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How a Founder should Communicate in Crisis


  

Founders are rarely prepared for how to handle a legit crisis, like when the whole world turns upside down overnight.

I lived through 9/11 with 700 employees, raised multiple funding rounds in the middle of the 2007 Financial Crisis, and just for "funsies" oversaw the overnight shutdown of a startup with 450 people.

So yeah, I have some experience here.

What I've learned is when crisis hits, a solid approach to communication is one of the single most effective tools we can employ.

Cut the Bullshit

In times of crisis, no one wants to hear the sugar-coated version of where things stand.

"Hey Team, I know half of you have turned into flesh-eating Zombies, but the good news is there's way more La Croix for those of you who have survived!"

No...



Article

Does Having a Diverse Team Really Matter?


  

When it comes to building a startup, you are who you hire. Not only do the people you bring onto your team determine the direction and destiny of your product; they also shape what it will be like to come to work every day. So as you get started on the process of “who” your startup is going to be, we want to make sure you’re thinking about something major: team diversity.

What is team diversity?

Team diversity refers to differences between members of startup team. Those differences can include demographic differences (like age, race, sex, ethnicity), personality (extrovert, introvert, and differing Myers-Briggs types) and functional (as in skill sets, like engineering, design, copywriting, and marketing).

Types of diversity

When we think a...



Article

Everything You Need To Know About Pitching Investors


  

The investor pitch. It's feared. It's desired. It's terrifying.

But don't worry: We've got you covered. Here's everything you need to know about that all-important investor pitch.

What should your investor pitch include?

Invisu.me Co-Founder and CEO Donna Griffit is a master pitcher who has helped countless founders distill their pitch down to exactly what they need — and nothing they don’t. She had the opportunity to sit in on a private pitching event where a delegation of startups had the opportunity give a five minute pitch and receive direct feedback from a group of top-tier Silicon Valley VC’s. (So top tier that she can’t even say who was there but, trust us, you will want to memorize this section before your next pitch.)

Here’s what ...



Article

How Can I Creatively Pay My First Employees?


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Somehow the startup world has convinced people to work for "free" on a regular basis, with the theoretical benefit of some big payout on equity later.

The truth is, those bets rarely work and once the pixie dust of the new startup wears off, what's left is a bunch of frustrated employees who can't pay their bills.

Although we have little to no money to pay today, we should always try to incorporate some level of cash compensation, even if it's incredibly small, to help offset the cost of life that our team is going to inevitably face.

When our team is more focused on going broke than contributing, we're not really doing anyone a favor!

Use a Compensation "Ramp Up"

Compensation doesn't have to be "all or nothing."

Just because someone mak...



Article

Celebrate the Tiny Wins Like Super Bowls


  

When we talk about celebrating startup wins, it's not about a big funding round. It's the fact that we just made payroll again.

Along the way, we forget to celebrate those tiny wins. Instead, we get distracted by the day-to-day problems, the emotional roller coaster, and the grind that is startup life.

What Kind of Wins Should we Celebrate?

Every possible positive step.

We just shipped a feature. We increased site traffic by 10% over last month. Our last customer just sent us a glowing review to the team. Every last one.

Each of those victories compounds into the overall goal. When we overlook them, or worse, fail to recognize them within our team, we lose out on the opportunity to build positive morale and momentum.

In a startup, morale...



Article

What's Product Design?


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What is product design?

Product design is the entire process of taking a product from idea to customers — and everything in between.

“There’s a widespread misconception that design is all about aesthetics,” product designer Eric Eriksson writes. “Most people don’t seem to understand that it’s about solving problems instead.”

There’s another, more limited, definition of product design which we’re not going to explore in detail here. But basically, that other definition is talking just about how a product looks and functions. For the sake of product design for startups, we’re focusing on the more holistic, process-oriented definition.

What’s the difference between product design and product development?

While product design is part of produc...



Article

What Is Product Differentiation?


  

What Is product differentiation?

Product differentiation is process used by companies to clarify the differences between their products and other products on the market. Those other products can include competitors but also a company’s own products, to prevent overlap between the offerings. The goal is to find a product’s unique selling point (USP).

Why is product differentiation important?

Product differentiation is important because it makes your product stand out from the crowd! It’s easier and easier to create a company or sell a product or connect directly with factories in China these days. So what makes your housewares product or dating app or SaaS product different from all of the other housewares products, dating apps, and SaaS pr...



Article

6 Ways Overwork Harms Your Business


  

In America, we tend to value workaholism.

We often admire someone who works long hours and talk about how amazing it is that someone is a “machine.”

But is it really best for you and your business?

Research indicates that overwork harms your overall productivity and can even cause problems for your business. Chances are, instead of working more, you probably need to take a break from work.

Before you get too excited about working long hours, consider some of the ways that overwork harms your business:

1. Leadership Deficit Comes with Overwork

You’re the leader in your business. Overwork harms your business by creating a potential leadership deficit. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, working too hard c...



Article

How to Stop Company-Wide Games of Telephone


  

Imagine stumbling across a Glassdoor review of your company filled with damaging declarations and seemingly unfounded statements. You’d be shocked, right? I know I was.

Our former employee’s description seemed so foreign, I didn’t recognize the company being described. According to the review, we were growing too fast, too furiously; we were operating in a knee-jerk manner.

It was clear the past employee wasn’t aware that we look to hyper-vet everything we do. Decisions are hardly made on whims; they’re quite nuanced. Of course, none of that matters to employees if they’re not hearing the truth.

What had happened? To make a long story short, complete miscommunication on our part.

We’re not the only business that’s dealt with miscommunicati...



Article

Ready for Anything: Kapture and the Importance of Evolving with the Market — Interview with Mike Sarow, CEO and Co-Founder of Kapture


  

“Sometimes your spidey sense is like, ‘I don’t know if either one of these are right,’ but you have to go somewhere. Spinning your wheels, being in neutral? That’s bad.”

When you hear Founders out in the media talking about their product, most of what you hear them talk about is all the things that went right: the hypotheses that were confirmed, the “ahah” moments where all the pieces fell into place.

Founders Don’t Discuss The things they didn’t know

What you don’t hear most Founders talking about: all the things they didn’t know – the times a big bet didn’t pay off, the times when what you thought was true turned out not to be the case, the times when the market turned on a dime and suddenly everything you...



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