ST ART -UPS
Do More, Faster by Brad Feld and David Cohen
BOOK SUMMARY Vitals
Hardcover (352 pages), Wiley (October 2010) ISBN-10: 0470929839 PSRP: 29.95 USD
Last Revised January 26, 2013 Overview: A compilation of interviews/essays from entrepreneurs and their mentors from TechStars – a successful startup incubator based in Boulder, Colorado. Crammed with practical advice around 7 themes: idea and vision, people, execution, product, fundraising, legal structure, and work-life balance.
Review: While this book is geared towards tech startups, if you’re looking to build a new company irrespective of industry you’ll find something of use to you in this book. Highly recommended – but as the authors caution a few times, “it’s just data”. Review While this book offers some great advice to entrepreneurs of all stripes and industries, it’s geared primarily towards tech startups that build services on the web. Do More, Faster is a compilation of advice from some amazing entrepreneurs and their mentors/advisors with minimal overlap. I highly recommend this book for the range of advice it covers on nearly all aspects of a startup – but as the authors emphasize a few times through the book – “it’s just data”. Ideas may ultimately not be appropriate to you but that are, at a minimum worth considering. Introduction This book, much like TechStars itself, is an attempt at bringing together insights of TechStars' of what makes a startup successful. TechStars is a mentorship and community driven startup accelerator founded in 2006 with a 3 month intensive program that culminates in a pitch to hundreds of investors. Each mentor is asked to focus on a single company and at most two with 4-6 deeply engaged mentors per startup. About 70 percent of TechStars companies have gone to raise more than $25 million in angel or venture capital, have become profitable or been bought by larger firms. Theme 1: Idea and Vision The core of a startup is a not a singular amazing worldchanging and earth shattering idea Startups are about testing theories and quickly pivoting based on feedback and data Tim Ferriss: Your idea is worthless. Don't over value, shelter and protect your startup concept; expose it to the real world. "One can steal ideas, but no one can steal execution or passion". Good people are more valuable because even if they fail this time, they will learn and have other fundable ideas. Kevin Mann: "If you're not passionate about what you're doing, it won't mean enough to you to succeed. Startup founders choose an insanely difficult path, so passion is a prerequisite." Isaac Saldana: Look for the pain. Talk to users and customers and address specific problems. Nate Abbott and Natty Zola: Get feedback early. Share your ideas with smart people - mentors, customers and partners and focus your team to be "execution machines". Matt Mullenwag: Usage is like oxygen for ideas. You can never fully anticipate how an audience is going to react to something you've created until it's out there. Ship early and often to get unique competitive advantage of useful feedback to anticipate market direction and/or new supporters who you can contact when your team pivots to a new idea. In a rapid iteration environment, the most important thing isn't necessarily how perfect code is when you send it out but how quickly you can revert, keeping costs of mistakes really low. David Cohen: Forget the kitchen sink. Focus on your passion and pick the smallest meaningful problem that you can be the best in the world at and continue improving upon it. This will allow you to expand your scope from a position of strength. Darren Crystal: Find that one thing they love/can’t live without. Don't assume you know what your users are doing carefully watch and study your analytics. Once you find it, make it better. Greg Reinacker: Don't plan. Prototype! Being open/public early in development process, discussing new features and how things should work means that at launch you've already built an invested fan base of potential bloggers. Niel Robertson: You never need another original idea if you get customers, then listen. Don't assume what they want. Spend time with them; ensure that a feedback loop is a part of every feature, element of product design. Sean Corbett: Get it out there. Don't worry about making it perfect. Build the smallest possible product that allows you to test assumptions and answer questions about your business and then get it out there. If you target a large user base, it is unlikely you will offend enough people quickly enough to impede growth. Bijan Sabet: Avoid tunnel vision. The vision you have may be achieved on a path than you originally plan. The best entrepreneurs that execute well do several things: "Develop
