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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2/ “Being a VC” can mean a lot of different things, so it’s worth asking:
What actual activities do you want to do?
- Deep market analysis?
- Be in the flow of information and people?
- Make deals?
- Work closely w/ founders over time (e.g take board seats?)
- Manage capital?
3/ It’s worth specifying what type of VC you might like to become — as there are different archetypes. E.g.
- Benchmark (Lead series A/B - couple investments a year)
- First Round (Lead seed rounds, partner w/ a few companies a year)
- SV Angel (Make lots of seed investments)
Expa - Incubate companies
YC / Village Global - Build a platform to help entrepreneurs at scale
Do you want to join a firm or start one? There’s a lot to consider.
Different paths will require different skillsets & sets of experiences.
5/ Since the person who wrote the email is a young person trying to break into VC by joining a firm (and who doesn’t want to start a company), I’ll tailor this tweet storm to that goal. There’s some overlap.
If your startup is real, pitching Sand Hill is sometimes like giving away copies of your treasure map
This advice is seldom given because most of the time and for most founders, you are still better off talking about your idea as much as possible to better understand where the dead ends are in the idea maze. Can’t do that in isolation.
Asking investors what is hot is usually less useful than asking what has worked, and what didn’t work and why? That’s how you can skip ahead and avoid death.
“All I want to know is where I’m going to die so I’ll never go there.” —Munger
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I was standing outside, waiting for a lyft to get home, when two cis men came out of the bar to smoke cigarettes. They're discussing the masks that folks are wearing in California at the moment because of the very dangerous air pollution from the fires happening.
I happen to be wearing one of those masks, because I think lungs are important and I like breathing. I dunno. One of the men notices me standing there, and says, "Like this f*cker right here. What is this shit?"
He goes on a homophobic rant about me, the pansy with a mask, and what a Very Manly Man he is because he's not afraid to smoke a pack of cigarettes while California is on fire. He doesn't need a mask, because something-something-heterosexual-something.
And part of me is just... impressed by the fact that this dude thinks he's Owning The Gay Libs by not wearing a mask to protect his lungs from smoke and particles in the air that are literally DANGEROUS... while chain-smoking. Outside of a bar.
2/ Sales is often viewed as either a saving grace or proof that the product isn’t good enough (because it should sell itself). Neither are ever true. Some common mistakes that result in...
3/ Mistake 1: Hire a sales rep before reaching product/market fit to get your initial batch of customers. This is a mistake because founders need to work through their MVP with early adopters to truly understand what it is they’re selling.
4/ Mistake 2: Reach product/market fit, need to scale, and rely entirely on self-serve. For enterprise products that require big commitments and internal shifts, almost no product is self-explanatory enough to sell itself.
5/ Mistake 3: Make a first sales hire who isn’t scrappy enough to help mold the sales process from scratch. Some salespeople are amazing at their jobs, but not cut out to establish the processes that others end up following. This skillset is what @rdedatta calls a “sales ninja”.
Me : Do you map?
X : Yes
Me : Like this?
X : No. What's that?
Me : A map of a tea shop.
X : Why is that a map?
Me : Long story, all to do with how space has meaning. To keep it short, maps help people to focus on user needs, the components involved, to communicate missing components and scenario play ideas like staff becoming robots.
Me : They’re also good for measuring and managing capital flow, making investment decisions, removing bias and getting rid of duplication.
X : I don’t see how that helps with innovation?
Me : Well, innovation is a tricky word because we use it to describe many things. If you’re talking about differentiation with the adjacent unexplored then you’re experimenting in the “uncharted” space e.g. immortality with magic provided by the special custom built kettle.
X : That sounds like nonsense.
Me : A lot of what people think will be the next great innovation is nonsense. Actually, most of it is. That’s the nature of the uncharted space, it’s experimental, high risk and generally results in failure.
X : We need more reliable innovation.
This spring at SxSW, @SusanWojcicki promised "Wikipedia snippets" on debated videos. But they didn't put them on flat earth videos, and instead @YouTube is promoting merchandising such as "NASA lies - Never Trust a Snake". 2/
A few example of flat earth videos that were promoted by YouTube #today: