Self Help

Art of the Start 2.0 The Time-tested, Ba - Kawasaki, Guy

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Matheus Puppe

· 38 min read

Here’s a summary of the key points in the chapter “The Art of Starting Up”:

  • Great companies often start by asking simple questions like “Therefore, what?”, “Isn’t this interesting?”, or “Is there a better way?“. This sparks ideas for new products, services, or ways of doing things.

  • Start a company with a simple idea you’re passionate about. Don’t start with huge, grandiose goals.

  • Your startup should fill a niche, not compete head-to-head with large companies initially. Fulfill a specific need that other companies ignore.

  • Make your product dramatically better, not just slightly better. Strive for a 10x improvement over existing solutions.

  • Build a great, viral product that spreads rapidly by word of mouth. Don’t rely solely on advertising and marketing.

  • Founders must be technically capable of building the initial product themselves. It would help if you had working prototypes to pitch to investors.

  • Come up with a great name that is memorable, short, and checks for URL availability. The name matters more than you think.

  • Incorporate early on even if just a sole proprietorship. This protects your assets from lawsuits.

  • Equity should be split fairly between founders based on their contributions. Vesting schedules also prevent early departures.

  • Document all agreements between founders in a founders’ agreement. This avoids disputes down the road.

  • Great companies often start by answering a simple question that changes the world, not with the primary goal of getting rich.

  • Identify a sweet spot at the intersection of your expertise, market opportunity, and passion. You may not have all three initially but can develop one over time.

  • Bring on co-founders who complement your skills and share your vision, commitment level, and company size goals. Differing perspectives are good.

  • Make sure your company aims to improve the world somehow - to have meaning beyond just making money.

  • Create a short, memorable mantra of 3-4 words that encapsulates your mission and meaning. For example, Nike’s is “Authentic athletic performance.”

  • The first follower transforms a lone innovator into a leader by bringing credibility. So co-founders play a critical role.

  • Take the time to find the right co-founders you could work with for years. Don’t rush or compromise to get funding.

The key is to start by identifying a problem worth solving or question worth answering, not getting rich, and then build the right team to make it happen.

  • Milestones are the most critical goals that mark significant progress, like working prototype, initial capital, field-testable version, first paying customer, and cash-flow breakeven. Spend 80% of your effort on reaching these.

  • Assumptions should be discussed and documented early as a reality check, including market size, margins, sales calls, customer acquisition cost, etc.

  • Tests turn assumptions into facts. Testing customer acquisition cost, product usage, support needs, durability, etc. is crucial.

  • Tasks are activities needed to reach milestones and test assumptions—recruiting, vendors, accounting, legal filings, etc. Prevent things slipping through the cracks.

  • Communicate the milestones, assumptions, tests and tasks (MATT) to the company. Revise as needed. Use it to guide priorities and actions.

  • The MATT provides structure and focus, preventing scattering. It keeps the most important goals and realities in view so energy is spent accordingly. Update it continually.

  • Create a Master Action Timeline (MATT) to map out key startup milestones and tasks. Refer back to it often to track progress.

  • Keep things simple - try to optimize only some decisions. Focus on the significant milestones. Go with standard practices for corporate structure, IP, capital structure, employee background checks, and regulatory compliance. Consult experts on complex issues.

  • Launch an early, likely cringe-worthy, version of your product to get customer feedback. All first versions have flaws, but you can iterate.

  • Be selective about advisers, board members, and investors. Look for relevant startup experience. Ask specific questions to gauge their expertise.

  • Experienced executives from large companies may need help understanding startups and venture capital. An “entrepreneur’s quotient” test can help identify contenders from pretenders.

  • The first version will have flaws, but you can evolve the product and business model over time if you learn quickly and keep improving.

  • Launching a product is very exciting, like having a baby. Take your time with perfection - launch when it’s good enough. Refine later.

  • To alter the future, you must “jump curves” - go beyond incremental improvements and leap to a new level.

  • Use the DICEE framework - make sure your product is Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Empowering, and Elegant.

  • Pick a good name that hasn’t been widely used, and aim for a character that could become a verb (like “Google”).

  • Start with a niche beachhead market - dominate a small niche first before expanding more broadly.

  • Get your product into the hands of early evangelists - people who will be enthusiastic early adopters.

  • Leverage scarcity and exclusivity to create buzz.

  • Plan surprises after launch to keep the momentum going.

The key is not to wait but to launch when you have an imperfect but promising product and are ready to improve it based on user feedback rapidly.

  • Pick a name for your startup that is short, simple, and easy to remember. Avoid complicated words or phrases.

  • Build a basic prototype or minimum viable product quickly to get feedback rather than creating something perfect immediately.

  • Focus first on getting adoption and proving your product works rather than scaling up. You can figure out scaling later if people want your product.

  • Develop a clear, focused positioning statement that explains what your company does and how it differs from competitors. Make sure all employees understand and can communicate this message.

  • Check that people understand your intended branding message by asking them to explain it. Adjust messaging if needed based on their feedback.

  • Focus on social media, not advertising. Brands are built today based on what people say about them on social media, not on a company’s advertising.

  • Flow with the market. You can’t fully control your positioning. Listen to what the market is telling you and adapt as needed.

  • Crossing the Chasm requires marketing to innovators first, then early adopters, the early majority, and so on. This often requires sucking up to key influencers.

  • With perfect online information, merit and quality matter more than brands and influentials—plant many seeds by reaching out widely.

