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  • 1. An Entrepreneurial Journey:Flowers Smelled, Lessons Learned
    Roy Rodenstein
    CMU Alumni Association
    3/3/2011
  • 2. About Me
    @royrod how2startup.com
    Companies
    Mentor
    Investor/Advisor
    UX researcher
    early employee
    acquired by
    co-founder
    acquired by
  • 3. What’s An Entrepreneur?
    Stomach of steel
    quitting job, no pay, uncertainty/risk
    massive ups and downs
    Self-starter
    Bounce back from rejection
    Driven to realize a vision
    Skills, ability & willingness to learn
    No ego
    menial, dirty work
    Zen view on all feedback
    Go for it!
  • 4. Going.com & BootstrappedLocal Marketing
  • 5. Going History in a Nutshell
    $500k Seed
    Additional Funding
    Co-found Going.com
    Acquired
    Rejected by YC
    $3M Series A
    Quit Day Job
    2005
    2006
    2007
    2008
    2009
  • 6. What’s So Hard About Local?
    Product
    “Cold start” problem, per geo
    Need local relevance, e.g. content
    Geo Branding
    VillageVoice, SF Weekly
    Good luck getting Voice.com
  • 7. What’s So Hard About Local?
    Marketing
    WoM is limited
    “Is Going available in other cities?”
    “Should I tell my friends in Chicago?”
    Traditional methods
    Can’t use cheap national/non-geotargeted!
    Impacts SEM, banners, affiliate, PR, etc.
    SEO
    Geo subdomains etc., duplicate content
  • 8. 1. Prove It In 1 Geo, Then Scale
    Started in Boston, Spring ‘05
    Prototyping, customer development etc.
    Added NY and SF after BOS reached 10k
    Started with stringers/part-timers
  • 9. 2. Bootstrap Local Marketing
    Grew marketing in concentric layers…
    1st: 100 close friends + family
    2nd: attended 4 house parties/night with my cofounder for 3 months
    3rd: created our own events, traditions
    4rd: cross-marketing w/local orgs
    Young alumni club, salsa fans group, etc.
    5th: hire local stringers for 5 hrs/wk
  • 10. 3. Scale Marketing w/Funding
    6th: Launch event in Boston
    Fenway Fest: TV, subway, partner promos
    Red Sox said no-go afternoon before. Ouch.
    7th: National launch at Demo ‘06
    8th: Hired local full-/part-time staff
    9th: SEM (geo-targeted)
    10th: Launch events in NY, SF, Chicago
    11th: Local PR
  • 11. Fenway Fest Subway Ad (Boston, Sept. 06)
  • 12. Early Stage Team-Building
  • 13. How I think about early stage teams
    What are my strengths & weaknesses?
    Skills: Hacking, Product, Marketing, Sales, Finance, Management
    Qualities: detail oriented vs. macro view, people person, communication
    Be brutally honest with yourself
    What strengths does the company need
    Now?
    In 6 months?
    In 2 years?
    What are sporadic vs. sustainable roles?
  • 14. Sporadic needs
    “We need a new logo, so I need to hire a full-time designer ASAP!!!”
    Full-time hires are hard
    1-3 calendar months, days of real effort on spec, interviews, negotiation
    Firing is really hard
    Hiring wrong person full-time is very costly
    Layoffs take toll on the team and your credibility
    When in doubt, start with low commitment
    Temp-to-hire is very common
  • 15. Common staffing approaches
  • 16. Sustainable needs
    “This area needs help now, and it still will in a year”
    Someone will need to lead Hacking, Product, Marketing
    These problems don’t “go away”
    Could be a founder, a sr. hire, or a jr. hire that ‘scales’
    Wearing multiple hats for a while is fine
    Plan out hires at least 6-12 months in advance (e.g. Excel gantt)
  • 17. What makes a founder?
    Believes in the vision
    Committed to the company
    Sustained fit and value
    “My cofounder will help a bit with emailing bloggers and users,
    taking a shot at drumming up some potential clients,
    and later we’ll figure out what else they do”
  • 18. What a co-founder blowup looks like
    Spooks your investors, your team, and your cap table
  • 19. Where to find full-time Hires
    Your friends
    Your network
    Craigslist
    Joel on Software
    Dice
    College career fairs
    Monster
    Careerbuilder
    Crunchboard
    Your friends’ networks
    Twitter
    Quora
    LinkedIn
    Facebook
    Blog comments
    Your user community
    Meetup groups
    Industry events
    Everywhere…
  • 20. Fundraising Debugged
  • 21. Fundraising Decoder Ring
  • 22. Boston, SF, NYC: How They Stack Up
    Boston
    Great for Mobile, B2B/SaaS, E-Commerce etc.
    Pro: If you recruit a star, better chance to hold onto them
    Con: Few superangels/MicroVCs, so seed round valuations lower
    SF
    #1 by far for Consumer, Web, Gaming, etc.
    Pro: Can swing a dead cat and hit an angel investor; bubbl-y $$
    Con: FB, Google steal all great hackers and drive prices up; no loyalty
    NYC
    Great for Ad Networks, Fashion, Cloud, ‘Hip’ Services
    Pro: Growing angel and VC scene, though still smaller than Boston
    Con: Expensive to operate other than deep Brooklyn or NJ
  • 23. Further Resources
    Angel, Incubator, VC Lists
    Xconomy: http://www.xconomy.com/boston/resources/
    Jon Pierce Boston Angels List: http://twitter.com/jonpierce/boston-angels
    Relevant Blogs
    VentureHacks: http://www.venturehacks.com
    Mark Suster: http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com
    Brad Feld: http://www.feld.com
    Chris Dixon: http://cdixon.org
    Fred Wilson: http://www.avc.com
    Paul Graham: http://www.paulgraham.com/articles.html
    (me): http://how2startup.com
    Documents
    YC Series AA Funding Docs: http://ycombinator.com/seriesaa.html
    AVC Seed Docs: http://avc.com/a_vc/2010/03/standardized-venture-funding-docs.html
    Wilson Sonsini Term Sheet Generator: https://dealbuilder.wsgr.com
    Boston
    Dart Boston: http://dartboston.com
    Greenhorn Connect: http://www.greenhornconnect.com
    Web Innovators Group: http://www.webinnovatorsgroup.com
    Techstars: http://techstars.org/boston
    MassChallenge: http://www.masschallenge.org/