More on Leadership
Jano le Roux
10 months ago
Quit worrying about Twitter: Elon moves quickly before refining
Elon's rides start rough, but then...
Elon Musk has never been so hated.
They don’t get Elon.
He began using PayPal in this manner.
He began with SpaceX in a similar manner.
He began with Tesla in this manner.
Elon had rocky starts. His creativity requires it. Just like writing a first draft.
His fastest way to find the way is to avoid it.
PayPal's pricey launch
PayPal was a 1999 business flop.
They were considered insane.
Elon and his co-founders had big plans for PayPal. They adopted the popular philosophy of the time, exchanging short-term profit for growth, and pulled off a miracle just before the bubble burst.
PayPal was created as a dollar alternative. Original PayPal software allowed PalmPilot money transfers. Unfortunately, there weren't enough PalmPilot users.
Since everyone had email, the company emailed payments. Costs rose faster than sales.
The startup wanted to get a million subscribers by paying $10 to sign up and $10 for each referral. Elon thought the price was fair because PayPal made money by charging transaction fees. They needed to make money quickly.
A Wall Street Journal article valuing PayPal at $500 million attracted investors. The dot-com bubble burst soon after they rushed to get financing.
Musk and his partners sold PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002. Musk's most successful company was PayPal.
SpaceX's start-up error
Elon and his friends bought a reconditioned ICBM in Russia in 2002.
He planned to invest much of his wealth in a stunt to promote NASA and space travel.
Many called Elon crazy.
The goal was to buy a cheap Russian rocket to launch mice or plants to Mars and return them. He thought SpaceX would revive global space interest. After a bad meeting in Moscow, Elon decided to build his own rockets to undercut launch contracts.
Then SpaceX was founded.
Elon’s plan was harder than expected.
Explosions followed explosions.
Millions lost on cargo.
Millions lost on the rockets.
Investors thought Elon was crazy, but he wasn't.
NASA's biggest competitor became SpaceX. NASA hired SpaceX to handle many of its missions.
Tesla's shaky beginning
Tesla began shakily.
Clients detested their roadster.
They continued to miss deadlines.
Lotus would handle the car while Tesla focused on the EV component, easing Tesla's entry. The business experienced elegance creep. Modifying specific parts kept the car from getting worse.
Cost overruns, delays, and other factors changed the Elise-like car's appearance. Only 7% of the Tesla Roadster's parts matched its Lotus twin.
Tesla was about to die.
Elon saved the mess as CEO.
He fired 25% of the workforce to reduce costs.
Elon Musk transformed Tesla into the world's most valuable automaker by running it like a startup.
Tesla hasn't spent a dime on advertising. They let the media do the talking by investing in innovation.
Elon sheds. Elon tries. Elon learns. Elon refines.
Twitter doesn't worry me.
The media is shocked. I’m not.
This is just Elon being Elon.
Elon makes lean.
Elon tries new things.
Elon listens to feedback.
Besides Twitter will always be Twitter.
11 months ago
Tesla recently disclosed its greatest secret.
The VP has revealed a secret that should frighten the rest of the EV world.
Tesla led the EV revolution. Elon Musk's invention offers a viable alternative to gas-guzzlers. Tesla has lost ground in recent years. VW, BMW, Mercedes, and Ford offer EVs with similar ranges, charging speeds, performance, and cost. Tesla's next-generation 4680 battery pack, Roadster, Cybertruck, and Semi were all delayed. CATL offers superior batteries than the 4680. Martin Viecha, Tesla's Vice President, recently told Business Insider something that startled the EV world and will establish Tesla as the EV king.
Viecha mentioned that Tesla's production costs have dropped 57% since 2017. This isn't due to cheaper batteries or devices like Model 3. No, this is due to amazing factory efficiency gains.
Musk wasn't crazy to want a nearly 100% automated production line, and Tesla's strategy of sticking with one model and improving it has paid off. Others change models every several years. This implies they must spend on new R&D, set up factories, and modernize service and parts systems. All of this costs a ton of money and prevents them from refining production to cut expenses.
Meanwhile, Tesla updates its vehicles progressively. Everything from the backseats to the screen has been enhanced in a 2022 Model 3. Tesla can refine, standardize, and cheaply produce every part without changing the production line.
In 2017, Tesla's automobile production averaged $84,000. In 2022, it'll be $36,000.
Mr. Viecha also claimed that new factories in Shanghai and Berlin will be significantly cheaper to operate once fully operating.
Tesla's hand is visible. Tesla selling $36,000 cars for $60,000 This barely beats the competition. Model Y long-range costs just over $60,000. Tesla makes $24,000+ every sale, giving it a 40% profit margin, one of the best in the auto business.
VW I.D4 costs about the same but makes no profit. Tesla's rivals face similar challenges. Their EVs make little or no profit.
Tesla costs the same as other EVs, but they're in a different league.
