How To Increase Success

What the greatest technology investors say about How to Increase Success

HOW ENTREPRENEURS CAN INCREASE SUCCESS POSTS (38 posts)

The following is a list of the post titles by author under this topic.  Scroll further down this page to find the actual blog post by your selected author.   With the exception of Peter Thiel’s posts, which appear towards the beginning of the page, author’s posts appear in reverse alphabetical order.  Thus for example for the others, following this list, Fred Wilson’s posts appear towards the beginning of the blog page, and Marc Andreessen’s post appears towards the end of the blog page.  

 

MARC ANDREESSEN (1 post)

Marc Andreessen:  What Causes Success

JEFFREY BUSSGANG (1 post)

Jeffrey Bussgang:  Why Twitter Picked Fred Wilson as its Lead Investor

JEFF CLAVIER  (3 posts)

Jeff Clavier:  Jeff Clavier: What I Look at When Investing 

Jeff Clavier:  Jeff Clavier:  My Product Considerations

Jeff Clavier: Jeff Clavier:  My Market Considerations

DAVID COHEN (1 post)

David Cohen:   Randomness

BRAD FELD (1 post)

Brad Feld:  How Entrepreneurs can Increase the Chance of Success

 BRIAN GARRETT (1 post)

Brian Garrett:  Do More with Less Before Raising Outside Capital

BILL GROSS  (4 posts)

Bill Gross: Lessons from Flops

Bill Gross: Harness your User's Passion

Bill Gross: Balance Entrepreneur's Strengths

Bill Gross: The Great Thing about Failure

ROB HAYES (1 post)

Rob Hayes:  Successful Entrepreneurs’ Common Trait

 REID HOFFMAN & BEN CASNOCHA (3 posts)

Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha: Entrepreneurial Hustle: Get Resourceful or Die

Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha: What Sets Great Entrepreneurs Apart

Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha: Achieve Big Success:  Be Contrarian and Right

JOSH KOPELMAN (2 posts)

Josh Kopelman:   Companies are Bought, not Sold

Josh Kopelman:    High Valuations Can Limit Exit Opportunities

MIKE MAPLES JR. (3 posts)

Mike Maples Jr.:  Develop Customers while Developing Product

Mike Maples Jr.:  Mike Maples Jr.: What I Look For

Mike Maples Jr.:  Must Have Massively Huge Markets to be Great

DAVE MCCLURE (1 post)

Dave McClure:   Startup Success Often Boils Down to 2 Things

BASIL PETERS (2 posts)

Basil Peters:   The Exit Strategy is the Most Important Business Plan Element

Basil Peters:    How to Ensure There's Alignment on Exit Strategy

NAVAL RAVIKANT (2 posts)

Naval Ravikant:  5 Main Qualities of an Exceptional Startup

Naval Ravikant:  Social Proof is Powerful

MARK SUSTER  (2 posts)

Mark Suster:  No Great Science to Determining Valuations

Mark Suster:  Successful Entrepreneurs have these Qualities

PETER THIEL  (3 posts)

Peter Thiel:  How to Create and Capture Lasting Value

Peter Thiel:  A New Company’s Most Important Strength

Peter Thiel:  The Single Most Powerful Pattern in Successful People

DAVID TISCH (1 post)

David Tisch:  Startups are Constantly Failing

ANDY WEISSMAN (1 post)

Andy Weissman:  Overnight Successes Never Are

FRED WILSON (5 posts)

Fred Wilson: Sustainability by Fred Wilson

Fred Wilson: Hire Slowly & Wisely, not Quickly

Fred Wilson: What's the Magic

Fred Wilson: Building the Business First

Fred Wilson: Sustainability:  Short Term Profits vs. Long Term Health

 

 

The Single Most Powerful Pattern in Successful People

Peter Thiel General Partner Founders Fund and former entrepreneur

“[] this book [Zero to One] offers no formula for success. [] because every innovation is new and unique, no authority can prescribe in concrete terms how to be innovative.  Indeed, the single most powerful pattern I have noticed is that successful people find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking about business from first principles instead of formulas.”   Peter Thiel, Zero to One, copyright 2014, pg 2-3

A New Company’s Most Important Strength

Peter Thiel General Partner Founders Fund and former entrepreneur

“A new company’s most important strength is new thinking []. This book is about the questions you must ask and answer to succeed in the business of doing new things [].  Because that is what a startup has to do: question received ideas and rethink business from scratch.”   Peter Thiel, Zero to One, copyright 2014, pg 10-11

Sustainability: Short Term Profits vs. Long Term Health

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

Wilson discusses sustainability within the context of “[] short term profit maximization vs. long term business health []. If you want to stay in business forever, you have to focus on the long term [] [with] a business model that [ensures customer trust to keep them returning].

