Continuing my series of posts that I’ve been collecting that live at the intersection of Startups and being a Startup CTO:
here are the top posts from May 2010.
- Kathy Sierra at Business of Software 2009- Business of Software Blog, May 4, 2010
"In the old days, getting customers was easy. You could just outspend. You could use brute force to get the word out. Now, thanks to social media, you don't have to outspend. There is a much better technique. It is to out friend. If you can just be friendly enough and get your users to party with you, the rest is really easy. Enjoyed this post?
It's time to retire the following phrases. They should no longer be used, ever, in any context except derisive mocking: Fast and easy. Putting customers first. The Holy Grail of. The leading provider of. Legendary customer support. Solution. Genuine. Powerful. Secure. Simple. Innovative. Insight. Disruptive. agree! Enough! We get it! I Be specific.
- Guide to Evaluating Startup Ideas- Tony Wright dot com, May 27, 2010
A great developer I once worked with was kvetching at lunch one day. He’d been working at a well-funded startup for about a year and had come to terms with the fact that the startup was really a pretty dumb idea. He’d wasted a year of his life and had a pile of stock options that weren’t very interesting. Tesla is not.
- Draw Your Ideas- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, May 16, 2010
I saw Jack Dorsey give this talk at The 99% Conference last month. It's a great talk. particularly like his first point, which is that you should draw out your ideas before you start coding them. The video is only 16 minutes long and it is well worth the time. saw Jack Dorsey give this talk at The 99% Conference last month. It's a great talk.
- Why Lawyers Don’t Run Startups- Steve Blank, May 27, 2010
Startups need to have a great lawyer, accountant, patent attorney, etc. But founders need to know how to ask for their advice and when to ignore it. Why Entrepreneurs Hate Lawyers. was having coffee with a friend who teaches at the U.C. Berkeley Boalt Law School and runs their entrepreneurship program. You Can’t Sign This Deal. It says what?!”).
- Startup Insights From Paul English, Co-Founder of Kayak- OnStartups, May 10, 2010
I’m just wrapping up several weeks of attending conferences across both coasts. Of the ones I have been to recently, the Nantucket Conference has been my favorite. great group of people and a small enough gathering that you can actually get to know many/most of them. Kayak is great Boston-area success story. Lots to learn from him. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
- Facebook is about to try to dominate display ads the way Google dominates text ads- Chris Dixon, May 15, 2010
It is customary to divide online advertising into two categories: direct response and brand advertising. prefer instead to divide it according to the mindset of users: whether or not they are actively looking to purchase something (i.e. they have purchasing intent ).*. Through advertising or direct sales, these sites harvest intent.
- A FB ad targeted at one person (my wife)- Gabriel Weinberg, May 14, 2010
The other day I gave a presentation with Steve Welch on the use of social media in politics. Steve was was walking through (live) the process of creating a Facebook ad. He started targeting the ad by location and interest, and the number of potential people he was reaching began decreasing on screen (Facebook tells you dynamically).
- MongoDB at Etsy- Code as Craft, May 19, 2010
Hi! Dan McKinley and Wil Stuckey from the Etsy Curation team here. We'll be your hosts for a three-part series about the use of MongoDB here at Etsy. The Curation Team. Well, half of it. Photo credit: Elizabeth Weinberg.). In the second post, John Allspaw will talk about how well MongoDB is working out operationally. The Application. Stay Tuned.
- Bending over: How to sell to large companies- A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks, May 24, 2010
This is a guest post by Steve Hanov , who blogs about programming and startups. For a micro-ISV, selling to big businesses can be more lucrative than selling to consumers. Instead of making a few dollars per sale and hoping for thousands of sales, you sell to only a few customers, and charge much higher rates. But the rates are high for a reason.
- My Obsession With The Product- Feld Thoughts, May 3, 2010
For some reason I’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately. In many of them I get asked similar questions, including the inevitable “what makes a great entrepreneur?” When I’m on a VC panel, I’m always amused by the answers from my co-panelists as they are usually the same set of “VC cliches” which makes it even more fun when I blurt out my answer.
- The Yin and Yang of Product and Engineering- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, May 22, 2010
For a tech company, product and engineering are the heart and soul of the business. When I do a quick mental query of headcount across our entire portfolio of ~30 companies, I think at least 50% and maybe as much as 60% of the entire headcount of our portfolio is in either product or engineering. This is a great configuration for a starting team.
- Consultants Don’t Pivot, Founders Do- Steve Blank, May 13, 2010
Consultants can help startups leverage their limited resources. But startups can shoot themselves in the foot when founders use consultants at the wrong time or in the wrong way. Here’s why. Your Process Doesn’t Work. friend of mine asked me to chat with a startup he’d invested in. They’re deep into Customer Development ,” he said. Why? Why?
- LIFT10: Workshop on Hacking Venture Capital- Fred Destin, May 7, 2010
This morning at the excellent LIFT Conference I gave a two hour workshop on " Hacking Venture Capital " designed to give entrepreneurs a hands-on experience of (a) pitching and (b) negotiating with detailed debrief and tricks of the trade. First off the two prezis and then the case study material (i used ERPLY as inspiration).
- While Google fights on the edges, Amazon is attacking their core- Chris Dixon, May 22, 2010
Google is fighting battles on almost every front: social networking, mobile operating systems, web browsers, office apps, and so on. Much of this makes sense, inasmuch as it is strategic for them to dominate or commoditize each layer that stands between human beings and online ads. 8211; are mostly a loss leaders for Google. I know I do.
