CNET's live event: A good time to start a business? (video)

We packed the house at our inaugural Community Series event featuring three top Silicon Valley investors.

CNET's startup panel. From left: Paul Sloan, Naval Ravikant, Dave McClure and George Zachary CNET/James Martin

We hosted a panel last week at CNET's San Francisco headquarters with three top investors who shared their take on booming tech startup world and, more importantly, what they're looking for among the throngs of people trying to create next big thing.

So is the opportunity big now for budding entrepreneurs?

"Hell, yeah," said the Dave McClure of 500 Startups (beginning around 1:45).

George Zachary, with the VC firm Charles River Partners, said the "tension in the air is definitely higher" as his inbox is filling up faster and faster with eager pitches from startup founders.

"People are seeing that there big money available and people are feeling the gravitational pull towards the money," he said.

Need evidence? Naval Ravikant said his company, AngelList, receives 100 to 150 new listings every day from startups looking for investors. All that noise is making it harder to stand out, said Ravikant (check it out around 25:00), who had this advice:

Don't raise money unless you're going for the gold and you're in it for 10 years.... We're becoming more like a Hollywood industry, where a few bands and few movies are winner take all.

What's fueling it all is, in part, the public. The rallying stock market is saying IPOs are possible (yes, we talked Facebook quite a bit, even weighing whether it's on the wane and these guys read the tea leaves as to when it's going public ), and accelerator programs like McClure's are popping up everywhere to give people a shot.

Getting out of seed stage is hard and getting harder because, as Ravikant pointed out, we're in a " seed glut ."

These investors shared the many mistakes they see startups making when raising money (start around 26:30). They debated what catches their attention and why a bunch of hackers from Croatia had such a hot deal with their startup, Farmeron.

The talked international opportunities, why the higher educational system is rigged, and sounded unsure when asked whether they would invest in someone over, say, 45 years old.

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About the author

Paul Sloan is editor in chief of CNET News. Before joining CNET, he had been a San Francisco-based correspondent for Fortune magazine, an editor at large for Business 2.0 magazine, and a senior producer for CNN. When his fingers aren't on a keyboard, they're usually on a guitar. Email him here.

 

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