The Startup Team

I completely agree with everything Paul Graham says in this short interview…   I’d want to invest in this type of team if they were using a lean startup approach.

 

My Mixergy Interview

The video from yesterday’s interview with Andrew Warner is now live on Mixergy.com (see embed below).   While Andrew initially characterized me as the “secret weapon behind start-ups that have had incredible growth” I explained that a lot of their growth was based on the pre-existence of great products that met important user needs. I helped these startups build a strong growth foundation around early users’ passion, but the continued momentum is the result of product/engineering teams that keep enhancing the products and great marketers accelerating customer acquisition. Startup success is truly a team accomplishment and if the team starts to focus on who deserves the most credit, success will likely evaporate.

As a successful entrepreneur himself, Andrew did a great job of steering the conversation to the topics most interesting/useful for entrepreneurs. It took me a while to get warmed up (it was a Monday morning after a weekend in Vegas), but there is a lot of new and useful information – particularly in the second half.

Successful startups are only possible with founders who have the guts to go for it so Andrew and I spent a lot of time at the end of the interview trying to analyze the qualities of the best entrepreneurs. Each of the founders I’ve worked with deserve to be on this list, so I regret not mentioning all of them. If the video isn’t loading below, try this link.

Steve Blank’s SLL Keynote – It’s a “Must Watch”


Watch live video from Startup Lessons Learned on Justin.tv

Some of my favorite quote are:

Role of the Entrepreneur

  • Your job as an entrepreneur in a startup is to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. When you find it, your job is to build a company around that business model.
  • Search for a business model rather than write a business plan. Biz model is how a company makes money.
  • Customer and agile development is how you search for a business model.
  • You fail if you stay a startup – goal is to become a large company.  Search is bringing order out of chaos, pivoting all the time.
  • Goal is not to becoming the world’s most fun startup. Goal is to become a valuable company.
  • No business plan survives first contact with the customer.

Differences Between Startups and Established Companies

  • Startups search and pivot; companies execute.
  • Very different skills needed to execute a business model compared to those needed to search for a business model.
  • Customer development = hypothesis testing, minimum feature sets and pivoting.  Product management is very different than customer development.
  • You need to brainwash and deprogram product managers if you want them to perform customer development.
  • Key startup numbers are not: balance sheet, income statements and cashflow.  They are cash, viral coefficient, customer acquisition cost, burn rate, average transaction size…

Want more Steve?  Check out his blog.

Bringing Your Product to Market

I’ve just completed a hectic week of marketing workshops with startups in the UK and Ireland.  There were insightful contributions from most of the attendees – the collective marketing discoveries of startups that conduct metrics driven experiments is amazing.

In Ireland we went deep in an all day session that included war stories from the founders and marketers that grew two very successful Irish companies - Hostelworld.com and Paddy Power.   Hostelworld.com offers useful insights into an effective way to bring a “network effects” startup to market.  I’ll try to get permission from the team to write a case study.  Both companies provided additional validation to the recommendations in this post - http://startup-marketing.com/the-startup-pyramid/.

In other news, part 2 of my Venture Hacks interview is now live (bringing your product to market) – http://venturehacks.com/articles/sean-ellis-interview-2 .  Nivi and I discuss what to do after getting to product/market fit.  I’ve blogged about most of this stuff before, but there are a few additional details that Nivi was able to extract through his insightful questions.