Optimize your VC meeting

30 mins = 30 mins: use it wisely!

Similar to my post on 3 Questions Entrepreneurs Get Wrong, entrepreneurs often fail to use their initial (usually only) shot with a VC effectively.  Given the length of the post, I’ve split it into parts: general tips on your meeting, a rough breakdown of time use, and tips for specific groups of entrepreneurs based largely on stereotypes.

At Genacast, we give anyone in the door 30 minutes for a first meeting.  Here are the rather unfortunate truths that many entrepreneurs usually fail to realize:

  • Our days are packed with pitch meetings.  We love them, it keeps us fueled to hear about each exciting idea, but the end time is usually a hard stop.  Even if we are late, that doesn’t mean we can go over (or it would cascade into large delays at the end of the day).
  • Whether admitted or not, we have fundamental questions we check-off in our mind, usually before we want to delve deep into your specific solution: (roughly, and in no particular order)
    • What is the core value proposition?
    • Is the market big enough?
    • Is this the right team?
    • How will it make money?
    • How will they go to market?  Acquire customers?  Build a network/marketplace?
    • How does the competitive landscape look?
    • Do they have some type of sustainable competitive advantage or is this an execution play?
    • …Seems like quite a list, but hit these quickly!*  Just the headliners will suffice to start off. We will drill deeper where we feel the need or move into the more interesting nuances in the business.
  • Prepare
    • (At least) read their website,
    • know what they invest in (our investment profile),
    • who a couple of their portfolio companies are,
    • if they have a competitive portfolio company,
    • the background of the person you are speaking with
    • …We know you pitch many VCs/Angels, and we can’t expect you to know much detail, but the vast majority don’t know anything.   Those that don’t do this basic step waste precious meeting time covering these bases (and frequently spark a realization that it’s not a fit with the fund’s stated thesis).
  • Move slides to backup.  If you have awesome data, customer feedback quotes, detailed financial models, numerous screenshots, etc. these are best left in backup to be referenced as needed.  Don’t assume we want all this until we ask about it, usually they are not essential in a first meeting.
  • No monologues!  I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve had where the entrepreneur gets started, and I don’t have an opportunity to jump in for 10-15 minutes.  At some point, I have to be a bit rude and cut you off so I can cover some of the gaps you left along the way (and everyone’s perceived holes will be different, don’t assume because you are hitting the points that came up in the last 3 meetings, you’re telling me what I what to hear).      PAUSE.        Yes, pause.       Frequently.      Leave these opportunities for questions or subject changes.
  • Listen carefully  as investors are usually driving at specific concerns they need to allay.  Make sure you understand what they are really asking before launching into a long explanation.  Entrepreneurs get similar questions a lot, so a buzz word can launch a canned response, missing the vital nuance differentiating the question.

 

Example meeting profile (by minute):

  • 1 – friendly banter
  • 2-3 – Me: intro to our fund, maybe myself if I can squeeze it in
  • 3-4 – You: Additional questions about our fund
  • 4-6 – Your background, maybe a bit about your team
  • 6-7 – Headliner of what your building
  • 7-10 – Major value proposition & best use-case scenario
  • 10-12 – Addressable market size
  • 12-15 – Revenue model
  • 14-17 – Go-to-market
  • 17-22 – Competitive landscape & your sustainable competitive advantage
  • 22-25 – Investment amount and use of proceeds
  • 25-30 – Buffer if any section runs over or a chance to get to the good stuff.

Throughout, keep the door open (verbally, with devices like pauses or upwards inflection that begs a response) for our input.  Throughout (and especially if the meeting does NOT go well), ask for advice.  BY FAR the best meetings are fairly rapid exchanges where we are able to cover some of the interesting parts of your business together (again, don’t assume you know what those gems are), so try to answer questions fairly concisely.  Ideally, you want to be talking no more than 2/3rds of the time.