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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 it happen. Combine sheer will, determination and focus to make it happen with a healthy sense of urgency. Have perspective that things rarely go as planned." Jared Polis: Focus. The key to success is focusing on a good idea and implementing it well. Don't be distracted by other opportunities along the way. Colin Angle: Iterate again. Few people care how you accomplish something, they care about whether you create value for your end user. A mission statement can make a difference like ours, "Build cool stuff, deliver great product, have fun, make money, change the world." It kept the company united, gave it purpose and made it well positioned to endure the hardships encountered during early stages of existence, even if it is to call customers to tell them (a) no, the robot isn't done yet, and (b) please pay us anyway so we can make payroll. Alex White: Fail fast. Be happy about having a bunch of little failures along the path to success, because if you're not failing you're probably just not trying enough stuff. Recognize failure is likely outcome of any venture but with each iteration, you give yourself a better chance for success. Fail fast, learn quickly and start again. Paul Berberian: Pull the plug when you know it's time. This doesn't always mean you shut down the company. Step back from what you've created and think about what you can do better than anyone else in the world. Theme 2: People The most important thing in entrepreneurship is people. One of the goals of Techstars is to expose first-time entrepreneurs to mentors with a wide range of experiences/perspectives Mark O'Sullivan: Don't go it alone. Many of the most successful tech companies have been created by at least two co-founders. Having someone to share your burden, and walk with you into battle is invaluable. Dharmesh Shah: Avoid founder conflict. Be prepared for ups and downs. Address these issues as soon as possible - plan for worst, hope for best: how should equity be split? how will decisions get made? What decisions get made by board? 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 the company beyond shareholder agreement? (E.g. non-
compete). At a minimum, all founders should be willing to assign whatever they develop to the company what will we pay ourselves and who gets to change this in the future? (Issue can be clouded by varying risk tolerances and invested cash by founders) what are financing plans for the company? Self-funded and boot strapped? Raise angel funding? Raise VC funding? What happens if this doesn't happen Will Herman: Hire people better than you. Knowledge grows exponentially, they will challenge you to grow, your team will move much faster and better people are easier to manage and are more self reliant. Use your mentors to help you more objectively assess gaps/recruiting given their experience hiring people. Matt Blumberg: Hire slowly, fire quickly. A bad employee is like a cancer in the organization. Always do a comprehensive 90 day 360 performance review. Laura Fitton: Be committed. If you can't quit no matter how hard you try, then you have a chance to succeed. Alex White: Build a balanced team. It is foolish to have more than one non technical co-founder at the earliest stages of a business who helps leverage the technical assets. The healthiest startups have overlap in key areas and involvement with direct feedback from users, investors. The goal is to achieve 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 screw up a lot - think of it as making friends who want to help you and care about what you're doing. A strong relationship allows for mistakes. Emily Olson: Engage great mentors. Mentors should fit into your business and their experience should match up with the challenges you face. To keep them engaged, make sure you close 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 have been convinced 3 most important factors in determining success 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 is working on something important intolerance for mediocrity - quickly rejecting those who are not meeting a high bar watching pennies - e.g. "scrappy awards" given to employees who demonstrated superhuman abilities to save money equity driven - everyone is on board to build something significant and employees want a piece of that future. If
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focused solely on cash, indicative they may have lost faith in business. perfect alignment - from strategy to vision to people good communications especially in bad times. Hard issues addressed directly, not ignored. strong leadership - leads by example and the "cultural soul" of a company mutual respect - not one of blame, disdain on other departments customer obsessed - defining who customer is, what they want/need, what they will value enough to pay for now. This happens before code is written; customer feedback becomes core to the process. high energy level - you can feel it fun - everyone reinforces that fun is happening even if it isn't at that particular point in time. Whining is unwelcome integrity - highest integrity in way they treat customers, handle employee issues, write code and go about daily business. Enough confidence in business to believe cheating in any form or even going halfway is unacceptable. Brad Feld: Two strikes and you are out. "Screwing