Haig Kayserian is an internet business expert, entrepreneur and angel investor. He has founded two international companies; invested in over 10 U.S.-based tech startups; spoken before audiences in New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Melbourne; and has been quoted by mass and tech media in the U.S. and Australia.
Please click here for his full profile.

People to watch badge
People to watch badge


14 July 2015Investor rejection letters to Airbnb published

Airbnb, the shared accommodation startup currently valued at billion and raking in 0 million in revenue this year, was once rejected by investors for funding.

On his blog, the company's CEO Brian Chesky revealed 7 rejection letters from their early days with an aim to motivate startups currently getting rejected when pitching to investors.

At the time, they were trying to raise 0,000 at a .5 million valuation, which would have meant an ownership of 10% of Airbnb. At today's valuation, 10% would be worth 0 million.

Check out the blog with the rejection letters below or by clicking here.

7 Rejections
09 July 2015Social Media posting tips
I wrote a blog today for KAYWEB, about tips for businesses (in particular) who post links to their own website on social media.

"The theory goes something like this: these social media sites are much more popular than most business websites. So if people click from these sites to a link on your website, the popularity of the website will increase, hence will its ranking on Google and other search engines."

Click here to read "Get more clicks from Social Media posts".
09 July 2015Gmail hacks
08 August 2014Twitter has moral responsibility to #StopAliyev

Twitter - the social network that allows 140-character posts from anyone, anywhere, about anything - rose to public policy prominence by "helping" organize the Arab Spring revolution and spread truths about minorities suffering awful mistreatments across several continents.

This "giving voice to the voiceless" achieved universally positive endorsements of the Twitter platform, and has helped earn the company a reputation as one helping the Davids face Goliaths. Understandably, these endorsements have been welcomed by Twitter's hierarchy, including co-founder Jack Dorsey and CEO Dick Costolo, who have on numerous occasions admitted they are proud of the evolution of their communication platform.

However, what should happen when Twitter starts being used by Goliaths to bully Davids? What should happen when those with a voice use Twitter to crush the voiceless? What should happen when Twitter's "positive" influence on public policy turns "negative"?

This week, oil-rich Azerbaijan dictator Ilham Aliyev, used Twitter to declare war on the Christian Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh.

Some background for those not familiar with the region and its problems. Nagorno Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, was historically part of Armenia until it was handed to Azerbaijan by Joseph Stalin. Despite this, the region maintained a majority Armenian population, who lived oppressed under Azeri rule until the 1990s. This was when man, woman and child decided "enough is enough" and decided to grab anything resembling a weapon to defend their rights to sovereignty.

After a bloody war, a ceasefire was negotiated between Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan, which resulted in a referendum where the population of Nagorno Karabakh voted overwhelmingly to exercise their right to self-determination and declare the birth of the barely recognized Republic of Nagorno Karabakh.

Despite this vote, and the 1994 ceasefire watched over by international bodies hoping to achieve a lasting treaty to deliver peace to the region, Azerbaijan has remained aggressive, with Aliyev constantly threatening to wipe it free of Armenians while building up military armor with its petro-billions that would threaten most nations.

Now, 20 years into the ceasefire, Aliyev is getting pesky and threatening to turn his war words into action.

In the last week, years of threats and minor border skirmishes turned into full-blown acts of war, when Azerbaijan started moving their heavy armor into key military positions while launching ground offensives to test the Armenian front-line.

Aliyev was quiet during these tests, until in the last 24 hours, when he took to Twitter to declare war and insight racial hatred among his Turkic citizens against the Christian Armenians they neighbor.

Some of his tweets are embedded below:

This is only a sampling of his 50+ tweets designed to bully this small nation, which deserves the same right to self-determination as all other nations, regardless of size and might.

As a technologist, who was brought up in the era where the Googles of the world had slogans like "Don't be evil", I wonder where Twitter stands in all of this?

Unlike the "positives" of Twitter during the Arab Revolution, Tsunamis, etc., I don't expect a Charlie Rose interview with Dorsey or Costolo, where they are asked if they are proud to see their platform being used for war-mongering, bullying and hate speech by an oil-rich fundamentalist and racist dictator.

While I am sure they are not proud, I ask: what are they going to do about it?

Should they allow Twitter to be used by Goliaths against Davids? By those with a voice threatening to crush the voiceless? What should happen when Twitter's "positive" influence on public policy turns "negative"?

I think the answer is simple. "Don't be evil" and don't allow evil.

Ban Ilham Aliyev from Twitter to help #StopAliyev and empower only those who deserve empowerment.
25 June 2014Google pushes Android to the front at annual conference
Google made some major announcements at its annual I/O conference. Android was the "star".

Just to boost my ego... I tipped the Google Auto some time ago.

