of Betaworks which is a company of companies. Kickstarter, GroupMe, and bit.ly are all examples of companies that originates from Betaworks. This interview is from 2011. 


Lessons learned
  • He grew up in London, England, but moved to New York for work at a consultant company that was a very early adopter of big data. In 1994, he was an early Internet user and started a company for building ads online and a local city search company.
  • Betaworks can be described as a company of companies - they are not a fund. The difference between Betaworks and most other traditional venture capitalist funds is that Betaworks have only companies that are losely related to each other. A "traditional" vc fund want to find one great company in a more spread out portfolio. 
  • Hedge fund were interested in data from bit.ly to detect trends.
  • If you have a startup, you are welcome to contact Betaworks, but they demand that you have a prototype and they are allergic to PowerPoint presentations and long documents.
  • John Borthwick has found a few rules:
    • Get to market in front of users as fast as possible
    • Understand how people are using your site
    • Don't raise money until you need it. Raise enough money to get your product to the market and test it, then raise enough so you can scale 
    • Have a small team
    • Outsource the infrastructure but not the development team
    • Focus on the development team and keep the number of business people at an absolute minimum

More articles in the same series: Lessons learned from the Foundation interviews