Sitting on a bench overlooking the South Beach marina, I asked an entrepreneur how he had been since he founded his company. He replied with a conundrum:
Looking back I can’t believe it’s only been a year but if I think about every day, it’s taken forever.
That’s a really succinct way of communicating how it feels to grind. Cementing each brick, each hire, each line of code, each product feature seems like just an incremental step, just another day. But taking ...
Every SaaS business must decide how to charge for the service. Pricing plans are some of the most difficult decisions to make. Equally important to the price is determining the point at which the customer pays - the conversion point.
There are four different models that I’ve experienced: up front payment, freemium, limited free trials, money back guarantee. Picking the right one depends on a number of different factors. Below is a table that summarizes these four approaches.
In his Stanford GSB lectures, Peter Thiel spoke about secrets. But he defined secrets for startups in a different way than one might expect.
A secret is not an unknown. Rather, it’s something just not widely believed to be achievable or feasible. In other words, it’s an insight, a thesis that isn’t widely held. Exploiting that secret should be the aim of every entrepreneur. Leveraging the secret means disruption and ultimately success.
Before you start a company, find this kind of secret - an insight ...
There are three types of vision that a successful startup needs: product vision, business vision and team vision.
Product vision is the dream. It’s how your company changes the world. It’s the problem that you’re solving and the solution to that problem. Product visions don’t end on launch day. They extend for years through the company’s growth. A product vision isn’t a certain feature or even a completed product. It’s the state of having solved a problem for a user or providing an experience for a ...
When the core teams of a startup work in harmony, they create tremendous leverage for a business. I saw this last week with one startup I work with, Axial, a New York based company enabling private companies to access debt, equity capital and strategic acquirers.
First, the marketing team created a powerful blog post and infographic, just top-notch content marketing. This campaign creates awareness among potential target customers who become curious about the service.
Next, the product ...
Reference checks are part and parcel of the VC diligence process and most hiring processes. They are also one of the two most important analyses in hiring, next to the interview. Below, I’ve outlined my standard question set. I’m curious to hear feedback on what other questions or techniques might work.
Types of References
I find it’s valuable to speak to references who have worked with the candidate in different roles. Below is a list of typical roles in rank order.
I have been writing for three years now and it’s been a ton of fun. I hope to continue to write for many more. Along the way so far, I’ve learned a few lessons on frequency, content type, idea generation, voice, titles and distribution.
There are two schools of thought on blogging frequency: high frequency vs high quality. At this point, it’s unclear to me which is better for building an audience because both work. Each camp has its exemplars of success.
Below is my general outline for a typical diligence process.
When I’m meeting a startup for the first time, my goal is to understand as much about the business and team as I can.
Once you have built your product and it’s in the market, there are only three things that matter: distribution (getting the product into users' hands), engagement (validating that you’ve built the right product and that users are using it), and monetization (making money from those engaged users). Some companies call this the 3 Rs: reach, retention and revenue. Whatever you call it, this is your strategy.
At board meetings, I’ve started categorizing each portfolio company’s roadmap items into these ...
Some of our companies started financing processes in earlier this quarter. At a strategy session with one of our companies, the team and I crafted the outline of the pitch deck. They asked me what questions a venture investor might ask in the initial meeting.
Distilling the investment analysis into a small number of general questions is challenging because of the diversity of businesses we see but, I gave it a try and came up with the following questions I might ask a startup to answer ...