- My angel investing strategy vs Joshua Schachter- Gabriel Weinberg, May 18, 2010
Joshua Schacter has a great AMA thread on HN about angel investing. He shares a lot of interesting info about his strategy, and it's about as diametrically opposite to my strategy as you can get. think his strategy is essentially the Ron Conway strategy , and at his rate ("34-ish investments" in 1-2yr?), he'll be the next Ron Conway in short order.
- VCs in seed clothing: Chris Dixon, Mark Suster, and Naval Ravikant interviewed- Venture Hacks, May 5, 2010
I recently got on the phone for a cross-continent conference call with Chris Dixon from Founder Collective , Mark Suster from GRP Partners , and our own Naval Ravikant. The topic was VC signaling in seed rounds — and how these signals help or hurt your ability to raise money in the next round. SlideShare: VC signaling in seed rounds. Prerequisites.
- Solving the "marketplace" business model- A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks, May 10, 2010
A sizable percentage of Capital Factory startup submissions take the form of the "marketplace." In fact, 3 of the 10 selected companies from the past two years has followed this business model. Marketplace companies are notoriously difficult to start, so I'm constantly amazed that so many entrepreneurs chose this route. marketplace is born.
- Unexpected Startup Lesson #1: Quitting the day job- Currently Obsessed, May 10, 2010
This post is the first of a series on “unexpected lessons&# learned through my experience as co-founder and CEO of Snapvine , a venture-backed mobile social networking service founded in 2005 and acquired by WhitePages in June of 2008. Thus, 6 months after graduation when I was contemplating leaving my job, the risks felt enormous.
- Why Taxing Carried Interest As Ordinary Income Is Good Policy- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, May 29, 2010
The House has passed a bill this past week that would change the taxation of carried interest from capital gains treatment to ordinary income treatment. The Senate has not weighed in on the debate but it is expected to do so soon. The New York Times has a story about it in today's business section. That seems like bad policy.
- Entrepreneurial Finishing School- Steve Blank, May 10, 2010
I usually hear the “Should I get my MBA?” question at least once a month. If you’re an entrepreneur, the glib answer is “no.” It’s also the wrong answer. Should I Get My MBA? Last week I was having coffee with an ex engineering student of mine now on his second startup (and for a change it wasn’t a Web 2.0 What should I do?’. Where Do You Fit? MBA?
- Klout Puts Metrics Into Social Media Management- Tim Berry's Blog - Planning Startups Stories, May 21, 2010
I really like klout.com for three good reasons: 1.) it’s about measuring online influence and I’m big on metrics as a key element of business planning; 2.) it’s a great example of a strong startup based on need, entrepreneur Joe Fernandez building something he wanted to use, and getting VC funding; and 3.) they released a new 2.0 m pleased. What?
- Facebook, Zynga, and buyer-supplier hold up- Chris Dixon, May 8, 2010
The brewing fight between Facebook and Zynga is what is known in economic strategy circles as “buyer-supplier hold up.&# The classic framework for analyzing a firm’s strategic position is Michael Porter’s Five Forces. This probably hurt Zynga’s profitability but also helped them fend off less well-capitalized rivals.
- 50 Ways to Expose Yourself to Randomness- Ben Casnocha: The Blog, May 16, 2010
Cal Newport's three step way to become interesting: 1. Do fewer structured activities. 2. Spend more time exploring, thinking, and exposing yourself to potentially interesting things. 3. If something catches your attention, use the abundant free time generated by rule 1 to quickly follow up. Below are 50 ideas for step 2. 1. Now. Spend 20 minutes.
- When can startups be called successful, e.g. reddit, dropbox?- Gabriel Weinberg, May 27, 2010
My last post on startup company failure rates engendered discussion on what constitutes success in the context of a startup company. specifically avoided this subject because it was ancillary to my point that some startup sub-groups have inherently different failure rates than others. think this comment on my last post gives this perspective well.
- Tech Support *is* sales- A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks, May 17, 2010
You probably think of "tech support" as the bottom of the food chain. Shit flows downhill" and all that. After all: Tech support deals with insane customers. Tech support answers the phone; a job even salesmen don't want. Tech support keeps angry customers at bay while having no power to effect change. Yep, that sounds lowly. Tech support is sales.
- Unexpected Startup Lesson #2: Channel your Inner VC to Understand Startup Valuations- Currently Obsessed, May 27, 2010
This post is the second of a series on “unexpected lessons&# learned through my experience as co-founder and CEO of Snapvine , a venture-backed mobile social networking service founded in 2005 and acquired by WhitePages in June of 2008. Valuation is an important aspect of VC deal terms, and a major determinant of your ultimate outcome.
- Fear Is A No-No- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, May 20, 2010
At the VCs Who Code panel at Google I/O yesterday, Dick Costolo asked the assembled VCs the biggest no-nos in a startup. Everyone gave excellent answers but my personal favorite came from Brad Feld who said "fear is the biggest no-no." You simply can't be tentative in a startup. You have to go for it at every chance you get.
- No One Wins In Business Plan Competitions- Steve Blank, May 17, 2010
Last week one of the schools I teach at invited me to judge a business plan contest. suggested that they first might want to read my post on why business plans are a poor planning and execution tool for startups. They called back laughing and the invitation disappeared. At best I think business plan competitions are a waste of time. Now I do. Why?