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Products I Love to Use

Products I Love to Use Bothsidesofthetable Jun 29, 2015

Every year around the holidays journalists and bloggers […]

Should the Founder be the CEO of a Startup Until the End?

Should the Founder be the CEO of a Startup Until the End? Bothsidesofthetable Jun 25, 2015

Reid Hoffman (founder) and Jeff Weiner (CEO) of LinkedI […]

Fauxmentum

Fauxmentum Bothsidesofthetable Jul 1, 2015

________________________________ faux·men·tum fōˈmen(t) […]

More Great News for #LATech – Crosscut Ventures Raises $75 Million Fund

More Great News for #LATech – Crosscut Ventures Raises $75 Million Fund Bothsidesofthetable Jun 23, 2015

Crosscut Ventures has just announced their 3rd fund and […]

Want to Know How to Join One of the Country’s Most Successful VC Fund? Bothsidesofthetable Jun 24, 2015

I recently interviewed Matt Mazzeo of Lowercase Capital […]

Doing some good with the people who want your time Thisisgoingtobebig Jun 24, 2015

In the last two days, I've had three different conversations with people who were asking me what I do with the people who want to grab coffee when the mutual benefit isn't immediately mutual. Don't get me wrong--these are people who are all extremely generous with their time--and that's probably why more people reach out to them. You have a useful meeting with someone and then they tell someone else it was useful, and so on, and so on...

Unfortunately, you only have so many hours in the day--well, the working day, anyway. You do, however, do other things--things that not everyone might be interested in, but if they *really* wanted to meet with you, they'd do.

I'm talking about volunteering.

A lot of people in the tech and startup community volunteer their time to various non-profits--things that always need more help. It's too easy for someone to ask you for coffee. What if you responded with "happy to connect up, why don't you meet me at this soup kitchen Thursday morning?"

Actually, it would be fantastic for you to give them an address and make it a place that hands out breakfast to the homeless or something.

"Oh, did you think *we* were having breakfast? Oh, no, I meant we'll be giving other people breakfast."

Anyone that doesn't stick around for that isn't the kind of person you'd want to meet up with anyway.

For me, it's volunteering to help give the public a free kayaking experience. I co-founded the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse. Our paddlers are mostly local, diverse, working class or lower income--basically anyone who lives within walking distance of the park that isn't going to be paying to kayak in the Hamptons this summer. It's a group of people whose lives involve a lot of waiting on line for stuff undoubtedly, and who can't pay their way around the process. We provide an empowering but safe experience to a lot of people who may not have ever been on the water or who believed themselves capable of paddling their own kayak around on [...]

When Should You Allow Exclusivity in Deals? Bothsidesofthetable Jun 23, 2015

I’ve heard many investors and some executives rep […]

Why Successful People Focus on the Bottom End of the Funnel

Why Successful People Focus on the Bottom End of the Funnel Bothsidesofthetable Jun 19, 2015

Business leaders have many tasks to accomplish and prio […]

This is the Product Death Cycle. Why it happens, and how to break out of it

This is the Product Death Cycle. Why it happens, and how to break out of it Andrewchen Jun 16, 2015

The hardest part of any new product launch is the beginning, when it’s not quite working, and you’re iterating and molding the experience to fix it. It may be the hardest phase, but it’s also the most fun. The Product Death Cycle All of this was on my mind when I saw a great tweet from […]

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Quick update: Quoted in WSJ on dating apps, recent podcast interview, plus recent essays

Quick update: Quoted in WSJ on dating apps, recent podcast interview, plus recent essays Andrewchen Jun 11, 2015

Couple quick things that I wanted to batch up in a single post. A quote from me in the Wall Street Journal today First, there’s a quote from me in the Wall Street Journal today, for an article covering the opportunities/challenges of dating apps. I’ve been told the story will be on page B1 of the paper edition, […]

The post Quick update: Quoted in WSJ on dating apps, recent podcast interview, plus recent essays appeared first on andrewchen.

Do Less. More. Bothsidesofthetable Jun 18, 2015

We are experiencing a frenetic time. I rarely talk to a […]

Do you know what you do and who else knows? Thisisgoingtobebig Jun 15, 2015

I was chatting with a friend about going to work for startup companies, and told her that career development really came down to two simple things:

1. Do you know what you do?

Do you offer a clear deliverable, best suited for a particular segment of customers or clients, that aligns with their near term goals?

In other words, do you "do marketing" or do you "help seed and Series A backed companies test and optimize their marketing content, deploy it across multiple channels, and analyze the customer acquisition analytics to create a plan to scale future marketing budgets?"

In the latter case, if someone said, "We're thinking of putting a little bit of money to work to figure out where we should be marketing and to prove to future investors that we can spend money wisely to grow," then you'd be the exact right fit for that.

Sometimes, figuring out what you do means doing a lot of interviews to figure out what people's needs are, so you can tailor the message and understand that the product you're delivering--you--is what the market wants.

