Category startups

Early Stage Lean: Running Weekly Decision Meetings

At Neo (recently acquired by Pivotal), we tried to put lean startup ideas into practice. Several years ago, Time Inc was our first client where we got to dream up and rigorously test new ideas over a period of several weeks. During that initial project, I realized that we needed a weekly ritual that helped us… Continue reading

A fair vesting system for a bootstrapped side project

A friend and I are bootstrapping a side software project (called Jotto), and we wanted a way to equitably share ownership of the project. We knew that we were not always going to be investing the same amounts of time and effort, and wanted to take that into account to prevent any negative feelings. The… Continue reading

Custdev: Starting with First Principles

On Friday morning, I popped over to Frank Rimalovski and Lindsay Gray’s always-impressive startup class at NYU‘s Entrepreneurial Institute to talk about vetting new ideas. Afterwards, one team asked the classic question, “if I shouldn’t ask speculative questions, and yet my product isn’t ready to test, how can I do customer development?” In their case, they… Continue reading

Landing Page Tests Aren’t Useful for Validation

A few years ago, I wrote about the Truth Curve, and refined those thoughts later in Talking to Humans. Essentially it states that the believability of information you receive from market tests increases as the fidelity of your product test increases. You should not wait until you have a live, instrumented product in the market,… Continue reading

Upside and Downside

Heidi Roizen has yet another great post this week: “How to Build a Unicorn from Scratch – and Walk Away With Nothing.” Every budding entrepreneur should read it. Her post isn’t just about valuations and terms. It is also about thinking through downside. In frothy times, especially when equity starts to feel more valuable than cash… Continue reading

Workbook for learning financial modeling and excel techniques

I’ve written about financial modeling for startups on here a few times, and included a few sample models. More recently, I led an after-work class internal at Neo for those interested in improving their skills. For those into lean, doing a thoughtful financial model from scratch is one of the best ways to spot hidden… Continue reading

The challenge of a hedging model

A couple days ago, I wrote about entrepreneurship and some level of partial hedging. Actually solving that challenge is, of course, enormously difficult. So much so, that I think it might only really be doable when companies are just starting out, and the equity is worthless. I can see it working in a startup studio… Continue reading

The Stupidity of Entrepreneurs

I was hanging out tonight with a bright young man who said, “A great entrepreneur always bets on themselves.” Context: we were talking about hedging. I asked the question: what if founders could hedge themselves against other startups so that if your company failed, you still had a chance for upside? He disagreed. He felt… Continue reading

Do Market Sizing Early, Before You Jump Into “Lean”

Powerful new ideas often start with a spark insight: “Carpooling sucks! How can we fix it?” Or “Wow, these new smartphones might allow me to disrupt the entire taxi industry in a way never before possible!” Lean is great, but before you jump ahead with customer development, experiments and MVPs, it is worth taking two… Continue reading

Startups: Don’t Wait to Build Exit Relationships

Paul Graham’s latest essay warns of losing time and focus to “corporate development” staffers out there sniffing for companies to buy. I agree with him on the corp dev side. But I wouldn’t want people to think that you should ignore potential buyers until “you want to sell your company right now.” It’s a question… Continue reading