[][Wilson believe[s] business is about making a profit that sustains the business and enriches the owners but is not maximized in any period (month, quarter, year). [] [The] goal of a business is sustainability so that all the stakeholders (customers, employees, owners, suppliers, etc.) can rely on [it][] long term.”

When considering investments, entrepreneurs should employ survival instincts to ensure future survival.  “[][When considering whether] to disrupt their own business [] the [] choice is [not short term profit maximization but] [] survivability” even if it likely results in lower future profits. 

“[] When you construct your business model and create the [business culture], emphasize sustainability over profit maximization in everything  you create and do. [] Profits are the essence of survivability. [] But just because you need to make a profit doesn't mean you need to maximize it.  Balancing the need for a profit with [] sustain[ing] the business is the art of what [the business leader must do to win.]”  Fred Wilson, How To Be In Business Forever: A Lesson In Sustainability, Oct. 1, 2012; http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2012/10/how-to-be-in-business-forever-a-lesson-in-sustainability.html

Building the Business First

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

“[Some] founders [] suggest building the business first (even if it takes longer) and then seeking investment later after it's proven successful and has a strong growth trajectory. [] Examples [][are] StackExchange and DuckDuckGo.” Wilson responds that “[] that's a great model if you can do it.”  Fred Wilson Burn Rates: How Much? Comments section, Dec 12, 2011 ; http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2011/12/burn-rates-how-much.html

What's the Magic

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

“It’s the right person or people, with the right idea, packaged up with the right product at the right time in the right market…and  [] that’s the magic.”  Fred Wilson  #StartupStories: The Pitch @ 4.3 min into video, May 30 2012   http://nytm.org/resources/startupstories;  The Pitch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GxeVu5izLg

Hire Slowly & Wisely, not Quickly

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

“[Wilson’s] strong bias on [optimal headcount] [] is that  less is more.  [Repeatedly] [he’s] seen the entrepreneur who wants to hire quickly fail and [] the entrepreneur [who’s] [] slow to hire succeed.”

In his experience with software-based consumer internet businesses, “[] [success] might be most highly correlated with a slow hiring ramp [] [during a company’s early years.]  Being resource constrained can be [good] when [] getting started.  It forces [] [a] focus on what's working and get[ting] to the rest of the vision later on. []” His advice: “[] hire slowly and wisely instead of quickly.”   Fred Wilson MBA Mondays: Optimal Headcount At Various Stages, Jun 4 2012;  http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2012/06/mba-mondays-optimal-headcount-at-various-stages.html

Sustainability by Fred Wilson

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

Wilson believes the concept of sustainability needs greater consideration today in business as “[] the focus on performance and efficiency often comes at the cost of sustainability.   

[] sustainability is all about figuring out how to be in business forever.  It is about [:] [win/win] business models that [] lead to happy long term customer and supplier relationships [;] [] avoiding the temptation to overreach [] [and] maximize near term profits at the expense of long term health [;] [] adapting [] to changing market dynamics [;] [] building a team and a culture that can survive the loss of the leader and keep going[;] [and] [] many more things like this.”  Fred Wilson, Sustainability, Nov. 21, 2011  http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2011/11/sustainability.html

Overnight Successes Never Are

Andy Weissman venture capitalist and Partner  Union Square Ventures 

“These things often times look like overnight successes but they never are. About a year ago I was at a conference and Dennis Crowley the founder of Foursquare was at the conference and Foursquare at the time was maybe two years old.  And someone [] [asked] Dennis [] how does it feel to be [] an overnight success [] [with] millions of users [].  And Dennis said actually [he’s] been working on it for 15 years, and 13 of those were failures before [he] got to the last 2 years, so it hasn’t been an overnight success.”  Andy Weissman , #startupstories: Failure @ .10 min into video, Published on Sep 10, 2012 ; NewYorkTech Meetup #Startup stories , http://nytm.org/resources/startupstories;  

