So true. Either an Investor gets it, or they don’t. The Investor that you have to painstakingly walk through your thinking process just to get them to agree is probably not the right partner to bring on to build your business.
It is a tough job we have as Entrepreneurs. We work, and work, and think, and work, and hustle, and intent that at some point we’ll hit that point where there is Success.
Success is that magical point where you need no excuses, need no explanations, its that natural point where it is universally recognized: You can pause for a bit now.
Sometimes, just subconsciously, even for a brief fleeting moment, I envy the student across from me at the coffee shop — who just has to finish that problem set, or that homework, or that chapter, and deem that day, or that session a success.
But NO, thats not us. That’s not what we’re about. We were once there but then chose: that is not enough.
The next big company is going to be about Synthesis...
I met up with someone I incredibly respect yesterday, and as we talked about the state of the industry, startups, the funding environment, I came to an epiphany: the next big company is going to be about Synthesis. Here’s why:
We’ve gotten good at getting people to share data
A majority of the companies that has seen recent user growth and success (in terms of engaged communities) has all been about getting people to share. Whether it is Yelp reviews, Foursquare checkins, Facebook shares, Twitter tweets or Instragram pictures, we’ve figured out the magic formula to attract like-minded-people and get them to share MASSIVE amounts of interesting data.
Now we need to figure out how to synthesize that data
But what next? I saw a friend post an engagement announcement on Facebook, and when I saw all the likes and the comments, it took me back to when Mahrin and I announced our engagement on Facebook. I started to wonder… what did people say? who liked it? Then it got me thinking, what did I post every year on our anniversary?
It seems that every comment, share, like, tweet, picture, etc is but a fleeting thought. Except unlike the fleeting thoughts of past generations, these fleeting thoughts are persisted, with massive amounts of meta-data, connected to a relationship graph.
The next big company will figure out how to:
Look at my last 1,000 tweets and FB shares and figure out what makes me happy
Look at what I shared during every marriage anniversary and figure out my mood
Take a look at my LinkedIn profile and alert me when its time to look for a new opportunity
Take all of my foursquare checkins and facebook photos I took/made during Spring Break and put together a map with photos highlighting my trip
Take all the pictures being posted with a certain hashtag during a certain time period and provide a live feed of pictures being taken at an event (Color killer anyone?)
Look at Foursquare checkins across venues in a city and figure out where the hot girls hang out (http://findgirls.at)
You get the picture. The next big company is going to be able to take all these bits of data and synthesize it for us.
Notes from Kathy Sierra fireside chat at @500Startups
1. Focus on making people feel “I’m awesome”
2. Help people connect with the bigger cooler thing that encompasses your product. If you make this clear, the next big upgrade for your product won’t have to be sold. It’ll be obvious to them.
3. Don’t make a better X, Make a better user of X. Get people more involved with X.
4. Always ask: “How does this user kick ass (or get laid)?
5. Do the “24/7 spy tracking” exercise for your target user - write down what it is they are doing before and after they use your product! All that matters is what happens after they are done clicking. Think about how you are inspiring them to do what matters.
6. If you can’t outspend, out-something-else. Out-enable.
7. Social Media only works when it’s users talking to users.
8. Todo: Watch TED Talk - Drive by Dan Pink
9. Kathy hates badges, points and gamification. She thinks it’s horseshit (she is a horse trainer). She went into details of perils of gamification - not relevant to me so I didn’t write it down.
10. Progress bars are deeply motivational. Don’t confuse it with gamification. Don’t mess it up by giving them a badge in the end.
11. Deep down, everyone wants to be more badass. Help them be bad ass. Help them be DEEPLY and TRULY BADASS.
12. Have levels in your product. Help users get through them to to reach ultimate awesomeness.
13. Avoid cognitive leaks: boredom, confusion, etc. The best way to close cognitive leaks: anticipate leaks and deal with them a human would.
14. Help and FAQs are written for people that are calm. Write them assuming people are stuck and pissed off. Solve it by over authoring.
15. If you tell people what people may be feeling at the moment, it is an amazing leak closure.
It's such an exciting time to be building a startup...
Building a startup has always been exciting (Tout is my 3rd startup). But this time around, it is particularly exciting because it seems that every single aspect of building a startup and even building a business is going through a renaissance; a serious transformation.
Here are some examples:
I’ve been using RightSignature for signing the 100 or so documents that need to be signed for a) incorporation a company b) raising money c) bringing on advisors. Our law firm has adapted right along with us, and now signing and closing deals has become radically different.
AngelList is significantly changing the entire process of fundraising. It has been particularly exciting working with Naval as wel built out our profile, added metrics and stats, and slowly opened up to more and more advisors to gauge the network effect. We got to see what kind of an impact “Social Proof” really brings as I added more and more committed investors to our profile. They are working very hard to re-think the investment workflow, and it is seriously exciting.
500Startups (an investor, and we are also part of their Summer Accelerator program) is rethinking how an accelerator should work, and even how an Investment Fund should source and fund deals. Today’s orientation run by Enrique, Christine and Paul showed how they’re thinking “principles first” to figure out how to help startups grow and accelerate to success.
I attended a whole set of events related to the Lean Startup Movement. Between presenting at Ignite: Lean Startup, checking out the Lean Startup Machine, and attending the Startup Lessons Learned conference, I realized that what we are doing today is not just building the next great company, but simultaneously improving the art of building businesses.
[Self Plug Warning] - I set up a Tout template with my Term Sheet, Note, and Pitch Deck. So anytime I met an investor, I pulled up my phone, sent an SMS to Tout with the message “Send Investor Deck to Dave firstname.lastname@example.org” and almost immediately not only would he get a demo of the product, but would get all the necessary information to participate in our funding round. This helped me close deals in a radically faster pace.
All of the above examples show why building a Startup has become more exciting than ever before. Not only are we trying to change the world through our startups, we are changing the art of changing the world. And that is really powerful.