Why Really Good Emails Matter

ReallyGoodEmails_ScreenshotBy now, the startup world is familiar with Ryan Hoover’s ProductHunt and it’s upvote style of surfacing interesting startups.  ProductHunt (like Reddit, Digg & LaunchTicker for news, and numerous other services for other verticals) uses the power of the crowd to filter out the best startups of the day.  But ProductHunt’s “surfacing” feature is ephemeral – a startup is on top one day, gone the next, replaced by tomorrow’s hot news.

The upvoting feature has proven itself useful across the internet as a human powered search algorithm, helping to sort through the noise in a more efficient and results-oriented manner than any automated system can achieve.  And now this feature is being implemented in other areas of the web to help internet entrepreneurs and marketers do their jobs better.

While browsing the products on Assembly.com, a “ProductHunt”-style webservice called “Really Good Emails” (“RGE”) came into view recently.  Really Good Emails is a collection of the best-in-class emails that various companies actually use to interact with their customers.  Right now, Really Good Emails is more like Pinterest than ProductHunt and started as the personal collection of favorite emails of “Whale” – the product guru behind RGE – but the RGE product roadmap is clearly lined up like ProductHunt to help marketers find examples of email content, graphics, layouts, and methods that sell better, convert better, engage better, or simply make users feel better about a service they just signed up for.  RGE even appeared on ProductHunt in March 2014 before ProductHunt was hugely popular, and RGE received (as of this blog post) 115 upvotes.  If you like RGE, you too can vote it up and try to increase its exposure.

Email is THE original social network, but email as a functional tool has remained largely the same since it’s inception (with the exception of certain improvements such as rich text & HTML formatting,  Gmail’s conversation threading, or the concept of add-on A/B testing tools like Campaign Monitor, Optimizely, or GetResponse, among many).  The interesting thing about Really Good Emails is that it helps the Internet’s most common social network identify better email styling, and it kickstarts a startup’s A/B email testing efforts so that post-email metrics tools work better – now, it’s like the whole product universe is your own personal A/B test account from which you can draw upon others’ lessons about improved opens, responses, conversions, engagement, alerts, etc. without needing to wade through your own design testing.  Find a design you like and implement it into your email campaigns. And like ProductHunt’s easy access to the startup founders whose products are upvoted every day, Really Good Emails offers (sometimes) direct access to the email marketers who tested and then released these winning emails.  Even better, the product roadmap for the premium version of RGE includes samples of the underlying code that built the various emails, and the ability to exchange insights on each sample with other premium users.

Creating really good emails matters because email is ubiquitous.  It is the most popular form of communication in the world right now after text messaging.  Getting emails right is important to both businesses and to individuals, and to both the sender and the receiver.  Really Good Emails improves the likelihood that businesses will use accessible and effective email communications, and I like that.

Really Good Emails is built on the Assembly platform, which means that not only can you submit your own favorite examples of Good Emails, but you can also contribute development effort to RGE and earn a royalty on RGE’s income.  The same is true of all products built on Assembly, so RGE is a crowd-voting email-surfacing platform, built on a crowd-building application platform (full disclosure – I am building a product on Assembly called SaaSquatch, which is a management tool for a startup’s SaaS stack). If you’re a developer or a startup looking to benefit from tools like Really Good Emails, Assembly offers the ability to jump in and perform coding tasks to help build the services, in exchange for a calculated royalty of the revenue pie generated by the products you contribute to.  Talk about power of the crowd!

4 Qualities of an Excellent Non-Technical Cofounder


The search for cofounders is tough. And there’s a notable tension out there in the world between engineers and perceived “idea guys” – go to any Meetup or founder dating event, and you’ll meet people on both sides of the divide about who’s bringing what value to the table. Engineers invariably think pure idea guys are bringing something akin to the hamster-creating-art image above – and admittedly, idea guys often only have a rough sketch of what they want to build. This article helps bad idea guys become legitimate non-technical cofounders.