Failure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lS3o2Pv355U  

Startups are Constantly Failing

David Tisch angel investor, Managing Partner The Box Group and Co-Founder TechStars NYC

 “You are constantly failing as a startup.   It’s how quickly you rebound from that failure that might lead to success.” David Tisch, #startupstories: Failure @ 1.3  min into video, Published on Sep 10, 2012 ; NewYorkTech Meetup #Startup stories , http://nytm.org/resources/startupstories;  

Failure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lS3o2Pv355U  

Successful Entrepreneurs have these Qualities

Mark Suster Partner Upfront Ventures and former entrepreneur

 Suster believes successful entrepreneurs have these qualities:  “1. tenacity, the most important [].  2. street smarts []” including “[] know[ing] [] how customers buy and how to excite them [], [an ability to] spot opportunities that aren’t being met and [] design products to meet these needs. []”. “3. ability to pivot []” which “[] might just be a totally different business model.[]”  “4. resiliency  []. 5. inspiration [].  6. perspiration [].  7. willingness to accept risk []. 8. attention to detail [].  9.  competitiveness []. 10. decisiveness []. 11. domain experience []. 12. integrity  []”.    Mark Suster, Entrepreneur DNA, December 15, 2009;http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/entrepreneur-dna/ What Makes an Entrepreneur (2/11) – Street Smarts December 16, 2009

http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2009/12/16/what-makes-an-entrepreneur-210-street-smarts/

What Makes an Entrepreneur (3/11) – Ability to Pivot December 17, 2009

http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2009/12/17/what-makes-an-entrepreneur-310-ability-to-pivot/

No Great Science to Determining Valuations

Mark Suster Partner Upfront Ventures and former entrepreneur

 “There is no great science to [how prices (valuations) are determined].  The earlier [one] invest[s] the higher the chances the company won’t work out and thus [one] pay[s] a lower price than later-stage investors. [An investor tries] to pay the appropriate price for [his] perceived risks of the company succeeding and protect [himself  if] it isn’t quite as valuable as [he] had hoped.  As the risks [] get eliminated the higher the valuation investors are prepared to pay.”  These risks over time are “[first] product [], [then] market [], [then] growth/scale [] and [finally] monetization/competition [].”    Mark Suster, Why Startups Should Raise Money at the Top End of Normal  June  5, 2011;  http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2011/06/05/why-startups-should-raise-money-at-the-top-end-of-normal/

Social Proof is Powerful

Naval Ravikant angel investor, Co-Founder AngelList and Venture Hacks and former entrepreneur

“[Ravikant] measure[s] four dimensions [in startups for AngelList]:  Traction, Team, Social Proof and Product.” (AngelList is “a closed private social network [where] startups and angels [come] together.”)

“[] social proof refers to who else is involved [] as an investor and/or advisor. Which person has already given them the thumbs up is really important.  If any one of those people who is associated [with] the company is phenomenal it [the startup] passes the filter [selection criteria] [].

[] Social proof is [] powerful []. [] Get one great person to commit to your startup and you will have more control in raising your round. This is a tactic I have seen many startups use to start a bidding war or get the funding process rolling.”   Naval Ravikant, Naval Ravikant and AngelList: The Match.com of Funding [Interview] by Fatema Yasmine, February 17,   2011;   http://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2011/02/17/naval-ravikant-angellist-the-match-com-of-funding-interview/

5 Main Qualities of an Exceptional Startup

Naval Ravikant angel investor, Co-Founder AngelList and Venture Hacks and former entrepreneur

“[Ravikant ] broke down the 5 main qualities of an ‘exceptional startup,’ in the following order:

1. Traction
2. Team
3. Product
4. Social Proof
5. Pitch/Presentation

[] [Ravikant] explained [] ‘Investors are trying to find the exceptional outcomes, so they are looking for something exceptional [],[so] do one thing exceptionally.  As a startup you have to be exceptional in at least one regard.’”

