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Will Investors Fund a "Small" Business?


  

Funding doesn't make a lot of sense to first time Founders. In our minds, we think, "Hey, investors want to make money, so if my startup can make money, who cares how big it gets?"

Unfortunately, that thinking overlooks one big fact: that for every one investor check out there, there are hundreds of startups competing for it.

In order to understand how investors look at one deal versus another, we first have to understand how investors look at deals in the first place.

Investors Need Big Returns

There's no absolute rule here, but investor behavior generally follows a consistent trend. Most "professional" investors (people who invest consistently) gravitate toward investments that can yield an exponential return, such as an IPO.

The think...



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

Will Someone Steal My Startup Idea?


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The myth of the "stolen startup idea" somehow continues to live on, despite an insane lack of proof to the contrary. The thinking goes that if someone else hears our idea, they will simply take it and create a billion dollar business from it.

On paper (and in movies) that can happen. In reality, it's basically a Sasquatch myth.

Just having an "idea" for something accounts for nothing. Great companies aren't built because someone had an idea for something that no one else thought of — we all have novel ideas.

Great companies are built through an insane amount of dedication and execution that (rarely) leads to a big outcome.

By the way, plenty of people had the idea for a social network — and built them — before Facebook was ever "stolen."

...


Article

What Problems DO Just Go Away With Time?


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Every Founder feels like their startup must be the one company that is a total shit show compared to how those other startups must be running.

We believe that if we can just get past this next set of challenges, things will finally be smooth sailing.

What we don't realize, especially if we've never done this before, is that the problems never really go away. It's just a never-ending "whack-a-mole" game with different problems.

Problems Don't Go Away — They Just Change Names

When we're small and scrappy, our problems are all about survival. How are we going to meet payroll? How are we going to land that one early investor?

They feel weighty and life-threatening — and to be fair, they are. But those formative years are stressful in the wa...



Article

How Do I Design My Startup Around My Life?


  

Building a startup that drives our lifestyle choices is incredibly hard, no matter what that care-free Founder's Instagram might suggest.

In order to make our startups work around our lifestyle, we have to make a deliberate choice to bend the fabric of reality to meet our demands.

It's crazy hard. But it can actually be done.

It Starts With Strong Commitments

The foundation for having a startup that supports our dream lifestyles is making really strong commitments to those lifestyle choices. For example, if we're parents and we want to make sure we never miss our kid's soccer game, we have to publicly make that commitment and stick to it.

Sometimes just announcing those commitments is a great way to get the ball rolling. When we launched...



Article

Everything You Need to Know About Product-Market Fit


  

What is product-market fit?

While the term “product-market fit” gets thrown around a lot in the startup world, it’s not always very well understood. In fact, we can’t even agree on who created it! Some people say that the concept of product-market fit was first developed and named by entrepreneur and investor Andy Rachleff. Others give credit to famed investor Marc Andreessen, who at the very least popularized term product-market fit when he wrote about in a 2007 blog post. He said, “Product-market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”

In other words: You could have an amazing, sophisticated, well-thought out idea — and people just don’t get it. (Think: That first focus group for Pied Piper on HBO’s ...



Article

Should Big Competitors Scare Me?


  

Think of big companies like the Death Star.

On the outset, it's a planet killer. But its weakness, (other than a really questionably-architected ventilation system), is that it moves at a glacial pace.

I spent 10 years running a digital agency working with these Fortune 500 giants like BMW, Best Buy and Eli Lilly.

What we don't see on the outside is how impossible it is for these companies to move internally and how we can use that lack of mobility to our advantage versus worrying about our home planet of Alderaan getting blown up.

Big Companies Face Inward, Not Outward

The first thing we need to know about big companies is that their culture is almost always faced entirely inward.

That means their staff, unlike ours, spends more time co...



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

Is a $0 Founder Salary a Badge of Honor?


Wil SchroterFounder + CEO of Startups.com

  

There's a weird discussion around Founder compensation, especially when the number is a big fat zero. We read about famous Founders from Google, Facebook, and Tesla taking $1 salaries, while earning millions in stock.

For early-stage Founders, we often can't get paid (so it's not much of choice!) but there's also this presumption that if we're forgoing personal compensation to roll all the profits back into the company, then we must be really committed.

It Buys Us Nothing

There's no argument out there that Founders shouldn't be paid, so taking compensation to zero is just a silly move.

The only time Founders or execs get the stink eye is when they take inordinate salaries compared to the rest of the staff or relative to the stage of the ...



Article

When Will My Startup Make Me Happier?


  

We often think about this concept of our startup "making it" through a sale or some other outcome and then we get to be truly happy.

But that's not how it works.

Our "success" actually comes gradually, day by day, at a glacial pace so that we never actually notice it. Until one day, we wake up, and things don't suck anymore.

So we can't think of our startups driving happiness as being a definitive moment in time. We have to think about it as little pieces and parts that gradually — but noticeably — get better.

When we can say "No"

If we think really hard, we can probably remember a time when we actually got to use the word "No" to things.

You know, like working all weekend, draining our bank account to keep the company afloat, or simply ...



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