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10 Lessons from a First Time Entrepreneur.


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10 key lessons I've learned over an eight year (and counting) journey as a first time entrepreneur. First presented at Lean Startup Machine in San Diego, CA on May 19, 2013.

Published in: Business, Technology

10 Lessons from a First Time Entrepreneur.

  1. 10 lessons from a first timeentrepreneur.@scotchisholm
  2. Hi, my name is Scot…Co-Founder & CEO@scotchisholm
  3. …and I‟m a 1st time entrepreneur.
  4. This deck highlights some key learningsfrom our own eight-year journey (andcounting) as first-time entrepreneurs.In no way do I have all the answers, buthopefully this deck can help other first-time entrepreneurs who feel like…
  5. Started a company before 15.Knows how to code.Numerous companies under their belt.Dropped out of college & moved toBay area.… the odds arealways stackedagainst them.
  6. “Entrepreneurship: 90% proving otherswrong… 10% everything else.”- Aaron Levie
  7. The TechCrunch version of anentrepreneurial journey.
  8. The real life version…?
  9. Here‟s our journey (so far)in 5 slides…
  10. 2005. We hosted a pub-crawl to raise money for the AmericanCancer Society. We dedicated it to my mom, who had battled breastcancer twice when I was in High School & College. 75 people showedup and we raised $1,000. This was the initial motivation!
  11. 2006 - 2009. And so we started hosting dozens of fundraisingevents, anything from concerts to 5k races, and raised tens ofthousands of dollars for local San Diego nonprofits. As our eventsgrew, we decided to build our own fundraising & registration app to helpus raise more money. Eventually local nonprofits took notice, and westarted letting them use it for their own fundraising.
  12. 2010 - 2013. We rebuilt our app from the ground up, andlaunched a more scalable version in January 2011 to any nonprofitorganization. We eventually phased out our own fundraising eventsand concentrated 100% on helping nonprofits through the onlineplatform. Well, except one event…
  13. The CLASSY Awards. We started the CLASSY Awards in2009 to shine a spotlight on local San Diego based nonprofits that weredoing amazing work. Now several years later, the CLASSY Awardshas become the largest social impact award show in the United States.Since its inception, the collective efforts of the nominees have impactedthe lives of more than 500 million people in 134 countries.
  14. 5,000+ Social Impact Organizations.Today. StayClassy is the world‟s largest funding platformexclusively for social impact organizations. Since we launched in2011, over 5,000 organizations have used StayClassy to raise tens ofmillions in funding from over 1 million people. We‟ve been at it for eightyears in one form or another, but we feel like we‟re just getting started!
  15. And now, some of what we‟velearned along the way …
  16. Embrace the grind.(aka, this shit ain‟t easy)#1
  17. “Not a single personwhose name is worthremembering lived alife of ease.”- Common
  18. • There‟s no such thing as an overnight success.• Entrepreneurship is not a side-hobby.• Find a passion, keep pursuing and you‟ll probablydiscover a business opportunity.• Most people will doubt you (at first).• Most investors will say “no” (at first).• You‟ll even doubt yourself and your idea many timesalong the way.Embrace the grind.#1
  19. Accelerate your learning.#2
  20. #2“The only wayto win is tolearn fasterthan anyoneelse.”- Eric Ries
  21. • Know what you don‟t know (which is a lot).• Validate assumptions with least amount of work.• “Get out of the building” – Steve Blank• Listen to customers: decipher needs vs. wants.• Personal development is equally as important ascustomer development.• Read, follow, post, get advice. Learn how to talk the talk& walk the walk.Accelerate your learning.#2
  22. Create a data-driven culture.#3
  23. “In god wetrust, allothers mustbring data”- W. Edwards Deming
  24. • Spend 90% of your time finding people who appreciatedata, 10% on finding the right tools.• Don‟t over-measure! Measuring is hard enough as itis.• Focus on your “one-metric-that-matters” at each stageof business – make it actionable!• Get the data in the hands of your staff (weeklyreports, TV metrics, company dashboard, etc.)• Don‟t just report it, analyze & hypothesize as a group.Data-driven culture.#3
  25. Credit (book): Lean Analytics
  26. Raise traction before money.#4
  27. “Be so good they can‟tignore you.”- Steve Martin
  28. • As 1st-time entrepreneur, traction is all you have forcredibility.• Don‟t wait… launch way before you‟re “comfortable”.• Prove you can grow your “One Metric That Matters”over time – shows traction & focus.• Lack of focus (or perception of) is your worst enemy.• Demonstrate what you learned along the way.• Traction & personal discipline “de-risks” things in theeyes of the investor.Raise traction before money.#4
