5 Lessons from a successful start-up
This past Wednesday, Inbound Marketing Firm Hubspot hosted a TEDx in their corporate headquarters in Cambridge Massachusetts where speakers discussed VC, Angel investors, and “Everything we wish we had known before starting a start-up”.
HubSpot founders Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah spoke to a crowd of 150 people about what it took to create, pitch, and build one of the most well respected internet marketing companies in the industry. They were joined by Angel investor Joe Caruso who shared insight on what to look for in a new investment, what doesn’t work, and when to ignore all your preconceived notions for a once in a lifetime opportunity.
While I was unable to attend and the event was not recorded, my friend and colleague Sam Mallikarjunan was kind enough to share some notes and key discussion points with me which I thought were worth sharing.
1. Write a blog, not a business plan.
No one is ever going to read your business plan. Not VC’s, not your future partners, not your mother. Write a blog to start creating content around your value proposition and problem that you’re trying to solve. Give yourself a head start on SEO, start capturing leads and networking, and start getting key feedback on structure and functionality.
2. Stealth mode is for fighter jets, not startups.
The hardest problem you will have is convincing people that your revolutionary idea is worth caring about at all, much less stealing. Investors and VCs are not going to sign NDAs.
3. Focus on hockey stick metrics.
Ideally profit, but if not profit then revenue, leads, or even simple page views. Show growth in some way over a period of time and investors will be much more receptive to you.
4. Bring a product to market as soon as you can.
Think Agile. Your business model and product will change many times. ‘Perfect’ is the mortal enemy of ‘Good Enough’. If your initial prototype isn’t something you’re completely embarrassed by, you waited too long.
5. Angels care more about the people than the product.
Angel investors care 80% about the team, 20% about the idea. If you don’t have people on board that they can believe in, you can kiss your Angels goodbye.
Angels care more about passion and talent than the actual concept, since they know that the concept might change over time.
A good angel investor is going to focus on what’s best for the team - even if that means telling you that you shouldn’t be in charge or that someone on the team isn’t qualified.