 

* One potential strategy: start your deck out with a slide that hits on the major 5-10 points you know we will ask about.  My friend Mark Davis (DFJ, Kohort) first showed me a deck starting with such a slide, but rarely see this tactic used.

Pitching VCs (part 2): Common Age & Experience Mistakes

Typical Old & Young Mistakes; demographically specific hints

(I admit full guilt of stereotyping, bias, etc. I KNOW that these are gross generalizations with many exceptions, I hope they are helpful, not offensive)

 

Newbie, YOUNGER entrepreneurs:  You tell us nothing about team relevance.  Often times that is because it’s a bit of a stretch, but we’d love your best attempt.  We’ll expect you are going to put in the all-nighters, survive on a shoestring budget, live and breath your space, and hustle.  We want know how you are positioning yourself to beat others and are passionate about your space, even though you don’t have years of expertise to back it up.

You usually haven’t prepared enough – market dynamics, competitor deep dive (not just their pricing, but their rough costs and future strategy as best you can guess).  You tend to think like the end-user which is great, but usually you are the target of your proposed solution, make sure there is a broader appeal.  Validate that the business is attractive given the economics and external dynamics.

 

Newbie, OLDER entrepreneurs:  You spend too long explaining your background – your path through life, how much you know about the space, etc.  We know (and expect) you’ve been around the block, we want to hear the 1-minute, high-level summary.  If we want to know more, we’ll ask, believe me.  One unique item you should hint at (maybe not explicitly say): what is your risk profile given your personal responsibilities (family, mortgage, etc.)?

You also tend to come prepared in the wrong ways: decks too long (esp. over 20 pages!) and overly specific (how do you know the IRR or that your 4th year revenue will be $63.7M).  I’d encourage you to think more from the perspective of the customer (how and why they’ll use it) and nail that – as you come from a generation focused on pushing products.  Read Steven Blank’s stuff.

 

REPEAT entrepreneurs: Why are you reading my blog?  Pitch me your next business, you know we love ya!  But seriously, don’t ride on your laurels – we know you understand the risks and emotional rollercoaster that is part of the course.  Highlight the biggest one or two mistakes you made, prove to us you can be self-critical and you are just as hungry this time around.

Many will claim to be ‘seasoned/repeat entrepreneurs’ that probably shouldn’t – be honest about your past business.  People claiming to be ‘successful’ entrepreneurs that are quickly revealed to have sold a piece of software they hacked together on the side of their day job for $10K in a fire sale just as you were shutting it down is interesting & relevant, but doesn’t quiet count and a successful exit or real start-up pursuit if you were holding down your normal job.  If we like what your building, we are going to do research on you, so all will be revealed…

Likewise having failures, of course, count positively (as long as you havent had a string of 10) – we’ll want to hear about these t0o.

Philadelphia Restaurant Recommendations

Although I haven’t been in Philly long, I’ve been impressed with the food scene.  I’m a huge fan of the BYOB concept – it reduces the cost of dining out fairly significantly.  That being said, I am not out much given my renewed status as a student.

Philly restaurants I enjoy:

  • Audrey Claire – lovely little corner restaurant around Rittenhouse.  Have only partaken in two meals here, but like any respectable restaurant, the menu is rarely the same whenever I pass by.  Don’t really understand the categorization under ‘Greek,’ feels more French/Cali neuvo to me…
  • Pumpkin – A quaint little place (6-7 tables?) with a very dynamic menu by a chef that’s not afraid to try new pairings.  Excellent meals here, except for the fact my expensive beers were not given back to me after my meal (small quibble, but they owe me $20).
  • Garces Trading – A very French bistro-feeling charcuterie with heavy Spanish and Italian influences.  Wonderful selection of important meats and cheese to choose in parings plus a respectable mix of tapas style dishes: tartare, duck salad, gnudi, and a huge cheese & meat menu including one of my favorite meats: Jamon Iberico de Bellota.
  • Hann Dynasty – Hard to find decent, authentic Chinese food, and Hann Dynasty delivers some of the best Szechuan food I’ve ever had.  The Dan Dan noodles and spicy cucumbers are must haves.  Other than that, the ordering off menu is usually the way to go.  Bring a hungry group that can handle a decent amount of spice.
  • Tria ­– another of the somewhat over-played wine bars…but I’ve been pretty happy with the small tapas dishes that I’ve had there.  Great little salads and flatbreads accompany the other delicious bites (don’t go too hungry though).
  • Monk’s Café – Mussels.  That’s the reason to go – great broths, craft beers, not too much else to write about.

