Paul Graham’s “What Startups Are Really Like”

Giff Constable startups

Paul Graham of Y Combinator has a good essay up on “What Startups Are Really Like“.  Here are his headlines with some concise additional commentary of my own. 1. Be Careful with Cofounders: hugely important because things get stressful; agree on worst case “breakup scenario” at the start and have founder stock vesting. 2. Startups Take Over Your Life: they …

Startups: hiring, careers, sales people

Giff Constable management, startups

This week saw two interesting and related posts on startups and hiring/careers.  Mark Suster wrote about who you should hire into your startup, and Chris Dixon wrote about the ideal startup career path. Mark’s message is to hire hungry, smart people who want to get to the next level in their career, not the ones who have already arrived. Chris …

The banality of Twitter

Giff Constable social media

140 characters only go so far. Nabeel and Batman reminded me of that this morning. I particularly notice this when people share startup lessons.  Let’s be honest, a lot of “startup lessons” being shared are common sense and known to anyone with any experience (that is true with this blog too, don’t get me wrong). However, that doesn’t mean that …

Empower your experts

Giff Constable management, startups

I love despair.com’s line “none of us is as dumb as all of us”. A big part of startup success is tied to the quality of people and how well they work together.  That’s why I’m always sad when I see situations where a business has hired someone really good, and then refuses to empower them as an expert.  Occasionally …

Donors Challenge & the Harlem Renaissance

Giff Constable Uncategorized

In this era of information overload, we get very good at tuning out and in with snap, subconscious judgements.  Sometimes that means valuable things get missed, which is what happened with Fred Wilson’s first post about his Donor’s Choose fundraiser.  When he re-posted about the topic, it registered on my brain, especially when I saw his comment “This is one …

Follow-up to Evernote analysis

Giff Constable Uncategorized

Just a quick follow up: the other week I quickly threw together a model trying to extrapolate Evernote’s cohort churn and premium conversion based on some data shared in NYTimes and TechCrunch articles.  I think the growth/churn estimates were decent, but I found a sneaky bug in the premium conversion method and in re-reviewing the NYTimes article there are some …

The New York Startup Scene

Giff Constable startups

As someone who has done startups in New York, Silicon Valley & San Fran, and Austin, I find the topic of location very interesting.  Fred Wilson and Chris Dixon just gave a talk at  Clickable (embedded below) on why the New York startup scene is special, and I had a few reactions: New York would benefit from a better, more …

Why do people buy virtual goods? (on motivations and compulsions)

Giff Constable social games, virtual goods, virtual worlds

Virtual goods have finally been legitimized as a revenue model, rather than a niche (even weird) activity ignored in favor of advertising. Now the concept is spreading beyond its game / virtual world roots, and we’re seeing large numbers of companies trying to figure out a “virtual goods” strategy. While I believe very strongly in virtual goods as an effective …

Irrationality as a teacher has limits

Giff Constable startups

I’ve seen references to Steve Blank’s startup guide (for lack of a better description) “4 Steps to the Epiphany” and recently picked it up.  There is a lot of good stuff in the book, and I can see what the accolades have been about.  Like all business books, you have to decide for yourself which concepts you love and want …

Size of Customer: On Suster’s Deer Hunter Analogy

Giff Constable startups

Mark Suster always provides interesting food for thought.  In a recent post “Most Startups Should be Deer Hunters“, he examined whether startups should go for “elephants, deer, or rabbits.” He is right to warn of elephants.  They can bring in cash, please your investors with a brand name, and put your company on the map in terms of credibility and …