By guest author Irina Patterson
This is the twenty-fourth interview in our series on financing for entrepreneurs. I am talking to Nova Spivak, a serial entrepreneur, who is currently the co-founder an president of Live Matrix and an angel investor soon to be based in Los Angeles.
Irina: Hi, Nova. Let’s start with with your background.
Nova: I started EarthWeb in 1994 with some co-founders, and it went public in 1998 and later became Dice.com – that’s the current name of the company.
Then I helped to co-found and build nVention Convergence Ventures, an in-house intellectual property incubator of SRI International and Sarnoff Laboratories, and after that I started my own incubator, called Lucid Ventures in in 2001. Through that, in 2008 I started Twain.com, a semantic Web-based tool for information storage, authoring, and discovery, which was recently bought by Paul Allen-backed semantic Web startup Evri.com. Now Live Matrix, which is my new startup, is my main focus. And since then I’ve done also a quite a bit of angel investing in very early stage companies.
Irina: Live Matrix. What does it do?
Nova: Live Matrix is a guide to all the scheduled things happening online. So, it helps you find things that are happening now, or things that are upcoming that relate to your interests.
So, if you’re interested, for example, in shopping, it’ll show you what sales online are coming up — which sales are happening now and which ones are coming up. If you’re interested in, say, entertainment, it might show you live video events that are happening now or in the near future. And the same with sports.
So, in any different category whether it be video, audio, live chats or sales or other kinds of events, it’s like a guide. It shows you what’s happening when, and from there you can be reminded, so you can say, I am interested that kind of event, and Live Matrix remind you when it happens. You can also go to the events and participate and share them with friends and search lots of other things.
Irina: And what’s your role in Live Matrix?
Nova: It’s my idea, and through my incubator I seed-funded it. Sanjay Reddy joined as CEO, so he’s running the company. My role is really to help on the products and services side and to incubate the company.
Irina: Now, let’s talk about your angel investing. You invest on your own, right? You’re not connected to any fund.
Nova: Right. I invest on my own, and I co-invest with friends and other angels. I’ve been going it since 2001, but I haven’t been very active until the past two years.
Irina: Where do you get your deal flow?
Nova: I get it from a bunch of sources. Once through friends – other entrepreneurs I know, other angels I know, often invite me, and then there are networks like the AngelList that sometimes send me leads. There are also just people who know about me. They follow me on Twitter and things like that, and they contact me directly.
Irina: Tell me how you use the AngelList. How does it help you?
Nova: They allow entrepreneurs to qualify and then target various people for their pitches. What’s good about the AngelList is that they pre-qualify the deal. And then it’s a question whether you’re interested enough to get involved. It’s a free service. I’m on their list, and when entrepreneurs want to reach me, they forward that to me, if the entrepreneurs are qualified.
Irina: What is your best source of deal flow so far?
Nova: My best sources are my friends and my extended networks. I get most of my new deals coming through people whom I work with on other projects.
Irina: Let’s say entrepreneurs heard about you and want to reach you. What is the best way for them to reach you?
Nova: They can just e-mail me. They have to be smart enough to figure out how to reach me, because my e-mail is not easily findable, but it’s probably easy to guess.