Albeit, I’ve sampled only a small portion of the restaurants in Philly (due to budget and time constraints), but please, share your favorites in comments below.

(I have had much more experience dining in NYC, Seattle, Boston, San Diego – happy to share my spreadsheets on each, but the further back I go, the less likely the accuracy)

3 Basic Questions Entrepreneurs Get Wrong

Albeit, I am a neophyte to the investing scene, but have quickly learned that investors ask fairly repetitive questions to address obvious concerns.  In turn, the answers received start sounding similar as well.  A couple questions that startups frequently struggle with (or, more importantly, think they have good answers to, but usually aren’t compelling):

(there aren’t necessarily wrong or right answers, but worse and better answers – of course these can shift depending on the industry, business, etc.)

 

Question 1: Addressable Market Size?  

What’s being asked:  If you sold your product to everyone in your target market (at the proposed prices), what would your annual revenue be?

Key: It does not have to be exact – order of magnitude is almost close enough.

Worse answers:

  • “I don’t know”  –  do your research!  We expect you to be close to an expert in your space
  • # people, # companies, # transactions, etc. in the space  –  these are metrics that help build to an addressable market size, not the final answer
  • Industry spending numbers  –  “$200B spent on enterprise IT solutions”…these numbers are easy to find, and way to broad.  Define exactly what you do and calculate only that part. 
  • “It’s huge, definitely over a Billion”  –  yes, it’s well published that VCs are seeking companies in $xB dollar markets, but unjustified, approximate numbers are a sign that you don’t know the space (see #1)
  • “$2.37Trillion dollars”  – Do a sanity check, if your number is larger than the GDP of most industrialized nations, Houston, we have a problem
  • “10M”–  hinted at before, if your addressable market is really this small, then it is probably not a relevant venture opportunity unless it is growing at over 1000% per year

Better answers:

  • “We’re addressing a ~$2.5B market, let me quickly take you through the math and share my (multiple, reputable) sources that support this estimate”
  • “There are three incumbents in this exact space, and their aggregate revenue is around $5B”

 

Question 2: Sustainable competitive advantage?

What’s being asked:  How do you un-level the playing field, for the next ~3-5 years?

Key: it is a question about today – what are you holding that is special

Worse answers:

  • First mover  –  a quick copier often can get more things right and learn from your mistakes, little advantage here except in very specific industries cases
  • Network effect & traction  –  besides the fact these are often unsustainable, you can’t cite things that you don’t currently have.  “We will have a lot of users and they won’t want to switch” is not an advantage until you get those users.  Don’t confuse switching costs with competitive advantages.
  • Software IP  –  possibly a controversial statement, but generally considered not sustainable, as most software patents are fairly easy to work around

Better answers:

  • Vital, exclusive partnerships with the major customers/suppliers/partners that constitute a significant % of the space
  • Access to proprietary information/data that others won’t be able to gain
  • Hard to replicate technology at the core of the business
  • An incredibly difficult problem that your team is uniquely qualified to solve (you have guy that built the only working quantum computer)

 

Question 3: Competition?

What’s being asked:  Who will fight you for anything you need to transact business

Key: Don’t focus on today but over the next 3-5 years, especially once you grow to a decent size.  Other startups at the same and/or earlier stage as yours should be mentioned, but not usually our chief concern.

