This Is Our Planet.
This Is Our Planet.
“This is not checkers; this is mutherfuckin’ chess.”
Epic post by Ben Horowitz on “The Struggle” of entrepreneurship:
“Don’t put it all on your shoulders.”
“This is not checkers; this is mutherfuckin’ chess.”
“Focus on the road.”
“Play long enough and you might get lucky.”
“Don’t take it personally.”
I’m pretty sure everyone who ought to know already knows how talented Ben Horowitz is and how great his blog is, but just in case anyone reading this thought his blog just contained platitudes on startup advice, here’s a post he wrote awhile back called “The Future of Networking” about an investment Andreessen Horowitz made in a software-based networking startup called Nicira Networks (networking is an area of interest to me as I spent some time covering the space in equity research at Credit Suisse, including Cisco, Juniper, etc).
UPDATE: More awesomeness from Ben Horowitz: this 2 hour fireside chat of him talking to Sarah Lacy from PandoDaily. Great war stories, lessons learned, and more than a few instances of Ben showing off his legendary knowledge of hip-hop.
Bono on his Dad’s final days.
I think it’s interesting that their framework around technology waves (Infrastructure —> Enabling Technologies and Platforms —> Applications) closely mirrors the IaaS / PaaS / SaaS “stack” in cloud computing businesses, as depicted in Bessemer’s supremely helpful “Cloudscape” image. Seems to be a natural way to think about technology waves that smart investors use to guide their investing hypotheses.
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to go surfing off the coast of Waikiki. The waves there are perfect because they are just the right temperature and they are forgiving enough that I can get up on the board and have a great time, despite being pretty out-of-shape. I have always been inspired by…
Tonight, as I was cleaning out an old file cabinet, I came across a resume from early on in my career. As I read through my laughable list of achievements and expertly enhanced job descriptions I couldn’t help but be taken back.
Back to when I was just getting started paying my dues.
It’s not easy but there a number of ways to get into the venture capital business. Some grow up in it, paying their dues in an almost apprenticeship model then over the years they take on more and more responsibility at the firm as their experience grows.
Some are were experienced entrepreneurs…
An interesting analysis by Evangelos Simoudis from Trident Capital, on the next step in the evolution of enterprise SaaS businesses. He dubs this “Insight as a Service” (with two subclasses “Analytics as a Service” and “Data as a Service”) — cloud-based solutions that go beyond generating reports and doing analytics, but that drive actual actions to be taken as a result of those analyses.
Seed investors are in the unique position to spot trends early. Over the last twelve months I’ve noticed a new crop of startups coming in the door at Lerer Ventures and am confident we’re in the early days of the next major shift in computing - the Era of Connected Devices. It might still be…
Really enjoyable article about the founders of Workday, a SaaS enterprise software company built by PeopleSoft’s founder/executives Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri. Some great themes here around consumerized enterprise, cloud computing vs. legacy players like Oracle, and also around being successful the “right” way.
“Being nice and competitive are two different things,” Duffield says. “We’re nice guys kicking ass.”
Nice little blog post by Tom Tunguz at Redpoint Ventures on the virtues of using R as opposed to MySQL or Excel for doing startup metrics analysis. He cites faster data filtering in R vs. MySQL, the use of “correlation matrices” in R that gives you a sense of the data faster than MySQL, and visualizations supported by R.
I’ve recently come across Tom’s blog via a great post that went somewhat viral a few weeks ago called “Your Startup’s Top 3 Priorities”, which provides a great simple framework for a post-product/market fit startup. I’ll probably re-blog it at some point soon.
A blog post by Jason Shen from Ridejoy on different varieties of compelling startup pitches. He pulled these together after helping startups work on their Y Combinator applications. He also identifies who might use each one, when to use each one, pros/cons, etc. A valuable collection.
2. “X for Y”
3. “Personal Story”
5. “Evolution Next”
6. “Painting the Future”
7. ”Service at Scale”
8. ”Wouldn’t It Be Cool If?”
