Quotes Posts

“You can be so bad at so many things… and as long as you stay focused on how you’re providing value to your users and customers, and you have something that is unique and valuable… you get through all that stuff.”

Mark Zuckerberg

“The problem with the Internet startup craze isn’t that too many people are starting companies; it’s that too many people aren’t sticking with it.”

Steve Jobs

Vinod Khosla at TechCrunch Disrupt:

“I think the single, most important fact about doing a startup is being clear about your vision and not letting it get distorted by what pundits and experts tell you.

“But the second most important thing is finding the right team. And that’s really, really hard, because people tend to look for people around them and so it’s the person who they happen to know as opposed to the best possible person to find.

“You know, I was relentless. It took a lot of time. I used to say when I was starting my first company, I was much more of a glorified recruiter than a CEO, or a founder. I really spent probably well over 50% of my time recruiting, and I encourage all entrepreneurs to try and do that.

“It’s also hard because you’ve never hired a marketing person. You don’t what a good marketing person is. You don’t even know what a good developer is. So whose judgment to trust, whose advice to take, is really really hard.”

Corollary: If you can’t recruit a good team, your vision probably needs distortion. Vinod’s quote starts at 19:20 in the video but I encourage you to watch the whole interview.

The only reason investors say ‘no’ is because you haven't figured out how to get far enough on your own.

This is one of our most popular tweets ever. You never know which tweet will be popular.

The tweet isn’t exactly true but it’s close enough for 140 characters. Exceptions and corrections welcome in the comments.

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Some recent highlights from our Twitter (RSS) and FriendFeed (RSS):

Mike Maples

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.

Steve Blank

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.”

From Four Steps to the Epiphany:

“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.

Paul Graham

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.”

Timothy Fitz

From Emergent Properties of Continual Automation:

“Every time you repeat a task, make progress on automating it. It doesn’t have to be big… It just has to be progress.”

From Continuous Deployment at IMVU:

“On average we deploy new code fifty times a day.”

Tim is an engineer at IMVU.


From A Note About Sabeer Bhatia’s Interview:

“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.

Sundry tweets:

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

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Some recent highlights from our Twitter (RSS) and FriendFeed (RSS):

“Some of the ways I’ve learned to estimate whether a team will be successful is how high-impact their project is, but also 1) how quickly they can iterate and 2) how they react to feedback.” – Matt Cutts, Google

“Firms should not pay high executive salaries merely to find leaders who can copy what others are doing.” – Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Lean startups are built from the ground up for learning about customers.” – Eric Ries, Kleiner Perkins

“Consider spending less time talking, and more time prototyping, especially if you’re not very good at talking.” – Paul Buchheit, FriendFeed

[Could you build a portfolio of consistently successful startups? Allen C. Ward could just as well be talking about startups and their investors in this quote.] “Toyota and its suppliers have consistently successful projects. They analyze the few defective projects to improve the system. Morale is high and chaos low because projects consistently go right. In contrast, most conventional projects have serious problems and an occasional home run keeps the company afloat. Fire fighting is standard. It is hard to tell who is doing a good job and hard even to tell what the causes of the problems are. Waves of disruption run through the company, as projects are canceled, run over budget or schedule, or must be expedited to make up for failures elsewhere. Everyone is worried all the time.” – Allen C. Ward

“Contentment is wanting what you have. Ambition is wanting what another has. Progress comes from wanting what nobody has.” – Bob Lewis

“That’s another flaw with performance-based rewards: They are easy for one of your competitors to top.” – Joel Spolsky

“The idea of a company that’s earning money, not losing money, that’s not, let’s say ‘industrially endangered,’ to have just cutbacks so they can earn another $12 million or $20 million or $40 million in a year where no one’s counting is really a horrible act when you think about it on every level. First of all, it’s certainly not necessary. It’s doing it at the worst time. It’s throwing people out to a larger, what is inevitably a larger unemployment heap for frankly no good reason.” – Barry Diller, IAC [See these creative ways to avoid layoffs.]

“Forget about shortcuts. Run a business as if it’s forever.” – Norm Brodsky

“A business plan that doesn’t require a wonderful economic environment in order to succeed… is a good idea all the time.” – Marc Andreessen

“Entrepreneurs get blinded by firm reputations… they don’t do their due diligence on partners.” – via Jeff Bussgang, Flybridge Capital Partners

“Asking customers to adopt new priorities… is an uphill death march through knee-deep mud.” – Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School

“I’ve learned… that there is a lot more hidden talent and potential in your employees than you think.” – Tony Hsieh, Zappos

“Most business practices repress our natural tendency to have fun and socialize.” – George Zimmer, Men’s Wearhouse

If you like these quotes, you should subscribe to our Twitter (RSS) and FriendFeed (RSS) because you are missing out on many more quotes that will rock your bottom.