  • Tell meaningful stories to inspire faith in you and your product, not just facts. Use personal stories, aspirations, underdog tales, and purpose stories.

The main ideas are to focus on social media and online word-of-mouth, adapt to how the market responds, market systematically to different adopter groups, reach out widely in the era of perfect information, and tell compelling stories that generate faith in you and your product. More than facts and information is needed.

To make technology accessible to everyone, innovators often face an uphill battle against established players with vast resources. Like David versus Goliath, the underdog can succeed through ingenuity and determination. Examples are Southwest Airlines, Etsy, and Pinterest challenging bigger competitors.

Heroic figures like Charlie Wedemeyer and Oskar Schindler overcame adversity and accomplished great things against the odds through perseverance and courage. Their stories inspire others that success is possible even in the face of significant injustice and challenges.

A strong product launch tells a compelling story of innovation, change, and empowerment to generate enthusiasm. It should provide a safe, easy first step for adoption, get out of the office to understand real customer needs, conduct “premortems” to anticipate failures, file provisional patents quickly, and consider incubators/accelerators for support if appropriate. A startup can defy expectations and triumph against established giants with creativity and hustle.

  • Incubators and accelerators provide startups with mentorship, education, and business development through introductions, access to funding, help with administrative tasks, and office space. However, these services may come at the cost of giving up equity.

  • The value of graduating from an incubator or accelerator program is similar to attending a top university - it can help but needs to be more necessary and sufficient for success.

  • Before doing a product demo, create something great, bring equipment backups, organize in advance, eliminate factors outside your control, start with a bang, ditch jokes, present solo, avoid jargon, hold questions to the end, and finish strong.

  • Intrapreneurs innovating within a large company should put the company first, identify internal champions, prototype quickly, consider spinoffs, get executive support, frame the opportunity strategically, piggyback on existing efforts, have a venture investor mindset, and don’t count on your day job.

The key is that incubators/accelerators, demos, and intrapreneurship can help entrepreneurs, but ultimately success depends on the quality of the product, team, and execution. Programs and tactics complement but don’t replace strong fundamentals.

  • Work under the radar to develop disruptive ideas that can kill existing cash cow products. Find a separate building.

  • Stay focused on doing what’s best for the company, not personal gain. Make allies, not enemies.

  • Anticipate and capitalize on significant shifts in the company. Build on existing infrastructure when possible.

  • Collect data to justify your project when questioned. Let VPs “discover” your idea rather than seeking approval.

  • Attract supporters from bottom to top. Find a godfather figure for advice and protection.

  • Dismantle your team and integrate once successful to avoid bureaucracy. Adopt new patterns of behavior.

  • Launch when you have enough functionality for a stable product, not perfection. Go down swinging if you’ll run out of money.

  • Titles less critical than competence. Lower titles are better for internal entrepreneurs.

  • Goal is a great product, not a personal fiefdom. Prototype first; seek forgiveness later.

Here are three key ideas from the book excerpt:

  1. Leadership is Hard Work
  • Leading people is much more complex than tasks like accounting or manufacturing. Leaders must exude optimism even when facing challenges.
  1. Establish a Culture of Execution
  • Set clear goals, measure progress, assign accountability, lead by example, reward achievers, and follow through. This creates a culture focused on achieving goals.
  1. Surround Yourself with Truth-Tellers
  • Get a “Morpheus” and a “devil’s advocate” - experienced realists who will tell you harsh truths and argue the negatives. This keeps you grounded in reality.

In summary, leadership requires relentless optimism outwardly while hearing hard truths internally. Surround yourself with talented, truthful people who excel at execution to build a thriving organization.

  • For a CEO to delegate well and let success happen, they need three qualities: humility to admit others can perform functions better, the ability to identify A+ players, and the confidence to recruit people more skilled than themselves.

  • Startups need three types of A+ players: kamikazes to launch, implementers to build infrastructure, and operators to run things. Great hires have diverse, complementary skills, not overlapping abilities.

  • Don’t just wait to hire perfect people. Hire minimum viable people and help them improve. Give people a chance and help make them better.

  • Hire for strengths rather than lack of weaknesses. Distinguish between individual contributors and managers. Many should stay individual contributors.

  • Good leaders address their shortcomings first before criticizing others. Take responsibility for poor outcomes to inspire improvement.

  • Only ask employees to do what you would do. Empathize with employees and work alongside them.

  • Celebrating incremental successes motivates and uplifts employees, communicates valued goals, and builds momentum. But keep celebrations fun and relaxed, not extravagant.

  • Effective bosses balance confidence and humility, focus on small wins, protect their people from distractions, encourage innovation but kill bad ideas, and help people learn from mistakes.

Here are the key points on leadership:

  • Leadership is not about being in charge; it’s about caring for those in your charge. Focus on serving your employees and customers.

  • Don’t wait for a leadership role to be thrust upon you. Take initiative and responsibility even as an individual contributor.

  • Admit mistakes quickly and openly. Changing your mind shows you’re willing to do the right thing.

  • During recruitment and onboarding, make people feel wanted. This builds loyalty.

  • Use phrases like “I don’t know,” “thank you,” “do what you think is right,” and “It’s my fault” to build trust.

  • Create a board of directors with a mix of skills - customer advocate, technologist, mentor, contrarian, connector.

  • Run efficient board meetings - distribute reports in advance, focus on critical metrics and decisions, and address issues privately.

  • Leadership takes many forms. Focus on serving others, taking the initiative, building loyalty, admitting mistakes, and empowering teams.

