Startup Lessons Learned in a Q&A format.
In this post I am simply laying out things I wish someone had told me when I was starting out few years ago. All the below questions are questions I had along the path and in most cases I had to find the answers the hard and long way.
Truth is I still do not know a lot of things. All I know is what I have learnt so far from my mistakes and this post is where I am documenting all the lessons learned.
Every startup is different. But I found these rules are usually applicable in almost every situation. But still take these opinions as a grain of salt.
I am going to keep adding to it as I make new discoveries or if I remember anything I missed. So subscribe if it helps you.
Should I quit my job?
Quit if you have validated your idea and can bootstrap for 9 to 12 months.
What is the most important thing in a startup?
Your Co-founder, if you have one otherwise customer development.
Do I need a Co-founder?
If you are making an enterprise facing product, chances are you will need a technical co-founder. For B2C, outsource to a qualified and responsive team.
What should I look out for in a co-founder?
Someone who works as hard as you and compliments you!
How do we split equity?
No one has ever answered this question. Every case is different. My take, divide equal parts in these categories, Product/Service - Sales - Committed Hours - Original Idea - Personal Investment. Adjust for variation in contribution.
Should I get a lawyer?
If you are rich, otherwise make internet your guide.
What should the founders put in the contract?
This is what a boiler plate contract has:Percentage of fully diluted equity, 1 year cliff, 4 year vesting period, full vesting if acquired.
What should the founder salary be?
Zero, unless you have revenues or funding.
Should it be a LLC or C Corp or S Corp?
If you are looking to raise money, investors like a C-Corp from Delaware
Should I raise VC money?
It's a full time commitment. Get customers first and then do it to accelerate.
Should I get NDA's signed?
Not for your idea. No one will ever steal your idea. Read this
How do I select which venture capitalist?
Beggars cannot be choosers. Once you have money, listen to them but do not do anything they ask you to do..
I am going to be the next Uber.
If you are lucky and get a million decisions right. So, tough but conviction is key.
How do I pick from million tasks I have?
Keep asking why you want to do a task and you will know if you need to or not.
Should I have a business plan?
If investors want to see it. No one sticks to original business plan. Do a business model canvas instead.
What should I say in a cold email to a customer or an investor?
Use BLUF - Bottom Line Up Front. Be generous in spacing your lines and keep it short. VERY SHORT!
How should I deal with an unresponsive customer?
Email twice, then call and leave a voicemail. Then call again once more. No response, move on. Got a "no thanks", ask them if you can put them on a newsletter list.
Investor is grilling me, what should I do?
Get rid of them and move on to the next one. You do not want an investor who does not understand your idea or does not believe in you.
I have an idea for a startup, what do I do?
Google like no tomorrow and find if someone else is doing it already. Competition is a good sign problem exists. Now just overtake your competition.
Should I give equity to early employees?
Yes. It is motivating.
Should I get an advisor?
Yes, if their advice gets you new business.
Should I talk about competition in investor meetings?
Investors are asking about competition. What should I do?
Do not pick on any competition. Just talk about your differentiating propositions. Know about every competitor out there.
How much should I work?
10 hours for every hour of exercise.
How much should I pay to get a website created?
Nothing for a read only website. Make it for free using Wordpress. For a web app, outsource it. Remember, you get what you pay for.
How do I go about creating a web app?
Study close models, write a list of a all the features for a minimal viable product, sketch out the screens, get them designed in wireframes by a designer and then get them developed one by one, test them with the market. Change as necessary and do it fast. Repeat.
Should I go to meetups or networking events?
Yes. Once or twice so you know they are a waste of time.
My ideas are failing, now what?
You are not failing, you are discovering.
Should I use Google Adwords?
No. Hustle if you are in very early stage!
How much feedback should I take from customer?
Walk 10,000 miles in customer's shoes. Not just 10 or 100. Very Important.
Should I pursue two ideas at the same time?
Can you drive two cars at the same time?