  29. Charge as soon as possible.#5
  30. Jason Fried Quote.“When entrepreneurs ask me how to getcustomers to tell them what they really think, Irespond with two words: charge them.”- Jason Fried
  31. • It‟s scary to charge, but its the best way to get honestcustomer feedback (and make money).• Keep pricing simple & align with customer value.• No right or wrong when selecting initial price points…use your best educated guess.• Learn pricing thresholds from new customers withoutdisrupting the existing ones (i.e. A/B test pricing page).• Consider 2nd pricing-axis & upgrade paths.Charge as soon as possible.#5
  32. Don‟t be afraid to change your model.#6
  33. “A startup is a temporaryorganization designedto search for arepeatable and scalablebusiness model.”- Steve Blank
  34. • Search for the product and business model that bestmatches your customer‟s needs and behaviors (round pegin a round hole).• Product-Market-Fit… wtf is that?• “When over 40% of your customers say they would be „verydisappointed‟ if your product went away” – Sean Ellis• After PMF, the fine-tuning never stops(product, pricing, acquisition strategy, etc.)• Don‟t scale until each new customer is profitable.Don‟t be afraid to change model.#6
  35. Your team is a system too.#7
  36. “Vision withoutexecution ishallucination”- Thomas Edison
  37. • “At the root of every technical problem is a humanproblem.”• How do you get the optimal output from each person onyour team, including yourself?• Get the right people on the bus first, then swap seats ifnecessary.• Culture of empowerment: Shared power & involvement.• Create autonomy with boundaries & accountability (goalsetting; “Objectives & Key Results”).Your team is a system too.#7
  38. Find your blue ocean.#8
  39. “The only way to beatthe competition is tostop trying to beatthe competition”
  40. • Observe your competition, but don‟t follow.• Find a game that your competitors can‟t play.• In blue oceans, rules of the game are waiting to be set.• Continuous search for new and uncontested marketspace – never stop innovating.• Build a defensible moat, but remember that blue oceansdon‟t last forever.• No change, no future.Find your blue ocean.#8
  41. Lay out a clear vision.#9
  42. “TOMS is no longer a shoe company… we‟re aone-for-one company”- Blake Mycoskie, TOMS
  43. • It‟s never too early to lay out a vision.• Clear and compelling description of the future.• Unifying focal point and catalyst for team spirit.• BHAG‟s = Big Hairy Audacious Goals [Jim Collins]• 20-30 year goals with clear finish lines, 50-70%probability of success, but team believes it can be done.• BHAG‟s measure progress against vision.• Amazon: Every book, ever printed, in any language, allavailable in 60 seconds.Lay out a clear vision.#9
  44. Stand for something.#10
  45. “People don‟t buy whatyou do, they buy whyyou do it”- Simon Sinek
  46. • Core purpose is your company‟s backbone (and can beyour backbone too).• Why do you exist? What values do you hold dear?• Should be relevant 100 years from now.• No competitor can take purpose away from you.• “Making money” or “pleasing shareholders” are not goodanswers.• The greatest companies all have non-monetary core-purposes. Disney: To make people happy.Stand for something.#10
  47. Stand for something.#10BusinessPurposeSocialPurposethe sweetspot
  48. “ Our lives begin to end the daywe become silent about thingsthat matter ”- MLK
  49. Helpful Resources.p.s. there’s lots of great stuff out there, these justhappen to be some of my personal favorites.
  50. Leadership, Core Ideology, Culture, SocentJames Collins: Building Your Company’s Vision [Article]Dharmesh Shah: Culture Code: Creating a Lovable Company [Pres]Tony Hsieh: Zappos Lessons: Building a Customer Focused Culture [Pres]David Bornstein’s New York Times Social Entrepreneurship Blog [Blog]
  51. Startups, Metrics, Product, GrowthKISSMetrics Blog: https://blog.kissmetrics.comAndrew Chen Blog: http://andrewchen.coDan Martell Blog: http://danmartell.comSignals vs. Noise Blog: McClure: Startup Metrics for Pirates [Pres]
  52. Eric Ries Blog: Skok Blog: Allis: How to be a Startup CEO [Article]Drew Houston: Dropbox Startup Lessons Learned [Pres]Gail Goodman: How to Negotiate the Long, Slow, SaaS Ramp of Death [Video]Steve Blank: The Customer Development Methodology [Pres]Mattan Griffel: Growth Hacking [Pres]Chad Dickerson: Optimizing for Developer Happiness [Pres & Video]Startups, Metrics, Product, Growth
  53. Marketing, Sales, FundraisingHubspot Blog: Ellis Blog: http://www.startup-marketing.comNeil Patel Blog: McClure: How to Pitch a VC [Pres]Ryan Allis: How to Raise Venture Capital [Article]Rand Fishkin: SEOmoz Venture Capital Process [Article]
  54. Other Books
  55. @scotchisholmThank you!