Four Areas to Excel at When Building a Startup

Building a startup

The formula is as follow: Idea x Product x Team x Execution.

I've bullet pointed the most important aspects in order to keep it short — see it as a memory aid. 

  1. Idea
    • Mission oriented: important for you and others

    • Passion to solve something / something you want, compelled to explore, something you think about most often

    • Business that's difficult to replicate, at some point

    • Seems like a bad (few competitors) idea but is a good idea: Take over a small market where to get a monopoly, then quickly expand so everyone will use your product

    • Growth rate of market (see it for yourself, what do young people use) is more important than the market size ⇒ Customers desperate for a solution in small markets

    • Better to have an idea you want than one that a customer wants ⇒ So you better understand the market

    • Be different than others, or completely new, not an X for Y.

    • You should be able to describe the idea/vision in a short sentence.

    • Why now and not 2 yrs ago, and not in 2 yrs? Important to know.

    • Think about the market first, what people want, rather than thinking of an idea first.

  2. Product
    • Great product first that users love (pr, partnerships etc not now)

    • Talk to users, and recruit them manually, have them give feedback: what do you (not) like? What would you pay for? What would make you recommend it?

    • Build something a small number of people love, rather than a lot of ppl that like

    • Great product translated to organic user growth, if you're not seeing that, it's not a good sign.

    • Start with a simple product that solve a small fraction of the problem.

    • Short feedback loops ftw: show, get feedback, tweak product

    • Focus on growth (not registrations but e.g. active users, revenue..)

  3. Team
    • Find co-founder in interesting companies you work for. Be friends first, know them, don't choose a random guy.

    • Co-founder: James Bond-like. Relentlessly resourceful, tough, calm, etc.

    • Try not to hire, and if you have to, find the best people (not mediocre people), who believe in the company. Call references.

    • Has good communication skills, you need to enjoy working with them.

    • To retain them, praise them for the good stuff and take the negative stuff in ur shoulders.

    • Fire fast when it's not working out.

    • Vesting on equity (4yrs): 0-1yr: nothing, 1yr - ... :10%,  … , 4yrs: 50%

    • Don't get co-founders in a different location.

  4. Execution
    • CEO's job: set the vision, raise money, evangalize, hire & manage, make sure the entire company executes (can u figure out what to do, can you get it done)

    • Can you get it done?

      • Focus is critical. 2, 3 priorities a day, other dont matter. Say no a lot.

      • Set goals/milestones to know what to focus on: Ship product by this date, maintain this growth rate, get this deal done, …

      • The goals the founders set, are the ones of the whole company and that everyone should know.

      • Intensity: Execution speed (move fast & break things), obsessed with quality.

      • Every time you talk to founders, they've gotten new things done.

    • Always keep growing / monumentum: keep winning. If you lose momentum, sales can fix everything. Do little things to keep the curve up.

    • Set an operating rythm that you look at each week with everyone:

      • ​Shipping product

      • Launching new features

      • Reviewing/reporting metrics and milestones