Here are the critical points on bootstrapping a startup:

  • Manage for cash flow, not profitability. Focus on recurring revenue, short sales cycles, and minimal upfront costs.

  • Use cloud-based infrastructure to avoid large capital expenditures. Cloud services provide flexibility, reliability, and affordability.

  • Hire talented but inexperienced people. They have energy, curiosity, and lower salaries. Experience often comes with high costs and preconceived notions.

  • Start as a service business first. Consulting provides quick cash flow to fund product development. Gradually transition to selling the product.

  • Get creative with bartering: trade services or equity for things you need, like office space, supplies, etc.

  • Leverage open source and DIY alternatives to reduce costs.

  • Continuously manage costs ruthlessly. Excess comes after success.

The key is to bootstrap with minimal infrastructure and costs while generating cash flow quickly. With creativity and fiscal discipline, entrepreneurs can bootstrap their way to success.

Here are the key points from the passage on bootstrapping a startup:

  • Focus on the essential functions you need, not fancy forms. You often don’t need a prestigious law firm or accounting firm. Find service providers that understand your needs.

  • Understaff and outsource non-core functions like customer service and accounting. This avoids overstaffing and layoffs.

  • Sweat the big stuff like developing your product, selling, and enhancing it. Take care of small stuff like office supplies quickly.

  • Go direct to customers instead of through resellers. Get immediate feedback and higher margins.

  • Position against the market leader to save on branding. But ensure the leader is worth aligning against.

  • Don’t penny-pinch on everything. Focus resources on the vital few big things.

The key is to focus limited resources on the essential functions needed to get your product to customers. Avoid prestige providers and extras until you’ve established your business.

Here is a summary of the key points about fundraising from the chapter:

  • Fundraising is a necessary but challenging part of starting an organization. Bootstrapping can reduce the need for fundraising, but most entrepreneurs have to do some fundraising.

  • Crowdfunding through platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo is a new form of fundraising that is more democratic and transparent than traditional methods. It involves creating a compelling project page and rewards, spreading the word on social media, and getting people to preorder or contribute to your project.

  • Crowdfunding works best for consumer products and creative projects needing $50k-$250k. It allows entrepreneurs to test demand without giving up equity.

  • To succeed at crowdfunding, create an engaging video, tell a personal story, use email and social media marketing, offer creative rewards for backers, and share a budget.

  • In exchange for equity, Angel investors provide higher capital than crowdfunding, typically $250k-$2 million. Angels tend to fund riskier, earlier-stage startups than VCs.

  • To get angel funding, create a summary “pitch deck,” get introductions through your network, communicate traction and passion, and be prepared to negotiate.

  • Venture capital firms provide $2 million+ in funding in exchange for equity. VCs have more rigid criteria and processes than angels.

  • To get VC funding, create a detailed business plan, have a strong management team, demonstrate traction and scalability, nail the pitch, and be persistent.

  • There are three primary sources of startup funding: crowdfunding, angel investors, and venture capital.

  • Crowdfunding involves raising small amounts from many people, often in exchange for the product. It’s best for consumer products and artistic projects.

  • Angel investors are wealthy individuals who invest their money in startups, often to help young entrepreneurs or support a meaningful product. You must impress them professionally, help them feel involved, and appeal to their spouse.

  • Venture capital comes from professional firms that invest large amounts in exchange for equity. They can provide expertise and connections but take a lot of time and effort to win over. Their loyalty only lasts about a year if you don’t deliver.

  • To raise money, you need an introduction from someone the investor knows and respects, like a current investor, lawyer, accountant, entrepreneur, or professor.

  • Do thorough research on the investor beforehand to understand their priorities, interests, and potential concerns. This will help you tailor your pitch.

  • The fundraising process takes a lot of time and effort, no matter which source you pursue. Stay persistent and use introductions to tilt the playing field in your favor.

Here are some suggestions for responding to tricky questions from investors:

  • On your qualifications: Stay calm. Acknowledge you need to bring in other expertise over time. Focus on what you’ve accomplished so far.

  • On being a long-term CEO: Say your focus is on making the company successful, even if that means stepping aside someday. Outline milestones for reassessing the CEO role.

  • On control: Emphasize that success requires great people, and you want to incentivize and reward them. Power is less critical than shared vision and values.

The key is showing maturity, foresight, and flexibility - not taking the questions as personal attacks. Be collaborative and focus the discussion on how to build a great company together.

  • Venture capitalists often avoid giving explicit rejections, instead using techniques like “show high interest, then stall” (SHITS). Common vague responses include saying the startup is too early or too late, needing more traction, or having a conflict of interest.

  • Persistence can pay off when chasing venture capital, but only if you have significant improvements to demonstrate in your business. Don’t become a pest.

  • Hire an experienced corporate finance lawyer to handle the legal aspects like term sheets. Don’t use a family friend or an unrelated lawyer.

  • Fundraising is a parallel process - you may simultaneously pursue multiple sources (crowdfunding, angels, VCs).

  • Understand the purpose of each funding round - Seed is sizzle, Series A is steak, Series B is steroids, Series C is sycophants.

  • Spend conservatively after raising money, as if you’ll never be able to raise it again. Build only what you need.

  • Prepare for bizarre startup ideas and questionable pitches when fundraising.

  1. Venture capitalists give excuses rather than directly saying “no” to an investment proposal. Common excuses include needing a lead investor first or needing more proof of traction before they will invest. These are often polite ways of declining.