Naval Ravikant, Anatomy of an (un)fundable startup by Babak Nivi on June 22nd, 2011,  Ravikant’s keynote speech at the 7th Founder Showcase Q2 2011;  http://venturehacks.com/articles/unfundable-startup

How to Ensure There's Alignment on Exit Strategy

Basil Peters angel investor and Principal Strategic Exits Corporation

 “It’s surprising how often there is a misalignment between key stakeholders on the exit strategy. The only way to check is to get a ‘signoff’ on a written exit strategy. [] [Check] alignment annually. [] [The] right way to build a company is [to] determine the type of business, build alignment on the exit strategy, THEN develop the financing plan and then start to contact investors.”   Basil Peters, Maximizing Exit Value Angel Capital Assn Annual Summit Workshop Apr. 15, 2009, pg 28 & 32; 

http://www.basilpeters.com/Presentations/Maximizing_Exit_Value_20090415_Part_2.pdf

The Exit Strategy is the Most Important Business Plan Element

Basil Peters angel investor and Principal Strategic Exits Corporation

The exit strategy is “the most important element in the business plan. [] It affects many daily business decisions. [] The chances of success increase dramatically [with] a good plan.  [It] is the plan for [] the entire business. 

[The] plan should start at the end (the goal).  An exit strategy could be as simple as: “Our exit strategy is to [sell the company] in about _ years for around $ _million.[]”

[] [With a well-designed and executed exit], [it’s] often possible to increase the exit valuation by 50 to 100%”, especially with early exits in inefficient markets. Basil Peters, Maximizing Exit Value Angel Capital Assn Annual Summit Workshop Apr. 15, 2009;  http://www.basilpeters.com/Presentations/Maximizing_Exit_Value_20090415_Part_2.pdf

Startup Success Often Boils Down to 2 Things

Dave McClure angel investor and Founding Partner 500 Startups 

“The ability to get real-time data and feedback is unique to the Internet. [] you can take advantage of that and build better products by collecting real-time usage metrics and by making decisions based on measured user data.

[] What’s really hard is simplifying your product and building a great user experience.

It’s important to start by building a culture of feedback and measured analytics into your process and your organization. [] start-up success often boils down to your ability to do two things: make money and make users happy.  If you can figure out how to do both of those things at scale, then you probably have an interesting business []. Luckily, you can tell if users are happy or not by measuring their behavior.”   Dave McClure, Obsess over Metrics, pg 183-184  Do More Faster  by David Cohen & Brad Feld 

Must Have Massively Huge Markets to be Great

Mike Maples Jr. Founding Partner Floodgate and former entrepreneur

“[It’s] important to have massively huge markets and that without a great market, a startup has almost no chance of being great.

[] [We] don’t talk in terms of available markets. The reason is when I can analyze the total available market, the market’s too obvious, and if the market’s obvious, then big companies are probably already going after it.

So, we like to talk about the total potential market. [] [The] market is ambiguous, but it’s potentially huge.

[That’s] the hardest challenge for us as investors, evaluating a market’s potential. All the other things that we look for are pretty easy to spot early on, but assessing the market’s potential is really, really hard.  I think it’s as much black art as it is science.” Mike Maples, Seed Capital From Angel Investors: Mike Maples, Founder And Managing Partner, Floodgate, July, 2010; http://www.sramanamitra.com/2010/07/13/seed-capital-from-angel-investors-mike-maples-founder-and-managing-partner-floodgate

Mike Maples Jr.: What I Look For

Mike Maples Jr. Founding Partner Floodgate and former entrepreneur

“We just love the companies where the entrepreneurs have a really authentic, passionate understanding of the area and they want to just do something massive.

[] [The] first thing that we look for [in people] is authenticity.[] [The] term serial entrepreneur is not always a positive virtue. We like people who say to us, This is the only company I ever want to do.

The second thing that we look for is completeness in the team. Experience and completeness aren’t necessarily the same thing.  A complete team has a combination of business and technical vision and business and technical execution. If you have all four of those bases covered, the probability that you will be stopped by something where you had a blind spot goes down [].

[The] third thing that we look for is how experienced is the team. [] [Those] first two things matter to us more. Execution can be hired; vision can’t. So, it’s that authentic voice and a team that meshes well together in a special way . . . that’s the stuff you can’t hire and fix later. If you get it right when the company starts, then you have a better chance, in our view.”  Mike Maples, Seed Capital From Angel Investors: Mike Maples, Founder And Managing Partner, Floodgate, July, 2010; http://www.sramanamitra.com/2010/07/13/seed-capital-from-angel-investors-mike-maples-founder-and-managing-partner-floodgate