How to Scale Your Startup

What happens when Reid Hoffman, Allen Blue, Chris Yeh and John Lilly get together to teach how to scale your startup? A new class at Stanford called Blitzcaling.

The sessions were made available to the public so everyone can benefit. You can watch the classes via Youtube, listen during your commute on SoundCloud and check out class notes as well.

Check out this Medium post by John Lilly with the links to all resources: https://medium.com/greylock-perspectives/now-playing-blitzscaling-9c7b333cc379#.dqkymkwfz

Regardless of which growth stage your startup is in, the interviews and discussions with founders that have done it before is a great source of inspiration. Enjoy!

Go-To-Market Best Practices for Startups

An incredibly useful presentation and video put together by the gang at Andreseen Horowitz, the Go-to-Market Best Practices for Startups is a must ready for early stage SaaS companies.

While some of the topics are only dealt on a high level, it nonetheless gives you a good framework to dive into and build your own tools for your company. I have not seen a better starting guide than this one. Check it out!

Go to: http://a16z.com/2015/03/06/go-to-market-bootcamp/

And now let’s make fun of startup lingo

Funny post by Techcrunch earlier this month on startup culture / slang / lingo. My favorites are:

Cashflow Positive – Someone gave us a dollar.

Pre-Money Valuation – A number you made up.

“I’m a serial entrepreneur.” – Person who had two ideas, both of which failed.

Growth Hacking – Sales, marketing and associated activities, but with a label that incorporates the word “hacking,” because nontechnical people want to call themselves “hackers” too.

Check out the full list at “how to speak startup“.

The Top Private Cloud Companies

I recently came across this cool chart put together by the team at VC firm Bessemer Venture Partners. They plot what they consider the top private cloud companies grouped by functional area (marketing, sales, finance, HR, etc.).

The team at BVP also has an interesting Cloud Computing Index they keep up to date which tracks over 40 publicly traded cloud companies.

Check out the chart and the index at http://www.bvp.com/cloud or, click on the image below.

BVP Cloudscape

BVP Cloudscape

The Startup Story You Should Remember

Debt, unsurmountable challenges, loneliness, and hope. These are probably words that all startup founders can relate to. And although the majority of startups fail, it is good to hear of those that went through hell and came back stronger.

The SlideShare presentation below tells the story of MOZ (formerly known as SEOMoz), from their early start with thousands of dollars in debt, failed attempts at raising capital, changing business model, up to where they are today. 

Rand Fishkin, founder of MOZ, is a great storyteller and shares details that other companies try to hide. In this presentation, aptly titled “The Hard Truths of Entrepreneurship”, Rand gives us a candid account of their journey and important lessons throughout. It is one of those “must see” presentations.

When a bad startup idea gives us good laughs

Let’s face it, not all ideas out there are worth of praise. I have been to many startup networking events where several people told me about very similar startup ideas that were basically copy-cats of other already proven models. But the best conversations are typically around those weird, different, maybe even bold ideas that make you think you don’t quite get it and wonder if it will ever make money.

Case in point is Vessyl, which Stephen Colbert hilariously mocks in his show. The “smart” drinking cup might have some utility, but so far has only gotten laughs.

Worth checking out.

Link: http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/9nzwjt/vessyl-digital-cup

Or click the image below.

Stephen Colbert Vessyl

Why Freemium Could Be a Costly Trap

While in B2C startups the freemium model is widespread, in the B2B world it could lead to a costly trap. Case in point is Box, whose imminent IPO also shed some light to its finances and according to a recent Re/Code article says that of its 25 million users “only seven percent — fewer than 2 million at 34,000 companies — are paying for it”. The result is that Box doesn’t expect to see any profitability soon…. if ever. 

You may also recall Chargify, a subscription billing company that almost went bankrupt and had to kill their free plan and start charging customers.

In the enterprise or B2B world the “free trial” is the way most companies use the “free” option, to attract customers that will eventually have to start paying, whether 15, 30 or 60 days latter. This is not freemium, though.

One company that comes to mind that did well with a free offering is HubSpot. They offer their suite of “grader” tools (https://marketing.grader.com/) for free. This allows companies to assess their website and blog ‘score’ with suggestions for improvement. But wait, before you point your finger at the scream and yell “AHA!” look more closely… this free offering is NOT a free version of their product. It is instead a side tool used to promote the company so that other businesses try it out and might eventually decide to see what HubSpot is all about. Clever? Absolutely. Freemium? Not really.

As much as “free” can help attract interest from potential buyers, in the B2B side I haven’t seen a huge success, yet.