Thomas Huseby, managing partner of Seattle-based VC firm Seapoint Ventures, explained to a packed crowd at the Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit how they can survive a terrible economy, and where that economy puts the wireless industry. “Who would have thought that VC would be safer than a mortgage,” he joked, but pointed out that venture capital and startups have always had to deal with a risky environment. There will we an accelerated “weeding” of both big and small companies…but it is the BEST part of time to start a company, he said. Huseby said he always starts a company when he’s been laid off, and that while everyone else is worrying about the economy, you can be creating something, he said.
Huseby said the wireless industry’s future can be seen by asking the question “who still has a landline”, and seeing how many people don’t even have a landline anymore. And as for what the killer app is on mobile, he said, the iPhone showed us all that the killer app is the phone itself and what you do with it. Huseby said the iPhone came along at just the right time to save the industry.
Huseby also gave a series of dont’s… don’t create a new handset, and ringtones aren’t done either. There are three sources of revenue, he said, which are people paying their phone bill, advertising, and enterprise. The key to advertising, he said is that there is no longer “mobile” advertising. Mobile is in fact 1 to 1 segmentation, which allows for personal interaction between the brand and a phone’s user.
Huseby closed with this piece of advice: never thank a venture capitalist for their time. All of the good ideas come from the entrepreneur, and VCs would have nothing to do without smart business people and their ideas. VCs, he said, should be the ones thanking entrepreneurs for showing up.