My cofounder and I often have a conversation that revolves around :

F1: Engineers are constantly approached by people with ideas who want us to work for equity only, many times for a minority stake.  When pressed, it’s clear that most have not put much effort into developing the idea. I have my own ideas and many people approaching me.  If I can’t separate you from the crowd, I’m not going to jump in with you.

F2: Well, for us business types, it’s simply a matter of plowing through enough meet-and-greets to connect with that one technical cofounder who has enough balls and vision to jump on board what I’m selling.

F1: Your time is better spent working on developing your idea, getting any sort of traction to separate yourself from the crowd, and understanding engineers. If you have a good idea with even minimal traction and true respect for your potential technical counterpart, you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to find a strong technical co-founder. Remember the ratio of idea guys to technical cofounders (anecdotally 40 to 1) and find a way to set yourself apart.  Establish an online presence for themselves as a domain expert, get potential customers lined up, pull together marketing collateral, narrow in on some designs…

We have a general hypothesis (and discussions thereon) that the matching process between non-technical and technical cofounders needs to be improved upon. And if you couldn’t tell from the above exchange, my cofounder is the coder and I’m the non-tech.


I met my prospective cofounder during a purposeful search.  I had a Big Product Idea, I had a working prototype that some friends & I had coded together during a hackathon weekend that was well-received and was actually fun to use, I had the start of a promising advisory board, I had lots and lots of political capital and marketplace news stories piling up in my idea’s favor – but I didn’t have a great marketing plan other than “we’re going to steal the thunder of the existing apps that don’t have the features this does,” and I didn’t have a tech team to help me build a polished MVP or take the product through iterations.  And my own attempts at learning Objective C were dismal – I was looking at probably 1-2 years of a solid dedicated learning environment before I would be able to connect my own dots into a meaningful app beyond Hello World.  So while trying to chat up my cofounder about my idea, he shared one of his, and I liked his just as much.  But now I was in a quandary: if I’m not THE idea guy -if I’m not originating the product- and my technical cofounder is, what role would I play?

I figured out that even if he had the original idea, I would still play the role that the Idea Guy needs to play on his own ideas.  I would take early lead on marketing, customer development, branding, design, financials, and operations.  (And I hopefully already passed the beer test.) But sometimes, when strangers are duking out the cofounder process, the conversation gets sideways into a “Me vs Him” workload discussion.  Check out this exchange on Hacker News.  And this thread between Idea Guys and Engineers.  And this bash.  And this guy who apparently argues with himself.


In economic terms, the area under the effort curves represents the respective value of each person’s effort.

Here is how BAD-IDEA-GUY Professionals (BIG PRO’s) conceptualize the amount of work involved in building a tech product, where the BIG PRO effort is in Red, and the Engineer’s
effort is in Blue. ->

BIG PROS tend to think that their own effort only starts in earnest as soon as the Engineer has built an early version of the BIG PRO’s product (the red curve starts after 0 on the x-axis). Even though they recognize the Engineer will be doing more at the beginning, BIG PROS inherently believe that they are going to be doing at least 2/3 of the work for the company in the long term, and the Engineer will have it easy once the product is released. (In economic terms, the area under the Effort curves represents the respective value of each person’s effort, so double the area means double the effort and value.) To make matters worse, even though BIG PROS internally recognize that the Engineer deserves at least 33% of the early enterprise value, they then try to cram the Engineer down to take 5-10%, thinking they’re being shrewd dealmakers. As a seasoned dealmaker, trust me – there’s nothing shrewd about screwing your potential partner.

But legitimate non-technical cofounders, know that the workload looks more like
this second chart ->

where the x-axis has been shifted to the left to reflect that the non-technical cofounder’s work actually starts well before the Engineer gets involved. This early work is made up of customer discovery and audience building (the early product-market fit exercises and the early efforts at establishing a marketing channel for the eventual product). Note: If you look at the efforts of each contributor on the second chart, they’re somewhat counter-cyclical, meaning that when one guy is cranking hard, the other guy has a little less to do. One guy is more heads-down on his work than the other. When they raise their heads in a pause, they think they see that their counterpart “isn’t working as hard as me,” when in fact their timing is just mismatched on their workload. The workload is much, much closer to 50/5. And if the non-technical cofounder is doing his job right, he’s de-risking the product vision ahead of time, and acknowledging that they will need to go through future technical iterations to get the product right, requiring more and more Engineer commitment over time, not less.


