I often ask entrepreneurs during pitches "What's hard to make this a successful company?" I am particular about this one. I am not asking "what's difficult." Difficult is fundraising, hiring great people, finding customers, making customers pay on time, getting renewals, opening a new office, etc. "What's Hard" is something that hopefully the entrepreneurs are better … Continue reading What’s Hard and What’s Not as a VC.
I talk a lot with very large enterprises in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Sometimes they have a question regarding their IT infrastructure, sometimes they want to hear about shifts in industry trends (few of them want to hear 'trends in the Silicon Valley,' thank god!). Sooner or later they tell me about their digital … Continue reading Digital Transformation Strategy — You Don’t Need One.
If you believe you have a great startup, then I hope you have a great product. And, naturally, you will have competition. Gartner is not going to create a magic quadrant for a new huge market with only a single company in it. Your product should be awesome. You should strive to find product-market-fit fast. … Continue reading Your fiercest Competition is your VCs’ Other Portfolio Companies.
I feel puzzled how vaguely some startup CEOs send their executives on their way to execute a "mission". Mission Statements describe the who, what, when, where, and why (the 5 W’s) of how a mission will be executed. A mission has one -- and only one! -- main goal. You might have one (one!) side … Continue reading Improve Your Mission Statements.
I remember one sentence from the many books I read while doing business in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia: Your relative power in a negotiation is your capacity to use resources to influence another’s circumstances. In 1962, Richard Emerson published Power-Dependence Relations. I found that Richard's focus on "In how many ways can I demonstrate my … Continue reading Negotiations: Focus on What You Don’t Know.
The management-craze of "bring me solutions" has gone too far. I recently met with two spin-out teams of enterprises where the engineers and interim-CEO were scared to share any challenges or problems with corporate management because they were expected to be more "solutions-oriented." When I went back to one of the senior executives with a problem … Continue reading Bring me Problems.
Most DevOps centric startups are focusing on the Dev, not the Ops. Many tools and startups start in Test & Dev (versus "production" or "in-revenue" applications). But really hard problems in DevOps are often connected to in-revenue, critical applications. These applications have real-time and high-availability requirements and "exactly-once" execution of commands. I have the privilege … Continue reading Developer-centric Startups for Critical Applications
I've written about Core, Near-Core and the Outfield. There will be scope creep. And the Definition of Core will continue to develop. With usually longer enterprise sales cycles that can be a problem. Ask your salespeople: Why are we in this account? This is especially true with Near-Core opportunities: There will be a class of … Continue reading Scaling First Revenue: Why Are We In This Account?
You closed your first customers, all friendlies who you worked with for the past 15-18 months to refine the product (so much for your "three months sales cycle from GA to bookings - that was easy!"). So who's next? You can categorize your prospects into three categories: Core (Hunt): This is the category where you actively … Continue reading Scaling First Revenue: Core Customers.
Wow, just re-found this 5 minutes 56-second video with I had bookmarked. I usually hate these "Five Things Successful Executives Do" etc., but this one was a pretty good framework of four recurring patterns -- instead of "do your taxes yourself." or "smile more." or all the other nonsense you read on clickbait. This one has … Continue reading HBR Whiteboard Session: 4 Things Successful Executives Do Differently.