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"Entrepreneurs In Residence" of venture capitalists listen to ideas and start their own companies. Do they steal ideas of others?

1.  Who are you?

My name is Raj Abhyanker, and I am a Filmmaker/Producer, Entrepreneur, and Attorney in Palo Alto, California.    I co-founded Spiral Moon Media (http://www.spiralmoon.com), an award winning video production company in Silicon Valley along with my co-founder Dan Carlson.  

2.  What is this film about?

This film explores what happens behind the closed doors of venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. Venture capitalists use a practice in which they place previously successful entrepreneurs in meetings with those that pitch ideas to them. These entrepreneurs in residence ostensibly start companies of their own. This film will explore the question of whether these entrepreneurs in residence borrow ideas of the pitches that they hear.

3.  Why should I support this documentary? 

You should support this documentary because it will impact the way Silicon Valley works.    It will help explain what happens inside the hallowed halls of venture capitalists after entrepreneurs pitching ideas to them leave their offices.

4.  Why are you doing this documentary?

I am doing this documentary because :

First, it affects me.  I am currently involved in a federal court litigation in which practices of venture capitalists will be revealed.       

See:  http://allthingsd.com/20111111/fatdoor-founder-sues-benchmark-capital-saying-it-stole-his-idea-for-nextdoor/ 

DOCUMENT DOWNLOAD LINKS :

 (text of lawsuit filing)  http://www.scribd.com/doc/119889151/Benchmark-Capital-Nextdoor-com-Inc-lawsuit-Text-CounterClaims 

2. (color exhibits) http://www.scribd.com/doc/119889148/Evidence-Benchmark-Capital-Nextdoor-com-Inc-lawsuit-exhibits-CounterClaims

Second, I want to influence changes in the way EIRs are used by venture capitalists.   Particularly, I believe that EIRs should only listen in on pitches of entrepreneurs whose concepts are in a totally different area than the one that they themselves will start a company in.  

5.  Where will funds raised on Kickstarter go?

Funds raised on Kickstarter will solely go towards production costs for the EIR Documentary.   This includes paying for camera persons, voiceover, art directors, editors, and directors.

6.  Will funds for this documentary be used to pay for the litigation?

No, I am self funding the litigation myself. 

7.  Will this documentary favor entrepreneurs?

No, this documentary will not be one sided.   It will highlight the good things that Entrepreneurs in Residence of venture capitalists do to inspire and further innovation, as well as provide examples of cases where it is likely that a misappropriation of trade secrets has occurred.   

8.  How will you get the footage needed for this documentary?

This documentary will track the Benchmark Capital and Nextdoor litigation that I am invovled in.   Why? Because the litigation presents a unique opportunity to make public practices of venture capitalists and their use of entrepreneurs in residence through the discovery and testimony process.    I am both the filmmaker and a party in this litigation.

9.  Will the Benchmark Capital and Nextdoor depositions be video recorded?

Yes, we will seek separate court approval to permit cameras into court room testimony for the purposes of public benefit in education through this documentary.  

Also, individuals deposed in the Nextdoor/Benchmark litigation during discovery will be asked to voluntarily permit their depositions to be used in this documentary.   While there will be no penalty if they do not (as depositions are not automatically made public), a list will be made public of those EIRs and Venture Capitalists who agree to, and those who do not agree to release their deposition testimony for the purposes of this documentary.  In either case, if the deposition testimony is later made admissible at trial, it will become public record.

10.  Have you made any videos featuring venture capitalists/VC pitches?

Yes, one of our fun previous projects in 2011 ("Share the Air" starring Rachel Sequoia) was featured in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and on TechCrunch for creating a parody of Silicon Valley.      It is the most successful VC pitch video ever on Youtube, receiving more than 309,000 views and counting.   See:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyrFWbGiGOc

In addition, Dan and I have directed and produced a number of more serious non-fictional and commercial scripts.  We have filmed productions covering a variety of topics in Silicon Valley, including those involving people (including a spirtual guide to Steve Jobs) and public interest concepts (e.g., role of meditation in life, Yoga and exercise videos).

11.  Will "Rachel Sequoia" from the Share the Air viral YouTube video you made have a part in this documentary?

Yes, we are planning on that.   Trying to schedule booking Rachel now for this documentary.  It's been hectic selling so many bottles of air! With your support, Rachel will consider participating and acting in this.   She may be in character for a small aside in the documentary, and may be the more serious voice over in the documentary part.  

12.  Have you won awards for your work?

Spiral Moon has received many 5 star Yelp reviews for our script writing, production and execution of film projects. See: http://www.yelp.com/biz/spiral-moon-media-mountain-view-2.  

13.  Where can I see samples of your previous work?

Yes, see http://www.youtube.com/spiralmoonmedia   

14.  What still needs to be done?

I still need to find more entrepeneurs, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs in residence who are willing to provide their experiences (both positive and otherwise) on camera.   If you have something to share, please email it to me at :  raj@spiralmoon.com

Thank you!  Raj

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The risks and challenges of this project include :

1. Getting access to enough people who will speak on camera about their experiences with venture capitalists.

2. Getting access to information that will explain what happens to powerpoint presentations, documents, and summary notes prepared and shared within a VC firm.

If setbacks happen, and the documentary does not appear to be produceable, all funds will be refunded by December 31, 2013.

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