Paul Michael Allen

Product Innovator. Startup Coach. Bizdev guy. Community Organizer. Entrepreneur. Designed in California. Now in Colorado + Ohio.

June 17, 2014 11:25 am

We want your BEST Cleveland photos!


People that haven’t spent time in Cleveland have no idea how awesome it really is. They’ve heard the late night talk show jokes and  remember photos from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s of a struggling city. But they don’t know what it’s like today. They don’t know about the transformation of Ohio City and downtown. They don’t know about the growth of the Cleveland Clinic and the explosion of the healthcare industry and startup community. They don’t know about the incredible restaurant scene and burgeoning food industry. They don’t know how beautiful the inner ring neighborhoods are and how incredible the quality of life is. 

At Bizdom we’re constantly recruiting amazing entrepreneurs to move to this great city from all over the country — from San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, New York. And they absolutely love it here.

That’s why we want your VERY BEST photos that show off what makes Cleveland such an awesome undiscovered place. Please start posting your best photos of Cleveland to twitter using the hashtag #beautifulCLE

We’ll start collecting these pics and the top five will get pairs of Cavs tickets next season!!!

What does a great #beautifulCLE pic look like? It captures… 

1. the vibrancy and bright colors of our city 

2. the spirit and energy of the people that live and work here

3. the natural beauty of the landscape and environment 

4. the character of the architecture and communities

May 29, 2014 1:15 pm

Why you ought to move your health/wellness startup to Cleveland…


If you’re the founder of a digital health or wellness startup you can locate your business just about anywhere. The Web makes your location pretty irrelevant. So why should you even consider Cleveland Ohio?

As a guy that grew up on the beach in Southern California and lived in the Bay Area for years I think I’m uniquely qualified to comment on what makes Cleveland an amazing place to do business. 

Here’s just a few reasons why you should seriously consider moving to or starting your health or wellness business in Cleveland…

1. The Cleveland area and suburbs are truly beautiful — full of charm, authenticity and rich history. Here’s some aerial footage of the region.

2. The quality of life is unbelievable. You and your cofounders can literally buy five amazing homes or two enormous mansions for the price of a tiny two bedroom home in San Francisco.,OH/4p_beds/350000-500000_price

3. You and your team members will rarely if ever spend any time in traffic. That means more time with friends and family. Much more time for work and play. 

4. Cleveland has some incredible, world class cultural institutions including the newly renovated Museum of Art and the world renowned Cleveland Orchestra plus award winning restaurants and chefs (chef Michael Symon is from Cleveland)

5. An exciting cultural renaissance has been occuring in Cleveland over the past 10 years led by new generations of entrepreneurs and artists. Check it out:

6. Over $1 billion has been invested in Cleveland-based healthcare businesses over the past decade.

7. In part due to its heritage as a manufacturing region, Cleveland is home to several specialized industry clusters focused on various aspects of healthcare. Over 55 companies make Cleveland a global leader in medical imaging. With more than 50 companies, Cleveland has long been a center for orthopedic technologies. Cleveland is ranked #5 in neurotech healthcare and #6 for neurodevice companies. Cleveland provides businesses with the unique access to and collaboration with key cardiovascular leaders at the world renowned Cleveland Clinic and Case Western University Hospitals. Deriving from these clusters are newer sectors in biomaterials, health IT, biosensors, and regenerative medicine.

8. Access to world-class research, clinical facilities, and personnel has allowed Cleveland’s biomedical industry to grow from 300 companies in 2002 to over 700 companies in 2014. 

9. Cleveland is home to the Cleveland Clinic ranked #1 heart and heart surgery for 19 years in a row; #4 overall; Nationally ranked in 21 specialties, with top rankings in urology and nephrology. Also Summa Health System, University Hospitals, and Case Western Reserve University. 

10. The rich biomedical environment in Cleveland has drawn the notice of larger strategic firms as evidenced by the increasing number of company exits in recent years. Notable exits include the acquisition of medical products company, EdgePark Surgical, by Clayton Dubilier & Rice/Goldman Sachs for $850 million, the sale of healthcare services company, MemberHealth, to Universal American for $630 million, and the acquisition of orthopedic company, Theken Spine, by Integra LifeSciences. For a full list of regional exits visit

11. Cleveland is home to the hottest media company focused on healthcare. Check out

Probably the biggest seller for Cleveland is the work ethic of the people here. Having lived and worked all over the country I’m confident in saying you find hard working Americans in every town. But there is something special about places like Cleveland. People come to Cleveland to do serious things and it shows in the way entrepreneurs and civic leaders collaborate and the focus on business growth and business fundamentals. 

The other major perk is that Cleveland is small enough that as a newcomer you’ll get a seat at the table. If you bring passion, talent, and work hard you’ll find dozens of organizations, investors, and advocates willing to help you connect the dots and find the resources to grow your business.  

At Bizdom we’re investing up to $125K in new business ideas for our July class of entrepreneurs. We’re especially interested in seeing ideas and startups that can leverage the mammoth healthcare industry and specialization we have in the Cleveland area. Here’s a link to our application: 

Please let me know if you have any questions

— Paul

May 17, 2014 7:17 pm

12 Quick Ways You Too Can Become a Full Stack Developer

Over the past couple years I’ve heard about new coding academies popping up every month or so — places where total beginners can learn to become full stack (beginner) developers in as little as three months.  

