Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Top 40 Startup Posts for August 2010

August was a slow month in terms of traffic and I was away for a lot of the month, but there were some really great posts at the intersection of startups, technology, product and being a Startup CTO.  This continues my series of posts:

Here they are:

  1. How to Minimize Politics in Your Company- Ben's Blog, August 24, 2010

    “Who the f@#k you think you f$&kin’ with. m the f%*kin’ boss.”. Rick Ross. In all my years in business, I have yet to hear someone say: “I love corporate politics.” On the other hand, I meet plenty of people who complain bitterly about corporate politics—sometimes even in the companies they run. clearly didn’t cause this.” How it happens.

  2. Pricing models, the freemium myth and why you may not be charging enough for your product- Seth Levine's VC Adventure, August 12, 2010

    I’ve been pulled into a number of product and pricing meetings recently (for reasons unknown I’ve become the Foundry pricing and productization guy). thought it would be helpful to put some of my thoughts into a blog post and hopefully spur some conversation in the comments and over email. More tiers = more complication = more confusion.

  3. How To Pitch A Product- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, August 4, 2010

    I've said a bunch of times on this blog that the perfect pitch is a very short intro to provide context followed immediately by a demo. Last night at the NY Tech Meetup, John Britton of our portfolio company Twilio showed how it is done. If you do a lot of pitches, spend the six minutes to watch this. Kudos to John for an excellent pitch.

  4. How a startup should leverage a personal assistant- A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks, August 30, 2010

    Rob Walling generously allowed me to reprint this excerpt from his new book, "Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup" available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon and in PDF and ePub from He blogs to 10,000 web entrepreneurs at Software by Rob and co-hosts the podcast  Startups for the Rest of Us.

  5. Product Friday: Monetizing Content is a Product Problem- This is going to be BIG., August 20, 2010

    They say people won't pay for content. They say that paywalls are stupid and that its just not monetizable. Remember when they said that people wouldn't pay for music? What Apple proved, and what I suspect is the issue with web content, is that monetization was a product problem. Because it was a tremendous pain in the ass. Same goes for television.

  6. The bowling pin strategy- Chris Dixon, August 21, 2010

    A huge challenge for user-generated websites is overcoming the chicken-and-egg problem : attracting users and contributors when you are starting with zero content. One Facebook executed the bowling pin strategy brilliantly by starting at Harvard and then spreading out to other colleges and eventually the general public.

  7. No, You CAN’T retire rich at 30 if you sell your startup- Tony Wright dot com, August 23, 2010

    I personally find the people who are in the software startup game just for the money to often be nearly delusional about their chances of success and the likely magnitude of it when it happens. Before I get into the details for founders, let me talk about options-hungry employees. Full stop. Do it because you love small teams. Congrats! Dying at 70?

  8. Why MOST smart people are better at solving other people’s problems…- Life Beyond Code, August 10, 2010

    And, not their own problems. am sure you have seen them and may be you are one of them. Smart people who can solve other people’s problems very easily but they can’t solve their own problems. As my friend Stuart Scott would say, most people have brilliant “outsight&# and all they lack is some “insight.&#. Dec 26, 2009).

  9. Productive Programming- Gabriel Weinberg, August 31, 2010

    BIG disclaimer: I'm not formally trained in computer science (aside from two classes at MIT in 2000) and I haven't worked closely with that many programmers or teams (maybe 10 or so). I've gotten to be a lot more productive as a programmer since I started casually 15+ years ago and seriously about 10 years ago. Say you want some code that does X.

  10. Paul Graham on trends for the future- Business of Software Blog, August 25, 2010

    Paul Graham spoke at last year's Business of Software conference. I’m going to try to do something for you guys that I’ve always resisted doing. One of the big questions, probably the biggest questions that I get from reporters, is 'what trends do you see? What’s going to happen in the future?' We had to write a CRM to keep track of them all.

  11. How I Think About Seed Investing As A VC- Feld Thoughts, August 2, 2010

    Last week saw an explosion of discussion around seed investing, including plenty of negative comments around VCs as seed investors. While I agree that many VCs are crummy seed investors, I think there are some that are excellent seed investors. They are: Fred Wilson: Lead Investors, Dipshit Companies, and Funding Every Entrepreneur.

  12. Taking the Mystery out of Scaling a Company- Ben's Blog, August 2, 2010

    “What you got a dollar in your pocket. twenty in your wallet? See me I’m stacking money. Matter of fact, I’ll let you watch it. Get big. Get big. Get big. Get big”. Dorrough. If you want to build an important company, then at some point you have to scale. Often board members give entrepreneurs two bits of advice regarding scale: Get a mentor.

  13. Has convertible debt won? And if it has, is that a good thing?- Seth Levine's VC Adventure, August 30, 2010

    Paul Graham, founder of Y-Combinator , sent out a tweet on Friday saying: “Convertible notes have won. Every investment so far in this YC batch (and there have been a lot) has been done on a convertible note.”. It’s an interesting data point on Y-Combinator companies, but is this truly a macro trend? Have convertible notes really won? equity debate.

