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ArticleThe Benefits of a Hard Reset

The Benefits of a Hard Reset

Sometimes having to burn it all down is the best medicine our startup can take.

It sure doesn't feel that way at the time. When we're sitting across from an income statement that's been decimated and thinking of having to go back to our team, investors, and partners to tell them some truly horrible news, the last thing we're thinking is "Hey this might be great!"

But for those of you that have never been through it, I'm here to tell you, it may in fact be the best thing that ever happened to our startups.

That's because a Hard Reset gives us the one opportunity to go back and reset all of our decisions that we've made, teeing us up to build a far more efficient and capable startup going forward. It sucks — like I said — but it also has som...



ArticleWhen is the Right Time to Give Up Equity?

When is the Right Time to Give Up Equity?

As Founders, when we give away equity determines how much we're going to lose.

That's because the equity game, and our job of holding on to it for dear life, is really about vulnerability. The more vulnerable we are, the more we give away. The stronger our position is, the more we retain. It's really that simple, and yet, especially if this is our first startup, it's hard to realize when we're giving up too much too early.

There are really three moments in time where we have to really consider our timing and our approach — when we add co-founders, hiring early employees, and when we take on seed capital. What we often don't realize is that there is a lot of strategy to when and how we pull these triggers, while a lack of strategy has massiv...



ArticleWe get paid for Finishes, not Starts

We get paid for Finishes, not Starts

There's no paycheck in starting companies. It's the finishing part that matters.

I say this because many of us simply love the thrill and idea of starting another startup. There's always this thought — "Boy, if I could just launch this one idea that I can't stop thinking about (while forgoing my existing startup), it'll be amazing!"

Here's where the logic in that breaks down over, and over, and over.

It's Gonna Cost us 7-10 Years to be Right or Wrong

Every single time we start something anew, we reset the clock on how long it will take to make it successful. No matter how good we are, the maturation rate of a company will almost always take 7-10 years — if we're actually successful with it. That's the successful timeline, not the un-success...



ArticleWhy No One Tells Founders "It's over, move on."

Why No One Tells Founders "It's over, move on."

No one tells Founders "Hey, you know what, it was a good run but you should probably stop killing yourself and just take the mulligan on this one." No one ever actually tells us it's OK to quit.

Instead, we build up this narrative in our head that we've got to burn through all of our savings, exhaust our health, and basically run ourselves into the ground to prove we didn't give up. But here's the problem — everyone else gave up a long, long time ago. They just never told us — and never will.

Investors Have No Incentive to Tell Us What's Up

When we were kids playing sports, and we were obviously winded, our coach would pull us out and tell us to take a breather. If our investors were our coaches, they'd hand us some amphetamines and tell us...



ArticleTrust everyone!

Trust everyone!

The following is a piece of really bad advice. If you follow it, there’s a large risk that you’ll be cheated, deceived, run over, and on the whole look like an idiot. I’d regret that, of course. But it is also really bad advice to urge good people to become entrepreneurs, as it’s almost dead certain you’ll fail. So if you nevertheless have taken the chance and thrown yourself into a new adventure, you may just as well place all your jetons on red and follow my advice: Trust everyone.

Trust is a mirror.

In 2002, I was a young, newly trained journalist with a blank CV and without much chance of a job in that branch. I, therefore, chose to change direction, and I called Morten Lund, a well-known Danish entrepreneur (co-founder of Skype), and a...



ArticleSmart Founders Stay in Customer Support

Smart Founders Stay in Customer Support

Founders ask the big questions for our startups. Customer service answers them.

In nearly every startup I've ever built, I've always stayed incredibly close to our customers. In fact, if you're reading this via our email list, which goes out to over 250,000 Founders like you every week, you'll notice that's my name on the reply button. That's actually me. If you're one of the brave souls who have attempted to contact what you were probably assuming was a bot or some customer service queue, you were probably surprised to get a message from me instead.

We've got over 200 people, a team of marketers, a team of customer support folks, and an insane amount of infrastructure. I also own a personal assistant business in Zirtual.com — so why am I a...



ArticleWhat Founders Learn From Growing up Broke

What Founders Learn From Growing up Broke

Growing up broke was one of the most valuable assets to shape me as a startup Founder. At the time it didn't feel too valuable (it sucked) but I'd come to learn later that it burned specific traits into my behavior that served me insanely well in building startups from scratch.

Many of us have had the same challenges, coming from disadvantaged upbringings that felt like a setback at the time but also became crucibles of learning and adaptation that actually made us far more capable when our skills were put to the test later on.

We're Forced to Become Experts

When we're broke, we can't afford to pay anyone to do anything. Plumbing breaks? We become a plumber. Car won't start? We become a mechanic. We just don't have a choice, so it forces us...



ArticleA Growth Marketing Stack for Startups

A Growth Marketing Stack for Startups

Startups.com marketing technology stack

What is a Martech Stack?

First up, what even is Martech? This is an abbreviation of “marketing technology.” It’s the tools and software you use in your day-to-day sales and marketing.

The reference to the “stack” has been used by developers for years, in reference to the technology and codebases they use within the products they build. Martech Stack references the marketing technologies and tools you use within your marketing infrastructure set-up.

By stacking these tools together and integrating them you create a consistent, automated flow of data between your tools.

The benefits of setting up a Martech Stack

The likelihood is that you already have some form of Martech Stack in place, even without...



ArticleHey Founders — Here's how to take a Hint from Investors

Hey Founders — Here's how to take a Hint from Investors

Most of us Founders have never raised capital, so when we dig in for the first time, we're mostly guessing at how the game is played. And friends — it is indeed a game. The problem with this game is that as Founders, the odds are stacked way against us.

We actually make matters worse when we don't understand the rules, and instead revert back to our base instincts, which range from carpet bombing the investor with follow-ups to trying to translate "I think it's interesting" into 50 potential meanings, like a 16-year-old after their first date.

What we need is to be able to read the signals for what they are, and when we do, take our foot off the pedal if the signal says "stop" and jam the pedal when the signal is "yes."

Anything that's not ...



ArticleHow to build culture

How to build culture

I sent the following letter to our entire team at Airbnb.

Hey team,

Our next team meeting is dedicated to Core Values, which are essential to building our culture. It occurred to me that before this meeting, I should write you a short letter on why culture is so important to Joe, Nate, and me.

After we closed our Series C with Peter Thiel in 2012, we invited him to our office. This was late last year, and we were in the Berlin room showing him various metrics. Midway through the conversation, I asked him what was the single most important piece of advice he had for us.

He replied, “Don’t fuck up the culture.”

This wasn’t what we were expecting from someone who just gave us $150 million. I asked him to elaborate on this. He said one of the r...



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