But don't forget that the battery pack accounts for 40% of an EV's cost. Tesla may soon fully utilize its 4680 battery pack.
The 4680 battery pack has larger cells and a unique internal design. This means fewer cells are needed for a car, making it cheaper to assemble and produce (per kWh). Energy density and charge speeds increase slightly.
Tesla underestimated the difficulty of making this revolutionary new cell. Each time they try to scale up production, quality drops and rejected cells rise.
Tesla recently installed this battery pack in Model Ys and is scaling production. If they succeed, Tesla battery prices will plummet.
Tesla's Model Ys 2170 battery costs $11,000. The same size pack with 4680 cells costs $3,400 less. Once scaled, it could be $5,500 (50%) less. The 4680 battery pack could reduce Tesla production costs by 20%.
With these cost savings, Tesla could sell Model Ys for $40,000 while still making a profit. They could offer a $25,000 car.
Even with new battery technology, it seems like other manufacturers will struggle to make EVs profitable.
Teslas cost about the same as competitors, so don't be fooled. Behind the scenes, they're still years ahead, and the 4680 battery pack and new factories will only increase that lead. Musk faces a first. He could sell Teslas at current prices and make billions while other manufacturers struggle. Or, he could massively undercut everyone and crush the competition once and for all. Tesla and Elon win.
7 months ago
Changing Your Mindset From a Project to a Product
Product game mindsets? How do these vary from Project mindset?
1950s spawned the Iron Triangle. Project people everywhere know and live by it. In stakeholder meetings, it is used to stretch the timeframe, request additional money, or reduce scope.
Quality was added to this triangle as things matured.
Quality was intended to be transformative, but none of these principles addressed why we conduct projects.
Value and benefits are key.
Product value is quantified by ROI, revenue, profit, savings, or other metrics. For me, every project or product delivery is about value.
Most project managers, especially those schooled 5-10 years or more ago (thousands working in huge corporations worldwide), understand the world in terms of the iron triangle. What does that imply? They worry about:
a) enough time to get the thing done.
b) have enough resources (budget) to get the thing done.
c) have enough scope to fit within (a) and (b) >> note, they never have too little scope, not that I have ever seen! although, theoretically, this could happen.
To make the triangle function, project managers will utilize formal governance (Steering) to move those things. Increase money, scope, or both if time is short. Lacking funds? Increase time, scope, or both.
In current product development, shifting each item considerably may not yield value/benefit.
Even terrible. This approach will fail because it deprioritizes Value/Benefit by focusing the major stakeholders (Steering participants) and delivery team(s) on Time, Scope, and Budget restrictions.
Pre-agile, this problem was terrible. IT projects failed wildly. History is here.
Value, or benefit, is central to the product method. Product managers spend most of their time planning value-delivery paths.
Product people consider risk, schedules, scope, and budget, but value comes first. Let me illustrate.
Imagine managing internal products in an enterprise. Your core customer team needs a rapid text record of a chat to fix a problem. The consumer wants a feature/features added to a product you're producing because they think it's the greatest spot.
Project-minded, I may say;
Ok, I have budget as this is an existing project, due to run for a year. This is a new requirement to add to the features we’re already building. I think I can keep the deadline, and include this scope, as it sounds related to the feature set we’re building to give the desired result”.
This attitude repeats Scope, Time, and Budget.
Since it meets those standards, a project manager will likely approve it. If they have a backlog, they may add it and start specking it out assuming it will be built.
Instead, think like a product;
What problem does this feature idea solve? Is that problem relevant to the product I am building? Can that problem be solved quicker/better via another route ? Is it the most valuable problem to solve now? Is the problem space aligned to our current or future strategy? or do I need to alter/update the strategy?
A product mindset allows you to focus on timing, resource/cost, feasibility, feature detail, and so on after answering the aforementioned questions.
The above oversimplifies because
Leadership in discovery
Project managers are facilitators of ideas. This is as far as they normally go in the ‘idea’ space.
Business Requirements collection in classic project delivery requires extensive upfront documentation.
Agile project delivery analyzes requirements iteratively.
However, the project manager is a facilitator/planner first and foremost, therefore topic knowledge is not expected.
I mean business domain, not technical domain (to confuse matters, it is true that in some instances, it can be both technical and business domains that are important for a single individual to master).
Product managers are domain experts. They will become one if they are training/new.
They lead discovery.
Product Manager-led discovery is much more than requirements gathering.
Requirements gathering involves a Business Analyst interviewing people and documenting their requests.
The project manager calculates what fits and what doesn't using their Iron Triangle (presumably in their head) and reports back to Steering.
If this requirements-gathering exercise failed to identify requirements, what would a project manager do? or bewildered by project requirements and scope?
They would tell Steering they need a Business SME or Business Lead assigning or more of their time.
Product discovery requires the Product Manager's subject knowledge and a new mindset.
How should a Product Manager handle confusing requirements?
Product Managers handle these challenges with their talents and tools. They use their own knowledge to fill in ambiguity, but they have the discipline to validate those assumptions.
