Food For Founders #36

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Founder Education 

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

My billion dollar mistake 

What I love about this piece from Hiten, is that he’s like “it’s all my fault.” I have read quite a bit of postmortems on startups (mostly to learn what not to do) and most of the time founders will waltz around who’s at fault. They may allude to the marketplace, competitors, lack of funding, outsourced CFOs, timing, Amazon, etc..but rarely will someone say “it’s all me.” That’s why this is such a powerful article for founders to digest. 

When it comes to getting beat, in KISSmetrics case it was self-inflicted and encroachment by competitive forces, the buck always stops with the founder. There are so many takeaways from here, but that’s at the highest priority. When we are living, eating, breathing an idea and then it gets removed from our lives it is easy to blame someone else. I’ve encountered it in past businesses. If your current company isn’t your first rodeo, you have experienced this too. 

Where we should focus first is on ourselves and then move outward to external factors…usually founders do the opposite. They begin studying their dead startup by looking at what happened outside of their control and then move inwards. When you take this approach you miss all of the keys that help you become better leaders and founders. You avoid the pain of how a different decision at junction #173 would have made your company worth $100M. When you avoid that pain, you’re likely to make that same decision with company #2. 

Learning from your mistakes is incredibly intimate and uncomfortable. But, if it was comfortable everyone would do it and every 2nd and 3rd company would flourish after the first one bombs. 

Business Strategy 

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

Sales storytelling for startups

I have to admit when I first began reading this long-form piece by Tricia, I wasn’t very into it. I’ve read Storybrand and Storyselling and countless articles on selling with a story. What Tricia did was break it down from a tactical standpoint and that’s why I am including in this issue of Food For Founders. 

I believe if someone wanted to they could re-configure their sales process, website copy, and marketing strategy while reading this piece. It’s that actionable. 

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.

How to bounce back from rejection

You are probably no stranger to Adam Grant, but I’ve never read anything of his that documents his response to rejection. After reading this article a few times, I decided to include it because it includes some pretty simple (but effective) ways of looking at rejection. 

As we are fundraising, I get rejected 5-7x per day, everyday. I remember a month or so ago I was listening to a podcast and heard, “if an investor rejects you, it is simply that they don’t view the future the same as you do…and that’s okay.” This has been invaluable to me and I’m reminded of it every time I send an email or make an ask for investment. The rejection just doesn’t sting as bad, when you can truly think of it is their loss - the future will have your company as a category-creator with the largest market share. 

In this article Adam writes, “No one is rejecting us. They are rejecting a sample of our work, sometimes only after seeing it through a foggy lens.” That’s powerful.

Around The Startup Ecosystem

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

This is for all of my Atlanta readers…there’s been a lot of movement over the last few weeks. SmartPath raised $2.7M a few weeks ago, then Store announced $12.3M last week…now both Salesloft and Fullstory announced big raises! For the former, that brings them to $500M valuation. For the latter, a $32M round is nothing to sneeze at. 

While this is great news I want to bring it back for a second. From Series B and beyond, Atlanta-based companies find success when raising a round of funding. Where we are notorious for is supporting founders from idea all the way to Series A. We are getting better and more accelerators are popping up, but that doesn’t stem the tide of failures or exoduses from the city because there isn’t enough support for these founders. 

This is where we want to sit. We were recently at  Accenture’s new innovation lab and someone remarked that we take the place of the “friends and family” round. I would say that a pretty accurate description of where KnowCap would sit…extremely early in the startup development process. 

We believe that by helping people with ideas launch fast growing companies, we can change the entire landscape of how cities support their entrepreneurs. By proxy, we also alter how dependent founders are on venture capital dollars.