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Five Kinds of Startup: Product
Invention, Construction, Sales, Delivery, Support
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So you've got it. You've nailed it. You've discovered the missing link that's going to change the game, the world, and millions of lives.

OK, first thing, someone has probably already done it. But don't let that stop you.

There are a million kinds of startups out there and a million more that haven't made their way off paper yet. Each one is unique, sure, but deep down, there really aren't any completely new ideas. The trick to startup is to get as close to a new idea as possible and then execute on that idea faster and better than anyone else.

There are different ways to accomplish that, and the differences are rooted in what kind of startup you've started.

In this series, I'll spend a lot of time talking about the startup lifecycle. What that means is not so much the journey from idea to reality (see Five Stages) or from garage to IPO (see Five Funding Sources) -- it's really more about the journey from the birth of whatever it is you're offering until that offering is a market success.

While all businesses are unique, there are really only a few kinds of startup. How these companies operate, grow, and succeed will depend on what kind they are. Thus, a lot of the decisions you will make and paths you will take will depend on what kind of startup you're running.

Product startups are what we think of when we think of traditional garage-based, mad-inventor startups. If you're building something that you sell and deliver, you're a product startup. The right ones usher in sweeping changes in the way we do things -- like the smartphone, the search engine, and the electric car.

Keep in mind, however, that the iPhone was not the first smartphone, Google was not the first search engine, and the Tesla was not the first electric car. Far from it. I'll say it again, there aren't many new ideas out there, but the three products I just mentioned were done faster and better, admittedly with a little right-place-at-the-right-time magic for good measure.

Entrepreneurs make some classic mistakes along the product startup lifecycle. There are a number of things you must do at each step that, while doing them won't necessarily guarantee success, they will at least reduce the risk of failure.

Let's talk about those steps.

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One Bad Early Hire Can Kill a Startup
It Comes Down to Managing Expectations and Staying Agile
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Two years ago, an entrepreneur came to me with a dilemma. She had been approached by another entrepreneur who was being forced to wind down his own fledgling startup as his funding dried up. He was a one-person shop, he had made a decent run of it, but time was up.

Now he wanted to go to work for her.

I walked her through the dilemma. The guy had great tech and had been able to do a lot in a short amount of time with limited funds and resources. His was a tragic and all-too-common story. He raised a small seed round, crushed his milestones, a lot of investors were saying "maybe," and he just ran out of runway.

Happens.

So I asked her: Where's the dilemma? He didn't want a lot of money or equity. He wasn't looking for a specific role, but he came with ideas. He had connections, experience, and he filled a gap in a place she wasn't super strong. He came with zero baggage. He wasn't a jerk, no blemishes on his personal record.

She then explained, in a long, roundabout way, that he didn't fit the plan.

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THE SHOW: Hire What You Suck At
Episode 3.2 featuring 49ers QB Thad Lewis
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As an NFL quarterback, Thad Lewis has a couple of things working in his favor that translate well to becoming an entrepreneur, including available capital and great connections. But there are also areas he's not 100% versed on, like technology and marketing. Oh yeah, he also doesn't have a lot of time on his hands. His day job is a little more than 40 hours a week.

Even the best entrepreneurs aren't going to be good at everything. And even the most well-funded entrepreneurs don't want to lose too much control by farming out too many parts of the business. Startup is be a constant struggle of learn versus hire, no matter how long you've been at it.

So where do you start? And how do you start?

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THE SHOW: Why Startup is Like Being an NFL Quarterback
Episode 3.1 featuring 49ers QB Thad Lewis
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This episode features a very special guest and extremely cool human being: San Francisco 49er quarterback and entrepreneur Thad Lewis. Aside from being a working NFL QB, Thad founded TL9 for his future after football and as a way to give back to the system that got him where he is. He's not alone as an athlete entrepreneur, and that's because there are a ridiculous number of parallels between sports and startup. We start covering them here.

Thad is funding TL9 himself. He's also overseeing all production, marketing the company -- hell, he's even shipping hats himself at the moment. You need to go to thadlewis.com and buy a hat, if just because Thad will be the one sending it to you.

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VIDEO: How To Build Relationships With Investors
Teaching Startup: The Show - Episode 2.4
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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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VIDEO: How To Market a Startup - Episode 2.1
Teaching Startup: The Show
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I met WedPics co-founder Justin Miller about 10 years ago when he came up with the idea to establish a music festival as a marketing event for his photo-sharing startup DejaMi. You heard me. A music festival. Bands, venues, tickets, the works. I immediately fell in love with the idea for its boldness and its batbleep insanity.

Entrepreneurs are usually terrible at marketing, especially first-time entrepreneurs. And that's the core of this episode -- How To Market Your Startup -- where we dig into offline vs. online marketing tactics and how one must complement the other in order to see any success out of either.

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Tatiana Battles the Big Boys
The Startup Show: Episode 6.6
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In Episode 6.6 of The Startup Show, Joe Procopio (Automated Insights, ExitEvent), Jon Colgan (Veeto, Cellbreaker), and Andy Roth (RocketBolt) discuss the challenges of starting up a retail product, in this case, Mati Energy, with founder and CEO Tatiana Birgisson. The beverage industry is home to some entrenched, deep-pocketed (sometimes evil) corporations, and the plucky startup has to be more than just unique and hardworking to survive in that environment.

There's almost always an element of luck involved.

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The Poker Episode
THE SHOW - Episode 4.3
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In startup, everyone talks about failure and a lot of folks even encourage it -- Fail fast and fail often, they say. There's nothing wrong with this mantra, on its face, but it's rare that someone will actually walk you through what failure looks like and how to prepare for it. In startup, failure isn't the loss of your startup, failure is a long parade of pain.

In corporate life, failure is the loss of your job, maybe the loss of your house, your car, your family, everything you've worked so hard for. A lot of folks avoid startup because it seems like the risk is much higher to wind up in that aforementioned nightmare situation. But contrary to conventional wisdom, entrepreneurs don't love risk, they love to stare down risk, tolerate it, and mitigate it. If they're good, they eliminate it.

That got us talking about poker.

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How To Almost Kill Your Startup
The Startup Show: Episode 6.2
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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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Five Stages of Startup



Five Roles of Startup



Five Kinds of Startup



Five Funding Sources



Five Reasons for Startup