Food For Founders #38

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Founder Education 

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

One on ones are my most valuable meetings

I always have to refer back to my own experiences when I write these newsletters…it’s the only perspective I have. My first time managing people, I wanted to have weekly one on ones with my team, and my bosses explicitly told me that was a waste of time. I went along with it and watched as my team slowly eroded.

We were a remote team, and I knew the rule of thumb was to OVER communicate, not cut the communications down by 1/3. Looking back on it, I failed tremendously as a leader. I knew that to lead my team effectively; I needed to have one-on-one time with them every single week. (Later I found out that I was the only manager that was told this further frustrating me and leading to a worse experience there).

In this article, Mathilde Collin, who I’ve featured in here before, explains precisely how she runs her meetings. It’s my personal opinion that you probably shouldn’t have 12 direct reports, but she’s building a rocket ship at Front, and I’m still trying to raise funding so I will defer to her expertise.

This is one of those that I would strongly recommend that you keep bookmarked for a very long time. She systematically explains her process for having weekly, monthly, and semi-annual meetings with her direct reports. It’s a solid playbook if I ever saw one and confirmation that what I’ve been doing since that first management experience was probably more impactful for my team.

Business Strategy 

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

The most important early growth metric for early startups

First time I’ve featured Jeff in this newsletter…really it was the graphs that caught my attention. Then I looked at more articles on his blog and realized - wow is this person much smarter than I am on growth *hits subscribe*.

Something I’ve seen many startups in Atlanta miss is the exact metric Jeff details in this post - cohort analysis and retention. Most VCs hate hate hate when you use cumulative graphs because everything will always go up and to the right, you scale the graph long enough. What they prefer is to see when you are talking about all the growth you would experience after deploying their capital is an analysis of your cohorts.

Want to know why you shouldn’t just report retention rates? I’ll let Jeff finish this section out…

"Sometimes I see startups report retention as something along the lines of 'each month, 90% of our users will still be users the next month.’ Looking at your entire user base as a whole while calculating retention is not the best way to calculate retention because it depends on your mix of old and new users. It doesn’t make sense to compare retention rates of a newly joined user and a user who has been around for a long time, so the correct way is to measure it by cohort.”

Would highly recommend you read this piece if you are a startup founder looking to raise money.

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.

Some retailers are already ditching Omnichannel marketing for the “Harmonic” model

I understand branding and naming things, but eventually, people will call these shifts “customer-centric” and leave it at that. Pam Danzinger kills this piece (IMHO).

By putting customer service at the center of your brand, fortunately, technology is almost at a point where it’s seamless, you have a real shot of shifting your CAC dramatically — especially when compared to competitors raising VC dollars to throw them at Facebook and Instagram.

Pam writes, "the idea of omnichannel retail still forces the customer along predetermined paths to purchase that are aligned with the organizational structure” or in other words, you are giving people options within a construct…but harmonic asks the question, “what if our users don’t want to play in our sandbox?”

This is an excellent read for any DTC or B2C brands looking for an edge on the competition. By most accounts fulfilling your brand promise is the most important thing you can do as a young startup. Having a harmonic customer service model will help you do that on your customers’ turf, and that will significantly enhance their experience and increase their lifetime value.

Around The Startup Ecosystem

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

Stripe is committing to building a remote engineering hub

When I first read this, I thought the wording of this article was to punch up the response. “Remote engineering hub” sounds like you’re going to hire more remote engineers. But that’s not at all what Stripe is saying.

They are basically building an engineering team in the cloud - if you will. They will develop unique processes (also possibly internal products) and policies to govern this new group. Not only that, this group is likely to be much different than the current remote workers.

See when you build a team from scratch in a virtual environment, you can take advantage of entirely new procedures of meeting, collaborating, scheduling, hiring, etc.…You actually can build an office in the cloud. It will operate differently than the physical offices you have, but it will need to integrate with those offices as if it was just another location. Fascinating right??

More and more startups (and slowly investors) are realizing that they no longer need to live in three of the most expensive cities, who ironically hold most of the VC funding, to build a world-changing company. There are even organizations, like BeyondHQ, who are capitalizing on this trend and offering “stand up” services for companies looking to build distributed teams.

I love this trend. I believe it will provide a little more parity throughout the country and allow more people to improve economically speaking. Now we have to make sure that those who are financially disadvantaged are also receiving these opportunities for growth.