Even Startups Need the Right Tool for the Right Job

Even Startups Need the Right Tool for the Right Job

Recently, we were doing a trail run at a state park. We tend to run for a reasonable amount of time. That means that we need to carry some sort of liquids to hydrate. For years, we’ve used a Fuel Belt to carry a couple of 8-ounce bottles we can sip from. But, we recently switched to a Nathan hydration pack. During my first run, I realized how much more pleasant and faster my run was with the new hydration pack. How can such a simple change have a meaningful impact on my run? 

Well, the two hydration options really have different purposes. We got the belts when we were mostly running on streets. But when we moved to trails, the bottles topple out when you run down even little hills. When this happens, and it happens alot, you have to stop, pick the bottle up, clean the dirt off the top, and then be prepared to get some grit in your mouth anyway. It’s manageable, but it takes time. Plus, no one likes dirt with their drink. The pack is just better for the trails – that’s where it was designed to be used.

It’s Smarter to be Lucky than it’s Lucky to be Smart

It’s Smarter to be Lucky than it’s Lucky to be Smart

Many of us are familiar with some version of this phrase that we’ve quoted from Pippin, The Musical. The idea is that if one is born lucky, they can acquire “smartness” through effort, over time. If one is born smart, that’s great—but you may never acquire luck. Of course, if you were born NFL Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, arguably you have the best of both worlds. 

There is some bit of luck in avoiding hidden debts. Missing icebergs (or “debtbergs”) is not justabout navigation. Luck, fortune, and icebergs are inextricably linked. We thought we would devote this blog to a richer exploration of luck in the entrepreneurial world.

For Startups at the MVP Stage - What are the Biggest Icebergs?

For Startups at the MVP Stage - What are the Biggest Icebergs?

In our last blogpost, we discussed the biggest debtbergs in the Pre-Revenue stage. This blogpost is focused on the MVP stage. As a reminder, at this stage a startup has begun building its management team, is developing an MVP (Minimally Viable Product), and is engaging with customers for proof of concept. But, it probably is self-funded or has friends and family for financial support. Now, the biggest debtbergs to avoid have changed from the Pre-Revenue stage…

Taking the Plunge -- When to Hire the First Employee

Taking the Plunge -- When to Hire the First Employee

Starting a company can be awesome, especially in the ideation phase—when everything is blue sky and possibility, and nobody has to worry about making payroll. But no founder or even founding team can be successful going it alone. Eventually you have to hire others to help you get the job done and move from a fantastic idea to a real company. So when do you know you are ready for that first hire?

Startup Strategy is NOT a Road Map

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”  - Dwight D. Eisenhower


How many times have you heard the statement, “We need a road map to make sure we are headed in the right direction?” In fact, sometimes the business plan is described as “the road map” for the buddingstartup. Unfortunately, the road map as a metaphor prompts all the wrong associations for even the most promisingnew startup. Why?

A Marketing Startup Story: What was it Like to be a Passenger on the “Titanic”?

When White Star decided to change strategy from building fast ships to building large ships, it still needed to find a way to differentiate its ships. So, it decided that the Titanic would be both the largest and the “finest” ship in the world. Its innovations would rival even today’s massive cruise ships. To accomplish this goal, it had a number of engineering and design challenges to overcome – 

What should investors look for in an “A-Team?”

What should investors look for in an “A-Team?”

We frequently get asked two questions from members of the startup community:  

1.    As an angel investor – “What should I be looking for in an investment?” 

2.     From entrepreneurs -  “What are early-stage investors looking for in a company?” 

We hope this blog sheds some light on both questions…

Entrepreneurship is an “Uncertainty” Management Job that Evolves over Time

People sometimes describe entrepreneurs as risk takers. They see starting a company as a risky activity. Yes, there is risk involved. But, navigating uncertainty rather than being risky is the essential task of the entrepreneur. What to build, how to build it, whom to partner with, whom to sell to, and how to fund growth… these are really tasks laden with uncertainty. 

What are the Growth Patterns for Startups?

Most founders we talk to have a little glaze in their eyes as they share their vision. You can tell that in their mind’s eye, they see their startup as a Unicorn. At a minimum, they can see revenues of $100 million. And that’s great – they should have a lofty and bold vision of what they can accomplish. Without that vision, they are guaranteed not to get there. We wondered, just how likely is this kind of an outcome?

Why Getting to Product/Market Fit can Sink a Startup

The most important job of a startup in the early stages is figuring out product/market fit. Turns out that this is much, much harder than it sounds like. You know the basic story:

-     Entrepreneur has a great idea for an unsolved problem to fix

-     They envision what they think needs to be done to fix it

-     They built that product (BTW – when we say product, it could be either a product or a service)