1/ The first 18 months of starting a company is often life or death. I must've made 5 different companies that each failed within 9 mo. 😭 Each time the company failed I figured out what I could do better. Eventually startup #6 got to $40K/mo by month 18. Here’s what I learned...
1/ I became "CEO" at 20. I dropped out of college. I had only interned somewhere prev. Looking back, I couldn't imagine the journey that would occur from writing code all day to scaling to 300 people. I got lucky, I screwed up a lot, & had a lot of help. Here's what I learned...— Suhail (@Suhail) May 21, 2018
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Published a new essay: The red flags and magic numbers that investors look for in your startup’s metrics – 80 slide deck included!
This was a deck that I created on my (longish) interview process with @a16z. It was a long path, starting with meeting folks at the firm 10 years ago. But the purpose of the deck was to explain how I would use my superpower in an investing context
Here's what I explain in the deck. As investors (whether angel or VC) we're often confronted with an up-and-to-the-right graph. Is it going to go up? Or down?
One solution to forecast these growth curves is the Growth Accounting Framework, where you add up New+Reactivated and subtract churned users. In each time period that gives you the difference in monthly actives.
The problem with this is that it's a lagging metric, not a leading one. We need to go one level deeper and look at the underlying loops that drive these numbers, to understand the quality.
On a serious note, it's interesting to observe that you can build a decent business charging $20 - $50 per month for something that any good developer can set up. This is one of those micro-saas sweet spots between "easy for me to build" and "tedious for others to build"— Jon Yongfook (@yongfook) September 5, 2019
Every year at MicroConf I get surprised-not-surprised by the number of people I meet who are running "Does one thing reasonably well, ranks well for it, pulls down a full-time dev salary" out of a fun side project which obviates a frequent 1~5 engineer-day sprint horizontally.
"Who is the prototypical client here?"
A consulting shop delivering a $X00k engagement for an internal system, a SaaS company doing something custom for a large client or internally facing or deeply non-core to their business, etc.
(I feel like many of these businesses are good answers to the "how would you monetize OSS to make it sustainable?" fashion, since they often wrap a core OSS offering in the assorted infrastructure which makes it easily consumable.)
"But don't the customers get subscription fatigue?"
I think subscription fatigue is far more reported by people who are embarrassed to charge money for software than it is experienced by for-profit businesses, who don't seem to have gotten pay-biweekly-for-services fatigue.
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Sheryl got her MBA at Harvard. One of the most famous cases (Extra Strength Tylenol) in one of the most famous classes (Business History) she took: in 1982, someone put cyanide in Extra Strength Tylenol capsules and killed 7 people in Chicago.
What do you do when someone turns your product into a weapon? When they use the system you built to harm? James Burke, CEO of J&J, was shockingly open with the public, he pulled the product and made significant packaging changes to make product safer (but not tamper-proof).
He over-shared every step along the way re investigation, redesign, stood up as both CEO and human. The reintroduction of new Extra Strength Tylenol succeeded. Burke saved the brand.
But four years later it happened again. A killer put cyanide in the capsules, this time a woman in Yonkers died. Same CEO, Burke, pulled the product again, completely changed the form factor from capsule to caplet and relaunched *again*. It worked *again*. How'd they do that?
Burke (CEO) tapped J&Js goodwill bank account w/ the public. Two big withdrawals from that bank account in four years + 8 dead bodies! But his honesty, openness, humanity (choked up about the deaths more than once), humility kept the goodwill bank balance positive the whole time.
We're basically fucked.
The tech world has gotten so huge, self-reinforcing, and insulated from reality they can no longer even vaguely look at themselves (and their actions) as others do. They just live on a different planet than most people.
Conversely, the average tech consumer doesn't understand the technology that has slowly taken over their lives, and their designated emissaries to figure it out--politicians, pundits, regulators, journalists--understand it barely better than they do, and have their own agendas.
To say more than generalities for a moment, here's what I think is likely the core problem.
Techies take weird, improbable visions, and make them realities: some BS pitch deck to a VC, mixed with money and people, really does turn into some novel thing.
Most people work inside a legacy industry that's evolved that way over time (usually for good reasons), and they think about the future via some analogy with their present (which is a function of a long-ago past). The interruption that tech will introduce is often hard to grasp.
2) All EU leaders watching tomorrow’s vote. Of course they want to avoid a no deal #Brexit BUT they feel the deal - so painfully negotiated between EU and UK - is too fresh to re-open. Clarifications, yes but fundamental renegotiations, no.
3) The EU’s international reputation as a tough deal-maker is at stake here too. If Brussels now suddenly “gives in” to U.K. on EU red lines (eg backstop) then that would weaken the EU’s reputation in future trade negotiations with other non EU countries
4) Also on backstop the EU is unlikely to cave in to favour a relationship with a leaving member state (UK) against the explicit wishes and ignoring the deep concerns of a continuing member: Ireland.
5) Both the EU and the PM signed up to a guarantee to protect the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. If either the U.K. or EU can leave the backstop unilaterally then this clearly is no longer a guarantee.
Some random interesting tidbits:
1) Zuck approves shutting down platform API access for Twitter's when Vine is released #competition
2) Facebook engineered ways to access user's call history w/o alerting users:
Team considered access to call history considered 'high PR risk' but 'growth team will charge ahead'. @Facebook created upgrade path to access data w/o subjecting users to Android permissions dialogue.
3) The above also confirms @kashhill and other's suspicion that call history was used to improve PYMK (People You May Know) suggestions and newsfeed rankings.
4) Docs also shed more light into @dseetharaman's story on @Facebook monitoring users' @Onavo VPN activity to determine what competitors to mimic or acquire in 2013.