Some recent highlights from our profiles on Twitter and FriendFeed:

“Morons! I know there’s nothing out there. That’s why I want to build the railroad!” – Dean Kamen, channeling J.P. Morgan

“Balance is a bad word. Work-life balance: what does that mean? Don’t balance work and life — integrate them.” – Me

“The truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources — it’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient — especially when it’s inconvenient.” – Obama [Also applies to intellectual honesty in startups.]

“Apple doesn’t make four billion semiconductors. Apple is only its ideas — which is only its people.” – Steve Jobs

“I would like to make the case for the ‘magic’ of management theory. Imagine a world where some scientists know Maxwell’s equations and others don’t. The scientists who know Maxwell’s equations can predict the future. Those who don’t are lost in the wilderness. That’s the world we live in today when it comes to the ‘equations’ of management and organizations. People who understand Peter Drucker and lean manufacturing are magicians compared to those who don’t. Or, at least, they have the potential to be magicians — unfortunately, you still have to wake up in the morning and do the work.” – Me

“The most prevalent loss to the economy doesn’t come from the planned crime, it comes from the little fudging that good people do just by a little bit.” – Dan Ariely

“One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim in life. The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community.” – Einstein

“Valuations are down because investors want them to be down. Because, really, what else could it possibly be?” – Me

You can find many more of these quotes on Twitter and FriendFeed.

Here are the latest and greatest posts from Twitter (RSS) and FriendFeed (RSS). We use FriendFeed for the longer stuff and Twitter for the shorter stuff!

On specialization in lean startups:

“Specialization is for insects.” – Robert Heinlein

“Break the ‘union mindset’ of specialization. Ask everyone to attack the bottleneck wherever it is.” – Bernie Thompson

Kayak‘s CEO on stealing a page out of Google’s playbook:

Steve Hafner: “[At Kayak], we are of the mentality that for every dollar which could be placed into marketing we would rather place it into engineering and make the product better…”

Sramana Mitra: “So you have built traction [for Kayak] with organic word of mouth?”

Steve Hafner: “It is a page out of Google’s playbook. Build a great technology, syndicate that out to other affiliates like AOL who already have audience and then keep innovating on the product to make folks come back to you directly.”

(From Entrepreneur Journeys Volume 1)

Zappos‘ CEO on culture over customer service:

“Your company culture and your company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin… You may think that our number 1 priority [at Zappos] is customer service but it’s actually not. Our number 1 priority for the company is company culture… The reason why we ended up selling [LinkExchange]… it wasn’t a fun place to go to work for anymore… we didn’t know… to look for culture fit when we hired people.” – Tony Hsieh

Random stuff:

“90% of the salespeople out there are below average because performance is a curve, not a line.” – Seth Godin [Good advice for any group, not just salespeople!]

“A lot [of] what’s written about Silicon Valley… is actually part of a sales pitch… for the venture ecosystem.” – Sean Murphy

“Spending our cash is the same as spending our equity.” – Jason Goldberg

We use Twitter (RSS) to share great quotes, brief thoughts, and links. If you like this blog, you’ll like our Twitter feed. Here are some of the latest and greatest tweets:

Epic post on how to demo from Wufoo: How We Prepare a Demo.

Startup compensation studies from 2008 and 2007 for IT and Life Sciences.

What the office of a lean startup looks like: An XP Team Room.

“Revenue… first… then… traction… is the safest way to grow a business but also the hardest move to make.” – Fred Wilson

“Write a blog, not a business plan.” – Dharmesh Shah

Don’t start a company if you’re not willing to start another one if this one fails. You can’t land on the moon with one shot.

In fund-raising, the exam comes before the lesson. Exam = Term sheet. Lesson = The multi-year consequences of the deal.

How to use an audience to get your way when you’re negotiating.

FriendFeed (RSS) is another good place to get more Venture Hacks in your life. Here are some of the latest and greatest from FriendFeed:

“IMVU… shipped in 6 months. Charged from day 1. No press releases. Shipped 20 times a day. 2007 revenues of $10M.” – Steve Blank and Eric Ries

“You’re going to have a hard enough time convincing your management team to work on the problem that you’ve decided to pursue, let alone having competitors go steal your idea and do the exact same thing.” – Dharmesh Shah

Sophisticated internet investor will give CASH for vague promises