Funding, Scaling-up, Talent, Venture Capital, Customer Acquisition, Advertising, SaaS, Entrepreneurship, Weekend Reading, Sept 22 2013
This weekend’s Roundup #11 from Startup Management is a manual selection from the hundreds of weekly articles being curated. Previous issues are available here. There are 29 links in this edition. Forward to a friend, so they can sign-up and benefit too.
Introducing Startup Management on Flipboard! If you are on Flipboard, you can read all the articles I’ve curated or written. It is updated in real-time. So far, 544 articles and counting. I add about 10 articles per day. Please subscribe on the web or via the App (iOS or Android) by clicking on the link. Hopefully, it will become a handy reference guide.
I’m also a guest curator on Mattermark’s weekly newsletter, with a selection of Venture Capital oriented links. You can subscribe by clicking that link.
If you’re looking to gain perspective on the role of Marketing in a startup, I’ve written a comprehensive post, Hack Your Growth, but Don’t Hack Your Marketing. In part, I’m hitting back on claims that growth hacking is the main marketing thing; but more importantly, I’ve laid out a framework you can use to slot your marketing activities, depending on your objective: Awareness, Demand, Experience, or Support. “Not everybody needs to know marketing, but everybody needs to understand what marketing does.”
What makes a great VC? I’ve counted 66 Traits That Make a Great Venture Capitalist, across 6 categories: how they think, how they behave, what they do, who they are, what they want, and what you don’t see. Paul Graham wrote a seminal post on How to Raise Money, and gives away a few tricks of the trade. In a revealing interview with Brad McCarty, Brad Feld says “a VC firm is often a collection of different Dungeons and Dragons characters”. He talks about Misconceptions About VCs, Startup Death and the Rise of the Machines.
In The Boomerang Club, or How to Quit your Job, Part II, Matt Blumberg says to make it easy for your employees to come back. Only caveat is, you can’t come back if you have left the wrong way.
Reid Hoffman has a long post, Disrupting the Diploma. He says the current static diploma needs to evolve into what he calls “certification as a platform”, an unbundling of certifications with online badges. This vision won’t happen overnight, but it has merits and deserves a “read”.
Brett Martin recounts the lessons learned from the rise and fall of Sonar, in Postmortem of a Venture-backed Startup. Some lessons include false negatives from listening to customers, and confusing growth vs. engagement. “Culture is your cofounder.”
If you are looking to compare average salaries for a graphic designer, web developer, software developer, or web designer from 18 countries, check this infographic, Salaries for Developers and Designers across the world.
There’s a great video interview from the Geekwire Summit, with Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital and Rich Barton, founder of Zillow and Expedia. The money quote is from Rich Barton, as he equates the VC quality to the octane in the fuel: “Get the highest octane fuel in the tank.” And here’s another excellent video interview with Jeff Bezos where he explains why Amazon doesn’t really care about its competitors, also on Geekwire. “If you’re going to invent, it means you’re going to experiment, and if you’re going to experiment, you’re going to fail, and if you’re going to fail, you have to think long term.” And if you’d like to get inspired by a young entrepreneur’s story, read this: She’s 31, a Starbucks board member & just raised $30m. Meet Hearsay Social co-founder Clara Shih. Oh, and she wrote the book The Facebook Era in 2009.
Fred Wilson prefers to right size a startup’s runway in Maximizing Runway Can Minimize Success. “You can always raise more money if you are doing well on the metrics that matter in your business. So focus on that and runway will take care of itself.” Paul Graham wrote a seminal post on How to Raise Money, and he gives away a few tricks of the trade to entrepreneurs.
Eric Seufert has Five Characteristics of a viral product. It’s a good list, but virality isn’t something you can always predict accurately. The proof is in getting it out there with users and seeing real results.
Yesware is about to scale-up, but they prepared by Slowing Down to Speed Up. The money quote is “Don’t let the momentum that got you to this spot drive you over the cliff.” And if you wondered how Facebook supports 4.75 billion shares and 10 billion messages daily, Dylan Tweney has written this post, Facebook explains secrets of building hugely scalable sites, and links to a 70-page Facebook white paper, entitled A Focus on Efficiency (pdf), with details on how Facebook solved their scalability challenges with a tool called Air Traffic Control and other tools. (Note: it’s a technical paper)
If you’re a large startup, and you’re thinking about customer service, Kyle Wong explains Why Startups Should Prioritize Customer Service, by establishing customers as partners and collaborators. In The Buying Experience: The Most Important Thing is Sales and Marketing, Scott Albro makes this Steve Jobs quote the central thesis of the article, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back to the technology – not the other way around.”, and he says buying experience is different from customer experience.
Patrick Keane has 5 points about What the Modern Internet Means for Advertisers. Two of them: “all content will be consumed in-feed, all design will be stripped of ornamental clutter”. If you haven’t clued in to these yet, it’s a wake-up call.
In Selling to the enterprise: Sell to few vs. Sell to many?, Boris Wertz reminds us of the fundamental distinction between the two types of enterprise SaaS markets: products that are purchased by the company vs. ones by the individual. The individual decides quickly and pays by credit card, whereas the company needs IT involved. You pick your segment.
9 Ways to Make Your Expensive Product Look Like a Total Steal is a good read from KISSmetrics. The examples given are practical, and can be put to immediate use. And from Grove, the new content site from Sequoia Capital, Pricing Your Product is a comprehensive strategy and implementation guide that includes a pricing worksheet (pdf). Some quotes: “Pricing is not a math problem. It’s a judgment problem”, and “Premium pricing communicates a premium product.”
In Build It And They Will Come, Albert Wenger warns that engineering-minded startups who are ignoring sales and marketing, do so at their own peril. Jason Lemkin proposes A Basic Structure for a VP, Sales Comp Plan: 50/50/25+.
5 Ideas About the Future of Work from WordPress.com is a peak into how WordPress is run, written by Scott Berkun who spent a year working for them to “learn their secrets”. And another peak at WordPress’ globally distributed workforce from Tomasz Tunguz in How WordPress Used Video Conferencing and IRC to Change the World. You will need to read Scott’s book, The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work, to get the whole picture. And continuing the “working with no pants on” theme, Tracy Dinunzio, founder/CEO of Tradesy talks about how she networked online to grow her company, in Hey, Startup Founders: You’re Networking Wrong.
In The Dribbblisation of Design, Paul Adams laments that the end result of people posting their work on Dribbble is “moving our craft backwards”, because they focus on the visual layer, without really considering the others prior to it.
Founder & Chief Curator