Worse answers:

  • We don’t have any  –  Most probably wrong, sure you know the space?  Besides, no competition might also indicate that this is not an interesting or profitable space.  Don’t forget what folks are doing today to address the need.
  • “(insert large, existing player) won’t move into this space because they are focused on their core business”  –  might be true, but thousands of entrepreneurs said that about Google and social and now local…  These players are not dumb and capitalists – they’ll go after where the money is, sure some through acquisitions, but usually a small number for a given space.  What happens when you get some traction and show this is a great space?

Better answers:

  • “Let me walk you through the players in this space that have me most concerned and tell you how we stack up on these key dimensions.”
  • “Given the looming threat of (x big player) entering, here is our strategy to continue to stay 3 steps ahead”

New Netflix Design = Pretty & Horrible.

(Or in geek-speak: UI at the cost of UX)

I am quite upset with the recently released Netflix redesign(s).  I use both online and PS3 versions, and have to admit, the new UI is sexier.  It’s sleek, intuitive, and attractive… but removes many of the core functionality I used!  (i.e. improved user interface at the cost of user experience)

The changes that have me in a tizzy:

  1. Removed the list view option (esp. web version)
  2. Only show movies in a scrolling horizontal image format – similar to apple’s ‘cover flow’ view (esp. PS3 version)
  3. Taken away the social aspect (ok, this happened a couple versions back)
  4. Hard to add movies to instant or queue from the scroll-over description bubble

All together, these changes make it harder to find the best movies since you can’t sort based on star ratings or rely on users with similar tastes to discover non-mainstream gems.  Besides access to hard to find movies, this was a core value proposition for me.

Given my druthers, there would be additional filtering options in a list view.  Yes, the bland & often ugly spreadsheet view is nonetheless highly functional).  I love sexy designs…but not at the expense of usability.  Aspire to attain both.

 

UPDATE: Now with the announced increased pricing plans and multiple PS3 service interruptions over the past month – I am triply perturbed…

Netflix Streaming Movie Recommendations

The best movies available for instant play

As much as I love Netflix, navigating it’s streaming content can be difficult, even with its great recommendation engine. I often hear people complain about the ‘lack of quality films available for instant view,’ and I completely disagree. You just have to know where to look. As a partly self-serving effort, (since I often make similar lists for friends), here is a list of quality instant view movies currently available:

Disclaimer: movies offered in streaming tend to change frequently, so I can’t guarantee these are available when you read this…

Title Year Notes
Searching for Bobby Fischer 1993 Heartwarming story of a chess prodigy’s struggle with balancing a childhood and maintaining a competitive edge
Balzac & the Little Chinese Seamstress 2002 Two Chinese students are exiled to the mountainous country to be re-educated, yet fall in love and trick the village into a bit of culture
Man on Wire 2008 Documentary of a crazy Frenchman who tight-rope walked between the world trade center buildings
A Very Long Engagement 2004 French romance/war drama that maintains the quirks of the directors’ other movie: Amelie
Together 2002 Young violinist pressured by his dad is befriended by an escort; heartwarming.
The Motorcycle Diaries 2004 Story of Che’s travels through South America
Please Vote for Me 2007 An election at a Chinese elementary school gets quite competitive; documentary.
The Kite Runner 2007 Story of a childhood and return to a turbulent Afghanistan to find a childhood friend
Whale Rider 2003 A young Maori girl refuses to abide by her tribes chauvinistic rules; heartfelt.
Dances with Wolves 1990 Civil war era pioneer who befriends Indians and wolves alike…
The Secret in Their Eyes 2010 Suspense around a string of murders & unexpressed romance recounted
Nobody Knows 2005 Kids abandoned in Tokyo to fend for themselves
Sin Nombre 2009 Epic journey to the states to flee the gang he’s left behind and avoid immigration police
Talk to Her 2002 A scandalous tale of two unconscious women and the men that care for them
The Overture 2005 Music rivalries abound (South Asian xylophone-esc instrument) while a boy seeks to find his place
Paradise Now 2005 Two Palestinian boys struggle with their orders to commit suicide bombings
The Beautiful Country 2004 Tracks the tragic story of a couple South Asian illegal immigrants
The Edukators 2005 Young rebels are confronted with deep questions as their pranks accidentally escalate…
Let the Right One In 2008 The sweetest and creepiest vampire / kid love story…
Just Another Love Story 2007 Mystery & suspense with a dash of love
Boys Don’t Cry 1999 The struggles of a lesbian trying to understand her self and find love
The Return 2003 Two Russian brothers end up on an island with their dangerous father
A Prophet 2009 Gangsters fight over a Turkish immigrant who is willing to go as far as needed to survive
Tell No One 2006 French murder mystery
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days 2007 Harsh realism in this Eastern European film about abortion
Syriana 2005 Expresses the problems of the Middle East & America from many perspectives

