For the last episode of Season 2, Mark was delighted to host Steve Hoffman, CEO of Founders Space and author of three startup-related books (links below).
The conversation between the two CEOs is far-ranging, lively and entertaining - Steve's energy and enthusiasm for what he does are infectious.
From early ambitions to be an architect, filmmaker or games designer, Steve admits he never expected to end up being a venture capitalist, entrepreneur and writer.
Career in Gaming
In fact, Steve managed to fulfill those early ambitions, making films in Hollywood and, from there, being scouted by games maker, SEGA, to design new video games concepts from their Japan HQ.
Commenting on gaming technology, Steve says that we're currently at the intersection between biology and technology. He expects user interfaces to become increasingly sophisticated and for the gaming experience to become progressively more immersive with gaming experiences emulating real life.
One of the biggest areas of development currently, is brain-computer interface. At the moment, using a gaming controller is quite clunky but this will become obsolete as you will be able to simply think and interact in the game.
The Future of Gaming
Looking forward, gaming will become more collaborative, with people assuming different roles within a gaming scenario.
Going a step further, Steve foresees the combining of gaming with blockchain and NFTs (non-fungible tokens). This will make a very powerful combination, inflating prices of virtual goods and getting audiences further invested in the games.
Mark and Steve go on to discuss the societal issues this immersion in a virtual world may cause and agree there may be a need for future mandated censorship as the gaming industry is unlikely to self-censor.
Founders Space - the Platform for Startups
Steve's platform - Founders Space - is a startup accelerator, focusing primarily on software startups.
The goal is to help promising tech startups raise funding and connect with strategic partners, marketing people, lawyers etc. – whatever they need to grow their business.
Steve's Four Rules for Startups
- Go out into the market and look for unmet needs - Don't just think of an idea and fall in love with it. Then, later on, find that nobody cares about it.
- Find your "A-Team" - Don't try to go it alone or be a solopreneur. Nobody builds a billion-dollar company by themselves
- When presenting to potential investors, keep it visual - Slides should have no more than 6 words but better still, create a video. Investors don't want to read. Just like everybody else, they want to be entertained.
- Never tell an investor you're going to sell via partners - This is the "Kiss of Death". If you're relying on partners to sell your product, your investor is gone.
On a Mission to Help Startups
Founders Space is an early-stage investor whose mission is to help startups progress into the venture funnel, where they can seek additional funding from investors on the Founders Edge platform.
Startups also have access to a huge network of business mentors, across marketing, legal etc. They can work with experienced mentors over a period of weeks, rather than paying to have these skills in-house full-time.
Founders Edge is currently working with around 100 companies in the US and overseas - with 5 locations in China.
First Book: Make Elephants Fly
Second Book: Surviving a Startup
Latest Book: The 5 Forces that change everything