Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Mike Salguero, the CEO and Co-Founder of CustomMade—the world’s largest online marketplace for hiring makers to create exactly what you want. To learn more, visit CustomMade.com or follow them on Facebook and @CustomMade.
A mixture of hard work and luck got CustomMade into the portfolio for Google Ventures. (Not too shabby, considering they’ve just expanded their fund to $300 Million a year to invest in startups.) My co-founder, Seth Rosen, and I just got back from a whirlwind weekend at the Google Ventures Founder & CEO Summit in Mountain View, CA and I wanted to share a few takeaways from our experience for those out there who have the hard work stuff pat down, but maybe haven’t quite gotten that bit of luck yet.
- Don’t judge a speaker by his or her topic. CustomMade is a startup that helps people buy exactly what they want by connecting them with local artisans and craftspeople across North America. Needless to say, we didn’t think we had a whole lot in common with a billion-dollar political campaign. But when we saw Eric Schmidt talk about his experiences just coming off of the Obama campaign, we learned a ton about his insights on communication, technology and how our company could really play into it all. What’s the takeaway? Even when you don’t think a talk or panel might be relevant to you at a conference, it can surprise you.
- Always get the swag bag – especially at a Google Ventures event. I know a lot of times swag bags are full of magazines from 2007 and tiny little 5 Hour Energy Drinks, but Google Ventures does things right. Check out these shoes. Cool right? That’s the Google Ventures logo on the tongue. Did I just hear a collective gasp from all you CMOs and Marketing geeks out there? Yeah, thought so.
- Google Ventures really does look for companies that are trying to make the world a better place. You might not believe that one of the larger funds in the world cares about making it better, but I was shocked at the level of social good Google Ventures is trying to do by investing in some of the most innovative social and environmental change ideas out there. We were surrounded by talented people trying to put a dent into our society and make the earth a much better place to be. And that leads me to my last point…
- If you want a slice of that $300 Million from Google Ventures, be disruptive. Google Ventures seems more interested in business models that are founded upon certain principles. If you’ve got an idea that helps people connect in new ways, fills real needs or makes the earth a little healthier – then you’re on the right path.