Whatever you can do, or dream you can, Begin it. Boldness has Genius, Power, and Magic in it. Begin it Now! (Goethe)
I do not think that there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything. (Nikola Tesla)
Brian Chesky, Founder of Airbnb, and Alfred Lin, Former COO of Zappos and Partner at Sequoia Capital, talk Culture.
Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfWgVWGEuGE
Ron Conway, Founder of SV Angel, and
Parker Conrad, Founder of Zenefits,
take Q&A on the topic of How to Raise Money, in lecture 9 of How to Start a Startup.
Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFX95HahaUs
As first time entrepreneurs, what part of the process are people often completely blind to?
The entire reading list for the video series "How to start a startup"
And, a treat from one of favorite behaviorists:
BJ Fogg's behavior model - consider how this affects personal success, for entrepreneurs and users
I see a lot of pitch decks. Most of them are awful. Seriously awful. The good news is that they can all be fixed.
What is fascinating to me is that the quality of the decks has not improved over time generally. How to create a pitch deck for startup investors is certainly a topic that is easily researched and documented on the web. There is no need to re-invent this even if you think you know better, or that your business is an exception.
There are no exceptions. In that first presentation ("pitch"), you want to follow all the rules. If you want the soup, you gotta follow the soup-Nazi rules, or "No soup for you!"
Every once in a while I get the chance to review the elements of a good pitch deck with a friend. Recently, a very charismatic and successful entrepreneur who I have known for many years came to me with his new business pitch. In his long and storied career, this is the first time he is looking for investment. So he came to me for some advice and included 12 pages of typed documentation, no graphics. He said he figured I didn't want to read the entire 200 pages that he had, so he only sent me 12.
I thought that very considerate of him, and told him so in my reply which was essentially TL;DR.
Included in my reply were helpful links to resources that would give him the best advice on how to do a pitch deck for investors.
His next email had a pitch deck that was 29 slides long. Yikes! This guy is a friend, so I want to be gentle, so here's my reply to him. A lot of resources tell you WHAT to do but they don't explain WHY, so I thought I would do that in my reply and share it with you:
you are moving in the right direction.
cut out even more, and get it down to 10-12 slides.
here's the point:
the longer it takes to explain it,
the more complicated it sounds,
and the more complicated it sounds,
the more you lose them.
another reason it should be short
is because investors have to listen to lots of them,
and they don't want to waste any more time than necessary
on something that they know early on that they don't want to invest in.
they will know very early on, usually within about 2 minutes or less,
whether they are interested in YOU (first), and
your business (second),
and if they aren't, the rest of the 8 minutes of your 10 minute pitch...
well, that's just the investor being nice enough to continue
to the point where he can cut you off and say that it's just not the kind of deal he does.
review that last email I sent you with the attachment about what should be in the slides
and the link that shows a video about an ideal presentation deck.
keep it short.
you can not get the money after 1 presentation.
the purpose of the presentation is to get them interested enough to take the next step.
what is the next step?
usually, the next step is to want to know more.
that's in another meeting, or with additional slides that you have with you, or that you have in reserve, but you do not want to present all the slides, tell all the story, in the initial presentation ("pitch").
pretend you are pitching them like you would some pretty girl who suddenly sits next to you at the bar.
you surely are not going to score on the spot, but you would like it to be as soon as possible.
if you take too much time getting out your story, she will lose interest and move on.
the next move will be up to her, so the best you can hope for is another meeting.
how are you coming with answering these questions that will be posed to you:
these questions that angels will have are not answered:
a. barriers to entry? (competitors, now and future) patents?
b. financial projections are unclear, need details
c. do you have working prototype software, now, that you can demo?
d. what % of the company does the 500k get them?
this whole process of entrepreneurs pitching to investors has progressed quickly over the past few years. it has reached the point now where the "best practices" are known and expected to be followed. the information on how to do these things is out there on the internet, and you are wise to research, know, and execute the process in the accepted ways, all in YOUR best interest so that you get what you want.
that's my best thinking so far.
i'm always enthusiastic about talking with you,
so let's set up a phone call when you want.
Three different topics, 3 speakers:
Stanley Tang, Founder of Doordash, covers How to Get Started.
Walker Williams, Founder of Teespring, covers Doing things that Don't Scale.
Justin Kan, Founder of TwitchTV and Partner at Y Combinator, covers Press.
Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQOC-qy-GDY#t=378
Here's a new product idea: A quality rating for video talks, one of the features of which counts the number of times the speaker says "um, like, you know..." and other filler words that really detract from the overall quality. (check the last speaker, and see if you agree)
This is one of the best yet!
Watch this video with your programmers and customer support people.
Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz_LgBAGYyo
What to do when you don't know what to do?
What are the top 2-3 qualities/aptitudes of a team that are important to investors when deciding whether or not to invest?
Are you overworked and Underwhelmed? by Steven Lynch
Smartphone obsession - mobile web use greater than PC web use!
