CodeFest 2014. Brett Martin — Postmortem of a venture-backed Startup

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CodeFest 2014. Brett Martin — Postmortem of a venture-backed Startup

  1. 1. Postmortem of a Venture-backed Startup Lessons learned from the rise and fall of @ Sonar via @brett1211
  2. 2. Quick intro Brett Martin, @brett1211 Three time founder: “NewCo”, @Sonar, Dataowl…Getting less bad each time Went to Dartmouth, worked on Wall Street, won a Fulbright, published by HBR and a bunch of other things that don’t matter Not actually 103
  3. 3. @Sonar by the #s ~2,000,000 users 100+ countries ~$2,000,000 in Venture Capital +300 press mentions (NYT, Time, CNN etc) Dozens of awards (e.g. Ad:Tech best mobile startup) Value today = $0
  4. 4. Agenda Product/Market Fit False positives False negatives Metrics that matter Time Wasters Events Brands Side Projects Competition Selling People Misalignment Be practical Culture is your cofounder Onward What kills startups When to move on Next steps
  5. 5. P/M Fit: False positives Lesson Learned: “I would use your product if only you had X feature” is a dangerous signal to follow.
  6. 6. P/M Fit: False negatives Lesson Learned: Removing friction from existing user behaviors almost always has a higher ROI than building castles in the sky.
  7. 7. P/M Fit: Metrics that matter Lesson Learned: Know what metrics will be required to raise your next round.
  8. 8. Time Wasters: Events Lesson Learned: Events are for research, business development, and hiring; NOT for getting to 10,000,000 downloads.
  9. 9. Time Wasters: Brands Lesson Learned: Be polite, but postpone brand and agency “intros” until you’ve built your own audience. If you build it, they will come (and pay).
  10. 10. Time Wasters: Side projects Lesson Learned: You do not have 20% time. Identify your top three priorities. Throw away numbers two and three.
  11. 11. Time Wasters: Competition Lesson Learned: Be steady at the wheel. The only way one startup can kill another startup is by getting into the other’s head and leading them off a cliff.
  12. 12. Time Wasters: Selling the company Lesson Learned: Companies don’t get sold, they get bought. The best way to get bought is to build something of value. That’s hard to do when you are trying to sell.
  13. 13. People: Misalignment Lesson Learned: Avoid bad relationships like the plague but when you inevitably find yourself in a difficult partnership, don’t waste precious energy wailing against it. Make it work or move on quickly.
  14. 14. People: Be practical Lesson Learned: Prove yourself by finding diamonds in the rough, like yourself.
  15. 15. People: Culture is your cofounder Lesson Learned: Think of culture as a cofounder that is present when you are not.
  16. 16. Onward: What really kills startups Lesson Learned: Startups don’t die when they run out of money, they die when their founders let go.
  17. 17. Onward: When to move on Lesson Learned: Startups take 7-10 years. Life is short so choose wisely.
  18. 18. Onward: Resilience Lesson Learned: You ain’t beat if you don’t quit.
  19. 19. Brettlucasmartin@gmail. com Thanks. Peace.

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