So what kind of cofounders do engineers want to work with?  If you’re going to recruit a rockstar engineer, how can you be a rockstar non-tech in return?  First and foremost, you must transcend the pure “Idea Guy CEO” mentality into becoming a full-on executive, as in: “one who executes” not as in “white collar, with a title.”

Here are the 4 basic building blocks of execution as a Non-Technical Cofounder:

1) Customer Development & Marketing

As mentioned above, Engineers want you to own the customer experience.  You should know your potential customers inside and out.  What software do they currently use?  What’s their pain point you’re trying to solve?  Are they Mac or PC guys?  Where do they eat lunch?  This is obviously just a representative list of what you need to know about your potential customers.  You need to know what makes them tick, how much money they’re going to spend on your solution, and most importantly, how to reach them effectively.  Build an Ideal Customer Persona, complete with name, age, etc., as well as the likely online resources they typically use (i.e. LinkedIn, Gawker, Aha!, US Weekly, etc.), what their goals and concerns are – both that your product might address, and the ones that are just outliers.  Find a stock photo of a person you think typifies the persona.  Do research to verify all of the above.

2) Product & Prototyping

You need to be responsible for at least half of the product vision.  I say “at least half” because don’t forget that your technical cofounder is going to have good ideas about what should be there, how to implement it, and how to position it in the market.  Definitely don’t discount his/her input simply because you sold them on your idea.  So in owning this much of the product vision, you also need to play lead on defining how the product will work from a UX perspective.  Don’t know what that means?  Look it up and figure it out because that’s your job.  You should study UX as much as you study your product domain because it is via UX that you lead your customers through your domain solution.  Two years ago, Harvard Business Review listed UX as a corporate asset that needs to be managed like a brand would be managed.  Get on this.

3) Branding & Design

This is probably the hardest part for pure Idea Guys to play.  But if you’re truly handling #2 above, you’ll need to start ballparking design elements and branding (name, logo treatment, color scheme, etc.), if not handling them outright yourself.  Learn some photoshop skills and study the latest branding efforts in your product’s sector.  At least get on Dribbble or Behance to get ideas, then hit Fiverr or Elance and get a cheap first version up on the board, against which you can iterate in the future.  Better yet, get a real designer to commit even before your Engineer.  You need to have some vision about how this product is going to sit in the marketplace, and good designs will help explain the idea but also inspire others in your solution.  Pure Engineers often struggle with their own design skills, and want to know that you can help deliver on this crucial piece.  FYI to all you natural-born marketers: a good domain name or tagline is NOT a replacement for good UI and branding.

4) Personality & Hustle

Lastly, you have to be easy to work with and know how to just get shit done. You have to pass the beer test. And you have to be willing to get out and sell the product. You. Not AdWords. Not a VP of Sales. You. You have to deliver the customers, the strategic partnerships, the financing, without being a PITA to your Engineer. Startups are an all-hands-on-deck exercise – sometimes the team will need you to play a role that you’re ill-suited to play. And sometimes your technical team will have to help with sales. So buck up, get it done with a smile rather than an attitude, and make your business happen. Be a leader.

You want the status of cofounder and a technical cofounder deserving of the CTO title? Take responsibility for the full half of the business that you actually have to deliver on, and recognize that a good chunk of that needs to happen on your idea before you build anything. And for you Engineers out there dismissive of the business guys – in this day and age of >1 million apps on the market, breakneck evolution of consumer trends, globalization of products and markets, and enough noise in the market to drown a DJ, remember that your technical chops need the support of people who can market effectively, close customers, and operate the minutiae of a fledgling business. These things can’t be solved with a plugin. And the following admonishment applies to both sides of the Biz/Dev (no relation) divide: don’t be stingy on the equity – if you’re not staying up til 3 in the morning coding your own product while also conning rich kids out of their lunch money to fund your project, then you’re no Zuckerberg, so don’t even think of offering the other guy 5% or 10%. The work on both sides is equal, and equally important to the success of the company.