In search of the Optimum Startup CEO Week. Each day of the week has a unique theme. Following the outline will make sure the important things are addressed. The startup week begins on Saturday, when the normal work week is over. The brain work takes place on the weekends, when it is not interrupted by real world events during the week. The five days of the normal work week are all about Doing: taking Action, according to the plan. How would you make this better?
(Repeat. Consistent rhythm creates predictable results.)
Emotion ignites startup creation. Reason takes chaos and optimizes the path from thought to reward. Objectivity is as essential as passion. Think big, start small. The first mistake is to think too little, the second is to think too much.
Write your thoughts for clarity. Define the big Why, the strategy, and how to keep score. Determine who does what, by when, for how much. Document checklists, key performance indicators. timelines and responsibilities.
Limited resources require limited objectives. Prioritize. Concentrate on the top two. Deny shiny objects to give energy to essentials. Make management your competitive advantage. Delegate.
Share the dream to build a 5-star core team, top down: Board of Advisors first. Hire slow, fire fast. Reward superior performance. Always be recruiting.
Cash is the lifeblood of the business. Sales solve all problems. Sell value to customers or sell equity to investors. Sell the mission to all. Create, maintain, improve and expand your selling systems.
Expand methodically from a balanced business. Create systems for repeatable success. Create products based on customer feedback. "Do it, Document it, Delegate it." Build a strong body and peaceful mind to endure the journey.
Continuous improvement requires continuous experimentation. Feedback is the raw material to build your business. Everything is a prototype. Do good now, make it better later.
(Repeat. Consistent rhythm creates predictable results.)
investments in startups. First outside investor in facebook!
All the time I'm watching Peter Thiel give his lesson to the Stanford class, I'm thinking how much he reminds me of Mark Zuckerberg and how their mannerisms are so Asbergerly similar. Thiel saw himself in Zuckerberg, he had to invest. These two are kindred spirits.
As smart as Peter Thiel is, there was no joy in his talk to this class. He was uncomfortable during the entire performance. But what he says is good stuff.
What type of lean startup experiment should I run? Discussion of types of tests, testing.
What's a good interview process for a startup? Interviewing people you want to hire.
The 4th in the series "How to start a startup" class given at Stanford. These are not professional speakers; more importantly they are people who have actually done startups. These lessons are well earned.
Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP176MBG9Tk
Third in the series about How to start a startup. This one by Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator.
Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii1jcLg-eIQ
System for Startup Success
Emotion flames startup creation. Reason takes chaos and optimizes the path from thought to reward. Objectivity is as essential as passion. Think big, start small. The first mistake is to think too little, the second is to think too much.
Write your thoughts for clarity. Define the big why, the strategy, who does what, by when, for how much. Include checklists, key performance indicators. timelines and responsibilities.
Ideas gain value only by action. Execute the plan as it is written. Measure the results of actions and practice continuous improvement. See the Startup Action Checklist.
Consistent rhythm creates predictable results. Accelerate the process.
Startup CEO Action Checklist
Focus - Limited resources require limited objectives. Prioritize. Concentrate on the top two. Deny shiny objects to give energy to essentials. Make managing a competitive advantage. Delegate.
Recruit - Share the dream to build a 5-star core team, top down: board of advisors first. Hire slow, fire fast. Reward superior performance. Always be recruiting. Leverage is the startup spinach.
Sell - Cash is the life blood of the business. Sales solve all problems. Sell value to customers or sell equity to investors. Sell the mission to all. Create, maintain, improve and expand your selling systems.
Build - Expand methodically from a balanced business. Create products based on customer feedback. "Do it, Document it, Delegate it." Build a strong body and peaceful mind to endure the journey.
Test - Continuous improvement requires continuous experimentation. Feedback is the raw material to build your business. Everything is a prototype. Do good now, make it better later.
Sell me this pen! (But it's not about the pen!)
First Republic Bank
The Evolution of the Venture Capital Industry: Duncan Davidson, Bullpen Capital
Business Strategy: Do you know what's the problem with yours?
Five Ways to Grow Your Profits
Mark Cuban Blog
The 6 Things you need to know to be great in business
6 Secrets to a Successful Startup
How much equity should startup advisors get? (Founder Advisor Stock Agreement and Template)
Fast paced, and right on the money. Enjoy, Learn, Prosper! Link to YouTube video.
Click here for the entire Q/A thread on Quora.
What VCs are looking for in the entrepreneur:
1. Logical Progression
2. Things the VC knows or understands
1. Things VC knows are not true
2. Things VC doesn't understand
3. Things that make VC think
4. Internal inconsistencies
5. Typos, errors, unpreparedness
Short, short bullet points
Just the headline
1. Company Logo
2. Business Overview
3. Management Team
6. Business Model
7. Strategic Relationships
10. Barriers to Entry
11. Financial Overview
12. Use of Proceeds
13. Capital and Valuation
1. Don't look at the slides; make emotional connection with the audience
2. Use a remote control
3. Always use presenter mode
4. Handouts are NOT your presentation
5. Don't read your talk
The founders of a startup need to keep it positive, at all times:
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
The second in a free series by Y Combinator, presented at Stanford.
Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVfnkM44Urs