Big changes come in small steps. The key to success in achieving big things is breaking them down into small pieces and making steady progress over time.
May 2022 had more layoffs than March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, and June is on pace to ellipse May. The tech boom that started after the 2008 crisis is now over, and we’ve entered the part of the downturn where layoffs accelerate.
Startups win by growing fast. As Paul Graham’s startup = growth essay explains, “A startup is a company designed to grow fast.”
VC-backed startups are designed to “eat capital and shit growth.” Growth expectations create a new definition of winning at each round of venture capital that your startup raises. Most businesses can’t scale rapidly based on large amounts of additional capital, which is why most businesses aren’t suitable for venture capital.
Leadership teams are built on three pillars: vision, people, and execution. The team needs to be strong in all three and this is achieved by thoughtfully designing for overlapping and non-overlapping strengths.
No VC pattern matching is more well honed than the assessment of founding teams. Last year I surveyed a list of top VCs on what they think are the three most important aspects of successful founding teams. I compiled all the responses into a founding team builder. The tool is meant for founders, but it’s equally useful to VCs and employees considering investing in or joining a startup.
A well written memo is the core of sharpening your startup pitch. You should write the memo first, and build the deck only once you have a final draft. Many funds write investment memos internally for investment committee meetings, so when an entrepreneur writes one they are effectively seeding what will be shared directly with the investment committee.
Everyone wants to maximize productivity and work-life balance with better calendar management and scheduling. Over the years I’ve learned two key tricks. First, plan with the calendar instead of a task list because the calendar controls real life time allocation. Second, manage inbound and meetings within predefined calendar blocks instead of reacting, because calendar whitespace will always default to what other people want you to do via meetings and inboxes.
We’re at the tail end of an awesome tech cycle with massive real value creation. This was the real dot-com boom. The information revolution created this weird self-Heisenberg effect where information about the market travels so fast that markets get way ahead of economics then collapse and take years to earn out their valuations. This kind of pre-mania, which I think dot-com was, is distinct from total nonsense speculative markets where there isn’t actually any underlying value creation. Make no mistake, there has been staggeringly massive value creation by tech since dot-com and the market has recognized that since
I’ve hired three CEOs, dozens of executives and managers, and hundreds of employees into early stage Seed and Series A stage startups. I’ve been exposed to hundreds of early stage teams through my network and the startups I’ve built in Consumer, SaaS, Enterprise, Deep Tech, Biotech, Fintech, Agtech, and other markets. So I’ve seen a lot of data on which backgrounds and traits work in startups versus which don’t
You made it! Your startup has some early traction and now you’ve hired your first leaders to help grow the company.
Trouble is that things aren’t going as planned.
Some parts of the company have team members that aren’t up to the bar you initially meant to set. These same parts of the company aren’t really performing, and progress seems to be slowing almost to a halt. You’re starting to hear more about what can’t be done than what can.