  2. Venture capitalists claim to want to co-invest with others, but they would prefer to take the whole round themselves if the deal is good.

  3. Venture capitalists say they invest in teams but will fire founders if things go wrong. No one is irreplaceable.

  4. Venture capitalists have limited time for each investment - as little as 5-10 hours per month.

  5. Term sheets are complex - you need an experienced lawyer to review them, not a generalist.

  6. Venture capitalists can only sometimes open doors at their portfolio companies, so don’t count on referrals.

  7. Valuation is negotiable - always aim higher than the initial offer. Owning a more significant percentage matters less than the absolute value.

  8. Approach any tier of venture capital firm - after nine months of fundraising, all money looks the same.

  • Don’t get hung up on trying to project returns for a venture capitalist. Focus on conveying your product/market opportunity and goals.

  • Admit if you are new to this, but surround yourself with experienced advisors.

  • Having a law firm and accounting firm is better but optional when fundraising.

  • More investors means more help and future sources of capital, though fewer investors mean fewer relationships to manage.

  • Don’t push for a buyout clause with angels - they are taking on risk and should reap the rewards.

  • Bring current investors to pitches only if the prospective investor agrees.

  • Focus product pitches on addressing pain points and competitive analysis, not returns.

  • Persist with investors only when you have new proof points.

  • CEO salary should be at most 4x the lowest paid employee.

  • Your sweat equity is more important than your cash investment.

  • Don’t tell an angel his return is unknowable, even if accurate. Discuss projections.

  • Dress professionally and appropriately for your industry when meeting investors.

Here is a summary of the key points about pitching from the chapter:

  • Be prepared with backups of your presentation and tested equipment to avoid technical snafus.

  • Set the stage by asking how much time you have, what the audience wants to learn, and if you can present uninterrupted.

  • Explain clearly what your startup does by the 6th minute of your pitch. Avoid long personal backstories.

  • Follow the 10/20/30 rule: 10 slides, 20 minutes, minimum 30-point font. This keeps presentations concise and focused.

  • The ten slides should cover the title, problem/opportunity, value proposition, underlying magic/secret sauce, business model, go-to-market strategy, competition, team, milestones/traction, and financial projections.

  • Prototypes and demos can replace thousands of slides. Tell stories to make concepts memorable. Practice relentlessly.

The key is to pitch concisely, clearly explain your idea early, have backup plans, and focus on what the audience wants to know. Master the 10/20/30 rule. Demos and stories help make pitches compelling. Practice makes perfect.

Here is a summary of the key points for creating a compelling startup pitch:

  • Use ten slides, present for 20 minutes, and use a 30-point font size (the 10/20/30 rule)

  • The ten slides should cover the problem, Solution, Business Model, Go-to-Market Plan, Competitive Analysis, Team, Financial Projections, Current Status, Timeline, Funding Needs

  • Focus on visuals - diagrams, flowcharts, and schematics - rather than lots of text

  • Have a prototype or demo if possible

  • Explain how you’ll make money clearly

  • Show you have an effective go-to-market strategy

  • Don’t dismiss the competition - explain why you’re better

  • Introduce your team and credentials

  • Provide 3-5-year financial forecasts with critical metrics

  • Explain current status, accomplishments, timeline, and use of funds

  • Don’t overuse animations or effects in your presentation

  • Use a dark background, add your logo, use standard sans-serif fonts

  • Build your points through bullets, diagrams, and graphs

  • Make printable slides without covered elements

  • Have one person present 80% of the pitch

The key is to convince people you have a viable business in a clear, concise, and visually compelling presentation. Focus on your competitive advantages and traction to date.

  • Practice and rehearse your pitch extensively (25 times) until you are comfortable with it. If you need to improve in practice, you will be better at the actual pitch.

  • Imagine a “little man” sitting on your shoulder asking, “So what?” after each statement you make. Be ready to explain the significance and provide concrete examples.

  • Get to the right level of detail in your pitch - not too high-level, fluffy, or deep in the weeds. Aim for the “Goldilocks zone”.

  • Provide 3-5 years of financial projections, not to show detailed forecasts but to demonstrate the scale and assumptions of your business model.

  • Build financial projections from the bottom up based on customer and usage assumptions, not by just picking a huge top-line number and working down with multipliers.

  • The point is not to wow investors with spreadsheets but to show you have thought through your business’s key drivers and milestones. The projections are a tool, not the destination.

Here is my summary of the key points:

  • Pitch first, plan later. Business plans need to be updated - investors want to see pitches and presentations now.

  • After 5-10 pitches, throw out your old pitch and start fresh to incorporate what you’ve learned. Don’t just keep patching your old pitch.

  • Take notes during pitch meetings to show you’re engaged and want to learn. Summarize key points at the end to confirm understanding. Follow up within a day on any promises made.

  • Disclose any potential issues/problems early in the fundraising process. Don’t hide things that may come out later.

  • If you have failures or problems in your background, do a “mea culpa” - take responsibility and show what you learned from it.

  • The pitch makeover example illustrates how to make a pitch more compelling by leading with the most exciting facts/details, using clear and straightforward language, and getting to the point quickly. Remove jargon and assume no prior knowledge.

In summary, pitch first and make it a simple, engaging story. Be open about issues. Follow up promptly. Refresh periodically. Plans come later.

  • Business plan contests force entrepreneurs to get organized but focus too much on findability over viability. Pitch contests would be better.

