So you want to work for a startup? (the first job to seek for non-coder aspiring entrepreneurs)

Giff Constable startups

At Fred Wilson’s Donors Choose event, I met a bright college senior from my alma mater who wanted to work for a startup as prep for eventually founding a company himself.  Like me, he wasn’t a programmer, so the two of us discussed the best place to start. A non-coder founder has to wear a lot of hats: you will …

Startup Tools: equity and investment (cap table) model

Giff Constable startups, venture capital

As an entrepreneur, have you struggled to figure out what your ownership stake looks like over multiple rounds of dilution from investors and employee options? In the spirit of sharing modeling tools I use when thinking about a startup, here is an Excel spreadsheet for modeling out cap table equity and dilution across a number of capital raising rounds.  There’s …

Freemium Business Model Template

Giff Constable metrics, startups

Mark Suster of GRP just wrote a post on the importance of financial models, and in an effort to be helpful to new entrepreneurs finding their way around Excel, I thought I would post a business model Excel template for anyone to download and customize (bottom of post).  I completely agree with Suster.  The one time I told myself “I …

You cannot buy a customer base

Giff Constable startups

You cannot buy a true customer base for a bad product on the Internet.  With a bad product, it does not matter if you have raised $500K or $10 million — the only difference is the amount of time and money it takes to admit you have a bad product.

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 …

Empower your experts

Giff Constable management, startups

I love’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 …

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 …

Startups, Law, and Lawyers

Giff Constable startups

Chris Dixon just wrote a post “Entrepreneurs needs to learn some law“, which spawned from a discussion on first round term sheets.  Startups are a massive learning curve no matter how many times you have done one (just different curves), but I agree that it is absolutely worth taking the time to become savvy on contracts and business law. I …