Below is a hastily researched list of the higher profile ones. It’s hard to compare ‘em because they’re different lengths and they teach slightly different things in different ways. Some require a bit of programming experience but most require none. 

The ones with real classrooms are just in SF, Chicago or NY. One’s in Denver.   

They’re not cheap. I’m guessing you can find similar classes at your local city college for less cash — but you won’t be hanging with the cool kids. And networking is a big part of the pitch. All these schools say they’ll help you land a sweet gig afterwards because hot companies are lining up for their grads.

Here you go…


  1. — 9 weeks ($12,200)
  2. — 12 weeks ($12,000)
  3. — 24 weeks $18,000 - ($20,000) 
  4. — 12 weeks 18% of first year salary*
  5. — 10 weeks ($12,500) 
  6. — 12 weeks ($15,000) 
  7. — 12 weeks ($17,780) *
  8. — 12 weeks ($12,500)
  9. — 11 weeks ($8,000) *


  1. self paced and online only — free *
  2. self paced and online only — $25 or $50/mo
  3. — self paced and online only — $29 and up

Please let me know if I’ve missed any important ones…

I put * (asterisks) next to the ones seem to have some special sauce.


March 22, 2014 4:00 pm

A hot Denver culture that’s galvanizing breakout startups for a new generation…

imageOver the past 20 years I’ve helped launch a few businesses, I ran a statewide tech organization, I’ve visited way too many co-working spaces and incubators and I started a couple Midwest accelerators.

But last week I saw something new and exciting. It’s a place called Galvanize and I think you’ll be hearing a lot about it. Galvanize is just a year and a half old but already has four locations: two in Denver, one in Boulder, one in San Francisco and others on the way.

A constant theme in the startup world over the past decade is community. Outside of Silicon Valley the question is “Are there better ways to create connections between innovators, researchers, inventors and the people, companies and investors that can bring new ideas to market?”

The reason this question is less important in Silicon Valley is because the Bay Area is so packed with innovators, investors, and commercializers.

This issue of connecting innovators, investors, and commercializers has everything to do with resources and proximity. Places like Detroit and Cleveland face lots of challenges: resources (risk investors and population) and proximity (places where talent and resources interact daily). Places like Boulder and Denver face challenges too (for example there aren’t as many risk investors as the Bay Area) and up until recently there haven’t been places where talent and investors collided often — but there is a growing population (which is key).

Galvanize is one of the important new places where investors, entrepreneurs, engineers, and innovators collide daily in Denver.

Galvanize’s first location was the architecturally interesting historic Rocky Mountain Bank Note building in Denver. As part of its business model Galvanize rents space at affordable rates to innovative startups. It’s also got a sweet cafe and bar, fresh and vibrant design and there are events scheduled throughout the week. It also has something called gSchool — an innovative 8-week or 6-month coding program that teaches people how to program cool stuff.

But you can find a lot of these things in other places too right? What makes Galvanize special?

Here’s why it seems like Galvanize and its team are money…

1. Vision: Go talk to Galvanize founder Jim Deters and you’ll find someone with a burning mission and sense of urgency to make resources available to innovators. You can’t fake that kind of passion. It’s infectious and you need it to sustain a culture that attracts real innovators. Jim and his team also clearly understand real estate and the role of design in building a vibrant community and culture. And it’s not just a cool building and some orange paint and wood paneling that makes Galvanize a place that people want to hang. There’s a “no douchebag” culture. Seriously there’s a work hard, work smart, but be humble and generous vibe that’s part of the Galvanize experience and it’s pretty cool.

2. Got Forth and Multiply: The whole idea of linking cities together in a network of communities is genius. The most vibrant startup communities in the world know how to leverage and export influence. It’s not about hunkering down and desperately holding onto what’s mine. As the Red Hot Chili Peppers say “Give it Away Give it Away Give it Away Give it Away Now!” Communities that build ties with other communities gain access to investors, subject matter experts, customers and engineers. Thriving cities and their leaders understand this. Others will fall behind.

3. They Pony Up: Galvanize has created a substantial fund to invest in breakout startups that are part of their growing community. 

4. Results! It takes me six months to decide what kind of car to buy. In just a year and a half Jim and his team have raised a fund, built out four killer locations, created a first-of-its-kind coding curriculum, developed relationships with Google and other top flight partners, and on and on.

Note: I’m not an investor or otherwise affiliated with Galvanize — just an observer and fan.

Check it out:

February 18, 2014 11:37 am

That’s not how it works…


First time founders don’t buy this BS…

One of our fast growing startups is raising a $1MM+ round and recently came to me with more silly misinformation from a junior VC associate.
The associate told the founders “If it’s such a great deal why doesn’t your current investor (us) just take the whole thing?” The founders replied that we’d already invested in two sizable pre-seed rounds and were looking to add other capable investors.

It’s called “syndication”.

