threeheadedmonster

The Three Headed Monster

A smoothly running startup is like a dune buggy – not what you were expecting from the title was it?  Dune buggies don’t do well in stop and go traffic.  They struggle to hold back.  Dune buggies show their strength in tough terrain when they launch themselves off the ground in an instant.  If you’ve never gone dune buggy racing, I highly recommend it.  When tuned right, the engine, wheels and driver create opportunities for thrilling acceleration over or around any obstacle.  For me, the dune buggy and the tech startup are similar three-headed…

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startup misconceptions

Early Stage Misconceptions

Hobby for a Career I often hear people say, “I loved doing X, so I turned my hobby into my job.”  I love hearing this when it works.  Passion is really important in a startup.  The problem is that many people misjudge their desire to focus their hobby skills to serve clients.  If you own a hobby startup, you are likely CEO of a company with an exceptionally small valuation.  For a hobby-startup to succeed, the hobby must take a back seat to your customer’s needs.  The CEO of a heli-skiing…

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Transforming Startup Ideas

Approaching The Bottom Line

I hate paying more for milk or gas than I have to.  It bothers me.  At the same time, I pay way too much for a small decaf latte hand-brewed by a local barista.   One of the hardest things to do in life is to know how much to pay for something.  The converse is also true.  Selling milk on sale must anger my grocer.   When the stakes go up, so do the emotions.  Buy or sell your home in Silicon Valley…

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Schrodinger's Cat

Schrodinger’s Startup

Warning – We’re about to geek out!    It seems obvious to me that small startups follow different rule sets than larger companies.  For example, small startups enjoy “Tuesday beer pong” and establishing their “world headquarters at the desk under a co-founder’s bunk bed.”  I think of startups existing on a scale from quantized particles to microscopic elements to macro-scale ecosystems.  For example, in the early stages of a startup it is hard to tell if a startup is an actual entity or just a bunch of energy being released into the microcosm.  My uncertainty principle of…

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Entrepreneurial Stress

Imagine lying awake at night, knowing that the fate of the world rests on your shoulders.  Either you succeed and humanity gains the ability to reduce a major pain – or you fail and we soldier on as we’ve always done.  This is the pressure of founding a startup.  On the upside, we have hope and a shot at improving the world around us.  On the downside, we have a crushing responsibility and challenge after challenge standing in our way.  At Boulder BITS, I help awesome entrepreneurs harness the upside and work through the downside.   Here, I’ll…

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Indestructible Teams

Strong startup teams are one of the greatest resources we have on Earth.  They create new realities, efficiencies, and global benefits (both physical and digital). Yet, grouping individual entrepreneurs into powerful teams has a ridiculously low success rate.  As a CEO of a startup studio, it is my responsibility to form and invest in teams to execute scalable startup solutions.   I view forming teams like blacksmithing, something I dabbled in as a teen. You can’t mold a team too quickly or it will crack.  You have to repeatedly change the environment from extreme hot to…

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A More Resilient Startup

I’m a huge fan of the “ropeadope.”  If you’re not familiar with this boxing term, go watch Muhammad Ali’s 1974 victory over the world champion, George Foreman.  In this amazing match, Ali tricked his opponent by leaning against the ropes until George Forman punched himself into exhaustion.  He used a previously unknown advantage – the elastic ropes absorb most of the energy from an opponent’s punches.  While the blows come in very different forms when you run a startup, you’ll want to consider which advantages will help you stay on your feet and beat the…

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Expectations: Mentors

I love being a mentor.  Endless advising is what I miss most about leaving my professorship at Stanford.  Mentors can make the difference between startup stagnation and startup success.  Being a mentor is a reward in itself.  Nevertheless, being a mentor also comes with other benefits.  The mentor’s returns differ depending… on the mentee the startup’s stage and growth potential, and if the mentorship is sponsored by an accelerator, incubator or studio   Mentees Some mentors gain greater personal satisfaction…

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Expectations: Investors

Not surprisingly, investors have a lot of questions about the studio model.  If you’ve read any of my prior posts, you’ll know that I view startup studios and their startups as snowflakes; each one is unique and special.  This leads to a lot of variation that confuses even the most experienced investors.  I hope this post will help you understand the key differences between studios and how the studio model impacts the investor.   The Basics: Studios spin up (and…

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Startup Studio Expectations: Entrepreneurs

The term “Startup Studio” elicits varied responses depending on whom I talk to.  In this series, I’ll discuss what entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors should expect from a startup studio.  First, I’ll focus on entrepreneurs’ expectations because a startup studio is nothing without an awesome team.  Unfortunately, each studio is unique, so expectations should be different from one shop to the next.  Hopefully, this blog will clarify why studios differ from each other and provide a framework to evaluate the pros…

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