Nivi · March 4th, 2009
From Mike’s lecture to Steve Blank’s customer development class at Berkeley:
“The first mistake that I see people make when they approach us is, they don’t really have that big of an idea. The second mistake that I see them make is all they have is an idea… How the hell should I know if it’s a good idea. I’m not a customer. My opinion is interesting, but irrelevant.”
Mike is the founder of Maples Investments.
From another one of Steve’s lectures:
“After you’ve raised money, shut up, put your slides away, stop selling, and start listening to your customers.”
“If you want to get my blood pressure up when you invite me in to see your newly formed startup introduce me to someone with a Business Development title. This is the most ill used and ill-abused title in a startup. By itself this function and title more than likely decreases the probability of success when used early in a startup more than any other single factor. When I hear it used in an early-stage company I question the competence of all involved.”
If we learn one thing from customer development, it is this: Sell it before you build it. Or while you build it.
From Startups in 13 Sentences:
“Try making your customer service not merely good, but surprisingly good.”
“Deals fall through… We probably had 20 deals of various types fall through. After the first 10 or so we learned to treat deals as background processes that we should ignore till they terminated.”
From Ideas for Startups:
“Startup ideas are not million dollar ideas, and here’s an experiment you can try to prove it: just try to sell one.”
“Every time you repeat a task, make progress on automating it. It doesn’t have to be big… It just has to be progress.”
“On average we deploy new code fifty times a day.”
Tim is an engineer at IMVU.
“Founders don’t do the diligence they should on their investors.
Entrepreneurs should pick their investors like they pick their co-founders: very carefully. It is easier to divorce your wife, kids, and dog than it is to divorce your investors.
During their fund-raising, every entrepreneur meets an investor or two who is apparently God’s gift to entrepreneurs: “Oh, you should meet these investors, they are a really great bunch of guys.” Of course they’re going to be friendly when you have something they want.
An experienced founder once called me to do a reference call on one of his investors. He had already signed a term sheet and was closing the financing. His attitude was “better late than never.” He was absolutely right.”
Investors who buy a lot of stock and control require the most diligence. Angels require less diligence, VCs require more.
Is Wal-Mart more enlightened than your startup? See Life at Wal-Mart.
Memo to entrepreneurs: VCs invest in the markets that entrepreneurs tell them to invest in. Not the other way around.
Most startups spend too much time acting and not enough time reflecting. Learning requires both activities.
What happens if the CEO doesn’t show up to work? Nothing. What happens if the team doesn’t show up to work? Nothing.
“Sony Releases New Stupid Piece Of Shit That Doesn’t Fucking Work” – The Onion (video)
“We live in an amazing amazing world and it’s wasted on the crappiest generation.” – Louis C.K. (video)
“My back is a weapon I use to destroy my opponents… only the very best of bodybuilders can stand beside me… without being blown offstage by the shock wave.” – Mr. Universe 1976, on pitching