Here is a good 2 minute summary of their announcements:

10 June 2014Mary Meeker's 2014 update of Internet Trends
Leading tech analyst, Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins releases an annual review of Internet Trends, which is a must-read for anyone even remotely interested in the goings on in web.

While her full deck is below, I agree with SMH that the key observations she makes in 2014 are as follows:
  • Data mining: We're only meaningfully analysing a tiny fraction (1 per cent) of available data. Tech start-ups are leading the way in both expanding and understanding data.
  • Single-purpose apps: Applications are moving away from being catch-all toward stand-alone, such as Facebook's Messenger and Twitter's Vine.
  • Selectivity: We are sharing more content with a narrower group of people, rather than broadcasting a little bit of information to all. Think Snapchat, which now accounts for 700 million daily photo shares.
  • China: Ms Meeker lauds China as a leader in mobile commerce development. Through its messenger application WeChat, which has 400 million active mobile users, you can bank and invest, book restaurants and buy groceries. Didi Taxis generates 5 million daily rides by integration with WeChat.
  • Cryptocurrencies: Ms Seeker keeps faith in Bitcoin despite its crash in value, arguing the 5 million Bitcoin wallets worldwide (an eight-fold increase year-on-year) shows "extraordinary interest".
  • Declining costs: Computing, storage, bandwidth and handsets are all decreasing, though data costs can remain high. The average global smartphone price is now $US335 (3), though we typically pay more in Australia.
  • Mobile growth: Mobile usage now accounts for 25 per cent of all web traffic in 2014, up from 14 per cent a year ago. Asia and Africa represent a significant portion of that – developing nations "leap-frogged" the PC and laptop era, moving straight to smartphones.
  • Videos: Mobile's share of online video plays is rising, and now accounts for 22 per cent. Consumers expect to watch TV on demand and on their own terms.
  • Tablets: Unit shipments are growing faster than desktops or laptops ever did, but still have more room to grow at 6 per cent market penetration.
  • Dual-screening: 84 per cent of American mobile users use their device while watching TV. We are seeing more content than ever, but it allows us to avoid commercials.
  • Advertising: Global internet advertising grew 16 per cent this year, and mobile advertising grew by 47 per cent. The average revenue per user for GoogleFacebook and Twitterremained stable.

The full deck below:

20 February 2014When you mix underwear and tech, you get Fundawear
Investing actively in tech (more specifically in web and mobile) for the last three years, means I'm no longer easily surprised.

Don't get me wrong... the hundreds of applications for investment we've received at KAYWEB Angels, and the innovations I follow on the web as an enthusiast, are certainly "very good" at times ... but just not too "surprising".

Therefore when something does surprise, it definitely leaves an impression. This post is about one such surprising innovation.

Last year, Durex came up with "Fundawear", what it called the "future of foreplay".

Now that I have your attention, watch this video:

As the video suggests, Durex is experimenting an underwear range that is remote controlled with a mobile application that allows you to "touch" someone remotely, regardless of how far you are from that person.

It seems Durex thought about the smaller world of frequent travellers that we currently live in, where Skype and Google+ Hangout has meant we can communicate with loved ones virtually. Being in the industry they are in, Durex thought about how they can extend this communication from just "video" and "talk" to ... "sex".

And this is what they came up with.

It is surprising, and quite brilliant.

Recently, I blogged about Target's applying existing technologies to their needs with "shoppable TV", and this Durex example is another example of a pre-web giant brand innovating by leveraging modern technologies.

I believe "Fundawear" will work for them! Just like "Shoppable TV" could be the future of retail advertising.

I hope this is a sign of things to come, and we see more well-resourced traditional powers innovating by using the ever-improving accessibility of web and mobile.
19 December 2013Internet giants up 2013

I have just posted a Blog on the KAYWEB website, collating some of the best data summaries of 2013 by internet giants Google, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

It is an accurate look back at the year that was, showing what people cared about enough to search for it or share it. 

It is quite interesting, if I may say so myself :)


26 August 2013Investors want what you should want
As an active angel investor in the New York technology scene, I have had the pleasure of sitting on many 'investors' panels at events for entrepreneurs. And, without fail, I am always asked:

"What do investors want?"

The answer is easy.

"Investors want what you should want."

I typically go through the key questions my board at KAYWEB Angels asks when assessing applications.

However, these are questions that every entrepreneur should be able to answer for themselves before pursuing a startup venture.


Every business needs to be solving a problem. Sometimes, entrepreneurs are so entrenched in their business idea, they convince themselves that a problem exists without validating it. If it exists, prove to yourself that it exists, and if it does exist, prove to yourself that it exists for enough people that would command a market.

If you have proven that to yourself, genuinely, then investors will believe you. We will assess your validation techniques and results, and likely agree. If we don't agree, and we are people who typically invest in your type of business, then you should start asking yourself serious questions.

