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Don't Work Long Hours, Work Efficient Hours


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Let me first admit: I am a recovering long-hour champion.

For nearly 3 decades, if you asked me how many hours I work, I would just say "All of them." I wore it as a badge of honor. For almost 20 years it never occurred to me that you could drive to or from work in daylight. For my first three years of my startup career I didn't see my family or celebrate Christmas.

Now let me admit what a colossal flipping waste of energy that was.

Yes, I created great startups and had some success. Yes, a lot of that "hard work" was necessary. But now, with the benefit of history and having watched thousands of startups go from zero to something, I've come to learn something:

Those long hours were a symptom of inefficiency, not a default badge of honor ...



Article

Is It OK To Admit I Have Flaws?


  

We're all freaked out about sharing our flaws.

We're worried that employees, investors, customers and just about anyone else will think less of us. Maybe they won't invest, maybe they won't buy our products, or maybe they won't come to work for us.

Sharing our flaws is terrifying. But it's also one of the most liberating things we can do not just as Founders, but as the weirdo humans we all are.

You're the Founder/CEO of Startups — do you have flaws?

Geez, where do I begin?

I've been building startups for nearly 3 decades and I have tons of flaws. I've got massive ADHD (I can't even proofread this sentence without losing focus), terminal pain, crippling anxiety — and I can't dance to save my life.

For a long time I would have never even...



Article

How Much Should I Budget For An MVP?


  

App development is not a straightforward process, despite how much "process" developers add to the equation. There are basically 3 things that are never working in our favor:

First, the idea is in our head, not in the developers head, so the translation is a huge, time consuming challenge.

Second, we're building an app that has never existed before, so we don't actually know how people are going to use it or what features are required.

And last, we're assuming that our developer is capable of completing a working app. All of these are giant issues that should give us pause (and keep our cash in the bank for a minute!).

Focus on Milestones

We have to think about building an app in stages — not the whole enchilada all at once. To do that, w...



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

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

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

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...



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