me" is defined as deliberate deception, purposefully hurting me (or someone I care about), doing something immoral/illegal. That's one strike (failure which is expected is not). Be emotionally clear in reaction (dispassionate but not passive, direct not hostile and specific not accusatory). A deep thoughtful conversation usually ensues which serves to build a much stronger relationship or the potential for one. Warren Katz: Karma matters. Be open to helping others as you never know how or where that favor is returned. David Cohen: Be open to randomness. Met Brad Feld during a "random day" where he takes meetings he wouldn't normally take or no specific reason to take but where he figures he will meet a few interesting people and something good will come from it. Theme 3: Execution Efficiency of execution is so important that processes exist to detect it at TechStars - like direct/concise emails, quick and dirty videos that show basics of what they're doing instead of time wasted on production value. The ability to get things done and focus on results Not blindly going from A to B but doing so collecting and synthesizing enormous amounts of data from different sources along the way making appropriate and timely decisions
David Cohen: Do more, faster. The competitive advantage of a startup is that there is little at stake in trying radical or nonobvious new things, not afraid of small failures. They can do more and as a result, learn more. Larger and more established companies have too much to lose to try something radically different or try blowing up their market. Howard Diamond: Assume you're wrong. Have a clear point of view/hypothesis and go after it with conviction but be willing to let go of your own assumptions and listen to customers and partners. It is critical to create an environment in which everyone is comfortable admitting mistakes. When something doesn't work, acknowledge the situation, synthesize the data, and try a different course of action. Ari Newman: Make decisions quickly. This is one of the biggest assets a startup has - the ability to be nimble. Motto: "build something valuable, get the word out, and listen to your customers. Iterate and repeat." Move quickly to where market is going. Bill Warner: Understand that you will get conflicting advice/information. It's just data (and a part of life). There can be multiple correct answers. Ryan McIntyre: Use your head, then trust your gut. The importance of instrumenting your business properly to enable intelligent decision making cannot be overstated. You can't manage what you don't measure. But prepare for the data to give you a head fake (e.g. wrong subgroup of customers to target). Constantly revisit data; measuring wrong things can be worse than nothing. Take inputs gathered and make decisions that feel right to both your head and gut. Eric Ries: Progress in a startup is the result of validated learning. It is better to forego non scalable revenues for instance than validated learning about customers / developing a scalable (self-serve vs. live hand holding) formula to acquire, qualify and sell to customers in targeted market segments. Most aggregate measures of success like revenues for a startup are not very useful. None of dollars, milestones or code can count as progress. Brad Feld: The plural of anecdote is not data. An entrepreneur must synthesize data / different perspectives and form their own opinion. One of goals of Techstars is to surround first time entrepreneurs with mentors who can flood them with stories, anecdotes, advice and data. It is good to have conflicting advice as it forces an entrepreneur to go deeper and think harder about what is happening. Anecdotes come even before data in the information hierarchy that generally starts with data, builds to information, and eventually peaks with knowledge. It is important to have a broad number of them before you start abstracting up to the data layer. David Cohen: Don't suck at email. Get to inbox zero (David Allen's GTD). Try to touch email only once. Respond to it immediately or put it on to do list with a due date to be dealt with later. Then, delete the item from your inbox and don't use it as your to do list. The biggest way people suck is not being clear and concise. Mark Sullivan of Vanilla came up with 7 rules not to suck at email:
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use the subject line - think about purpose of email, 2-7 words; make it descriptive and succinct the "three sentence rule" - particularly to people you don't know personally and have not contacted before. Ask only one question, and put it in your last sentence. This gets conversation started spell check reply to important emails right away - if you need to think about it, tell them when you respond and set a reminder to make sure you get them any required information use "unread" status. If an email isn't very important but requires a response, mark it as unread until you have time/info require to respond. At least once a day respond to those emails (typically first thing in morning) be conscious of how much you suck - if you send out emails you consider important and don't receive a response consider why that might be (see rules 1-6) be persistent - no matter the reason someone isn't responding, use rules 1-3 and be persistent. If dealing with someone who sucks at email you might just have to pick up a phone and call Ben Huh: Use what's free. Being cheap is an advantage over the big players and use what's free: Wordpress, YouTube, Google apps, Skype, open source. Outsource everything that you're not good at to someone who is a proven and saleable leader, preferably without paying them. Do what's valuable and reduce complexity for your clients. Remember that human nature has tendency to admire complexity but reward simplicity and the more complicated a business is, the harder to expand. The following are used by TechStars companies Balsamiq for screen prototyping, DimDim for web meetings, Dropbox for file storage and sharing, Evernote for organizing tidbits of information, Gist for keeping on top of your contacts, Github for source code sharing, Jing for screencasting, Mongotest for making sure your app looks great on every browser, Pivotal tracker for issue tracking, Sendgrid for email delivery, Snapabug for chatting with customers who visit your website, Twilio for audio conferencing and phone and sms services, Vanilla for hosting a great forum for your community. Jeffrey Powers: Be tiny until you shouldn't be. Stay tiny and take incrementally harder technology steps and you can grow value dramatically Rob Johnson: Don't celebrate the wrong things. If you celebrate what matters when it matters, your team, fans and investors will push you forward. If you celebrate the wrong things, you'll wake up from the celebration no closer to success. Everyone needs positive feedback so you should definitely congratulate your team for a major code release, but save the champagne for the first month you meet your weekly ship date each week. Ring the bell for a big close, but save the party for the first consecutive quarters of making your targets. This determines your company's culture. Celebrate things that matter for the long haul.
Brad Feld: Be specific not just in release dates (which should be release times), but also for everything you commit to doing. Release dates should have both a date and time. Learned that the external release is, at a minimum, the date plus one of the internal releases especially on systems that handle live data. The only appropriate days are Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Fred Wilson: One of things that make America great is celebration of failures. Don't hide your failures. Wear them as a badge of honor and most of all, learn from them. Andy Smith: Quality over quantity; beware of feature creep. The secret behind building useful, meaningful features: first, ease of use. Site and new features must be easy to use and graphically appealing. Focus and build one thing well. Listen to some, but not all your users. Be selective in choosing what to implement. The next big new feature you are working on will only convert a marginal number of new users to paying users. Measure impact of each new feature so you'll know for sure what kind of effect each of them has. Ben Casnocha: Have a bias towards action. Be disciplined. Planning is easy, focus on doing. Mark twain: "we regret the things we don't do more than the things we do.” Brad Feld: do or do not, there is no try. Make sure you're committed. If you don't have a preference for entrepreneurship/it doesn't interest you, don't. Theme 4: Product The best entrepreneurs are obsessed with their products The number one startup killer is making a product for which there is no interesting market. They try to build what they want, or no one wants instead of what market wants. This section is about how to get to the right product not about the tactics of building what you imagine right product to be Ajay Kulkarni and Andy Cheung: Don't wait until you are proud of your product. Unless you are launching a product in a known industry and a known product, building a startup isn't a linear process. You need fans, customers or users. It's through rapid iteration, that you find out what your product needs to be. After you track usage, run surveys, interview power users, you may be surprised who your users are and how they use your product. Dharmesh Shah: "if you aren't releasing your crappy bug-laden product, you're too late.". Use an agile software development methodology (e.g. at TechStars they use pm tool like Rally Software with product releases at least every two weeks). Only a few companies manage to get to the nirvana of continuous development where they deploy changes to their application many times a day. Raj Aggarwal: Find your whitespace. Obsess about competitors, don't fear them. Study them, build relationships with them, talk to them, explore opportunities for
