Startup Lessons

STARTUP LESSON: Video Talks

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STARTUP LESSON: I find myself creating a lot of videos for partners overseas. This is one where I’m talking to investors in Shanghai. I’ve done videos for conferences, signing ceremonies, startup pitches, and even weddings.

Making a video can take a lot of time, so I’ve optimized the process. I do every video in a single take, so there’s no editing. I also try to use a background that looks professional. Lighting is key. If you’re stuck in a hotel room, stand in front of the window, angel the camera upwards so the bed doesn’t show, and move your face close to the camera.

STARTUP LESSON: Eat Less, Do More!

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STARTUP LESSON: I love eating, and I eat way too much. It’s a freaking miracle I don’t weigh 300 pounds. But I’ve learned that the less I eat, the more energy I have. When I cut my food consumption in half, I have double the energy.

I just need to start doing this on a regular basis.

STARTUP LESSON: Video Talks

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I find myself creating a lot of videos for partners overseas. This is one where I’m talking to investors in Shanghai. I’ve done videos for conferences, signing ceremonies, startup pitches, and even weddings.

Making a video can take a lot of time, so I’ve optimized the process. I do every video in a single take, so there’s no editing. I also try to use a background that looks professional.

STARTUP LESSON: The Dirty Dozen

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I have the DIRTY DOZEN rule for startups. When it comes to businesses development only YES one out of 12 times. The other 11 opportunities are most likely a waste of your precious time and resources.

STARTUP LESSON: Unbelievable Ideas

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STARTUP LESSON: Great startups are often based on an idea that most people refuse to believe is possible at the time it appears. Take these examples:

Twitch: Millions of people will tune in to watch other people play video games online.

SpaceX: It’s possible for a founding team without significant space or rocket experience to build a company that makes manned space flights better than NASA or any other government on the planet.

STARTUP LESSON: Startup Stress

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STARTUP LESSON: The key to performing at your highest level is to not put yourself under pressure. Stress undermines your ability to make smart decisions and manage effectively. To reduce stress, don’t worry about the outcome. Just focus on what needs to be done and try to take pleasure in everything that happens along the way. That’s my secret.

STARTUP LESSON: What’s Your Valuation?

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STARTUP LESSON: What’s your valuation? The only way to know is to find out the valuation of similar startups. To do this, ask friendly VCs and advisors who have access to lots of deals and know the funding market. You can also reach out to other startup founders. And you can use an investor account to access valuations on Angel.co and similar sites.

STARTUP LESSON: Break Your Business

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STARTUP LESSON: Don’t try to prove your business model works. Instead try to prove it doesn’t work. Think of everything you can do to show your startup can never become a big business. If you succeed, celebrate and try something new. You just saved yourself a lot of time and money.

STARTUP LESSON: When Disaster Strikes 

STARTUP LESSON: Whenever something doesn’t go right for me, which happens quite often, I ask myself,  “Will I even remember this a year from now? And if I do, will I care?” The answer is almost always no. This allows me to let go of all the stress and return to feeling content. 

STARTUP LESSON: When to Quit? 

STARTUP LESSON: I met with a dynamic startup founder yesterday. She has been working to build a 3-way marketplace. Two of the parties love her product, but the third is reluctant to engage.

She has been struggling for a year and a half to get the third party to participate on the platform, but it’s been difficult. I told her to stop trying so hard. If one of the parties in your market place doesn’t love what you’re offering, you’ll never convince them otherwise.

STARTUP LESSON: Revenue Streams 

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STARTUP LESSON: If you’re an early stage startup with 5 revenue streams, I probably won’t invest because what it tells me is that none of your revenue streams is strong enough to build a billion-dollar business. Most great startups begin with one primary revenue stream that is powerful enough to take the company to IPO. Think of Facebook with advertising or Airbnb with rentals or Amazon with online shopping. They all have one dominant revenue stream. If you need multiple revenue streams to succeed, your  business is probably broken.

STARTUP LESSON: Differentiation 

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STARTUP LESSON: Your product needs to offer a fundamentally different core value to the customer than anything else on the market. Otherwise you’re just following–not leading. Leaders dominate. Followers fade away.

STARTUP LESSON: Best of Breed 

​STARTUP LESSON: Always invest in the best of breed. It’s a winner-take-all world. The top startups in each market dominate. If a startup is aiming to be 3rd, 4th or 5th in their market, they are DOA (dead on arrival). Smart capital,  customers, and economies of scale always favor the market leader. Everyone else will struggle to survive.

STARTUP LESSON: The Path Less Traveled 

STARTUP LESSON: Take a different path than everyone else, even if it takes longer and the journey is more difficult. That’s the only way to discover something new.

STARTUP LESSON: Don’t Forget to Have Fun 

STARTUP LESSON: Always have fun and make new friends wherever you go! If you can’t enjoy the ride, there’s no point going.

In every city I travel to, I always make time to have some fun. For example, last week when I visited Wuhan, I reached out to my network and asked them to introduce me to some random locals–people I didn’t know.

I went out to dinner each night with new people, made new friends, biked all over Forest University, ate crayfish, and did business.

STARTUP LESSON: Company Culture

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STARTUP LESSON: Every startup must have a culture. Culture isn’t about having a Ping Pong table, free food or hip furniture. It’s about having a belief that everyone shares–a belief that guides your company. What do you believe your business is all about? What’s your mission–beyond making money? Why does your company mean something to people? That’s culture. Now go create it!