I'm a partner at Redpoint. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 20,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.

Founders, Equip Your Champions

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As a founder, you’re always selling. You’re selling yourself, your team, your product, your company. But your pitch is likely missing one of two key components.

A pitch needs to accomplish two goals to be effective. Most pitches solve the first, but omit the second. First, the pitch must convince the audience who might be investors, employees, recruits, or customers of some premise. Second, the pitch has to equip your champions, now convinced of your argument, to sell on your behalf.

No enterprise software is ever ...

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Here’s to the Grinders

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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 ...

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How To Price and Sell Your Startup’s Product

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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.

Pricing ...

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Startup Judo - The Secret You Should Know Before Starting a Company

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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 ...

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A Startup’s Three Visions

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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 ...

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The Power of Team Work in Startups

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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 ...

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Anatomy of a Reference Check

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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.

  • Peers ...

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What I’ve Learned about Blogging in 3 Years

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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.

Frequency

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.

In ...

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Breaking Down a Typical VC/Startup Diligence Process

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Below is my general outline for a typical diligence process.

First meeting

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.

  • Founders/Team: How do the founders know each other? How do they interact with each other? Are they passionate? How qualified are they? What would it be like to work with them?
  • Business: In some form, I walk through the Business Model Generation framework: value proposition, ...

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Your Startup’s Top 3 Priorities

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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 ...

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