The Week in Review #7: Startup Advice, Briefly

The weekly practice of putting together this list has been most gratifying. Looking back at the past 6 issues I still think the classification of the posts with tags needs to become better. I have a couple of ideas that I may implement over the next couple of months to make the archive searchable with better granularity. If you have any comments on how I could make this post better please do leave a message or send me an email!

Startup advice, briefly This was definitely one of the best articles I came across this week. It is a summary of the startup class which ran in the last quarter of 2014. If you haven’t watched the series, I would highly recommend it. Starting a business is undoubtedly very challenging, the advice in this post distills some of the most pertinent advice which is relevant when just getting started.

To Succeed, Get to Failing This post is based on the upcoming book called Roadmap which is a collection of a 1000+ interviews, that a group of fresh graduates conducted with some of the most successful people in the world. They talk about societies stigma with failure and advice on how to overcome it to find success.

The Only Technique To Learn Something New James Altucher continues to churn out great content on a daily basis. This post breaks down the ten techniques which one can use to learn something new. One of the techniques which he calls “Study what you did” is probably the most insightful out of them all. Reflection on our actions and results is one of the best ways on how to adjust your process in getting the desired result. Sounds simple in theory, however is very difficult to do on consistent basis.

Customer Service Manifesto (PDF) This post is based on the book Zombie Loyalists, which I am looking forward to reading soon. It talks about the future where the age of “buy from us because we say we’re awesome” is over, and has truly been replaced by the age of “I’ll buy from
them because someone I trust says they’re awesome. This is a huge shift in the way we think and how business will be conducted. It has some very interesting case studies from the future of customer service as well.

Growth Is Optional: 10 Reasons Why Companies Fail At Growth Growth is critical to the success of any company. Every company wants to grow, however a majority of them do not put in place drivers that are going to drive that growth. The author highlights 10 pertinent reasons that may be holding you back.

The Most Important SaaS Metric Nobody Talks About: Time-to-Value (‘TtV’) Whether we start reading an article, a book or sign up for a new service; there is a gap between when we begin to receiving value from the activity. The delta between those two are critical and are usually a strong indicator of whether something will succeed or not. The author summarizes some key insights that can be used to reduce that delta.

What Startups can learn from a Sushi Chef This post is based on the documentary Jiro dreams of sushi. If you haven’t watched it yet, I would highly recommend it! At it’s core the documentary is all about choosing a skill set and dedicating your life to perfecting it. This goes against the current trend of becoming a generalist that is a jack of all trades and master of none.

23 Campaigns Every Startup Should Run to Gain Immediate Traction This is a very detailed how to post that talks about the specific steps to finding your target customers and validating demand for your product/service. The entire goal being to find the unit economics that drive your business, which are the lifetime value of a single customer and the cost of acquiring that customer.

The Three Dimensions Of Content Marketing Strategy For Startups When we think about content marketing we associate it with blog posts, whitepapers and perhaps presentations. This post breaks down content marketing into three dimensions and provides a host of examples on how to execute a far more granular strategy.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #6: Founder/Product Fit

My favorite article of the week was on Founder/Product fit. It is an important concept that I have come to understand a lot better over the years. When choosing to start a business, we are making a very large time commitment. One that could span decades, it is therefore critical that we spend the time upfront thinking about the choice before we make one.

Founder/Product Fit There is a lot of talk about product / market fit, however many people overlook the more important aspect which is whether there is a fit between the founder and the product he/she is building. This step is usually skipped with the presumption that the opportunity will enable the founder to develop the level of fit needed.

Answer this question & you’ll get unlimited funding for your startup Another great post by Jason on how to structure your pitch to investors correctly. It all comes down to understanding the motivations and aspirations of your customer, whether it be fund raising or selling your product/service to a customer.

At some start-ups, Friday is so casual that it’s not even a workday Treehouse is a company whose mission is to bring computer science education to the masses. With 100,000+ subscribers the company continues to grow at a staggering pace. However behind all of those achievement is a 4 day work week that prioritizes work life balance. Interesting read on how that changes the dynamic at work.

The Future of Organization (Presentation) I am fascinated with how the structure of organizations is rapidly changing around us. From the rapid rise of remote work to concepts of holacracy which promotes a flat organization with no managers. This presentation brings forth several key factors that are determining the future of the organization.

The Rule of 40% For a Healthy SaaS Company Brad Feld puts forward a great financial ratio that can be used specifically for companies who operate a subscription as a service model. It has always been tricky to correctly balance growth, costs and profit. The article provides a framework that will be very useful for companies in the industry.

