Having worked as the director of strategy at Village Ventures, a New York venture capital firm, Baker, who taught himself how to write computer code over a seven-year period, knew investors wanted more than a concept. He sought to collect proprietary research, amass a team with product development skills, and build a workable product capable of producing substantial returns. “Invest in your own intellectual capital so that you can provide value to your organization,” says Baker, whose father worked for IBM for 30 years. “That is going to be your biggest value. Go to school. Learn at night. Get a team of people to work under you. Do whatever you need to do to bring intellectual capital to the table. It shouldn’t cost much. It will be your payment in kind.”
Description A social discovery site that connects people with shared interests.
Building A Powerful Team
In the tech community, the team often excites venture capitalists as much as the idea or individual. In fact, investors are more likely to pony up dollars for a talented tech squad than a lone prodigy. “Investors are keen to see groups of smart motivated people who are going to do what it takes to make it through the company-building process,” says Johann Schleier-Smith, 32, co-founder of Tagged, a social discovery website for meeting people, playing games, and sharing interests. “You can’t do things alone, but if you get a nucleus of a team you can do great things.”
With more than 100 million users worldwide and $32.5 million in revenues for 2010, Tagged is now on track to generate $45 million in 2011. The company has been profitable since 2008 as a result of its three distinct revenue channels: virtual currency micro-payments, premium subscriptions, and advertising. They plan to boost staffing by the end of the year, for a total of 150 employees. But in the beginning there was only the dynamic duo, Schleier-Smith and his partner and childhood friend Greg Tseng. The two grew up in McLean, Virginia, working together on science projects in middle school. Eventually both would study physics at Harvard University. During their time there they developed several Internet companies, including a price comparison website to help students get the best deals on books at the student bookstore.
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