This post also appeared on LinkedIn here.


(Title Image courtesy of Christophere Campbell)

10 Strategic Steps to Reaching Product-Market Fit for New Markets

“Product-Market Fit” is the idea that a company needs to 1) create a product that 2) fits a need in the market – a need that is 3) poignant and sustainable enough to generate continued interest by customers, and 4) thereby generate revenues (or other benefits) for the company.   By relying on the term “market” in this definition, we are forced to start with the concept that a buy-sell process pre-exists – that a market’s needs can be defined and addressed.  What if you’re developing a product that is creating a new market?  How does a product owner evaluate whether his efforts are worthwhile, or headed in the right direction?

Booz-Allen product innovation occurrence

What are the steps involved in evaluating whether you’re developing a product that the market may want or need in the future, when the market isn’t currently mature enough to express its needs?  I think it’s these 10 points:

  1.    BUILD FOR THE PROBABLE FUTURE.  Hypothesize the future that you would like to see built.  Hypothesize multiple futures.  Evaluate these possible futures against what you think is the probable future.  What is your preferred future?
  2.    COMPARE SIMILAR PRODUCT LINES.  Look at the evolution of other product lines in other categories.  Evaluate their market impact, their rate of adoption, the relative rate of technological advancement.  Do some predictive mapping of your proposed product line to these external similes.
  3.    LOOK FOR MOVES BY LARGER COMPETITORS.  Look at the current biggest players in the (nearest related) market – but ones that have shown some interest or ability to move in the direction of your new market.  Evaluate their near-term and long-term strategic needs from a product line and revenue perspective.  Think in terms of those companies’ pro-active developments as well as defensive positioning.  Evaluate how your proposed product might fit into, or counter to, those strategic drives.  Will those strategic drives:
    • facilitate market awareness of or applicability of your solution?
    • destroy value created by your solution?
    • lever your solution into bigger market shares?
    • make your solution an acquisition target?
  4.    WHEN POSSIBLE, BUILD YOUR PRODUCT OUT OF STAND-ALONE COMPONENTS.  Evaluate the development roadmap for your proposed product.  Are there milestones or product building blocks that you can use in other product lines as well, or to create new opportunities?  In other words, is the new product salvageable in any way if the new market does not ever emerge?  Closely evaluate this roadmap to optimize for later scaling requirements if the future product is successful.
  5.    BUILD A BRANCHING PRODUCT LINE.  To minimize being early, spend extra time developing those building blocks in Item #4 into peripheral revenue sources and/or products.  You are not creating a direct line of product development towards the future product, like stops on a subway.   You are creating a river delta where the future market is the sea, and the building blocks are the rivulets branching outwards towards it. Delta Analog Prioritize building blocks and derivative products that are themselves critical components of the new proposed product.  Prioritize blocks/products that strategically support 1st) customer development, 2nd) revenues, and 3rd) corporate brand-building & marketing.
  6.    IDENTIFY A TIME RANGE OF OPPORTUNITY.  Specific attention must be paid to timing.  A common refrain you’ll hear from investors is that it’s just as bad to be early as it is to be late.   But “market timing” is a false premise.  If someone (or you or the investor) could perform accurate market timing, then you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur – you should be a billionaire money manager.  Instead, focus on establishing a “time range” of when things can go right in the market, based on the above analysis (principal and secondarily enabling technologies, customer identification, investment industry trends that will help fund future expansion, strategic partnership developments, etc.), as well as smaller time ranges for when things could spin sideways or your operating funds disappear.  Where those ranges overlap – which will probably be 75-90% of the time – establish Plan B’s that revolve around the building blocks in Item #4.  Early is harder to manage than late because early is harder on cash flows.
  7.    EVALUATE COSTS OF EDUCATING YOUR CUSTOMERS.  What are the expected costs of customer education about the new market?  Are any of the players in Item #3, or any other market forces, already doing this, or will be doing this for you?  How easy will it be for you to get the attention of the first customers and get quality feedback so that you can iterate on your first version faster than any subsequent market entrant?  The customer education piece is particularly expensive in new markets.  Overestimate this expense in your budgets and assessments.
  8.    EVALUATE YOUR AVAILABLE BUDGET IN LIGHT OF THE ABOVE.  Evaluate how much investment will be required to develop the proposed product, bring it to market, and educate the market on the problem/solution.  Do you have enough to cover this and does this amount represent a barrier to entry for followers or fast followers?  If any of these answers are negative, you  might eventually have a market, but no sustainable product, therefore no fit.  Refer back to the last sentence of Item #7.
  9.    WILL YOU BENEFIT FROM MONOPOLISTIC FORCES?  Is there a natural monopoly available in the new market?  How hard will it be to successfully fend off well-executed “fast followers” in the market that try to capitalize on your hard work of establishing a beachhead? Is the market set up as a “winner take all” where the first-mover will secure 70%+ of the market because customers typically can commit to only one option due to network effects, or is it likely that the market will require constant iterations?
  10.    COMPARE FIRST-MOVER VERSUS FAST-FOLLOWER STATUS.  Take a critical look at how important it will be to have first-mover access to early customers, versus the relative benefits of being second or third to market.  Do you gain more from early access to customers than you would from learning from the mistakes made by another first-mover? Considering your budget versus the potential monopolistic returns, is it more cost-effective to follow fast and iterate than it is to do your own original market research and education?