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collaboration. At a minimum you'll understand them better allowing you to define whitespace. Learn why you are specifically better than competitors. Iterate with customer feedback. In many cases your competitors don't even know you exist. This gives you a huge advantage as an early stage startup as you can learn from what they are doing and how they are talking about the market and their customers while approaching things from a different perspective. Don't be afraid to reach out to them though and get to know them. Where it leads may surprise you. Dick Costello: Focus on what matters. You have to have the courage to stay focused when you are spending money and there are exciting revenue opportunities that pop up in front of you. This doesn't mean you don't change. If you have a plan and you haven't yet seen that the plan doesn't work, then stay on plan and execute as quickly as possible so you can test the hypothesis of the plan. Dave McClure: Obsess over metrics. What's really hard isn't engineering. It's simplifying your product and building a great user experience. Start by building a culture of feedback and measured analytics into your process and organization. Startup success boils down to two things: making money and making users happy. Measure behavior and happiness through the following metrics: acquisition - how are users coming to your site through various channels? activation - are users happy with their first experience? retention - are users coming back? referral - are users telling others? revenue - are users spending money or allowing you to monetize in some way? Andy Sack: Avoid distractions. By having a clear goal you can regularly determine if you have achieved a definitive leadership position. Bill Flagg: Know your customer. Get inside minds of customers and prospects. Sit in on public online demos to hear questions asked. Do usability testing to see where customers trip up and fall. Iterate like crazy with goal to create completely frictionless experience for customers. Message on invoice: "if you are not completely satisfied with your service, mark down this bill as you feel it is appropriate and tell us where we can improve." Listen to what people need and help them get it. Then do that again, and again. Michael Zeisser: Beware the big companies. They can be your friends but they can also destroy you - risk is completely imbalanced. Find real decision maker, realize you cannot create the need. Finally, fail fast. Opportunity cost can kill a startup. When dealing with a big company, you should have a vigilant discipline to align invested efforts and expected outcomes. Eric Marcoullier: Throw things away. Be prepared to reframe the problem but take a different approach. Recognize that some constraints are artificial.
Rob Hayes: Pivot. Understand your plan may be wrong survival depends on your ability to pivot to a new idea given what you learn. Pivot by always being ready. Listen to customers; they will tell you what they want. When time comes, pivot clearly and decisively. Understand what can be reused and what needs to be rebuilt/thrown out. Manage cash and ensure business partners including your board understand what you're doing and are supportive. Finally, assess whether you have the right skill sets for the new direction. Theme 5: Fundraising Know you may not need to raise money Raising money from outside investors is a major decision; understand tradeoffs, how to communicate and manage expectations Develop and sustain a relationship over time with investors - healthy, constructive and collaborative Joe Aigboboh and Jesse Tevelow: You don't have to raise money. Bootstrapping affects many operating decisions like focusing on product decisions that max revenue and working capital constraints can limit growth. It can also present challenges like early hires who seek perceived stability of VC backing. Fewer stakeholders means there are fewer people with a vested interest in helping you achieve goals. Know there are advantages and disadvantages but remember you don't necessarily have to raise money. Brad Feld: There's more than one way to raise money. Friends and family (your first 10k is likely to come from here - friends family and fools) who are making a bet on you, Angel investors (be careful of devil investors), Customers (e.g. deposits), Partners - those you collaborate with - don't be bashful about asking; if you don't ask, you'll never have a chance at getting something, Grants - R&D programs aimed at small business (e.g. Small Business Innovation Research program) David Brown: Don't forget about bootstrapping. Raise the least amount of money needed to get a business off the ground. Taking investments are like using a credit card. Sometimes taking investors is necessary for inventory, development work, or infrastructure. Don't be fooled into thinking it is necessary to stave off competitors lurking around the corner ready to launch as this often not the case. David Cohen: Beware of angel investors who aren't. Most members of angel groups are not actually angel investors. The bait and switch investor: they are looking for startups they can jump aboard with, either as an employee or consultant. They initially say they will invest, but instead of investing, they'll become CEO/Chairman and take equity to boot playing game with a few companies until they find one people actually want to invest in to get a few years of guaranteed salary. Term driver: their demands are disproportionate to the investment. To ensure you are dealing with a legitimate angel investor ask how long they have been making angel investments, how many he has made and how much he typically invests. Check
