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Five Roles of Startup: Growth
Investor, Advisor, Mentor, Service Provider, Community
Up until now, all of the roles we've discussed have been people you bring into the company. Here they are:
Vision -- Founding, Leadership, Management, Product, Future. These are your leaders, explainers, and decision-makers.
Build -- Design, Engineer, Perform, Deliver, Support. These people make the product.
Sales -- Salespeople, Marketing, Business Development, Public Relations. These people sell the product.
Operations -- Human Resources, Finance, Legal, Administration. These people make sure the company is running smoothly and efficiently.
If you lock down these four roles, you are well on your way to building a successful startup that has a very good chance of having a long life. I will say, in all seriousness, that you can stop there, as long as you keep the best people in these roles.
However, if you're building a startup with an intent to be not just good, but amazing -- world-changing, dominating, life-altering, that kind of thing -- you're going to need boosters for your rocket, so to speak.
Filling this final role is what brings a business up to the speeds that we normally associate with the startup stories we see and hear about in the press. But just because you chase growth doesn't necessarily mean you're going to launch your startup into the stratosphere, up there with Google, Facebook, Uber, and the kinds of companies that grow to be worth billions of dollars.
Ultimately, how far you go depends on both how good you are and what you want out of your journey. You don't have to hit a home run -- a triple or a double is what you might want to aim for -- but regardless of how far you want to get, you're going to need to fill this final role.
Growth is the role that propels a startup beyond the limitations of the talent and resources within the company itself. Most of this role is filled with people who don't work for the company directly, but partner with the startup as a key member of the extended team.
The Growth people provide additional resources, including money, advice, connections, services, education, and more, usually in exchange for something else. That something else can be a piece of the startup, a percentage of the revenue, or even cash payment.
Two things to remember about the Growth team. 1) It should be relatively small, no matter how big your startup gets. 2) The individuals on this team should be temporary. Those aren't hard-and-fast rules, but it should be in the back of your mind that almost every member of this team will eventually be replaced, either by someone new or by no one at all because you no longer need what they provide.
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When You're an Entrepreneur, Confidence is Everything
Episode 3.3 featuring 49ers QB and Athlete Entrepreneur Thad Lewis
We continue our discussion with NFL QB and entrepreneur Thad Lewis. Here's another way startup and sports run parallel. When you're an entrepreneur, confidence is everything. When you're an athlete, confidence is everything. Talent can only take you so far, it's confidence that's going to give you just enough of a boost to separate you from the pack.
But if a lack of confidence will kill you, overconfidence will kill you just as quickly. Finding the right mix, and how to go about getting to that mix, is one of the things we talk about in this episode.
On your startup journey, you're going to come across a lot of people who will tell you you're doing it wrong. What exactly will they tell you you're doing wrong? Just about everything. Wrong product, wrong market, wrong time, wrong place, wrong team. You need to have the wisdom to listen and adapt but still keep enough backbone to follow your mission when you know you're right.
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How to Start a Company Outside of Silicon Valley
The Startup Show - Episode 6.4
In Episode 6.4 of The Startup Show, Joe Procopio (Automated Insights, ExitEvent), Jon Colgan (Veeto, Cellbreaker), and Andy Roth (RocketBolt) are kind of done with all the thinkpieces coming down from on high that plead with every startup ecosystem that isn't Silicon Valley to stop trying to be like Silicon Valley. Trust us. We're not. But we do need to focus on all the ways in which we're different and how to play to our strengths.
Look. We get it. West coast investors don't invest in places outside of Silicon Valley because there's so much money and opportunity falling out of pockets on Sand Hill Road. See Episode 5.1: Why West Coast VCs Won't Fund Your Business.
The thing about startup is that it doesn't work well unless there's a community built around it. Techstars' Brad Feld likes to say that building a startup community is a 20-year proposition that needs to be led by the entrepreneurs.
But can that 20-year window shortened if we start leaning on technology, like video conferencing, teleworking, and freelance marketplaces? Shouldn't we be able to connect and bring the physical hubs closer together with digital hubs (like with, say, Teaching Startup)?
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Why West Coast VCs Won't Fund Your Business
The Startup Show - Episode 5.1
In Episode 5.1 of The Startup Show, entrepreneurs Joe Procopio (Automated Insights, ExitEvent, Intrepid Media), Jon Colgan (Veeto, Cellbreaker), and Andy Roth (RocketBolt) talk about everything from beer to religion to creative writing to west coast venture capitalists and how they can influence and impact local economies.
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VIDEO: How To Build Relationships With Investors
Teaching Startup: The Show - Episode 2.4
Just because your startup landed venture capital, that doesn't mean you're successful. And just because you've been offered investment doesn't mean you should take it.
If you and your investors don't have a solid relationship, it could spell the end of your startup. Or maybe just the end of your leadership there.
What starts as a discussion about emulation versus experimentation (and maybe a little man-crush from Colgan), turns into the finer points of authenticity, honesty, and relationships with investors. Investment means the clock is ticking and the runway is getting shorter, every day. Those relationships are going to get real critical, real quick.
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The Show: Episode 1.2 -- Are Startup Accelerators Worth It?
Startup accelerators are all the rage -- hard to get into and seemingly a one-way ticket to success. Colgan has been through 500 Startups, and Andy is on his way after a successful stint at The Startup Factory, so we have a conversation about the pros and cons.
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No One Cares That Life Gave You Lemonade
Entrepreneurs Really Don't Want To Hear Your Success Stories
But I have noticed how few entrepreneurs say anything worth reading about (maybe myself included).
The problem is that...
Entrepreneurs are seldom good at discerning why people care, which leads entrepreneurs to assume something like, "these people are hanging on my every word." No, they are not. They came to see some action, which, 95% of the time probably means a train-wreck failure, and maybe 5% of the time means some story of overcoming the odds. These readers show up to be entertained...the same reason they read Harry Potter.
To these readers, you are the freak show they paid $0.25 to see.
"Uh huh, and what did you do when life gave you lemons?"
But there is another reason why people read about entrepreneurs: to learn. And this audience includes both current entrepreneurs--across a spectrum of experience--and aspiring entrepreneurs. These readers are not looking for entertainment (Harry Potter already gives them that). They came to learn how you turned lemons into lemonade.
For those people, the most worthless thing you could say or write is a story about lemonade. No one learns about overcoming challenges--about how you turned lemons into lemonade--if the story begins once your challenges have been overcome.
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How To Almost Kill Your Startup
The Startup Show: Episode 6.2
In Episode 6.2 of The Startup Show, we interrogate the amazing Tatiana Birgisson, founder of rapidly-growing natural energy drink startup Mati Energy. Mati has exploded over the last 18 months, and they've started to go up against big, entrenched players, including behemoth multi-national corporations (think Coca-Cola). Find out how Tatiana learned fast, kept her company agile, and how she recovered from a critical mistake that almost killed her company during its first mass-production run.
Tatiana talks about some of the things she didn't think she would ever need to deal with, including delivering batches to local companies out of her car and hand labeling over 100,000 cans of Mati before she could afford professional canning.
One of the hardest lessons to learn but one that became an incredibly valuable weapon in her startup battle was cultivating and managing the relationships on her team through Mati's rapid growth. This included letting go of a lot of that aforementioned grunt work, delegating it to her team and, as the kind of perfectionist that most founders are, learning to live with the results.
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