  • To win a pitch contest, practice extensively, explain your product quickly, tell a compelling story, use large fonts/graphics, research the judges, and keep your team’s qualifications a secret.

  • Common lies entrepreneurs tell include exaggerating market size, claiming deals are done when they aren’t, overstating employee commitments, falsely claiming investor interest, and dismissing established competitors. Avoid these.

  • Be honest about projections, markets, deals, employees, and competitors. Transparency and realistic assessments are better than far-fetched claims.

The main messages are: pitch contests > business plan contests, practice and tell a clear/visual/tailored story to win, and don’t use standard startup lies that sabotage credibility. Honesty and realism beat exaggeration.

Here are a few key points on how to build an excellent startup team:

  • Focus on three recruitment factors: Can they do the job, believe in your mission, and are they likable/trustworthy? Background and credentials are secondary.

  • Don’t overvalue experience at big successful companies. The skills needed at a startup are very different. Similarly, experience at a failed company doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate contributed to the failure.

  • Formal education and degrees are less important than raw intelligence and ability. Many brilliant innovators like Jobs and Gates dropped out of college.

  • Functional expertise in the same field is a double-edged sword. Industry veterans can get stuck in conventional thinking. Sometimes, the “best athlete” who can adapt is better.

  • Don’t worry too much about candidates’ weaknesses. Everyone has them. Focus on hiring people with standout strengths, even if they have flaws. Diversity of strengths is critical for a small startup team.

  • Most notably, ensure candidates believe in your product and mission. Working at a startup is more of a calling than a job. Passion matters more than credentials.

In summary, startup recruiting requires looking beyond surface qualifications to find people with ability, passion, and teamwork skills - the credentials that matter.

Here are some key points on hiring for startups:

  • Major weaknesses tend to be problematic, so thoroughly screening candidates.

  • Set clear expectations on the realities of working at a startup - long hours, wearing multiple hats, tight budgets, etc. Make sure candidates are prepared for this environment.

  • Structure the interview process - decide on required skills/experience beforehand, ask specific questions about past performance, and take detailed notes. This provides an objective comparison between candidates.

  • Check references early to inform your hiring decision; don’t just use them to confirm what you’ve already decided.

  • Consider factors beyond salary/equity-like vision, team, and resume-building potential when selling the role.

  • Get buy-in from candidate’s influencers like spouses, parents, and friends to increase recruitment success.

  • Only extend a formal offer at the end once the candidate has verbally accepted; don’t use it as a negotiation tool.

  • Watch for common lies like embellishing past responsibilities or offers from other companies. Focus on specific examples of skills and accomplishments.

  • Recruiting is one of the most important things you do at a startup. Hire great people and most other startup issues take care of themselves.

  • Use your network to find candidates. Ask employees, investors, and advisors for referrals. Look for candidates before they start looking.

  • Have a hiring spec that outlines must-have skills and attributes. Test for these in interviews.

  • Do reference checks thoroughly - speak to subordinates, peers, superiors, customers. Look for consistency and clues about fit.

  • Set a 90-day review period for new hires with clear milestones. Be ready to correct course or terminate if needed.

  • Recruiting continues once someone is hired. It would help if you kept “recruiting” your team every day.

  • Be honest about your startup’s weaknesses and challenges when recruiting. Scaring off people is better than having them quit later.

  • Don’t hire to appease investors. Build your team deliberately for the needs of your startup.

  • Use your network rather than recruiters to find people pre-funding. Do whatever it takes post-funding.

  • Wait to discuss compensation. Say you’ll pay what it takes for the right person.

Here are a few key ideas on how to use evangelism and recruit evangelists:

  • Create a product that is differentiated, valuable, and empowering. This makes evangelism much easier.

  • Evangelists believe in a product so much they want others to benefit. Focus on creating genuine benefits for customers.

  • Build a human brand by targeting youth, having fun, and featuring real customers. This makes the product relatable.

  • To recruit evangelists: Identify early adopters who love your product, give them tools to share it, and highlight their contributions.

  • Enable word-of-mouth marketing by making it easy for fans to share and discuss your product through reviews, referrals, social media, etc.

  • Provide exceptional support and treat your early adopters like VIPs - they are your best unpaid Salesforce.

  • Share your vision, values and purpose. Evangelists believe in more than just a product; they believe in the mission.

In summary, create an empowering product with solid differentiation and values, treat your fans well, make it easy for them to share, and they’ll evangelize it for you.

  • Corporate philanthropy is a triple win - it fulfills a moral obligation, increases brand awareness, and aids recruitment and retention. Encourage employees to get involved by volunteering or applying for grants.

  • Make your product positioning personal rather than impersonal. Connect it to individual concerns to make it more relatable.

  • Become a good schmoozer by attending events, asking questions, following up, unveiling passions, and doing favors. Make it easy for people to contact you.

  • Use email effectively with good subject lines, timely sends, resending unanswered emails, quick replies, no all caps, quoted text, brevity, plain text, small attachments, BCC, reduced CC’s, and a signature.

  • Ask customers directly for help spreading the word to achieve critical mass. This shows intelligence, not weakness. Give them tools and motivation.

  • Develop a pyramid of evangelists, starting with your best customers. Have them recruit more evangelists to maximize your reach.

  • When customers offer to help you, embrace it rather than refuse due to paranoia or pride. Evangelists can be your best salespeople.

  • Create a program to recruit evangelists to build a community around your product. Successful examples include Adobe, Apple, Harley Owners Group, etc.