The concept is that multiple venture capital firms or angel investors make investments in a startup simultaneously. It’s very common and upwards of 70% of deals are syndicated.

There are three non-mutually exclusive reasons why syndicates exist…

The first is the constrained capital hypothesis. It assumes that VC firms supply important human and financial capital and that both are constrained within a VC firm. Therefore syndication increases the availability of money and talent available to help a new business.

The second reason that syndicates exist is known as the certification hypothesis. It’s basically the concept of “safety in numbers” where presumably a crowd of investors can exhibit better judgement than a lone investor.

The third reason that syndicates exist is known as reciprocity. Put another way, the wedding guest that gives the nicest gifts gets invited to the nicest weddings. Or VC’s that share good deals get access to other good deals. It’s a core strategy behind venture investing — which is to optimize returns through improved dealflow and a portfolio of investments.

Now there are PLENTY of great reasons for investors not to invest in a particular startup including this one.

But if you’re a first time founder don’t accept this sort of garbage about “If it’s such a good deal why doesn’t your current investor just take the whole thing”. That’s junk.

Most importantly it does a huge disservice to you as an entrepreneur and doesn’t help you LEARN what, if anything, you need to improve or fix about your business or investment proposal.

December 29, 2013 8:40 pm December 4, 2013 8:00 pm

Toys for kids suck

There’s a lot of room for improvement in toys for kids. I went to buy my 7 year old son a gift for the last night of Chanukah. First I thought I’d get him an Xbox. Then I thought maybe he’s too young to get addicted to idiotic video games. Maybe I can delay that. So I thought I’d get him a fly fishing rod for our move to Colorado. But that would be a lousy Chanukah present. So I went to the toy store and there were quite a few interesting board games, a lot of craft kits for girls, a lot of play toys for kids younger than 5, but not much for boys or curious kids older than 5. I looked at a few snap together electronic kits but the kinds of circuits you can create didn’t seem all that exciting considering he can jump online and play exciting flash games — or program a virtual circuit that will do amazing things. Ended up getting a race car track, wind up speed car thing. What’s been your experience? Any luck finding challenging, educational toys for kids? Or have these taken a backseat to computers altogether?

November 16, 2013 12:55 pm

Startup Gremlins

Things people tell others to try to persuade them not to try new things…

  1. it’s already been done
  2. if it’s a good idea google will just steal it
  3. it will take too much $ to do it
  4. you don’t have the right background/skills to do it
  5. you could get sued
  6. it’s too complex
  7. you can’t make $ doing it
November 7, 2013 11:48 pm

The 15 things you must do before or shortly after leaving an accelerator…

15. Keep growing your own network both online AND offline. Kiss frogs everywhere and often.

14. Fail before you sail: Try to validate your revenue model and understand unit economics (CAC, variable costs, LTV) with multiple opportunities outside the region BEFORE you raise much more $ and scale.

13. Sing before you swing: Establish a compelling value proposition (using the language of your targets) and messaging so you’re ready to sell BEFORE you start scaling. Don’t assume you know what you’re doing here. Get help. Clarity often comes from outsiders.

12. Develop trustful relationships with important stakeholders like your attorney(s), CPA and investors. Ideally you’ve known these people for years and worked with them through stressful times. They should know your character and you should know theirs. If not, spend time with them. Don’t waste time doing business with someone you wouldn’t trust to babysit your kids, watch your dog, or help you move a couch.

11. Don’t get fancy with pricing and pricing models. Define them. Keep them simple. Try them. Tweak them.

10. Assume that your current knowledge and talent won’t get you where you need to go. Hire people that are smarter than you and push your team to constantly grow. Organize brown bags where people on your team teach each other. Lose sleep over what your team is missing.

9. Don’t get distracted reviewing receipts for paint brushes. Your job is to paint. <—-Dan Gilbert-ism #1. You must focus 110% on finding, seizing and creating new opportunities. Most often these opportunities can’t be forecast with a spreadsheet. <——Dan Gilbert-ism #2.

8. That said, as you grow, someone must understand how to forecast revenue and expenses, manage cashflow, make payroll, and not run out of cash.

7. Share good AND bad news with investors as soon as it happens.

6. Send bi-weekly status updates to all stakeholders including employees. Your job is to over-communicate with clarity.

5. Strive to be the type of person others want to work with. Money and success are ephemeral. Your business may not survive but your relationships should.

4. If your ideas are any good you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats — so try to outwork your competitors. If you work 13 hours a day, 6 days a week and your competitor works 11 hours a day, 5 days a week, after 3 months you’ll have outworked them by about one month.

3. The concept of an MVP is always relevant. Use it for marketing, sales, and R&D. Sufficiency first. Perfection later.

2. Locate your office near other businesses and freelancers to pool resources and opportunities. Bring energy into your office through color, design, music, whatever it takes. Make it a place where people feel ALIVE!

1. In business, lots of things are interesting but few are important. Are you thinking strategically about how you spend your time? What’s on your critical path this week?

October 18, 2013 4:00 pm

Turn your shower into smart shower.

An affordable clip-on light up meter greatly reduces household water consumption and lowers household water costs. Launched yesterday by a startup in our accelerator…