01/22/21

A Thought About Startup Ideas

This week I had the great pleasure of chatting with all the Austin Techstars new class members. As usual, the Austin Techstars team did a great job of assembling world class ideas and talent to accelerate them. Every single company with which I visited has an idea that can and should work.

Bravo!

I was invited because I often am a mentor to a company that my skill set fits. I am never looking for the work, but I will do what I can. I like the Techstars approach and it has really gotten traction in Austin. Very classy outfit and the guy who runs it is a brilliant guy who has assembled a brilliant staff.

Put your COVID fears at rest; this was a Zoom meet up.

Which got me thinking about how one describes an idea and communicates it to others.

We have the typical pitch deck introduction, but that is for an idea with some bulk on it, some maturity — post accelerator. I am talking about more raw ideas.

Continue reading

01/4/21

The $10MM Gross Revenue Reality Check

If you are a startup, I hope one day soon you get to $10,000,000 in gross revenue. If you do, I have some thoughts for you.

A caveat first — there are a great number of exceptions to what I am going to share with you, so do not fall prey to missing the difference of your situation or embracing every word I say, but there are reasons big and small as to why I hold these views.

Continue reading

12/30/20

Rebuilding Your Website

If you are a successful web based business there is a phenomenon that occurs with regularity at the end of your second year of operations — the necessity to rebuild your website from the ground up.

If you are not successful, you are out of business by then. Sorry.

You wake up and realize the following:

 1. In your rush to launch back two years ago, you did not have the opportunity to develop a website as good as you wanted.

Continue reading

12/15/20

Quibi — A Casualty of COVID19?

Quibi, an exciting new media streaming service launched by some of the savviest players in the media business, closed down in late October after only six months.

Was it a casualty of COVID or was it an ill-advised venture that got its comeuppance with a dash of COVID on the side?

As a startup, it is fair to take a jockey, horse, course approach to evaluating the product, no?

Continue reading

09/27/20

CEO Shoptalk — All Risk Is Not Created Equal

If you are an entrepreneur, founder, CEO, you swim in a sea of risk, alternating amongst the butterfly, the backstroke, the breaststroke, and the crawl. You must do it all.

In the early days, you are a minnow (or a little mullet if you are feeling salty) and the dangerous waters of startup land are populated by voracious, big-toothed sharks, vicious sharks, all of whom want to devour you.

In these early, formative days every risk can eat you (kill you, destroy your company). [Worse, you don’t yet know the nature of risk. You are in that classic posture of not knowing what you don’t know.]

As you exit the size 2 Pampers, the list of things that can kill you begins to thin, but you add to it — you begin to take risk.

You visit risk upon yourself as you sharp elbow your way upward in the food chain. [Soon, you may become a shark.]

The big question is this — Do you understand the nature of the risks you are taking?

Continue reading

03/9/20

CEO Shoptalk — Staffing

The subject of how companies staff their businesses, manage their employees, and administer the employer-employee relationship has been lingering in my mind for some considerable time. Today, I will try to put some order to it. Staffing.

At the core of every business is people. It starts with the founder(s) and then grows. A company cannot grow without being a capable employer, but little is said as to the system by which that happens.

Allow me to jump ahead. Assume:

 1. You are a founder/CEO who now has some semblance of a product, are struggling with product-market fit, have raised a bit of capital, and will have to hire people to drive and scale the business.

 2. Assume, in the alternative, you are a founder/CEO who has more than 50 employees, plenty of money in the bank, have achieved product-market fit, have 1,000 customers, and are now ready to really scale.

I use these two examples because I hope the logic is universal.

Continue reading

10/25/19

Ownership v Stewardship For The CEO Class

Stewardship — huh?

It is cold in the ATX this morning — 48F, but it will be 62F this afternoon and 82F on Saturday. I may lay off the sunscreen today, but back on it on Saturday.

So, about a year and a half ago, I’m speaking with a recently exited CEO who is in that special place that drives the question, “What’s next? Is there a second act?”

Luckily for him, this question of a second actship (see what I did right there, made that word up) is not really a pressing issue as the financial outcome provides breathing room for a couple of centuries — maybe a millenium — at his current burn rate.

So, we get to discussing, “What did you really learn? What do you leave with other than money?”

We get into the discussion of ownership v stewardship.

Continue reading

10/8/19

Chaos >>> Order

If you are a founder, entrepreneur, startup CEO then you are familiar with the notion of transforming chaos into order. [OK, let me say — “I hope you are.” However, we both know it is not as well ingrained as we might hope.]

If you are an “aspirin” startup — meaning the raison d’etre of your love child is to reduce the pain of mankind, the chaos is the pain and the order is the pain free — or lessened pain — environment that results thereafter.

If you are a “vitamin” startup — meaning the raison d’etre of your little bastard is to improve the quality of life, the chaos is the inferior quality of the before and the order is the higher quality plane of the after.

There is a decided “before” v “after” transformation.

Bit extreme, but it makes my point. Guy lost a lot of weight? What a magical transformation. I imagine he feels a lot better. Took those bad eating habits and created some order, no?

Continue reading