UPDATE: movies I missed or were recently added:  Malena,  Constant Gardner,  Cinema Paradiso

The controversy…MBAs & Startups

There has been a lot of debate on whether an MBA makes sense for aspiring entrepreneurs.  The general buzz on the Internet is that it makes no sense to get an MBA by pointing to the cost, what you learn (or don’t), the opportunity cost of the 2 years, etc.  I had many similar doubts upon entering my MBA as well.

Honestly, most of these seem valid.  However, I think a good deal of the real benefit is either unknown by those that did not attend or ignored.  Does an MBA degree really add any value?  It all lies in leverage of the right opportunities.  Even going through the same program, same core classes, you’d be surprised how different an experience two MBAs have. If there was one thing an MBA provides, it is rich and unique opportunities for those with little relevant background in a field.  How else could you fly to Brazil, meet with the CEOs of the top 5 companies in a couple days or go to Silicon Valley and get time with 10 of the top VC firms over a weekend without any background or individual connections.

Beyond that, I’d ask for a little more rigor around these claims, especially with regards to MBAs being inherently risk adverse (purely by attending).  Look at the rate of started companies from the top undergrads/high schools (whatever stage of education you’d vouch for) and compare that to the rate of businesses started after an MBA program.  My gut GUESS would be that Stanford GSB, HBS, Wharton, MIT Sloan, Haas produce more founders per graduate than almost any other programs (baring say MS Engineering at Stanford).

With the advent of sub-communities in the various schools (e.g. Startup Tribe at HBS or Founders’ Club at Wharton), students are focusing on actually building things rather than generating more ideas they leave sitting in little black books (self jab).

To say the least, I see numerous companies started by my classmates and am proud to know 10 students that are dropping out after a summer where they saw significant traction or validation on their projects.   The broader start-up community applauds this as sticking it to the B-schools and I see it completely opposite.  I applaud their departures because they came to school to figure out their next move, became impassioned by an idea, leveraged the resources at hand (alumni, classmates, research for classes) to get validation, test the market, raise funds, get into accelerator programs, etc. (most of which they didn’t even know existed or how to access before they come to school).  I admire their departures but see them as a testament to the value of the very MBA they are leaving.

To departing MBAs – Congrats guys, go kill it!

To other MBAs – build stuff, leverage your time at school make actual progress

To non-MBA haters – stick to critiquing what you know and don’t dismiss MBAs off-hand, they tend to be some of the scrappiest people you could hire (just check their egos, unfortunately a few have given the rest of us bad names)

Good reasons NOT to do Venture Capital

(aka: I am a hypocrite) 

I’ve been lucky enough to work at Genacast Ventures as the right hand of rock-star Gil Beyda (founder Real Media, Tacoda, etc.).  Turned down some awesome early-stage start-up opportunities to take the role, and will always wonder, but am very happy with the choice.  Only 2.5 weeks in, happy to share some surprises and advice:

In short, I’ve loved it – BUT probably don’t recommend pursing VC immediately to most others (esp. newly-minted MBAs).