Then of course, you proceed with the standard customer interviews and market building exercises as advocated by Steve Blank & Eric Ries.

Iteration Brings Success Too

A little more on Innovation versus Invention from Martin Zwilling at Entrepreneur.com:

starting a new business that builds on an existing technology or business model is usually less risky than introducing that ultimate new disruptive technology… The advantage of imitation, with innovation, is that it gives you a solid base for building experience. There is always time later for your next startup, using that disruptive technology of your dreams. Or you may decide that your dream was not really the great idea that you thought it was.

Zwilling goes on to list 5 reasons why Innovation/Iteration/Imitation is better for first-time projects and for lower-risk projects.  I’ll add 3 additional reasons to his list:

  1. Less grandiose projects are easier to build when the founder/startup is outside of the typical technology hubs (Silicon Valley, NYC, LA, Boston, Boulder, Seattle).  Innovation is an “outsider’s” best friend.
  2. Investors are investing in fewer Series A rounds (we are in the tail end of the Series Crunch mentioned elsewhere) so if going after seed or angel money, keep this in mind when choosing which idea to actually commit to – because the seed and angel investors will be looking at the potential for future rounds when deciding where to put their initial investment. If you can anticipate these concerns, you can still effectively position yourself for investors that are looking for more of a cash-flow return than a unicorn, albeit it at smaller raise amounts.
  3. Lifetime entrepreneurs (“Lifers”) are not investing their time and effort in the potential “walking dead” startups that can’t get through the A round crunch.  This includes startups and products that just don’t produce enough revenue to attract new investors.  If your sincere numbers produce an estimate that your idea is a $10-20 million product, then it’s not the typical “swing big” idea that Lifers and Series A VC’s typically look for.  Rather than a home run, these ideas are at best a double, and might have trouble attracting bigger rounds at higher valuations. So you probably will have less competition in this market size. Less competition means you can focus on just building a good product, without the distractions of strategic interference.

You Don’t Need Disruptive Technology to Be a Success, Iteration Works Too | Entrepreneur.com.

Ideas: NDA or No NDA?

As a former attorney to entrepreneurs (tech & entertainment), I was asked about NDA’s and sharing ideas probably more than any other topic.  If you’re trying to start a business, should you share your idea with other people, or should you try to get an NDA to protect it?


If your idea is patentable, then get NDA’s up until the time you finish your patent application.  Patentability means you have 17 years to monetize your market for your idea so time is somewhat on your side.

However, if you’re innovating on an idea and it’s not actually patentable (which is 1000% more likely the case in a business setting) – then STOP WORRYING ABOUT NDA’s because time IS NOT on your side, and asking for an NDA means:

  • by default, you’re moving too slow, and
  • you’re not ready to actually share your idea with anyone.

