Monthly Archives: December 2014

Happy New Year Entrepreneurs

Define SuccessMany people reflect back on the year during the holiday season as business often slows down and they spend time with their families. With the new year upon us they start looking forward by setting personal resolutions or drawing up roadmaps for their businesses.
In 2014 I didn’t quite achieve all of my goals and had some unexpected but pleasant surprises. In 2015 I’m looking forward to achieving everything that wasn’t accomplished in 2014 and more.
Over the past month I did accomplish releasing my latest two books of notes on Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders. The first one, Define Success, was released on Thanksgiving. That one contains notes on lectures from Jack Dorsey (Square), Aaron Levie (, and Mark Suster (Serial Entrepreneur) among others.
Innovation is the Only Way OutAnd last week I finished and released Innovation is the Only Way Out. That is the seventh volume! I can’t believe how many lectures I’ve listened to and all I’ve learned from them. This one contains notes from talks by leaders such as Phil Libin (Evernote), Brad Feld (Foundry Group), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Daniel Elk (Spotify), and Drew Houston (Dropbox).
If you’re having a slow day (which every New Year’s Eve should be) and have never filled out a Dreamline before then you should do so immediately. It really helps you define your goals, plan the steps needed to achieve them, and begin taking them today. The guys over at Tropical MBA have a prebuilt spreadsheet ready to go for you which you’ll find linked to here.
Have a great night and a successful 2015.

Sales and Marketing

Lecture 19: Sales and Marketing

Link: How to Start a Startup

(You can find notes to the other lectures here.)

Tyler Bosmeny (@bosmeny)

How to Start a StartupThere is a million ways to do (sales) so you’ll find what works for you.
As a founder you’re the sales people.
Talking to your users is selling.
Passion and industry knowledge trump sales experience.
Prospecting is the process of figuring out who will even take your call.
In the early days go to a lot of conferences.
Get attendee lists in advance and email every single person to try to set up meetings.
A lot of people don’t know how to write cold email. It should be really concise.
When you get (potential customers) on the phone remember to shut up.
Follow up.
You really have to have kind this inhuman and unreasonable willingness to follow up and drive things to closure.
Your goal should be to get people to a yes or no as quickly as you can. Where you die is if you have a thousand maybes.
You gotta remember what your goal is.
Avoid the free trial trap.
At the end of a free trial you’re going to have to sell them all over again.

Michael Seibel (@mwseibel)

The best way you can make your pitch better is to improve your company.
Just talk less.
The thirty second page is three sentences:

  • What does your company do?
  • How big is the market?
  • How much traction do you have?

If in one sentence you cannot tell your mom what you do then rework your sentence.
Use simple language.
It cannot be complicated.
If your team has done something that has made investors money then you should mention that.
Your only way to build credentials is if you have accomplished something.
The more you talk about a bad thing the worse it looks.
Investors like to invest based on traction.
If someone who has passed on your company offers to make introductions pass on that.
Fundraising is a sprint not a marathon.
Schedule all investor meetings in one week.

Qasar Younis (@qasar), Dalton Caldwell (@daltonc)

Make sure the person you’re talking to knows what you do. (Dalton Caldwell)
Actually ask for money. (Dalton Caldwell)
You can tell when people are passionate and know their business very well. (Qasar Younis)
After the meeting follow up. (Qasar Younis)
Anything other than a check or a wire of funds is a no. (Qasar Younis)
Do due diligence on investors. (Qasar Younis)
You’re selling part of your company. You should know who you sell it to. (Qasar Younis)
Fundraising does not equal success. (Dalton Caldwell)

Legal and Accounting Basics for Startups

Lecture 18: Legal and Accounting Basics for Startups

Link: How to Start a Startup

(You can find notes to the other lectures here.)