The Striking Similarities Between Teachers and Start-up CEOs Jack Ma who is the founder of Alibaba was an English teacher before he started his company. The author walks us through 5 commonalities between the two career paths and they show a striking resemblance to one another.

The Impending Opportunity in Real Estate Technology The marriage of the real estate market and technology has always been fascinating to watch. This article breaks down where future integrations of the two will be taking us and the opportunities that lie ahead for entrepreneurs willing to take the risk.

Tension: The secret sauce of brand building This post was written by the design director at IDEO and it talks primarily about brand personalities. It is a great read for anyone who is thinking about their brand and what it means to their customers.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #5

Another week flies by and we are already done with the first week of February. I am very happy to have included at least 2 – 3 hours of reading per day into my schedule this year. By putting time on your calendar to actively take the time out to read is one of the best investments you can make in yourself!

How to Struggle (Well) Umair Haq continues to write well about life and our journey. Lots of his pieces in the Harvard Business Review have been ear marked to reflect on when I am finding inspiration. This piece written on the value of struggle was another good one.

Are Élite Colleges Bad for the Soul? The entire institution of higher learning is coming under threat. Personally I believe that the 4 year college program does very little to prepare students for the world that they are going to enter. There is also very little emphasis on self development and students are expected to comply with set standard to ensure good grades. This article provides a detailed view on the state of higher education, particularly in the elite colleges of the world.

Zappos is bringing Uber-like surge pay to the workplace This was a very interesting article on how Zappos is experimenting with the concept of surge pay for it’s call center staff during high volume periods. There are concerns that this goes against the very values that hold Zappos together. It will be interesting to see the results of this experiment.

How Stripe Marketed to Developers So Effectively Stripe has been one of the runaway success stories coming out of Y Combinator. The article provides an in depth analysis of their growth as well as their marketing strategies. Lots of great takeaways.

From 0 to $1B – Slack’s Founder Shares Their Epic Launch Strategy Slack is part of the batch of companies that experience exponential growth from the onset. In a market which had several competitors and very similar products, their growth has left many people stumped. This article provides some insight into how they launched their company to achieve the level of the growth they currently have.

What I Learned About Life After Interviewing 80 Highly Successful People If you didn’t subscribed to the James Altucher pod cast in 2014, I highly recommend that you put it on the list this year. There are some great interviews and almost every interview will leave you with some tangible bit of advice you can use. This post summarizes the first 80 interviews and what he learned from interviewing some of the most successful people in the world.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #4

This week has been quite hectic at work. With a major project delivery due soon everyone on the team was burning midnight oil. Hoping to start sharing perhaps one mid week post if possible when things settle down in Feb!

Launching Billion-Dollar Products (PDF) A well written summary of the book. Lots of insights of how self made billionaires were able to spot opportunities in saturated and hyper competitive markets.

Successful startups say “no” Great insights from Homebrew Partner Satya Patel. As entrepreneurs it is far too easy to get caught up in the latest trends, focusing on being exceptional at one or a few things is most times the keys to success.

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Keith Rabois about Venture Capital and Business This blog continuously churns out great content with regards to lessons learned. This one about Keith Rabois had some great insights.

Salesforce’s First HR Manager Shares The Secret To Recruiting 650 People Three main takeaways which I can attest to as well as being one of the best measures of recruiting top talent.

Lessons learned from scaling a product team Intercom has been a product that I have watched grow from it’s infancy to where it is today. Great writeup on ow they scaled their product team.

The Design Sprint by Google Ventures If you are an entrepreneur or a designer this is something that you need to read and share with your product team.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #3

It has been a busy week. I am amazed at the amount of great information that is churned out every single week. Having an index to look back on it all is going to be really useful in the future!

The Illusion of Product/Market Fit for SaaS Companies Brad Feld is another great VC to be following and reading for all entrepreneurs. This post is an interesting break down on the “Product/Market Fit” term.

Investing in the Enterprise in 2015 As an entrepreneur who works in the enterprise software vertical, it is always interesting to read about the latest trends. This post gives a great run down on the different aspect of the enterprise for individuals exploring this vertical.

10,000 Hours with Reid Hoffman: What I Learned Absolutely fantastic read on life lessons learned from Reid Hoffman. As the co-founder of Linkedin and first investor in a multitude of the largest companies in the world, there is something in this essay for everyone.