2. Do other people know what you do?

Here's a trackable metric: How many people know enough about your work to make a great client intro and can tell the client exactly what they need you for?

Growing that number over time will result in direct leads to more work opportunities.

You can do that by creating thought leadership content on sites like Medium, or writing for other professional publications.

You should be a leader among the relevant professional Meetup groups, perhaps organizing one yourself.

Curating a newsletter of helpful professional content, occasionally adding your own perspective will help.

Also reaching out to a wide range of potential customers and connectors to customers with free help is also a way to get people hooked on your professional talents. You've just got to figure out what kind of free help is manageable at scale. Maybe it's a lunchtime seminar for the portfolio compa [...]

How Has Product Hunt Become Such a Critical Startup Website? Bothsidesofthetable Jun 12, 2015

Product Hunt. It seems out of nowhere it has become the […]

When the Good Guys in Venture Change Roles

When the Good Guys in Venture Change Roles Bothsidesofthetable Jun 11, 2015

This morning it was announced that Matt Murphy had left […]

New data shows losing 80% of mobile users is normal, and why the best apps do better

New data shows losing 80% of mobile users is normal, and why the best apps do better Andrewchen Jun 9, 2015

Exclusive data on retention curves for mobile apps In a recent essay covering the Next Feature Fallacy, I explained why shipping “just one more feature” doesn’t fix your product. The root cause is that the average app has pretty bad retention metrics. Today, I’m excited to share some real numbers on mobile retention. I’ve worked with mobile […]

The post New data shows losing 80% of mobile users is normal, and why the best apps do better appeared first on andrewchen.

Happy Birthday HubSpot! 9 Lessons From Our First 9 Years

Happy Birthday HubSpot! 9 Lessons From Our First 9 Years Onstartups Jun 9, 2015

9 years ago today, on June 9th 2006, HubSpot was officially started. I remember the day, because it was also the day I graduated. (I had promised myself I'd enjoy my 2 years in grad school without too much distraction, so deliberately picked graduation day as the official start-date for HubSpot.)

So far, we've had a pretty good run. HubSpot is now public [NYSE:HUBS] and still growing fast. More importantly (at least to me), I'm still having a great time.

Rather than bring out the party hats and cake, I thought I'd reflect a bit on some of the hard-won lessons we've learned across our 9 hear history in the hopes that it will be helpful to some of you. (Note: The below picture of a cake is from our 2nd birthday party. Now, we'd need a bigger cake)

Six Reasons Not to Invest in a Venture Capital Fund Thisisgoingtobebig Jun 10, 2015

I recently met up with an investor who I'm not totally sure is a fit for my second fund, so it was important to me that I was upfront about all the reasons why he shouldn't come in. The last thing you want as either a founder or even a VC is to have an investor get stuck with you when you're not on the same page about expectations.

So here's all the reasons I told him he shouldn't be in:

1) Fund investing is boring. Let's be clear. You trust me with your money and I get to do the fun part--working with founders. For most funds, you get a quarterly statement that isn't fun at all, and then you get to go to a once a year meeting. The meeting is nicely done, but it's just that one meeting.

Now, granted I've tried hard to change that. More updates, more casual events, more exposure to portfolio companies, co-investing, etc., but you're still not pulling the trigger yourself. Being in a fund is not the same thing as angel investing.

Of course, angel investing for most people isn't very fun past the first year. Writing checks is plenty fun, but when you realize that you probably aren't very good at it, these companies need lots of help, and you realize you missed out on the best ones because no one knew who you are, I guess fun is relative.

2) The payback time is forever. It takes a really long time for a company to go from zero to being worth hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, and to *exit*. These are six, seven, eight year runs or sometimes even longer. Imagine that's the case in the deals you do out of the fund in year one. Now, in year two, the same thing happens, and year three and year four, etc, etc. You could wind up getting distribution checks from a fund you invested in a dozen years ago. Hopefully, the fund gets some nice wins early and you start to get your money back, but when you're in a venture fund, you're in for a really long haul. Think kids college tuition money.

3) You don't really know what you've got until the money i [...]

What is it Like to Negotiate a VC Round? Bothsidesofthetable Jun 5, 2015

Over the years I’ve written extensively about the […]

Photos of the women who programmed the ENIAC, wrote the code for Apollo 11, and designed the Mac

Photos of the women who programmed the ENIAC, wrote the code for Apollo 11, and designed the Mac Andrewchen Jun 4, 2015

Ada Lovelace, an early computing pioneer, featured prominently in Walter Isaacson’s book The Innovators Innovation is messy, and too easy to oversimplify After finishing Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, I eagerly devoured his followup book, The Innovators. This book zooms out to focus not on an individual, but on the teams of collaborators and competitors who’ve driven technology forward, and the […]

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The Next Feature Fallacy: The fallacy that the next new feature will suddenly make people use your product

The Next Feature Fallacy: The fallacy that the next new feature will suddenly make people use your product Andrewchen Jun 1, 2015

A few weeks ago, I read this tweet, and found myself nodding my head in vigorous agreement. The Next Feature Fallacy: the fallacy that the next feature you add will suddenly make people want to use the entire product. — Joshua Porter (@bokardo) May 14, 2015 For people who love to build product, when something’s […]

The post The Next Feature Fallacy: The fallacy that the next new feature will suddenly make people use your product appeared first on andrewchen.

