Food For Founders #34

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Founder Education 

This section is meant to help you grow as a leader, manager, or entrepreneur.

5 Ways to Show appreciation for your employees 

I always refer to my large management failures from my first time managing a team. It was a train wreck. But, I also felt the way I was managed wasn’t much better. That’s why I’m including this article in this newsletter’s 34th issue. 

There is nothing more discouraging and deflating than telling managers in your company to do one thing, and then doing the polar opposite when it matters. I believe that you should always praise in public and correct in private, fortunately that was part of the culture at one of my former employers. There was a twist though, they strongly suggested this for managers to their team members, but when it came to the founders…they always took the credit. 

Which is totally fine when you own the company you work for. Everything is your perogative and to this day they still give zero public recognition to members of the team. This is a way to scare away potential superstars and will end up alienating some of your employees that want public affirmation and recognition and see that as even more important than anything else. 

This is why management can be so difficult. More often than not, you will need to adjust your style to every single employee you have. If you find you have a team that is moving the needle for your company, read this piece to see the multiple ways you can show how much your appreciate them. 

Business Strategy 

This section is designed to help you improve your skills as a strategist and tactician.

Share your idea with lots of people 

Dave Payne is a legend on the Atlanta startup scene. He’s the co-Founder of Scoutmob and startup hub Switchyards (I’m a member!), and currently he is the Managing Director of Techstars Atlanta.

Once I finally felt comfortable with the design and structure of KnowCap, I followed the advice in this article and spent the majority of 2019 meeting people and sharing the vision of what we are trying to build. 

So when it comes to the advice in this piece, I wholeheartedly believe it. You want to talk to a lot of people, from diverse backgrounds, about what you are working on. As a founder, the worst thing you can do is work on a product that no one wants or is willing to pay for with the mindset of “if you build it they will come”. 

This happens all of the time. It’s also why I’ve heard from entrepreneurs that their biggest value from going through an accelerator program was how to perform customer development and quickly remove themselves from bad ideas. 

When we validated our models. We talked to city officials in different states, entrepreneurs in different countries, and expert operators in different industries. We wanted to make sure that our vision to democratize the power laws of Silicon Valley was actually something that people wanted. It was a resounding yes, but we could have just as easily been on a path that no one finds valuable. 

I referred to this stat in an issue published a few weeks ago, 42% of startups fail because of no market need. That means that they didn’t actually ask their ideal customer if they would pay for the product. They didn’t talk to enough people. 

Mental Snacks

This section was created to introduce ideas that may not related to starting a company, yet is important to your success as a founder.

The Introverts Guide to Networking 

I am currently raising funding for KnowCap Interactive’s Atlanta ecosystem. One of the core pieces of our thesis is that people in the community should be able to participate in the upside of the economic impact we seek to create. That means raising a small sum from the Atlanta community and that scares the crap out of me. There’s going to be a lot of hand to hand combat over the next few months and I love that Karen Wickre’s piece hit me at the right moment. 

In it she explains the concept of weak ties to strengthen your network. Your weak ties are the people you have already interacted with in the past and there is a lot of power in these connections. When I think about all of the help I’ve received from loose ties formed throughout Twitter and attending events in Atlanta, I’m in awe of how many have supported me through the years (and me them). 

For introverts, especially if you are on the “shy” side like myself, it can be tough to put yourself out there and go to big-box networking events. That is where a tool like LinkedIn or Twitter can help you reconnect with former colleagues or friends of friends that you would like to build a relationship with. In absence of the pressure you feel at networking events, you will be surprised at how much more effective you are at actually networking.  

Around The Startup Ecosystem

This section was built to update you on important events, opinions, or pieces happening in the world of startups.

Nipsey Hussle’s Distribution of Wealth 

Nipsey Hussle was a great inspiration to me. I began listening to his music ages ago, but he started to challenge me on an entrepreneurial level was when he announced his first #ProudtoPay campaign. He was always unique and he simply moved through the music industry differently than others. 

During the #ProudtoPay campaign, he showed artists that if you can build a community and provide valuable content and experiences, they will pay for access to you. He released free commercial projects and simultaneously charged $100 for copies of the project in exchange for new experiences. He sold 1,000 making him $100,000 completely outside of the label infrastructure.

He bought a strip mall in Crenshaw and then made a one of a kind experience with his clothing company, The Marathon. For the experience, he would hide special content and offers within the tags of his clothing that could be activated, via augmented reality, once you reached home. Like I said, different. 

I included this piece by Semmi because I was already inspired by Nipsey…but it’s at a whole other level once I found out how much impact he had on his community. Semmi estimates over 41,000 people were hired, assisted, impacted by his efforts. Even more staggering…Nipsey had approximately $210M in economic impact in about six years (before the age of 34).

There is no telling how these numbers will look 10 years from now when the STEM school he co-founded and the startup incubator begins producing success stories from South Central.  

I would highly encourage you to read this article. It has solidified my conviction that KnowCap can achieve the vision we set forth, and we shouldn’t be afraid to claim numbers that investors call “unreasonable”. 

Rest in peace, Nip. You inspired a generation.