Remember, investors want what you should want.


If you feel your prescribed solution will solve your defined problem, it is easy to ask your potential customers and tabulate the results of your research.

For example, if it is a consumer and business application, like Open Table, you must ask restaurants if they are happy to upload their open tables to your web application. And, you must check with restaurant-frequenting customers if they are happy to use your application.

This validation shouldn't just be done for investors. It should also be done for you, before you spend your time and money pursuing an idea that may or may not fly.

Remember, investors want what you should want.


I often come across entrepreneurs who exaggerate their market. And sometimes, I come across entrepreneurs who under-rate their market.

Neither of these are good. If you exaggerate, investors will find you out. If they don't, you will spend their money and still be where you are. If you underrate, you may take less money than required... either way, you don't get anywhere.

Remember, investors want what you should want.


This is key. Every entrepreneur believes they are better than their competition. But this needs to be more than merely a 'belief'. It needs to be evidenced.

If your competition is clear, ask their users if they will come over to your product if you implemented your proposed solution. If it is a yes, both you and your potential investors will be pleased.

If your competition is not clear because you are truly first to market, you will be relying on people who currently spend their time doing something... to give up some of that time to do something else. Talk to these people, and prove to yourself, and to us, that enough of these people are ready to jump on board once you are live.

Remember, investors want what you should want.


Sometimes, entrepreneurs have pitched ideas which tick all of the above boxes... but they do not have a sustainable business model. How will you make money out of this? How will you charge? How much will you charge? Are people ready to pay? Prove it.

If you rely on advertising to make money... talk to ad agencies or potential advertisers and get their responses.

Prove your business model otherwise your idea will fall over. For yourself, and for your investors.

Remember, investors want what you should want.


If you have done all of the above, chances are you are somebody worth taking a risk on. Unfortunately, on occasions, we have taken the punt on people based on this fact. But then we have realized that they are uncoachable, or their skills are more in putting a business together rather than leading a business.

In these circumstances, the business has to adjust. This results in loss of time and money.

You are the best judge of your own abilities. If you are not equipped with all the right skills, find those skills early in other people and make them part of your team. There is no shame in being the co-founder, but not the CEO or the COO. The earlier this is realized, the less momentum the business is likely to lose, which is good for you and your business.

Remember, investors want what you should want.

There you have it. These are some key categories that investors judge when assessing your startup applications for investment. But, as shown above, these should also be key categories that you judge - honestly - prior to jumping into a venture.

Keep in mind, investors want what you should want.
16 July 2013It is a mobile browsing world and Responsive Web Design is the new, necessary norm
The stats don't lie. We are living in a world where browsing the web from mobile devices (smartphones and tablet) has become prevalent.

Depending on which report you read, and which country you live in, between 10-25% of all unique website visits are happening via mobile devices. That is unique visits (different IP addresses), which means when this percentage is applied to total web page views, mobile device browsers will soon account for 40-50% of visits.

The problem is that many businesses do not have mobile optimized websites.

When the iPhone first revolutionized the smartphone industry, web experts realized that at the very least, we shouldn't have dense websites filled with flash (flv) if we wanted to be seen at all on mobile web browsers.

It seems this message has made its way to a large number of businesses. However, most business websites still require the mobile visitor to pinch their screens and move their fingers in many curious directions to get to a good view of their desired section of a page.

Enter Responsive Web Design. KAYWEB (my web design company with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, New York and Manila) defines Responsive Web Design (RWD) as:

"...a technique used to attain and provide clients with an easy to use and well designed website across different computer platforms (i.e. viewing the website from a desktop, phone or tablet).

Responsive Web Design aims to reduce scrolling, panning and resizing, by utilizing the new CSS3 (Cascading Style Sheets ver.3) standard, which allows querying a device for its characteristics to determine how the website should be presented, this provides a more intuitive and easy to use website.

Responsive Web Design caters for visitors using any browser, including mobile phone browsers like the iPhone, tablet browser like the iPad and desktop browsers. Responsive Web Design uses an approach whereby it responds to the characteristic of the browser, which allows cross platform compatibility of the site.

As regular websites are developed for large monitors, they are not friendly when trying to be viewed on mobile devices which have considerably smaller screens, however Responsive Web Design rectifies this issue by being able to respond to the characteristics of the browser and delivering an effective and user-friendly website."

It is a mobile browsing world and Responsive Web Design is the new, necessary norm.

CLICK HERE for a case study on how Responsive Web Design has benefited one of my eCommerce clients.

About Haig

Haig Kayserian is an internet business consultant with clients across Australia, the United States of America and Asia.

The company he founded - KAYWEB - has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, New York and Manila, providing premium websites and apps solutions to businesses, organisations, government and individuals.

read more

Top Blog Topics