A valuable business idea is one that you put into practice now – not later – and start carving out value for yourself.  Start building your audience or customer base.  Start determining your pricing strategy.  Start finalizing an attractive design for your solution.  If you can’t share an idea without fear of someone stealing it – then you haven’t done enough with the idea to actually move it into “build” phase with the help of other people.

So, if you’re Innovating and not Inventing:

  • move quickly
  • share wisely, but openly
  • validate the idea with potential customers
  • build a team around the product, and
  • get it to market before the market shifts away from your solution or people find a better workaround.

You can get better details of this analysis on this blog post.

Header Image 1

Ideas: When To Share & When Not To

As a former attorney to entrepreneurs (tech & entertainment), I get asked about NDA’s and sharing ideas probably more than any other topic. When it comes to story ideas, it’s better not to share with “just anybody” because stories can be told very easily in more than one way. A story about a meteor crashing into Earth? Has been told numerous times in various ways to various degrees of success. But when it comes to business ideas, the same doesn’t hold true.  Business ideas can’t be simply retold – there’s true function to a business that needs to be built, to be coaxed out of a market.

In my law practice (and to my wife’s chagrin), I have never advised a client about a certain legal strategy just because it made more paid work for my firm. So if a client asked about the necessity for an NDA, I could have said “Sure, that’s a really smart move, and I can draft one for you in a little less than an hour at the standard hourly rate.” But that was rarely the case because clients rarely actually needed an NDA for legal reasons – really all it served was to make themselves feel better about a conversation with someone they didn’t know. (If a client asked about an NDA for a discussion with someone they knew, then I’d tell them they were being a jerk and charge them for the phone time.)

So when is an NDA appropriate and when is it unnecessary? A connection of mine on LinkedIn posted a helpful image of “Invention vs. Innovation” (see insert below) that I think sums up the distinction very well. All you Interweb readers out there must understand that Invention is different than Innovation. If you have an Invention, then get an NDA from anyone you share it with in the period before you get a patent (emphasis on Getting a Patent).  If your idea is not patentable, then you’re actually Innovating and don’t worry about an NDA.  I’ll explain below.


Ideas that are patentable are granted a controlled monopoly over the idea for 17 years.  That’s what a “patent” is at its essence – a government sanctioned monopoly.  If you’re developing a new drug, or a new kind of power generation, or a new kind of radio, then you need a serious amount of time to get it right and bring it to market.  Get an NDA in this kind of circumstance until you get your patent because 1) public disclosure of your invention starts the clock on your patent – you have 12 months from public disclosure to finish your patent application or lose it forever! and 2) you have 17 years if granted a patent, so take your time and build it right – an NDA (theoretically) gives you more time.  Inventions take time.

Conversely, if you’re an established business with significant value at stake in a negotiation, you’re not inventing, but you ARE innovating.  Get an NDA from the other party so that you can complete your deal in the best possible manner without worrying about conflicts of intention or interest.  But this only applies to existing businesses with revenue to protect – this does not apply to startups.


If your idea is not patentable (you don’t have an invention) and you’re actually innovating in a field, by necessity you must move quickly because the market tends to move faster than you do.  People are creative – if there’s a problem with an existing application, often they’ll find alternatives or iterations that get them around the roadblock.  So to capitalize on your innovation, you need to move faster than the market in order to capture that value.  If you have a business idea and think to yourself “I need an NDA to protect my secret sauce” then BY DEFAULT YOU’RE NOT MOVING FAST ENOUGH AND YOU’RE NOT READY TO SHARE THE IDEA.  Move quickly, share wisely (not indiscriminately – i.e. don’t share it with an incubator team looking for a pivot), make sure people want the idea, build a team, build the solution, & get it to market quickly.  You have a limited time frame in which to monetize your solution.  There are a couple reasons why NDA’s don’t actually help you here:

  1. There’s a difference between Legal Risks and Business Risks
    Lawyers -under professional obligation to clients- must err on the side of caution. Therefore, to lawyers, no risk is a good risk because their bar license and income are potentially on the line if a client takes a bad turn from the lawyer’s advice. However, in business, there is no such thing as “zero risk” so at some point, as a leader, you must make a business decision that certain risks are acceptable risks. Sometimes even against your lawyer’s advice. This is the nature of the business world. If you can’t stomach even a small amount of risk, get out of the tech or entertainment business and go into the insurance business – trust me, you’ll be happier overall (but a more miserable person to be around).
  2. The complexity of the recipe for a business means no one will execute an idea the way you would.
    Presumably, you have some insights that extend beyond simply the idea at stake. You know the audience or the customer better. You know the strategic partnerships better. You know ways to connect the dots technologically that would take others months or years to discover. You know what the look and feel should be. You know the right pricing strategy. These are all moving targets that even you – the idea expert – will have to adjust as you go along. How likely is it that someone you mention the idea to will a) drop their own ideas in favor of yours, and then b) execute the idea the same as you or better? Get real. If they can do it better, then guess what – that was the wrong idea for you to bet your career on. Go back to the drawing board. No NDA will protect you from your own inability to execute the idea.
  3. Industry norms are for No NDA’s.
    Don’t be that guy that thinks their idea is more important than the person’s integrity you’re sitting across from. Again, if you’re at the “can’t share because it’s too fragile” stage, then you’re not ready to start building it.

Being a good entrepreneur means taking risks as a leader, innovating faster than the market can move away from your ideas, rallying support for your idea – from an internal team and from an external customer base, and executing well.  Don’t let paperwork stand in your way of a winning business.

Quirky to Reinvent American Manufacturing and Consumer Products

Quirky is creating a platform (“Wink”) for common IOT software deployment. Crowd-building in its second iteration.

@pmarca Says

Equally big news of the day: our company Quirky is spinning out the “Internet of things” platform Wink as standalone company!

Quirky, with its partners including GE and Home Depot, is reinventing American manufacturing of consumer products. Now Wink will provide a standard software layer across all of Quirky’s products plus many others including GE, Honeywell, and Philips.

Quirky partner Home Depot “now sells 600 smart-home products, six times as many as it did two years ago.” The revolution is happening now. Important to note this isn’t just about toys for rich people; it’s about energy conservation, water conservation, security, and safety.

Source: Tweets – 1,2,3,4,5


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UCLA School of Law Establishes Student Entrepreneurship Competition

Law School Entrepreneurs… That’s a new twist on the lawyer theme – but a welcome one!


The competition, which includes a $100,000 prize, is the first of its kind sponsored by a top American law school.

From UCLA:

UCLA School of Law has established the Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs (“LMI-Sandler Prize”), an entrepreneurship competition designed to recognize student innovation and leadership and support the real-world launch of promising new business ventures. The competition, which includes a $100,000 prize, is the first of its kind sponsored by a top American law school. It was established through gifts totaling more than $500,000 from the Lowell Milken Family Foundation and the Richard and Ellen Sandler Family Foundation.

“The LMI-Sandler Prize is a completely new way to reward law student achievement and promote the entrepreneurial ambitions of UCLA Law students and recent graduates,” UCLA School of Law Dean Rachel F. Moran said. “The competition will provide students with an opportunity to put the principles of entrepreneurship into…

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The only monthly goals that matter for pre-product B2B startups

Business Concept – then Customers – then Marketing Base – THEN Business Model

Keep in mind that the Customer always resides at the center of the pyramid.

Venture Capital Newsletter and VC Jobs

Before your B2B startup has a product available you’ll want a few – but not too many – metrics to help you steer the ship in the right direction.

Based on my experience at a couple of startups that I joined pre-product or founded here are the handful of metrics that I suggest you measure/goal.

Customer Development conversations

It doesn’t matter what your startup is building if customers don’t want it. 

Get out of the building and make sure you are talking to potential customers often. This is the only way you’ll get a deep understanding of your potential customers’ needs.

When you’re getting started a good pace is somewhere on the order of 1-2 conversations (new potential customers) per business day. Once you reach 25-50 conversations you should have a good sense of whether or not your product idea has legs.

Don’t cheat on this metric by counting conversations with potential partners or investors as…

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