For those looking to get a job in VC, I will repeat the advice I get from almost every VC I’ve talked with: [Why VC?  Don’t.  Go start a company, get some scars or (preferably) success stories and come back in 5-10 years.]

Sure, it’s hard to get a job in this small (and shrinking) industry, but that’s not a good reason not to try.  After only a short while on this side of the table, I see why this advice makes sense:

1)   MBAs, Undergrads, Consultants, etc. generally don’t have the depth of expertise or experience to quickly screen companies.  Unless you’ve started a couple companies, it takes a while to develop the right gut to not waste the partners’ time.  I am getting better, but still occasionally show deals to Gil that are fairly clear passes for our fund, just to make sure.  The best VCs are such because they can filter faster than anyone.

2)   Joining at this point in your career means you are (generally) on a non-partner track.  Meaning you’ll stick around for a couple years, maybe get a promotion, but end up having to go start a company or work as an operator at a portfolio company before you could be considered for further advancement.  Why not do that now?  Especially given the market conditions…

3)   Lack of carry + not the best compensation compared to other options make the opportunity cost high – you shouldn’t be in this for the money anyway.  If you are, go to banking or PE, even consulting over VC.

4)   The VC skillset doesn’t directly translate into an entrepreneur’s skillset, if you ever want to go that route.  It does help you screen your own ideas and make great contacts, but these are attainable if you are scrappy without a VC job.

So, why am I doing it?  I always have had a penchant for early-stage investing as you are potentially seeing the most innovative stuff (in reality, almost all are incremental improvements), are almost fully aligned with the founders, and can actually help a bit with feedback while they are still iterating.  That being said, the difficulty of finding these needles in haystacks without a metal detector is not to be understated.

I quickly realized after a few weeks that early-stage screening consists of sifting through more ‘non-ideal’ plans than you can imagine.  Clearly, nothing is perfect, but most aren’t close and consume the vast majority of your time, even once you learn the art of how to pass quickly.  For many this results in what I’ll call FILTER FATIGUE.

Later stage investors have the luxury that (even though all will claim to have the same problem) their predecessors have done some level of screening.  They see deals that an (at least somewhat savvy or rich) individual(s) vetted and believed could succeed.  Sure, there is still a fairly sharp funnel at each stage, but the mouth of the funnel deals with all the crazies.

What this all means: hustle & search broadly and filter as quickly as possible.  Even more than an entrepreneur, your job is to hit the street, network like crazy, develop a presence in the ecosystem, etc.  In Gil’s words: ‘the VC game is filled with a bunch of cowboys.’  We often pass each other on the Amtrak in and out of NYC, spending the vast majority of our time with entrepreneurs rather than discussing deals or working together.

I hope that sheds some light on what it is like to work at an early-stage VC fund and hopefully deters many…the few that are undaunted will have a tough enough road ahead.

Jamon Iberico de Bellota

Upon our most recent visit to Spain, we were introduced to Jamon Iberico de Bellota.  For the uninitiated – the finest aged pork in the world, sliced paper-thin.  “Prosciutto on crack.”  It’s woody, buttery flavor and smooth texture is appropriately addictive.

Apparently these unique Spanish hogs are identified by their black hooves (pata negra = black legs).  After being fed corn and barley when they are young, they are released to roam oak groves and eat a diet chiefly comprised of acorns (where they derive their nutty flavor).  The meat is then aged for 3-4 years.

At around $99/lbs or ~$2-4K per leg, it ‘ain’t cheap.  Besides bribing my flight attendant buddy to bring me a hunk as Connie’s last Christmas present (yes, you read that right), it is incredibly difficult to find due to do import restrictions (recently relaxed a bit).