How Emotion Helped Grow Our Startup to 2.8M Users in 20 Months

How Emotion Helped Grow Our Startup to 2.8M Users in 20 Months Onstartups Jun 1, 2015

This is a guest post by Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva. We are launching Canva For Work that will help you and your team create original stunning visuals faster than ever. Register your interest to win free accounts.

On Leadership. Fatherhood. And Managing Different Personalities

On Leadership. Fatherhood. And Managing Different Personalities Bothsidesofthetable Jun 2, 2015

* What does it mean to be a leader? It’s relative […]

Some Thoughts on Twitter as a Micro-Blogging Tool

Some Thoughts on Twitter as a Micro-Blogging Tool Bothsidesofthetable May 29, 2015

Planning a threaded Tweetstorm? Here’s the rules: […]

Why investors don’t fund dating

Why investors don’t fund dating Andrewchen May 26, 2015

I’ve been listening to the excellent Season 2 of the podcast Startup, which gives an inside look at YCombinator startup The Dating Ring (NYT coverage here). The episodes are all great. They talk about many important topics, but I had some specific comments on fundraising for dating products. Here’s a simple fact: It’s super hard to get a dating product funded […]

The post Why investors don’t fund dating appeared first on andrewchen.

A Month with No Funding Announcements Thisisgoingtobebig Jun 1, 2015

Every other day, some startup is raising some ludicrous amount of money at some outlandish valuation. It feels like the mother of all pissing contests and tech journalists seem all too willing to play along.

Is it really going to make or break your career if you're the first to Uber's Series H round, the one between the $60 billion valuation and the $90 billion valuation.

I'll bet they're all chomping at the bit to be the first to announce the $100 billion valuation, because, you know, PSYCHOLOGICALLY SATISFYING ROUND NUMBERS!

Could you imagine what public market news would look like if every trade was covered like this?

On Wednesday of last week, Apple gained $15 billion of market cap. For those of you keeping score, that's a whole Snapchat... in a day.

Sort of positions the venture valuation pissing contest directly into the wind, doesn't it?

You know what I find a lot more interesting? When someone writes about a company for the first time.

I'd rather hear about a new company, have it's merits and pitfalls thoughtfully debated and it's potential impact pondered than discuss, yet again, how much some company might be worth based on a small amount of preferred private stock trading hands.

What would startup journalism look like if you couldn't write about new fundings?

What if everything you read was about things being built? Or stories of entrepreneurs and how they built awesome stuff?

Oh, and there would be no VC profiles unless something they backed got bought or went public. Then you could write the story about how they won the deal or picked it when no else else did.

It's June today. Why don't we just try it out for a month?

One Simple Paragraph Every Entrepreneur Should Add to Their Convertible Notes Bothsidesofthetable May 31, 2015

I’m so tired of seeing young entrepreneurs get sc […]

The Tedium of Being a Founder Thisisgoingtobebig May 26, 2015

We glamorize the life of a founder--the big picture idea person who creates something big out of nothing. They lead a team with vision and bold thinking, guiding a ship from the helm.

Right?

That certainly seems to be what people believe--because I can't tell you how many founders are surprised when they find out how much of the job is... well...

Mind-numbingly tedious.

So much of what you wind up doing as the founder of a company is dealing with a seemingly endless pile of boring crap. You're pouring over legal documents, traffic analytics, hundreds of resumes, signing up for things, looking up available domain names, getting domains to propagate, hours and hours of e-mail.

I once had to categorize 65,000 job titles into categories of similar jobs that made some sense--because, you know, a managing director isn't the same as a funeral director.

Obviously, you need to have a great idea, but that's pretty much where my own skill as a founder ended. I am a terrible executor of small administrative details and so not only was I surprised at how many there where, I felt like it emotionally dragged me down as well.

Being in a startup was supposed to feel freeing relative to a corporate environment--but the lack of resources and bench support didn't make it feel very freeing.

The key to getting over that is to get successful enough, early enough, to move things off of your plate. When Steve Jobs decided that the iPhone needed to be this thin, the job of executing it fell to a team of folks that included a guy that just tests glass strength all the time. Now there's a tedious job: Glass guy for the iPhone.

Sometimes I wonder if the key to success isn't so much in the big vision, but in figuring out how to get rid of the four or five things you really don't want to get stuck doing.