Category Archives: Lessons Learned

Living the Dream

When I ask other founders how things are going, I’m often given the reply, “you know, living the dream”.  Most times this comment is dripping with sarcasm as they slug through challenging times in their startup.  Founding a business isn’t easy; in fact its incredibly difficult.  However, for me, it has always been a dream.  Launching, running, and growing a success technology-based startup has been my goal for as long as I can remember.

For other non-founders, the “dream” often sounds more like a nightmare.  They don’t understand why anyone would want the sleepless nights, high anxiety, family tension, long work hours, low pay, etc — how could this ever be considered a “dream”?

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“Test Drive” Your Startup

Picture this – you wake up one morning and decide you need a new car.  You go to the first car dealership you can find, see a “shiny” car you want and with no questions asked and no research done, you buy it on the spot.  The sales person hands you the keys and you roll your new vehicle off the lot, only to find out that you hate how the car performs and immediately regret your decision.  In all your excitement, you are out thousands of dollars for a car you don’t want.  Why?  Simply because you never took it for a test drive.  Sounds crazy, right?  No one would ever do that.  However, when it comes to startups, many entrepreneurs make this same kind of mistake every day.

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8 “Epiphanies” of a Customer Development Rookie

At the heart of the Lean Startup model are the concepts of Customer Discovery and Customer Development.  They are simple concepts of forging relationships with potential customers during early-stage product development with the goal of ultimately going to market with a product that customers want to buy (what a novel concept….I know!).  This customer interview process is something Steve Blank calls “getting out of the building” — essentially, leaving your development lab and office, and getting in front of potential customers to ensure you are developing a product that solves a fundamental problem that they have.  I had never formally gone through these customer interview processes before, and honestly I had been a little skeptical initially — but not anymore.  What I’ve learned in a matter of 3 days of “getting out of the building” has been overwhelming…

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The Startup Leap of Faith

To launch a tech startup is fundamentally a leap of faith.  The odds are against you – plain and simple.  Most startups will not survive – we all know the stats.  The stakes are high and only a few will survive.  So what is it about the entrepreneurial spirit that empowers starters to risk it all? Continue reading

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Recession-Proof Startup?

The recession continues.  TImes are tough.  The markets continue dropping, unemployment rates are rising, and investments in startups are starting to dry up.  Yet many tech startups continue to thrive during these hard times…but how?
In my recent article, “Winter is Coming” – Will Your Startup Survive?, I highlighted the value and importance for founders to learn how to bootstrap.  However, bootstrapping alone won’t allow your tech startup to thrive through the coming tough(er) times.  Managing your corporate expenses is key – but meaningless if you have no revenue!  So how do you build a recession-proof tech startup?

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“Winter is Coming” – Will Your Startup Survive?

Huge early stage investment announcements seem to be a daily event.  Tech startups with little to no traction / revenue are receiving unbelievable seed and VC investments with valuations that most in the industry can’t comprehend.  But as Eric Ries highlights in his most recent article entitled “Winter is Coming“, these days of “summer” are going to come to an end.  Entrepreneurs – consider yourselves warned!  Investments in new tech startups are going to dry up, and “easy” seed funding isn’t going to be so easy to obtain.  So how can new tech startups prepare to survive for the cold “winter” ahead?  Here’s my advice…

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The Life Balancing Act – 6 Ways to Keep Your Priorities in Focus

“Who is writing you now?” my 6 year old asks me as I pull out my BlackBerry in the middle of our game of catch on the weekend.  “You’re always on that thing!” — and that’s when I know I’ve crossed the line, again

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Keep Your Friends Close, and Your Competitors Closer

Over the last few months, I have gained some interesting insights into how to deal with competitors.  Until now, I’ve always seen them as the “enemy” — faceless companies that we are in battle with everyday. However, recently my company has made a conscience  effort to reach out to many of our competitors in a positive, open, and non-threatening way.  The response has been surprising and insightful.

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Learning to play the (tech startup) game

When I started my first tech company four years ago, I really had no idea what to expect.  I’d always had the dream of owning my own company and had spent my career working in R&D environments and loved solving difficult engineering problems and inventing new concepts and products.  With this foundation, and with a solid team of other amazing engineers, I figured we were poised to build an exciting R&D business.  What I didn’t recognize was all the things I was NEVER taught in school.

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