The targets that founders set for a startup, and the metrics they choose to measure their progress toward these targets, are key decisions in the definition of the business. The wrong targets–in particular selecting only targets that are easily achievable–will not only postpone difficult choices that will bring clarity but may doom a team from the beginning if they don’t adjust and aim for outcomes that create a sustainable and growing business.
A startups social capital, the network of relationships that the founders have with friends, former co-workers and associates, and friends of friends represent a key resource for the team. It’s possible to activate this network to help you solve a variety of problems–e.g. finding a cofounder, finding early employees, finding contractors, finding early customers, finding investors, finding advisors–but you can normally only activate for one purpose at a time.
To make effective use of your advisory board you have to provide them written material in advance that offers context on your situation and the questions you want to explore with them.
Tequity advises software and technology companies on how to get the best valuation from strategic buyers with a good cultural fit in an acquisition.
Our Office Hours for Startups program offers a no cost no obligation conversation around challenges founders wrestle in any of five startup stages: Idea to Formation, Open for Business, Early Customers, Finding Your Niche, and Scaling Up.
A panel of four entrepreneurs will address the practical considerations for evaluating and joining a startup as a co-founder or early employee at a Wednesday, August 17 event at the Silicon Valley Cofounder Academy.
Here are fifteen quotes that each communicate a different truth about negotiation. I have added some commentary to suggest how to apply them.
Entrepreneurs can be paralyzed by the rich set of possibilities they face. It seems almost paradoxical that when you have one choice you can start immediately, when you have two you can flip a coin, but as possibilities multiply the desire to make the best choice can paralyze you. To fully embrace your creativity you must master your dread of the unknown.
I have been working on my adjustments at the half for 2016 and thinking about lost arts and roads no longer taken. As much as we focus on the creation and adoption of new methods and new technologies it can be useful to consider capabilities different societies have abandoned.
I am giving a talk on “Extracting Competitive Insights from Software Demos: Crafting and Refining Your Company’s Message Through the Analysis of a Competitor’s Demo” at the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Society for Competitive Intelligence (SCIP) Tue-May-24 at 6PM.
Texas Hold’Em offers some useful models for technology startups: pick the right table (competitors) and understand how your cards best combine with common cards (the status quo and adjacent possible)
Fred Brooks wrote “No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering” in 1987, 12 years after his “Mythical Man Month.” Both offer realistic perspectives on programming in particular and knowledge work in general.
Here are two explainer videos Verdafero has produced: the first is intended for REIT executives, the second for general managers of hotels. They condense key symptoms for a customer need or problem and the impact of Verdafero on the bottom line.
Excerpts with commentary on Bill Watterson’s 1990 Kenyon College address: “Some Thoughts on the Real World By One Who Glimpsed it and Fled.”
Be clear with customers about what is on your product roadmap. We recently did some win/loss interviews for a client to collect stories on why a customer purchased–and why a prospect failed to purchase. When we asked one customer about the quality of their support we got an answer that was initially a little surprising: “We like them because they always come back with an answer even if that answer is no. Other vendors will either talk about a feature being ‘under consideration’ or ‘on the long term roadmap’ or ‘we are still evaluating how best to implement it’ but you tell us no. We may not like the answer and we may sometimes argue but it’s much more honest and useful than most of the feature request answers we get from other vendors.”
I was reminded of that when I got an email today from someone at Peet’s trying to obfuscate the fact that they had discontinued a number of their teas.
Recently, we worked with a startup on team building as they wrangled with the rapid growth of their business. They needed bring on new team members and wanted them to be productive and effective as quickly as possible. Working with the leadership team we reviewed Bruce Tuckman’s four stages of team development.
Trying to take on established competitors using their same business model and value proposition is called “attacking a walled city.” It’s important to understand what your customer is actually paying for and find some way to offer a different value proposition.
A common mistake technical entrepreneurs can make is to focus on what’s easy to build, and enter a market with dozens of competitors without thought to differentiation. Or to hope that by making it “free” they can make money by selling ads.
I have learned the hard way whenever I wish for smarter prospects it means I need to improve my presentation, demo, or proposal: whatever it is that I have offered them that they didn’t understand, or believe, or decide to act on.