  • Let evangelists help in any way they can. Assign tasks and provide tools to make it easy. Respond to their feedback and give them gifts to make them feel special.

  • Hire someone to focus just on fostering the community. Host events and continue engaging with them. Integrate them into your marketing.

  • To get a standing ovation when speaking: have something interesting to say, customize your content, focus on entertaining through stories, don’t denigrate others, dress well, circulate beforehand, and speak at the start.

Here is a summary of the key points about using social media for marketing from the chapter:

  • Social media provides a fast, free, and ubiquitous way to reach potential customers. It’s a potent tool for startups.

  • Don’t over-plan social media efforts - figure out your business model, target audience, and the type of content they want, then start sharing it. Experimentation and grinding are more critical than detailed strategic plans.

  • Key platforms to consider are Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter. Each has strengths and weaknesses to understand.

  • Post consistently high-quality, valuable content tailored to your audience. Mix informative content with more personal posts to build relationships.

  • Use hashtags strategically to expand reach. Comment on others’ posts to engage.

  • Measure results and pivot as needed. Focus on engagement over vanity metrics like follower counts.

  • Use paid promotion tools judiciously. They can expand their reach but avoid making them the primary strategy.

  • Social media complements other marketing efforts. Integrate it with PR, advertising, events, etc.

The key is diving in, experimenting, providing value, engaging authentically, measuring, and adapting. With some effort, social media’s reach and targeting can be incredibly beneficial for startups.

Here is a summary of the key points about using social media for your startup:

  • Each central platform serves a different purpose: LinkedIn for professional networking, Twitter for news and conversations, YouTube for video, etc. Use all the major platforms to reach the widest audience.

  • Optimize your company profiles by using solid visuals like logos and headers, writing a clear tagline, providing lots of info, and getting a custom URL. View your profiles anonymously to improve them.

  • Focus on content people will want to reshare, providing information, analysis, assistance, or entertainment. This “reshare test” is critical.

  • Feed the constant need for content by creating original content and curating others’ content. Find content in curation services, share what’s already popular, leverage groups/lists, and repost user-generated content.

  • Broaden the scope of what you share beyond just your immediate industry to expand appeal.

  • Use an editorial calendar to organize and schedule social media content and allow room for spontaneous, relevant posts.

  • Use tools like Excel, Google Docs, HubSpot, Buffer, Sprout Social, Hootsuite, and StressLimit Design WordPress plug-in to manage an editorial calendar and plan content.

  • Be brief, visual, timely, thankful (link to sources), and use bullets and strategic titles when sharing content.

  • Use hashtags and selectively promote posts to be discoverable. Analyze follower demographics to inform content planning.

  • Automate posting to optimize sharing using tools like Buffer, Do Share, Friends+Me, Hootsuite, Post Planner, Sprout Social, and Tailwind. Schedule in advance when possible.

  • People’s popular content feature allows users to see trending posts. Tailwind’s access to Pinterest’s API means more features will likely be added.

  • TweetDeck is a stand-alone application that lets you monitor activity and schedule tweets. Its columnar layout displays search results, like mentions and competitor mentions, in separate columns for easy monitoring.

  • Repeating your best posts can significantly increase engagement. The author shares 50 daily posts across multiple platforms, many of which are repeats. He tested this by posting the same tweet four times over two days - it got 5.8x more clicks than just posting once.

  • Responding to comments requires diligence but can build engagement. Stay positive, give people the benefit of the doubt, and agree to disagree when needed. Ask questions to understand negative comments. Go just three rounds of back-and-forth before moving on. Delete, block, or report actual trolls.

  • To get more followers, share great content, and join new platforms before competition builds up.

  • Avoid looking clueless by not buying followers/engagement, understanding platform norms, using usernames properly, and not overposting to post.

  • The author believes companies should earn social media followers and engagement through high-quality, valuable posts rather than buying followers or likes. Purchased followers have little genuine interest or engagement.

  • It’s acceptable to pay to promote Facebook posts/pages since that is how Facebook’s advertising model works. But constantly asking for follows or reshares looks desperate.

  • Don’t outsource social media to agencies with few followers or interns without expertise. Social media deserves serious focus from qualified people.

  • Use social media effectively before, during, and after events: Pick an evergreen hashtag, integrate it throughout, ask people to use it, reach beyond attendees, assign a social media lead, stream live video, provide real-time updates, display Twitter feed, ensure robust WiFi, take and share pictures with the hashtag.

The key message is to earn social media success through valuable content and engagement, not by buying followers or outsourcing it without thought. Approach social media seriously.

  • Rainmaking refers to generating large sales. Good salespeople have rituals and tactics to “make it rain” sales.

  • Startups need help getting sales since buyers need to know if they need the product. Startups have to sell their product, not wait for buyers.

  • Let your product blossom in unintended markets if it is taking root there. Study where and why it is blossoming, then focus your business accordingly.

  • Notice unexpected “gorilla” markets that you may be blind to if overly focused on intended uses.

  • Pay attention to people with unimpressive titles as influencers. Many critical decisions are made by people deep in the organization.

  • Learn to connect with influencers at all levels of an organization - up, down and across. Ask contacts, tweet the company, and find names in press articles.

  • Build rapport and trust with key influencers. Give before you ask to get. Provide valuable insights and introductions.

The key is being open to unexpected markets and building relationships with influencers at all levels to generate sales.

