Answering the product-market fit question wrong

A tweetstorm I posted the other day: 1/ for a decade now, entrepreneurs have been asking themselves “do I have product/market fit?” They usually answer it wrong. 2/ pm-fit does *not* merely mean growth. Growth can be forced for a time (even years) with clever hacks and heavy spend, but the piper comes calling with… Continue reading

My Answers to First Round Network Product Questions

First Round Capital has a wonderful online network, basically a white-labelled quora, for people at their portfolio companies. I answer questions now and then. Here are some of the Q’s I have answered over the last year or two: How do you best manage expectations/predictability when interfacing (roadmap, status updates, etc) with the company outside… Continue reading

Links to my op-ed series on self-deceptions of players in the lower middle market

I’ve been dusting off the blogging/writing lately, this time for Axial. It’s been fun steering the Middle Market Review publication with two other great editors. I recently penned a three part series of some of the fallacies I’ve seen in the lower middle market, which is much more about private equity than VC. Below are… Continue reading

When it comes to startups, do products and services mix? Taking another look…

I’m really enjoying Rand Fishkin’s new book Lost and Founder. He takes a lot of myths that distort entrepreneurship and attacks them head on. One of the ways he structured the book was to take an external quote, set it up as a straw man, and then debunk it. Imagine my surprise when I got… Continue reading

How To Thrive, Not Just Survive, Without a Startup VP of Engineering

Startup CEOs face a very tricky transition period when their software engineering teams are between 10 and 30 people. If you are lucky, your early technical lead can make the transition to managing a growing team and communicating effectively with execs and board members, but that doesn’t always align with people’s interests or capabilities. In… Continue reading

How we externalize product progress to the company, and defuse politics along the way

It’s depressing how many companies accuse their product and engineering teams of being a black box. The accusations aren’t always fair, but they usually stem from two root problems: 1. not enough collaboration, and 2. not enough externalization. Here’s how we are tackling those two things at our company. Collaboration: We run a bi-weeky “qualitative… Continue reading

Rebuilding Trust in a Product Organization

When I first joined Axial, the product and engineering side of things was pretty broken, and there was a serious absence of trust. The team didn’t trust leadership, and leadership didn’t trust the team. The rest of the business — actually, even worse, customers — didn’t trust product/engineering. The culprits may sound familiar to some of you: Features took… Continue reading

VCs get all the headlines, but there are more financing options out there than you think

Last week I had breakfast with a founder-CEO who had been through the wringer. After spending years building a successful services business, she got squeezed out and screwed by an unscrupulous business partner. Not one to stay down, she picked herself up and started a new firm, only to be diagnosed with cancer. But she… Continue reading

Defining our product & engineering team values at Axial

The product and engineering team at Axial has undergone a lot of change in the last year or so. We survived a major (and fraught) re-architecture effort, we rebuilt the core recommendation/matching engine at the heart of the product, we’ve gone from shipping code every few months to shipping almost everyday, we’ve upped our qualitative… Continue reading