Tag Archives: startups
Aside 4 May

Very few investors tell you “no”. Overwhelmingly, they just never email you back, even after they were the ones initiating the conversation. If they do tell you no, their reasons are often weird or cryptic.

Source: Priceonomics Raises $1.5 MM, Users Unfazed

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Aside

‘Emotional attachment to a vision shouldn’t override the messages the market is sending you.’

13 Mar

‘It turns out that “never give up” is a dangerous lesson to take to heart with start-up companies. Emotional attachment to a vision shouldn’t override the messages the market is sending you. When the feedback from the market is not positive, when customers are not buying, when you have tried to pivot several times and you still haven’t gotten a foothold, it is wise to make a real and carefully considered evaluation and decide if your vision truly makes sense.’

Face It: You’re Clinging On to a Zombie Start-Up | WSJ

Takeaways: ‘Managing Startup Teams: Building Culture’ with Anne Libby at GA

12 Mar

Class: Anne Libby of Anne Libby Management Consulting on “Managing Startup Teams: Building Culture”, via GA

Date: March 6 2012, 18:00 – 19:30

When it comes to building teams – especially when those teams consist of people in far-flung offices around the world – I’m yet to be persuaded that anything is more important than culture*.

And by culture I mean the shared stories, the common values, that explicitly articulated and implicitly understood characteristics that inspire people to rally around that cause, that product, that service. The why-you-want-to-work-here-when-X-would-pay-you-twice-as-much. The-this-is-why-I-get-up-in-at-dawn-on-a-day-when-I’m-not-even-supposed-to-be-in-because-the-team-needs-me-and-hey-they-didn’t-even-have-to-ask factor.

I’ve worked on two projects that I may claim to have helped build and shape; both of these projects had quite distinct cultures.

But what they had in common was excellence über Alles. And yes, that included being excellent to each other (or put another way, jerks need not apply).

Two of my favourite blogs both recently featured culture-as-it-relates-to-startups as a theme, and I thought I’d highlight them as the lesson is relevant to the takeaway from the General Assembly class (which was, not surprisingly, all about culture). Continue reading

Aside

“90 percent of successful startups start out with the wrong strategy and often take three or four…”

28 Feb

“90 percent of successful startups start out with the wrong strategy and often take three or four attempts to get it right. That makes some kind of web sense. For those of us trained in the arts of journalism, though, it’s probably a tough lesson: We’re trained to get it right the first time.”

The newsonomics of hyperlocal’s next round: Patch, Digital First, and more » Nieman Journalism Lab

“In the context of startups, project management tools will always suck”

19 Feb

On Friday 17 2012 the CUNY EJP12 cohort attended a session on product and project management hosted by Nancy Wang and Jeff Mignon of RevSquare.

Both Jeff and Nancy stressed the importance of having a clear project plan, of communicating effectively with your team (and especially your developers), and of prototyping (more on which in another post). And Jeff admitted to being something of a convert to the Project Management Way.

Back in the FT Tilt era, both Ranjan and I spent a lot (a lot!) of time “optimizing our process”. In the end (and indeed, toward the end) I settled on Trello as a way of keeping the globally dispersed editorial team briefed and engaged on where we were up to in terms of sales and development; our London-based developers used Redmine for bug ticketing; and Ranjan and I used a combination of email, Google Docs, Skype and shoulder-tapping/coffee meetings for everything else. I, of course, am a total iDoneThis evangelist, so I also used iDT to keep a running log of what we’d accomplished (or not, as it were).

But along the way we tried (and abandoned) Teambox and Basecamp, and I tested at least a half dozen other options. The issues were always the same: fiddly interfaces; too many emails and checkboxes and lists, not enough “doing”; team objections to yet-another-login/thing they have to use.

(For what it’s worth, I’m using Asana these days and quite like it)

Having been on both sides of project management – i.e. as the manager and the manage-ee, and sometimes both at the same time, I agree with the RevSquares that clear objectives and communication are essential.

But I also agree with the sentiment expressed by “Handsome Code” in a post about project management:

In the context of startups, project management tools will always suck. If you are using a PM tool then you are not designing, coding, or communicating with customers. You are not even communicating with your team. You are putting an abstraction layer between you and your team, effectively saying “I prefer to engage with this UI which makes me feel valuable and productive because I make lists and assign tasks” instead of actually engaging with the people building the product…Getting e-mails that say “UserName has assigned you task: XXXXXX” sucks.

The post also included some strong words about developers not being robots.

But not having any system at all – or heaven forfend, relying on email – is arguably the worst of all possible worlds.

Sure, getting notifications that you’ve been assigned X, Y or Z has never ranked high on Maslow’s hierarchy. But not shipping because no one has any sense of priority or ownership? Epic fail.

Aside

“the idea that more money comes from fewer people appears to be nothing but a myth.”

18 Feb

“the idea that more money comes from fewer people appears to be nothing but a myth.”

How the Myth of the Algorithm Fools the Market | Betabeat — News, gossip and intel from Silicon Alley 2.0.

Aside

“What happens when we turn to very young and inexperienced entrepeneurs and hand them a wad of cash…”

15 Feb

“What happens when we turn to very young and inexperienced entrepeneurs and hand them a wad of cash and demand that they lead the way forward for the rest of us?”

Airy Labs and Ed-Tech Startup Failures

Aside

“…startup failure happens all the time. Startups burst onto the scene (and particularly now, in…”

15 Feb

“…startup failure happens all the time. Startups burst onto the scene (and particularly now, in such “frothy” times, they burst onto the scene with substantial investor backing). They stumble. They pivot. They adapt. And often they fail and sometimes they die. They die silently with a few founders saying “well shit, that didn’t really work out. Lessons learned. Let’s move on.” Or they die with a “hey, let’s make things right. Let’s pay back our investors and then get jobs or something.” Or, sometimes I guess, they die spectacularly and publicly, with stories in Techcrunch and a litany of nasty posts left on various forums around the Web. It happens. It happens now, and it’s happened in the past. The fact that we don’t actually know much about our history — as entrepreneurs or as educators — is part of the very unfortunate (ed-)tech amnesia we all suffer from. Perhaps that’s a big lesson to be drawn here.”

Airy Labs and Ed-Tech Startup Failures

Aside

“The truth is that startups are always in a hurry and always make mistakes. A good CEO knows that she…”

14 Feb

“The truth is that startups are always in a hurry and always make mistakes. A good CEO knows that she must remain nimble and prepared to deal with the fallout of those rushed decisions. And the mob has taught those nimble CEOs that a nuanced discussion is not what the mob wants to hear. They want to see that belly.”

I’m So, So Sorry. Here’s My Belly. Now Please Move On. « Uncrunched

Aside

“it’s positively de-motivating to work for a company where your job is just to shut up and take…”

14 Feb

“it’s positively de-motivating to work for a company where your job is just to shut up and take orders. In tech startup land, we all understand instinctively that we have to hire super smart people, but we forget that we then have to organize the workforce so that those people can use their brains 24/7.”

A VC: The Management Team – Guest Post From Joel Spolsky