  • To get access to decision-makers, try calling the company’s general line, visiting in person, reaching out on social media, talking to assistants, and leveraging your LinkedIn network.

  • When you reach assistants and gatekeepers, empathize with their role, don’t try to buy them, and ask who the decision-maker relies on and who cannot be left out of the process.

  • Educate potential customers through webinars - make them 90% educational and 10% promotional.

  • It’s easier to attract new customers (“agnostics”) rather than convert loyal customers of competitors (“zealots”).

  • Get prospects talking by asking good questions, listening carefully, taking notes, and explaining how your product meets their needs.

  • Enable test drives of your product so customers can experience it themselves rather than relying on advertising claims.

Here is a summary of the key points about partnering:

  • Good partnerships should accelerate cash flow, increase revenue, and reduce costs - they should have clear benefits on your financial projections. Partner for “spreadsheet” reasons, not just PR.

  • Define concrete deliverables and objectives upfront for the partnership - additional revenues, reduced costs, new products, customers, markets, etc.

  • Closely monitor the partnership and regularly check progress on the deliverables. Adjust or walk away if it’s not working.

  • Bring complementary skills and assets to the table - don’t partner with direct competitors. Partners should need each other.

  • Maintain open communication and align incentives through the deal structure. Build personal relationships between partner teams.

  • Partnerships often fail due to lack of commitment, unaligned objectives, or failure to adapt to changing conditions. Stay flexible and keep sight of the end goals.

  • Consider an exit strategy if goals are met, or the partnership has run its course. Don’t let bad associations linger.

The key is ensuring the partnership has clear business benefits, defining measurable objectives, closely monitoring progress, and maintaining productive working relationships. Avoid partnership pitfalls through discipline, communication, and focusing on shared goals.

  • Define clearly what each organization will deliver, when, and what milestones are required. This triples the chance of success.

  • Ensure middle and lower-level employees buy into the partnership, not just executives. The best blocks start organically at these levels before executives get involved.

  • Appoint a dedicated champion in each organization who is empowered to make the partnership work.

  • Build on each organization’s strengths rather than trying to cover weaknesses.

  • Structure win-win deals so both partners benefit. Lopsided deals will only last for a while.

  • Agree on business terms first before drafting legal agreements. Lawyers tend to focus on risks, not opportunities.

  • Include an “out clause” so both parties feel free to innovate without being trapped.

  • Be wary of typical lies big companies say, like “we want to do this for strategic reasons,” when they want to block you.

  • Entrepreneurship requires endurance like a decathlon but is a team sport. The winner is the one who masters enduring.

  • Internalization - getting people to believe in your product’s way of doing things - fosters endurance. Examples are companies like Chez Panisse, Etsy, and Harley-Davidson.

  • Change is better implemented from the middle and bottom levels, not just from the top leaders. Engage all levels of an organization.

  • Intrinsic motivators like meaning, mastery, and purpose create more enduring companies than extrinsic motivators like money.

  • Great companies embed their purpose and values deeply. Make your company’s purpose an inextricable part of its identity.

  • Systemize and write down processes so the company only depends on a few indispensable people.

  • Foster a culture of learning and continuous improvement to endure.

In summary, enduring companies internalize their values throughout the organization, engage all levels in change, use intrinsic motivators, embed purpose into identity, systemize processes, and foster continuous learning.

  • Studies show exposing people to money makes them more self-focused and less helpful. Extrinsic rewards like money often backfire for motivating people long-term. Wikipedia and open-source projects succeeded through intrinsic motivation.

  • Invoking reciprocation is powerful - do favors generously without expecting an immediate return. Help others even when they can’t help you back. Tell people how they can repay you.

  • Get commitments concretely and have people communicate them to others to invoke consistency. Identify shared values. But beware of manipulating people.

  • Invoke social proof by having a great product and using white earbuds that signal adoption. Create fear of missing out. Use experts, influencers, and crowds as proof.

  • Build an ecosystem of consultants, developers, accessories, user groups, etc., around your product. It signals success and increases user satisfaction.

The key is to motivate intrinsically through giving, consistency, and social belonging rather than extrinsically through money. Build an ecosystem that enhances your product’s enduring value.

  • Resellers, user groups, websites/blogs, online communities, and conferences are crucial for a platform’s success. They increase utility, provide support, and build credibility.

  • To build an ecosystem: Create something worthy, designate a champion, don’t compete with the ecosystem, create an open system, publish information, foster discourse, welcome criticism, and create non-monetary rewards.

  • Diversify your team with different backgrounds, perspectives, and skills to keep your startup fresh and relevant.

  • Provide excellent customer support by being generous, putting the customer in control, taking responsibility for shortcomings, and underpromising and overdelivering.

  • Take care of your friends, employees, and customers. Support and service are essential to endurance.

The main ideas are to build a robust ecosystem, diversify your team, and provide excellent support/service to make your startup endure. Take care of the people involved, and they will take care of your startup.

Here are a few key points about what entrepreneurs do:

  • Entrepreneurs start and run businesses. They develop ideas for new products or services and build companies to bring them to life.

  • Entrepreneurs take risks. Starting a business involves risk, as there’s no guarantee it will succeed. Entrepreneurs are willing to take those risks.

  • Entrepreneurs are innovative. They come up with new ideas and find better ways of doing things. Entrepreneurs are creative problem-solvers.

  • Entrepreneurs manage teams. They hire employees and contractors to help build and grow the business. Entrepreneurs need to motivate and lead those teams.

