Hi, I'm a partner at Redpoint. I invest in Series A and B SaaS companies. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 16,000 others receiving these blog posts by email. Subscribe.

A Startup’s Step-by-Step Guide to Working with Recruiters

“It’s something I thought I’d never do,” one founder told me yesterday. He had hired a recruiter to help him grow his team. But at some point in time, most quickly growing startups will need help forming their teams.

We kicked off searches at two Redpoint companies in earlier this year in addition to several last year and I’ve been taking notes on each of the processes. One of my partners, Tim Haley, was a top recruiter in the valley for many years and having his ...

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Data is Useless Unless You Can Act on It

I see a recurring three step pattern with data waves:

First data collected.
Then it’s presented.
Last it is made actionable.

In every data wave, the companies that transform data into actionable insights are the most valuable because their products not only identify but solve problems. Knowing about an issue without understanding the mechanics required to fix it causes paralysis.

Quantified self tools like FitBit and JawboneUp and Nike Fuel capture and display sleep data and while these devices confirm that I wake at 130am ...

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Discovering, Honing and Exploiting Your Startup’s Strengths

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To be truly successful, I believe startups should determine which of the four core disciplines is their strength: product, engineering, marketing and sales - and focus, focus, focus on leveraging that advantage in the market.

Product driven startups - At their outset Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram were exploratory products driven by their respective creators, Jack Dorsey Ben Silbermann, and Kevin Systrom, who were each product managers building a product of their own vision. The key innovations were the creation of new social environments.

Engineering ...

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The biggest professional challenge of my career: communication

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Four and a half years ago, I left my role at Google as a product manager to join the team at Redpoint. The transition became the biggest professional challenge of my career up to that point. Suddenly, I was working with a smaller team, managing massive ambiguity in job definition, time allocation and decision-making, and giving up the adrenaline of launch day.

But far and away my biggest challenge was effective communication. I simply couldn’t articulate my points in convincing ways. During the first few ...

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How to nail your product market fit and sales pitch with a value proposition diagram

Products aren’t sold in isolation - they exist within ecosystems. Great product market fit and sales pitches hinge on understanding and serving all the members of an ecosystem. Should a product fail to meet the needs of any one member, company success and sales velocity will falter.

One tool I use with portfolio companies is the Value Proposition Diagram (VPD) which shows why a product is compelling to every customer - and most products are sold to more than one customer at the same time.

I’ll walk through ...

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Why To Do Lists Are Failing Us

If you’re like me, you switch task managers every six months at the point that you have added a bunch of items in your list that you’ll never get around to and can’t bear to be reminded of them again. At which point, you conclude that the app has failed you. It must have because you haven’t completed any of these tasks!

Task management tools fail users because they operate without context. How many times have you been to the grocery store and forgotten the dill pickles ...

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The product qualified lead (PQL)

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Many of the SaaS companies I work with are buzzing about a new concept: product qualified leads (PQL). It’s typical to see outbound sales teams create new leads by cold-calling - think Glengarry. And marketing also qualifies leads (MQL) using online advertising, branding, content, email and other channels. But the PQL concept is novel.

PQLs are potential customers who have used a product and reached pre-defined triggers that signify a strong likelihood to become a paying customer. A hypothetical example at Expensify might be if a ...

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What my high school chemistry class taught me about startups

Photo: flickr/nemabix

I don’t remember much of junior year chemistry class except the lab experiment in which we made fireworks. My lab partner and I doubled and tripled the amounts of strontium, potassium, calcium and other explosives specified in the instructions. Our firecracker dwarfed our classmates' in size and when we lit them after two unbearable weeks of baking, there was no question we misunderstood chemistry. We expected an inferno and were rewarded with a pathetic fizzle and a C-.

We made one critical mistake ...

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The startup hardware M&A market will be vibrant in 2013

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Hardware competition is cut-throat. Walking through the halls of CES, every Android phone is identical. LG has copied each Samsung model. Because of the competition, tablet prices are plummeting - I saw a $49 7inch tablet (and some were giving Nexus 7s away for free with subscription. Not constrained to large competitors, startups like FitBit and Jawbone launched competing (and nearly identical) products within weeks of each other: the FitBit Flex and the Jawbone Up Even newer segments ...

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A CEO’s epitaph

There is no prouder boast, but also no better prescription, for executive leadership than the words Andrew Carnegie, the father of the U.S. steel industry, chose for his own tombstone: “Here lies a man who knew how to bring into his service men better than he was himself.”

Amen.

This epitaph captures succinctly so much of leadership: the ability to articulate a vision and convince others of the importance of that mission; the self awareness of knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses; the desire to be the dumbest guy in ...

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