  14. Start-Up Chile: $40k to Live There and Start a Company- Ben Casnocha: The Blog, August 14, 2010

    Governments round the world are trying to stimulate entrepreneurship. The Chilean government recently announced a bold initiative that stands apart from the usual innovation and start-up handwaving. They are seeking two dozen entrepreneurs who want to move to Santiago for six months to get their company off the ground. But I like its underratedness.

  15. Yes, but who said they'd actually BUY the damn thing?- A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks, August 9, 2010

    This is Part 3 of the series: 5 lessons from 150 startup pitches.? Of hundreds of startup pitches at Capital Factory , almost none had unearthed 10 people willing to say, "If you build this product, I'll give you $X.". all without identifying even ten measly people actually willing to pay for what they're peddling. Short-sighted, no? Fooey! 

  16. Teach Like You’re the Student- Steve Blank, August 10, 2010

    “I never have let my schooling interfere with my education.”. Mark Twain. Every time I see my graduate students try to teach for the first time, it’s usually so painful I bite my lip. Then I remember the first day I stood up in front of a classroom. You Hired. Long back-story here.) The Dry Run. didn’t sleep that night. was scared and nervous.

  17. We’re Living In The Dark Ages Of Social Media-, August 9, 2010

    If you believe the media and social media “experts&# , we’re living in the Renaissance of social media. Novel and creative campaigns like the recent YouTube campaign from Old Spice purportedly demonstrate the power of social in marketing.

  18. Rethinking “F@#$ You Money”- Tony Wright dot com, August 2, 2010

    Now that I’ve stepped down from RescueTime, I’m pondering my next thing (whether it’s a product role at a very early stage startup or spinning up my own for the 3rd time). figure it’s a good time to be introspective and consider my motivations. Why do startups? via Urban Dictionary ). Retirement Plans. Want to be Mercenary?

  19. Video From Business Of Software 2009: Building Great Software Businesses- OnStartups, August 23, 2010

    Of the several conferences I attend or speak each at each year, my favorite is the Business of Software conference organized be Neil Davidson (of Red Gate ) and Joel Spolsky (of Fog Creek ). There are several reasons for this. The speakers are great and have enough stage time to really get into the topic they’re passionate about. No panels.

  20. First-timer entrepreneur symptoms and cures- Gabriel Weinberg, August 12, 2010

    Previously I wrote about wannabe entrepreneur symptoms and cures. was once a wannabe entrepreneur, and then I was a first-timer. First-timers are not wannabes--they're actually out there doing stuff. And they can be successful their first time around. I've funded some myself. But it's not the norm. made all of these mistakes in my first companies.

  21. Alarming IT data points- deal architect, August 25, 2010

    I am grateful for plenty of positive coverage my book has received. The coverage, though, has focused mostly on all the innovators I profile in the book. That’s not surprising because the vast majority of the book focuses on innovations

  22. The Mac Won Me Over- Feld Thoughts, August 3, 2010

    On June 20th, I declared that I was going to try A Month of Mac. I took my Macbook Pro (an older model from about 18 months ago) up to Alaska, left my Lenovo x300 in Boulder, and went native Mac. I’m typing this on my brand new spiffy MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7 with 8GB RAM, with a 500GB solid state hard drive. That’s sweet.

  23. The Right Kind of Ambition- Ben's Blog, August 29, 2010

    “Some say that I’m they favorite. But I aint hearing none of that. m about my team ho. Young money running back”. Drake. Stay in your place. While I sit here and rule. m king of a cow. And I’m king of a mule”. Yertle the Turtle. In my last post, I mentioned that you should strive to hire people with the right kind of ambition. sales? Final Thought.

  24. The Expanding Birthrate Of Web Startups- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, August 22, 2010

    There is a general consensus that web startups are being created at a faster rate than ever. The impact of accelerator programs like Y Combinator, Techstars, Seedcamp, and dozens more are one factor. The expanding pool of angel, seed, and super seed funds is another. You can bootstrap your way into existence. believe that is certainly true.

  25. Making Money From Social Games- ArcticStartup, August 23, 2010

    Games Developer Conference Europe 2010 (GDCE) took place last week in Cologne, Germany. Social gaming was naturally one of the key topics, covered in many presentations. As most, if not all, of the games on social networks use the freemium business model (i.e. Requests - Expect 70% on request (e.g. 10 cents per DAU.

  26. The right way to position against competition- A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks, August 23, 2010

    This is Part 4 of the series: 5 lessons from 150 startup pitches.?? After seeing hundreds of startup pitches for this year's Capital Factory program, I can tell you that the two most common errors in positioning a company against competition are, strangely, opposites: Claiming you have no competition. There is no competition. Example: Netflix).

  27. Boys Rules, Girls Lose – Women at Work- Steve Blank, August 30, 2010

    My two daughters are now in college and have put their toes in the working-world with summer jobs. As they’ve grown older, they’ve heard their parent’s advice about women in the workforce. This post is not advice nor is it a recommendation of what you should do. It’s simply my interpretation of what I observed watching my daughters grow up.