Kirsty Nathoo, Carolynn Levy (@cjoneslevy)

How to Start a StartupIt is dangerous for founders to get bogged down in the details. (Carolynn Levy)
The primary purpose of forming a separate legal entity is to protect yourself from personal liability. (Carolynn Levy)
The easiest place (to form a company) is Delaware. The law there is very clear and very settled. Investors are very comfortable with Delaware. (Carolynn Levy)
Don’t get fancy (with incorporating). Save yourself some time and money. (Carolynn Levy)
As a founder you always need to be thinking of things in two different ways. You need to ask whether you are doing this as an individual or if you’re doing this on behalf of the company. (Kirsty Nathoo) (Kirsty Nathoo)
Be organized. (Kirsty Nathoo)
Filing documents is not the glamorous part of doing a startup. (Kirsty Nathoo)
At the times where (the documents are) crucial are at a high stress time in the startup’s life. (Kirsty Nathoo)
Keep the documents in a safe place and keep them organized. (Kirsty Nathoo)
Execution has greater value than the idea. (Carolynn Levy)
Value is created when the whole founder team gets together to execute on an idea. (Carolynn Levy)
Resist the urge to give a disproportionate amount of stock to the founder who is credited with coming up with the idea for the company. (Carolynn Levy)
When ownership is disproportionate the founders might not be in sync with one another. (Carolynn Levy)
It is important to look forward in the startup rather than backward. Are all of the founders in it 100% and in it for the long haul? (Carolynn Levy)
The whole team is necessary for execution. (Carolynn Levy)
You need to assign IP to the company. (Kirsty Nathoo)
The standard vesting schedule is four years with a one year cliff. (Carolynn Levy)
One of the reasons of vesting is having skin in the game. (Carolynn Levy)
Single founders need vesting too. (Carolynn Levy)
Vesting aligns incentives among the founders. (Carolynn Levy)
Generally seed round means that the price has not been set. (Kirsty Nathoo)
Raise your money using standard documents. (Kirsty Nathoo)
You have to be really careful about adding an investor to your board. In most cases you want to say no. (Carolynn Levy)
There are so many people that want to give advice to startups and so few people who give good advice. (Carolynn Levy)
All investors who can help should do so. Asking for additional shares is just an investor looking for a freebie. (Carolynn Levy)
You need to know everything about your financing. (Carolynn Levy)
Spend (the investors’) money wisely. (Kirsty Nathoo)
You can’t work for free for your company. (Carolynn Levy)
Breakups get extra ugly when founders haven’t paid themselves. (Carolynn Levy)
You can’t pay just in stock. (Kirsty Nathoo)
You absolutely must use a payroll service provider. (Kirsty Nathoo)
Firing people is really hard (Carolynn Levy)
Fire quickly. Don’t let a bad employee linger. (Carolynn Levy)
Everybody needs to assign IP to the company. (Kirsty Nathoo)
A lot of running the company is following the rules and taking it seriously. (Kirsty Nathoo)
At some point in the first year a service is going to need to be engaged to (file the tax returns) (Kirsty Nathoo)
Recommendations are the best way (to find a CPA). (Kirsty Nathoo)

How to Design Hardware Products

Lecture 17: How to Design Hardware Products

Link: How to Start a Startup

(You can find notes to the other lectures here.) 

Hosain Rahman (@hosain)

How to Start a StartupThe whole point is to help people to a better life with technology.
Think about, “where is the world going?”
Have organizing principles.
Thinking needs to shift from being about actual things to the user.
You need to be great at the full stack.
The exploration phase if very wild.
Don’t do one off things. You have to see a broader vision. Look at where do we think the world is moving and think about how this is going to be a stepping stone to that ultimate end vision.
All of your content and media experiences are now in your phone.
Media is still the killer app in your house.
There are a lot of layers to user research.
Data is great. Understanding is better.
Action is key.
Notifications are a tool for behavior change.
Constraints are really great because they serve as opportunities to resolve, to refine, to simplify, and push you to find the right answer that will solve the user problem in the simplest way.
At a big company you have to force a lot of communications.
We can dream a lot faster than what is possible.
Web software is a lot different than mobile software. Building mobile software is more like building hardware.