  • Entrepreneurs make critical business decisions. This includes product decisions, marketing, operations, financing, and more. Entrepreneurs must make intelligent strategic choices.

  • Entrepreneurs work hard. It takes tremendous time, energy, and focus to start and run a successful company. Entrepreneurs are committed and resilient.

  • Entrepreneurs create value. If their business succeeds, they provide value through valuable products, jobs, and economic growth.

The key is that entrepreneurs take action to turn an idea into an enterprise that grows and creates value. It requires wearing many hats, taking risks, and persevering through challenges. That’s the essence of what entrepreneurs do!

  • The top 10 mistakes entrepreneurs make are:
  1. Multiplying big market numbers by 1% instead of calculating from the bottom up.

  2. Scaling too fast before having sales.

  3. Forming partnerships instead of focusing on sales.

  4. Focusing on fundraising instead of building a great product.

  5. Using too many slides in pitches - follow the 10/20/30 rule.

  6. Trying to do things serially instead of in parallel.

  7. Retaining too much control and equity.

  8. Using patents instead of success for defensibility.

  9. Hiring people just like you instead of complementary skills.

  10. Befriending investors instead of exceeding expectations.

  • To fix these mistakes: calculate revenue projections from the bottom up, eat what you kill (get sales before scaling), focus on prototyping and sales instead of fundraising and partnerships, make a bigger pie instead of retaining control, hire people with diverse skills, and impress investors by executing well.

  • The key takeaway is to avoid common startup mistakes by building a great product, getting sales, hiring a diverse team, and focusing on executing your business plan, not just fundraising. Exceed expectations instead of befriending investors.

Here is a summary of the key points from the specified pages in The Startup Owner’s Manual:

Sprout Social and Tailwind are social media management and scheduling tools that can help manage multiple social media accounts. TweetDeck is a dashboard that allows you to view and post to multiple accounts in one interface.

An avatar is a graphical image that represents you online. It personalizes and humanizes your social media presence.

Other topics covered include:

  • Avon - An example of direct sales as a business model
  • Carol Ballard - An entrepreneur who hired unproven talent
  • Marc Benioff - The founder of Salesforce
  • Beyond Buzz by Mark Hughes - A book on word-of-mouth marketing
  • Blockbuster - An example of a company that didn’t adapt to new technology
  • Strategies for blocking trolls and spammers on social media
  • The role of blogs and Bluetooth in business ecosystems
  • Principles of brevity, bulleting, and visuals in social media posts
  • Buffer and other social media scheduling tools
  • Building online communities and recruiting brand evangelists
  • Customer service best practices like overdelivering and empowering customers

In summary, these pages cover social media tools, marketing concepts, community building, and customer service strategies for startups. The key ideas involve leveraging online platforms, networks, and brand advocates to grow an early-stage business.

Here is a summary of the key points about Facebook’s business model, 16 in Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start 2.0:

  • Facebook uses a freemium business model, offering essential services for free and charging for additional features.

  • Facebook groups allow users to connect around shared interests.

  • Facebook pages establish brand identity with vanity URLs (e.g.,

  • Posts should be at most 2-3 paragraphs or 80 words.

  • Photos and videos tend to get more engagement than text updates.

  • Use hashtags and tag other brands to extend reach.

  • Monitor comments and respond promptly to feedback and questions.

  • Consider promoting posts for a fee to reach more of your followers.

  • Build a community by encouraging sharing and engagement.

In summary, Facebook offers a platform to build engagement and share content at scale when best practices for posting are followed. Key elements are brevity, visual content, interaction, and community building.

Here is a summary of the key points from the mini-chapters in Driven World (Nirell):

Board of directors - Tips for managing a board, communicating expectations, and getting helpful guidance from them.

Demoing products - How to effectively demonstrate your product, tell a compelling story, and get feedback.

Entrepreneurs, lies told by - Common exaggerations and false claims made by entrepreneurs and how to avoid them.

Events, socializing - Using events to build relationships, network, promote your company, and gather feedback.

Intrapreneuring - Pursuing entrepreneurship within a large organization, including getting buy-in and managing politics.

Panels, speaking on - Preparing for and participating in speaking discussions and conferences.

Pitch makeover - Improving an ineffective pitch by refining the story, empathy, visuals, brevity, and clarity.

Public speaking - Developing general speaking skills like connecting with the audience and storytelling.

Reference checking - Best practices for thoroughly checking references of potential hires.

Selecting advisers - Criteria and process for choosing helpful, engaged advisers and board members.

Venture capitalists, lies told by - Misleading statements sometimes made by VCs and how founders should respond.

Here is a summary of the key points about socializing from The Art of the Start 2.0:

  • Social Mention (pp. 230-231) - A free social media monitoring tool aggregating content from over 100 social networks. Useful for monitoring brand mentions and discussions.

  • Social proof (pp. 274-276) - The psychological phenomenon where people follow the actions of others. Useful for marketing to showcase your product’s adoption and popularity.

  • Social Proof Is the New Marketing by David Lee (p. 276) - A book highlighting how social proof builds brand trust and credibility.

  • Importance of building an audience and community around your product and brand through social channels (e.g., blogs, Twitter, Facebook).

  • Leveraging influencers and evangelists to spread awareness and build social proof.

  • Monitoring social media conversations for mentions, sentiment, etc., using tools like Sprout Social.

The key ideas are using social platforms and proof dynamics to increase your product’s awareness, trust, and adoption. Building an audience and community is critical early on.

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About Matheus Puppe