Archive for September, 2011

Do More Faster Chapter 2: People

This is my summary of the second chapter (theme) of Do More Faster. Feel free to check the summary for the first chapter here.

Chapter 2: People

Don’t Go At It Alone

  • Have at least one co-founder. Building a start-up is hard enough alone. Having someone to share the work, feedback, and downsides is a huge asset to your success.

Avoid Co-Founder Conflict

  • Make sure everyone agrees on equity, company direction, and how the company will be run (salaries, shares, hiring/firing procedures). You want to get these things out of the way so you can focus on what really matters, your product/service.

Hire People Better Then You

  • Don’t be insecure about hiring better people then you. Hiring better/smarter people will make your startup exponentially better.

Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly

  • It takes time to find/hire great people. Don’t be afraid to fire an employee who doesn’t fit. Have something along the lines of a 90 day performance and 360 degree review (after someone works for 90 days you have the option of firing them if it’s not working out).

If You Can Quit, You Should

  • You should be so obsessed and passionate about your startup that quitting is not an option, it should be impossible to quit.

Build a Balanced Team

  • Find co-founders with complimentary skills. At the early stages of a startup it makes no sense to have more then one non-technical co-founder.

Startups Seek Friends

  • Focus on establishing friendships in the early stages of your startup. Create two way relationships were both parties benefit. Do not create a sales-customer relationship early in your startup since you probably won’t have much to sale.

Engage Great Mentors

  • Mentors are in invaluable part of a startup. It allows you to learn form other people’s experiences. Seek out a mentor if you don’t have one.

Define Your Culture

  • Start up success is determined by the team, product, market, and culture. You must create a great culture in order for your startup to make a successful product/service.

Two Stikes and You Are Out

  • You are only allowed to screw over Brad Feld once via lying/deceiving him, doing something illegal/immoral, or hurting him. If you screw him over a second time he’s finished with you forever.

Karma Matters

  • Help others without expecting anything in return. At the very least you’ll have the satisfaction that you helped someone.

Be Open to Randomness 

  • Be open to meeting random people, you’ll never know who you’ll meet and what impact they might have on your future.
I have to say, my favorite section from this chapter is “If you can quite, you should”. There are so many road blocks that you hit when running a startup, the ones who make it to the end are the ones who said “no” to quitting every time they hit one.

Do More Faster Chapter 1: Idea and Vision

I recently started reading the book Do More Faster By David Cohan and Brad Feld. It contains a bunch of small stories of various entrepreneurs who have worked with Cohan and Feld at TechStars. What I really love about the book is how each small story is design to deliver one important message about running a startup.

For my own personal (and anyone else reading this) reference, I will be outlining the sections of each chapter (which they call themes) and writing out what I think is the take home message for each section.

Chapter 1: Idea and Vision

Trust Me, Your Idea Is Worthless

  • Ideas are worthless, execution is everything. Most startup’s ideas change during the process of running the startup. Dont’ be gung-ho about executing your idea exactly as you pictured it, it will probably change.

Start With Your Passion

  • The startup path is a very difficulty path, make sure you are doing something you are passionate about.

Look For The Pain

  • Find something that people are having a painful time with and then fix it by making it easier and less painful.

Get Feedback Early

  • Share your idea with as many people as possible and as early as possible to see if people like it. Don’t be afraid of people “stealing” your idea.

Usage Is Like Oxygen For Ideas

  • Iterate in the in the wild. Push frequent updates in order to test features on actual customers. Do A/B testing.

Forget The kitchen Sink

  • Avoid “everythingitis”. Focus on one thing and do it better then anyone else. Focus on quality not features.

Find That One Thing They Love

  • Observer how your users use or misuse your product. This will tell you what your users really want to use your product for. You could use this as a sign to change the direction of your product or make a spin off.

Don’t Plan. Prototype!

  • Focus on prototyping and iterating, don’t spend so much of your time planning (plans change).

You Never Need Another Original Idea

  • Listen to your customers, they will tell you what your products needs.

Get It Out There

  • Get your product out ASAP so you can get feedback early. Don’t build a “Dream Product”, you need customers in order to know what they want.

Avoid Tunnel Vision

  • Don’t be set on a plan, most plans change in a startup.

Focus

  • Focus on one thing, don’t waste time branching out.

Iterate Again

  • Iterate on all your products. Take the mistakes from your past products to learn about how you could make your current and future products better.

Fail Fast

  • You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Fail fast, learn quickly, and try again.

Pull The Plug When You Know It’s Time

  • Learn when to pull the plug on a dead idea, don’t just wait and run it into the ground.

That’s all for chapter one, lots of great messages! I definitely recommend getting the book if you want to read the stories behind each message.