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out references that you source yourself. Check with known reputable angels and local VCs. Ask him to introduce you to two companies he has invested in past year, if not available, ask him for last three he has invested in. Call, email and verify with those founders. Jeff Clavier: Seed investors care about 3 things - people first and foremost, then products and markets. In entrepreneurs: passion, determination, dedication, and tenacity, raw intelligence, agility and resourcefulness, clarity and focus, empathy, natural leadership, working smart and working hard, team dynamics. Recent tagline: "Seeking the perfect combo: 'a smart-ass team with a kick-ass product in a big ass market' Alex White: Practice like you play. The trick to approaching investors is to present a compelling solution to a big problem and then have the right answers to every conceivable question the potential investor might ask. People do not like being separated from their money. Fundraising is a full time job and it requires the full attention of at least one team member and cooperation of the rest of the team to prepare presentation, hear pitch over and over, and help brainstorm questions and answers. Winners are confident and confidence comes from practicing like you play. You must be able to confidently describe what investors will get for writing you a check. Nicole Glaros: If you want money, ask for advice. If you want advice, ask for money. Investors say no more often than they say yes. When they wear investor hats, their senses instinctively hone in on negatives of the company. Getting investors and mentors involved early before you start raising capital gives them way to track progress and learn about you before any risk is taken. Engaging them early gets them excited and more focused on business instead of returns. Once they see they can have a direct impact on your company, they'll feel a sense of ownership in outcomes. Learn when to take their advice but also be sure to communicate why some guidance wasn't followed. Brad Feld: Show, don't tell. If you haven't built it, show an example, even if it's a rough prototype. Videos help. Showing helps to generate an immediate interest in a product. David Cohen: Turn the knife after you stick it in. Focus on the pain you address, make your audience feel it, slowly, deliberately and repeatedly. Shift to talking about the solution just before you kill them but not much earlier. Kirk Holland: Don't overoptimize on valuations. The best early stage investors ask for somewhere between 20 and 33 percent of the company for a million into a startup with almost no revenue and by definition extremely risky. Recognize that risk, accepting a low(er) valuation you recognize their risk and get investors who are going to want to back you again and again as a partner who optimizes for all your stakeholders. Jason Medelson: Get help with your term sheet. Make sure you have good legal counsel. Pay attention to returns and control. Focus on terms like pre-money valuation, liquidation preferences, board of director elections, drag-along rights, and protective provisions. Other terms are standard. (see
extensive term sheet series of blog posts written by Jason and Brad at Feld.com) Brad Feld: Focus on the first one third. Angel investing is best understood as a social sport. Once you have a third, you have a lead investor. Three types of investors - those who will lead the round if they get excited about it, those who will play wait and see, and those aren't angel investors and waste your time. Segment every angel investor you meet into these groups as soon as possible. Focus on the first group to make up a third, then the rest is usually easier after you set a closing date your lead investors are happy with for leverage on the other groups. Theme 6: Legal Structure There are some issues that become startup killers, understand the most important ones Most entrepreneurial law firms, accounting firms and banks will work with you/give free advice if asked Simple and cost effective ways to do things right. Brad Bernthal: Form the company early. First step, separate business's legal liabilities from a person's individual liabilities. Second, lock down IP - make sure none is accidentally left outside company. Finally, decide who owns what - sort out ownership. Ownership disputes are a startup killer. A great resource for first time entrepreneurs is their local university for advice and opportunities. Brad Feld: Choose the right company structure: the best often depends on financing path you choose. S-Corp: