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passion and vision for the problem they are trying to solve.Identify and understand what they have to do to make ithappen. Combine sheer will, determination and focus to makeit happen with a healthy sense of urgency. Have perspectivethat things rarely go as planned."Jared Polis: Focus. The key to success is focusing on a goodidea and implementing it well. Don't be distracted by otheropportunities along the way.Colin Angle: Iterate again. Few people care how youaccomplish something, they care about whether you createvalue for your end user. A mission statement can make adifference like ours, "Build cool stuff, deliver great product,have fun, make money, change the world." It kept thecompany united, gave it purpose and made it well positionedto endure the hardships encountered during early stages of existence, even if it is to call customers to tell them (a) no, therobot isn't done yet, and (b) please pay us anyway so we canmake payroll.Alex White: Fail fast. Be happy about having a bunch of littlefailures along the path to success, because if you're not failingyou're probably just not trying enough stuff. Recognize failureis likely outcome of any venture but with each iteration, yougive yourself a better chance for success. Fail fast, learnquickly and start again.Paul Berberian: Pull the plug when you know it's time. Thisdoesn't always mean you shut down the company. Step back from what you've created and think about what you can dobetter than anyone else in the world.
Theme 2: People
The most important thing in entrepreneurship ispeople. One of the goals of Techstars is to exposefirst-time entrepreneurs to mentors with a wide rangeof experiences/perspectives
Mark O'Sullivan: Don't go it alone. Many of the mostsuccessful tech companies have been created by at least twoco-founders. Having someone to share your burden, and walk with you into battle is invaluable.Dharmesh Shah: Avoid founder conflict. Be prepared for upsand downs. Address these issues as soon as possible - plan forworst, hope for best:
how should equity be split?
how will decisions get made? What decisions get made byboard?
what happens if someone leaves?
can any of us be fired? By whom? For what reasons?
what are the personal goals/expectations for the startup?
what will each person do/be responsible for?
what contractual terms will each of us sign with thecompany beyond shareholder agreement? (E.g. non-compete). At a minimum, all founders should be willing toassign whatever they develop to the company
what will we pay ourselves and who gets to change this inthe future? (Issue can be clouded by varying risk tolerances and invested cash by founders)
what are financing plans for the company? Self-fundedand boot strapped? Raise angel funding? Raise VCfunding? What happens if this doesn't happenWill Herman: Hire people better than you. Knowledge growsexponentially, they will challenge you to grow, your team willmove much faster and better people are easier to manage andare more self reliant. Use your mentors to help you moreobjectively assess gaps/recruiting given their experiencehiring people.Matt Blumberg: Hire slowly, fire quickly. A bad employee islike a cancer in the organization. Always do a comprehensive90 day 360 performance review.Laura Fitton: Be committed. If you can't quit no matter howhard you try, then you have a chance to succeed.Alex White: Build a balanced team. It is foolish to have morethan one non technical co-founder at the earliest stages of abusiness who helps leverage the technical assets. Thehealthiest startups have overlap in key areas and involvementwith direct feedback from users, investors. The goal is toachieve balance to become more effective as a team.Micah Baldwin: Startups seek friends, not sales relationships.In sales, relationships are useful insofar as they allow for sales.In a startup, a relationship is paramount because they screwup a lot - think of it as making friends who want to help youand care about what you're doing. A strong relationshipallows for mistakes.Emily Olson: Engage great mentors. Mentors should fit intoyour business and their experience should match up with thechallenges you face. To keep them engaged, make sure youclose the loop and give feedback for outcome of their advice -how it was used and results/conclusions.Greg Gottesman: Define your culture. In last decade, I havebeen convinced 3 most important factors in determiningsuccess of startup are team, product/service and market(timing, size, and so on). I recently added culture:
no politics - everyone gives everybody else credit. Ideas judged on merits not who comes up with them.
it's a mission - centered around belief the company isworking on something important
intolerance for mediocrity - quickly rejecting those whoare not meeting a high bar
watching pennies - e.g. "scrappy awards" given toemployees who demonstrated superhuman abilities tosave money
equity driven - everyone is on board to build somethingsignificant and employees want a piece of that future. If