  28. How #redgate hired 10 geeks in five weeks- Business of Software Blog, August 5, 2010

    In April, I wrote : Right now, we’re running a “Ten geeks in five weeks” project. The major thing that’s holding back Red Gate’s growth is our struggle to hire great people. So Alice, Mark and Nick are going to hire ten people over the next five (now four) weeks. m not entirely sure how they’re going to do it. know that iPads are involved. Enjoy.

  29. 20 Amazing Women Entrepreneurs- Blogtrepreneur | Entrepreneur Blog, August 18, 2010

    These days, it seems successful entrepreneurs are popping up everywhere.  And some of the most impressive entrepreneurial success stories are those of women who have accomplished amazing things in every area of business imaginable.  From IT to retail, and from marketing to inventions, women have shown they are a force to be reckoned with. 

  30. Converts versus equity deals- Chris Dixon, August 31, 2010

    There has been a debate going on the past few days over whether seed deals should be funded using equity or convertible notes (converts). Paul Graham kicked it off by noting that all the financings in the recent YC batch were converts. Prominent investors including Mark Suster and Seth Levine weighed in (I highly recommend reading their posts). While

  31. Rapid prototyping as burnout antidote- Gabriel Weinberg, August 24, 2010

    Sometimes I get burnt out. Who doesn't? I'm very sensitive to it though because I know it can be devastating to a startup, especially a single founder startup. Over the past several years I've learned that a burnout antidote, at least for myself, is rapid prototyping of something brand new. Recently I cleaned out and organized our basement.

  32. Big Tech is Broken - badly- deal architect, August 20, 2010

    Someone at a large outsourcer shares with me an email he sent to his CEO lamenting the while the annual report repeatedly talks about innovation, there is no budget in R&D/innovation at the firm - and he has been there

  33. Negotiation Tips For Small Businesses, Entrepreneurs and Freelancers- crowdSPRING Blog, August 10, 2010

    Not every entrepreneur, small business owner or freelancer is comfortable negotiating. Many dread the adversarial nature of negotiation. Even so, it’s difficult (and perhaps impossible) to operate a small business or startup and not negotiate agreements with employees, vendors, customers, and others. Know Your Objective. Prepare. We declined.

  34. How to Make and Flipboard Rock- How to Change the World, August 24, 2010

    In the last few weeks two companies have released services that enable you to take tweets and turn them into a newspaper or magazine format: and Flipboard. Alltop is a great source of information for both and Flipboard newspapers. If you’d like to learn how to do this for, click here, and for Flipboard, click here

  35. Some Thoughts On Convertible Debt- A VC : Venture Capital and Technology, August 31, 2010

    Seth Levine has a long and thoughtful post on convertible debt vs equity. If you are an entrepreneur or active in the angel/seed sector, you should read it. He wrote it in response to Paul Graham 's tweet that said: Convertible notes have won. But since our firm does participate in select angel/seed rounds, this was interesting to me. In truth.

  36. Eight Business Processes Every Startup Must Have- Startup Professionals Musings, August 1, 2010

    Even when your startup is a one-man show, you will soon find that you are “out of control,” unless you start organizing and writing down how and when key things need to get done. Like it or not, you are now entering the dreaded realm of “formal business processes.” The right question is “What is the minimum that I need?” Develop your business plan.

  37. What the crazy name "Smart Bear" taught me about branding- A Smart Bear: Startups and Marketing for Geeks, August 2, 2010

    Every founder struggles to find a great name for her company. Often it's the first source of good-natured strife between co-founders. My name started as a whim, was almost changed for the wrong reasons, and ended up with a punch-line I would never have dreamed of. Storytime! Lessons at the end.). An inauspicious birth. It sounds like shareware.".

  38. Solving the Innovator’s Dilemma – Customer Development in a Big Company- Steve Blank, August 23, 2010

    One of the ways I learn is to teach. My students ask questions I can’t answer and challenge me to solve problems I never considered. My last session was with a passionate, smart, entrepreneurial team from a Fortune 100 company. And if I told you who they were I’d have to kill you.) That’s the good news. Do you agree?  Lessons Learned.

  39. The Magical Founding Team Mix For Web Startups- OnStartups, August 16, 2010

    At a startup dinner I had with a bunch of really smart software entrepreneurs in Austin, Texas during SXSW earlier this year, something really struck me. Of the 8 founders at the dinner, half of them had a design/ui/ux background. This got me to thinking: What would the ideal founding team at a web startup look like? Thanks.]. Developer.

  40. 7 angel investing tips in 7 minutes- Venture Hacks, August 3, 2010

    Last week, Naval and a slew of angel investors shared their investing advice with an audience of angels-in-training at AngelConf 2010. Here’s the video (each talk is 7 minutes long): Video: AngelConf 2010. Wade Roush at Xconomy took detailed notes on all the talks and published them here and here. angel investing tips. Ride on their coattails.

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