no VC money, best structure because of single tax infrastructure while retaining liability protection. C-Corp - often required for VC/angel money with multiple classes of stock not permitted in S-Corp while also allowing for tax losses to be carried forward to future years. LLC - for companies with limited number of owners and without a need for VC funding (can't invest in LLCs). While there are some advantages of LLCs, the simplicity and ease of conversion from an S-Corp to a C-Corp (just a check box), makes it the better choice. Jon Taylor: Default to Delaware for simplicity, pro-company and provides shareholders flexibility in creating specific terms for corporate governance and a much larger body of case law. Michael Platt: Lawyers don't have to be expensive. Pick the right firm - someone with experience with hundreds of startups and companies you want to emulate - talk to a few target investors for recommendation if you are going to raise money. Discuss budget upfront and ask him how you can save by doing non-legal legwork yourself (e.g. cap tables, collecting closing signatures, preparing agreement schedules). Work to develop collaborative relationship with contact, making sure they understand product, market, business plan, team skills. Introduce to key members of ecosystems and talk to mentors who will be helping to make corporate or business decisions - if you do this early, most lawyers will make this investment of time on their own nickel. Do "just in time" legal work and extend budget over time not at once. Draft
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documents after you have resolution on issues. Some firms are also willing to take some risks on fees depending on startup/principals, and also if they have a small piece of the action but remember you get what you pay for. Invest time in getting it right the first time. Jon Fox: Vesting protects founders from each other. Given the time it takes for a company to be successful, because of different life circumstances, not everyone may be around when a company becomes successful. Vesting period is typically over 4 years (2-8 years) - but how frequently varies. The key is to understand terms of vesting and ensure everyone is comfortable. Brad Feld: Find a qualified lawyer experienced with startups this probably isn't your brother in law. Matt Galligan: File your 83(b) Election. This allows you to claim as income the value of the restricted stock granted when it is granted, regardless of vesting ahead of time. This means that future gains above the initial grant value are taxed as capital gains (substantially lower than the alternative of regular income). You must do so within 30 days of stock grant or lose this option forever. If you don't make an election, this may mean you end up owing substantial taxes when valuation of granted stock changes as a result of financings or stock sales. Theme 7: Work-Life Balance The best entrepreneurs know how to disconnect and unwind; balance makes them stronger Work productively NOT constantly Without balance, you're sure to fall down sooner or later Brad Feld: Discover work-life balance. What Brad does: Spend time away - a week-long vacation each quarter; completely unavailable except in emergencies Life dinner - first day of every month, a dinner that takes stock of current reality Segment space - keep work and play areas distinct Be present - be in the moment Meditate - spend time on yourself Eran Egozy: Find those few things in your life that provide emotional satisfaction in and of themselves - find your passion. Mark Solon: When you follow your heart, good things usually happen. Life's too short to be stuck in a career that doesn't fulfill you. Howard Lindzon: The greatest entrepreneurs often talk about how much they love what they do. There's a grind that comes with creating any company or practicing over and over again to master a sport, but there's a magic moment when it all comes together. At that moment work is play and that's when amazing things often happen.
Seth Levine: Get out from behind your computer for clarity and purpose. Group fitness activities like walking, running, or cycling also offer opportunities for networking, hashing through ideas. Andy Smith: Stay healthy with proper nutrition, exercise and rest. Exercise 5-6 days a week, even 20 minutes of high intensity exercise will decrease stress and intensify workouts like Crossfit. Eat right/healthy at least 80 percent of the time (read the labels if you aren't cooking yourself). Don't forget to sleep - aim for at least 7 hours and don't binge on caffeine. Once a week, step back and think about the big picture. Amy Batchelor: Get away from it all. Getting ready means last minute fits of productivity. Returning with a clear, well-rested mind results in high levels of productivity. It's important to have teams with whom you can trust that things will work in your absence - it's a good growth model. Time away also restores patience and support levels of your partner and those around you.
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