The only two places I have been able to buy it (periodically) in the states:

  • Di Bruno’s Brothers in Philadelphia
  • Murrys’ in NYC

Favorite Flicks

Some of my favorite movies, so you know where I am coming from:

(tried to pick something for everyone…)

Movie

Description  (~Improved IMDB)

The Lives of Others  (2007)

In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.   German; Thriller

Central Station  (1998)

An emotive journey of a former school teacher, who writes letters for illiterate people, and a young boy, whose mother has just died, in search for the father he never knew.  Brazilian; Drama

Cinema Paradiso  (1988)

A filmmaker recalls his childhood, when he fell in love with the movies at his village’s theater and formed a deep friendship with the theater’s projectionist. Italian; Romance/Drama

Amores Perros  (2000)

A horrific car accident connects three stories, each involving characters dealing with loss, regret, and life’s harsh realities, all in the name of love.  Mexican; Thriller/Drama

Searching for Bobby Fischer  (1993)

A child chess prodigy struggles with the idea that he must harden himself in order to become a champion like the famous but unlikable Bobby Fischer.  Drama

Primer  (2004)

Fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there’s something bigger and more innovative than the error-checking devices they’ve built, wrestle over their new invention.  A low budget movie that is able to interestingly capture the problems with time travel.  SciFi/Drama

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress  (2002)

Two well-off youths (a violinist and dentist) sent for a Maoist “re-education” in the mountains fall in love with the village tailor’s granddaughter and teach her to read classical literature.  Chinese; Drama

The Color of Paradise  (1999)

A kind blind boy, waits for his dad to pick him up for summer vacation.  Wanting little to do with him, his father prefers that he stays at the school for the winter vacation.  Iran; Drama

Talk to Her  (2002)

Two men share an odd friendship while they care for their girlfriends (a bullfighter and ballerina) who are both in deep comas.  Spanish; Drama

Beautiful Boxer  (2005)

Real life story of a Muay Thai boxer who underwent a sex change operation to become a woman. The movie chronicles her life from a young boy who likes to wear lipstick and wear flowers to her sensational career as kickboxer.  Thai; Drama

Oldboy  (2003)

After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days. Strong themes (messed up!) but beautifully done.  Korean; Thriller/Mystery with hints of romance.

Amelie  (2001)

Innocent, lonely and naïve, Amelie develops her own sense of justice, deciding to help those around her and along the way, discovers love.  A whimsical and colorful film oozing French culture.  French; Romance

Maria Full of Grace  (2004)

A pregnant Colombian teenager becomes a drug mule to make some desperately needed money for her family.  Colombian; Drama

Rounders  (1998)

A law student man is a reformed gambler who must return to playing big stakes poker to help a friend pay off loan sharks.  Drama/Thriller

Sex and Lucia  (2002)

Various lives converge on an isolated island, all connected by an author whose novel has become inextricably entwined with his own life.  Spanish; Drama/Romance

Beijing Bicycle  (2002)

A seventeen-year-old country boy working in Beijing as a courier has his bicycle stolen, and finds it with a schoolboy his age who has come to depend on the bike.  Chinese; Drama

Gattaca  (1997)

In a future where applicants are judged on the perfection of their genes, a genetically inferior man attempts to assumes the identity of another in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel.  Sci Fi/Drama

Paradise Now  (2005)

Two childhood friends are recruited for a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.  The film depicts the doubts and tribulations as they prepare to execute the plan.  Palestinian/Israeli; Thriller/Drama

Children of Heaven  (1999)

Zohre’s shoes are gone; her older brother Ali lost them.  They come up with the idea to share one pair of shoes. Will the plan succeed?  Iran; Drama

The Sea Inside  (2004)

The real-life story of Spaniard Ramon Sampedro, who fought a 30 year campaign in favor of euthanasia and his right to die.  Spanish; Drama

My Neighbor Totoro  (1988)

When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wondrous forest spirits who live nearby.  Animated/Child