9. “Insane Tech”
10. “The Dream Team”
11. “Consumerification of Enterprise”
Great piece by Andrew Chen. Some quotable bits below, but the piece itself also includes an awesome discussion/analysis of how Airbnb created / hacked a Craigslist integration with no API.
“Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of “How do I get customers for my product?” and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph. On top of this, they layer the discipline of direct marketing, with its emphasis on quantitative measurement, scenario modeling via spreadsheets, and a lot of database queries. If a startup is pre-product/market fit, growth hackers can make sure virality is embedded at the core of a product. After product/market fit, they can help run up the score on what’s already working.”
“The fastest way to spread your product is by distributing it on a platform using APIs, not MBAs. Business development is now API-centric, not people-centric.”
“The role of the VP of Marketing, long thought to be a non-technical role, is rapidly fading and in its place, a new breed of marketer/coder hybrids have emerged.”
This is true.
“Hello there, son: this is biz dev. This is the beating, pumping heart of biz dev.”
“I get the impression, from a lot of these biz dev’ers, that they think of biz dev as fun and sexy. One minute you’re grabbing lunch with Ron Conway and Ashton Kutcher and the next minute you’re closing a deal on the phone while you wait in the lobby at Microsoft to give Steve Ballmer the bad news: “No, we will not accept your acquisition offer of 3 trillion dollars.” From there, you head out for cocktails and swirl single-malt Scotch while discussing why Apple is so badass.”
“That might be biz dev at Facebook, but biz dev in the true startup world is 90% dirty work. The “fun” stuff, I’m afraid, is the hacking and the product development. That’s usually not in the job description for biz dev’ers.”
I think it’s pretty well-known that a huge differentiator for startups (either vs. other startups or vs. the “bigco” whose market they’re trying to disrupt) is insanely great customer service. To cite a few posts I’ve seen recently on this, see Sarah Tavel’s post on the importance of amazing customer service (in the e-commerce context); Spencer Fry’s post on Bootstrap Marketing (in particular for this post, see the section on “Sometimes you have to Issue Refunds”); and Ethan Austin’s post on customer service lessons he learned from Naval Ravikant at Angel List. (Also Seth Godin is awesome on customer service stuff).
I was in NYC this past weekend, and I decided when it was raining last night to pull the trigger on trying out Uber. I cancelled my car when it took longer than I had expected and we found a cab (I cancelled before a driver signalled he’s coming, so I avoided the $10 cancellation fee). Today — within 24 hours of the attempted usage — I received this email from Uber NYC’s customer service team [with the awesome email title of “$10 Uber Credit - Uber Fail :(” ]:
I see you were looking to get a ride with us in NYC recently and I’m sorry we let you down. We’re working hard to get more cars on the road so we can always be there when you need us.
I’ve added $10 in Uber credit in your account to make up for the inconvenience, and I hope you’ll try riding with us again soon!
Feel free to email me directly with any questions you have. I’m always happy to help.
Uber NYC Community Manager
That’s what I call amazing customer service. I was impressed enough that (a) I wrote them back saying thank you, and (b) I’m writing this blog post.
I’m not sure if this is an offer that gets sent to others that are already engaged users, but I’m sure their system is aware that this was my first time engaging with the product, and they smartly know how important the first impression is. I’m guessing I got this offer because this was my first usage, it didn’t go as planned, and they really really want to convert me because I’ve now gotten so close to becoming a paying customer and they know I’m more than just a passive user (i.e. someone that’s just downloaded the app and never tries it). In other words they know I’m right at the bottom of the marketing purchase funnel. This is precisely the moment when amazing customer service can make the difference.
Also, in terms of the amount of the credit, it’s an obvious statement but worth mentioning that presumably it’s small enough that the $10 loss on the credit would be exceeded by whatever Uber’s average customer lifetime value is (i.e. how much they’d expect to make off me once I did start becoming an active user).
Big props, Uber.
I met another young man today who is en route to a world class MBA program to fill in the gaps in his knowledge prior to starting his life in a startup.
I gave him the same metaphor I have given droves of others. If you wanted to be a world-class cyclist and told me you were going to spend the…