If You’re Busy, You’re Doing Something Wrong: The Surprisingly Relaxed Lives of Elite Achievers Falling into the I am too busy trap is far too easy today. This article reveals interesting statistics about elite achievers.

How to Find Fulfilling Work (Video) Great video which talks about 6 simple steps one can take to find fulfilling work.

What Doesn’t Seem Like Work? Following up on the video above YC founder and great writer Paul Graham talks about another strategy one can use in finding fulfilling work.

How much should I raise in my angel round? How should I spend it? Jason Calcanis set the goal of writing a post everyday on his blog everyday. Something that I know a few things about since I did the same on this blog in 2009. He has had some great content so far, the linked article talks about a key decision on how to spend the first round you raise.

Whiplash (Movie) This was a great movie to start the year of with. I had missed it when it first came out. This is an intense move as you can probably tell from the trailer. However it is filled with deep insight and some great take aways. I may do a more indepth review of it in a couple of months.

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Book) Mark Zuckerbergs latest pick for the year is a 850 page compendium on the decline of violence in the world we live in today. Full of research this book has been an interesting but slow read for me this week.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #2

Time seems to be moving at an accelerated pace this January. With the year’s planning in full swing, this is looking to be a great year. I have managed to get into a good routine which involves nearly 2 – 3 hours of reading everyday. Have a massive build up of magazines which I subscribe to that I want cleared out. I use Zinio as my magazine reader and can’t recommend it enough. With that here are some of the great reads from this week.

1. The Top 10 ‘Bleeding Edge’ Recruiting Trends to Watch in 2015 The world is changing dramatically and how we both find jobs and hire will change. This article provided some great trends for 2015.

2. The Myth of the Tech Whiz Who Quits College to Start a Company Facebook, Snapchat, Box and a plethora of other tech companies seem to be make it appear that quitting college to start a company may be the right path to take. Research by HBR shows differently.

3. A result. Faster. Charlie is an entrepreneur turned VC whose blog I enjoy reading. His latest article talking about getting stuff done is a great read for anyone looking to boost their productivity and make progress this year.

4. How We Got To Now Chris Dixon is an entrepreneur turned VC whose blog I have being avidly following for years. When he makes a book recommendation it is an instant buy for me. The article was interesting as well since it goes against the common advice that entrepreneurs should create “painkillers not vitamins”.

5. Neil deGrasse Tyson reveals meaning of life to 6-year-old (Video) Fascinating video clip where the age old question about the meaning of life is deconstructed to it’s core. A great 6 minute watch to get the new week started.

6. Here’s the Advice I Give All of Our First Time Founders Great advice from Rob Hayes of First Round Capital on hiring, finding your companies north start and setting yourself up for success.

7. Here’s the Advice I Give All of Our First Time Founders Here is a lighter and fun read on 36 questions that can accelerate the relationship between two people!

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #1

Over the last week I have been bookmarking some of the more interesting articles that I came across. Looking forward to sharing my thoughts on a weekly basis on things which are of interest to me.

1. Why are some people so good at persisting? This was by far the best article I read this week. It is about the entrepreneur who invented instant ramen noodles. The article was well written and had a strong message for anyone who is considering taking the dive into entrepreneurship.

2. Looking to Scale Your Sales? Seven Bullets to Dodge Sales is the life blood of almost all businesses. Building and scaling a sales team is a challenging process which takes a lot of experience and time. This article had a lot of great common pitfalls to avoid and what to look for.

3. The enterprise sales guide Great list of resources for companies who and individuals involved with enterprise sales.

4. Cable-Free Elevators Will Soar to New Heights, and Move Sideways I am really excited about the future we are heading towards. In the next 10 – 20 years we are probably going to see massive technology shifts that will change the way we commute, travel, learn and even eat!

5. Experience student life at Minerva The way we are taught in schools today is broken. Our curriculums are out of date and graduates are finding it extremely difficult to adapt and fit into the workplace today. This initiative sounds great and if I were to do my undergraduate education all over again, it would definitely be on the top of my list.

6. How to Persuade Anyone of Anything in Ten Seconds James Altucher is a fantastic author and his blog and twitter feed should definitely be followed. This article was very relevant to entrepreneurs as we are constantly pitching someone.

7. The end of power (Book) Mark Zuckerberg set his new years resolution to read a new book every 2 weeks. He setup the worlds largest book club on facebook. I will be doing my best to keep up, reading the first book at the moment, which has a lot of research on how power dynamics are changing drastically in the world we live in.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!