To define the problem, they may perform qualitative or quantitative primary research.
They might discuss with UX and Engineering on a whiteboard and test assumptions or hypotheses.
Do Product Managers escalate confusing requirements to Steering/Senior leaders? They would fix that themselves.
Product managers raise unclear strategy and outcomes to senior stakeholders. Open talks, soft skills, and data help them do this. They rarely raise requirements since they have their own means of handling them without top stakeholder participation.
Discovery is greenfield, exploratory, research-based, and needs higher-order stakeholder management, user research, and UX expertise.
Product Managers also aid discovery. They lead discovery. They will not leave customer/user engagement to a Business Analyst. Administratively, a business analyst could aid. In fact, many product organizations discourage business analysts (rely on PM, UX, and engineer involvement with end-users instead).
The Product Manager must drive user interaction, research, ideation, and problem analysis, therefore a Product professional must be skilled and confident.
Creating vs. receiving and having an entrepreneurial attitude
Product novices and project managers focus on details rather than the big picture. Project managers prefer spreadsheets to strategy whiteboards and vision statements.
These folks ask their manager or senior stakeholders, "What should we do?"
They then elaborate (in Jira, in XLS, in Confluence or whatever).
They want that plan populated fast because it reduces uncertainty about what's going on and who's supposed to do what.
Skilled Product Managers don't only ask folks Should we?
They're suggesting this, or worse, Senior stakeholders, here are some options. After asking and researching, they determine what value this product adds, what problems it solves, and what behavior it changes.
Therefore, to move into Product, you need to broaden your view and have courage in your ability to discover ideas, find insightful pieces of information, and collate them to form a valuable plan of action. You are constantly defining RoI and building Business Cases, so much so that you no longer create documents called Business Cases, it is simply ingrained in your work through metrics, intelligence, and insights.
Product Management is not a free lunch.
Plates and food must be prepared.
In conclusion, Product Managers must make at least three mentality shifts:
You put value first in all things. Time, money, and scope are not as important as knowing what is valuable.
You have faith in the field and have the ability to direct the search. YYou facilitate, but you don’t just facilitate. You wouldn't want to limit your domain expertise in that manner.
You develop concepts, strategies, and vision. You are not a waiter or an inbox where other people can post suggestions; you don't merely ask folks for opinion and record it. However, you excel at giving things that aren't clearly spoken or written down physical form.
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8 months ago
Don't Fall Behind: 7 Subjects You Must Understand to Keep Up with Technology
As technology develops, you should stay up to date
You don't want to fall behind, do you? This post covers 7 tech-related things you should know.
You'll learn how to operate your computer (and other electronic devices) like an expert and how to leverage the Internet and social media to create your brand and business. Read on to stay relevant in today's tech-driven environment.
You must learn how to code.
Future-language is coding. It's how we and computers talk. Learn coding to keep ahead.
Try Codecademy or Code School. There are also numerous free courses like Coursera or Udacity, but they take a long time and aren't necessarily self-paced, so it can be challenging to find the time.
Artificial intelligence (AI) will transform all jobs.
Our skillsets must adapt with technology. AI is a must-know topic. AI will revolutionize every employment due to advances in machine learning.
Here are seven AI subjects you must know.
What is artificial intelligence?
How does artificial intelligence work?
What are some examples of AI applications?
How can I use artificial intelligence in my day-to-day life?
What jobs have a high chance of being replaced by artificial intelligence and how can I prepare for this?
Can machines replace humans? What would happen if they did?
How can we manage the social impact of artificial intelligence and automation on human society and individual people?
Blockchain Is Changing the Future
Few of us know how Bitcoin and blockchain technology function or what impact they will have on our lives. Blockchain offers safe, transparent, tamper-proof transactions.
It may alter everything from business to voting. Seven must-know blockchain topics:
How does the blockchain function?
What advantages does blockchain offer?
What possible uses for blockchain are there?
What are the dangers of blockchain technology?
What are my options for using blockchain technology?
What does blockchain technology's future hold?
Cryptocurrencies are here to stay
Cryptocurrencies employ cryptography to safeguard transactions and manage unit creation. Decentralized cryptocurrencies aren't controlled by governments or financial institutions.
Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, was launched in 2009. Cryptocurrencies can be bought and sold on decentralized exchanges.
Bitcoin is here to stay.
Bitcoin isn't a fad, despite what some say. Since 2009, Bitcoin's popularity has grown. Bitcoin is worth learning about now. Since 2009, Bitcoin has developed steadily.
With other cryptocurrencies emerging, many people are wondering if Bitcoin still has a bright future. Curiosity is natural. Millions of individuals hope their Bitcoin investments will pay off since they're popular now.
Thankfully, they will. Bitcoin is still running strong a decade after its birth. Here's why.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is no longer just a trendy term.
IoT consists of internet-connected physical items. These items can share data. IoT is young but developing fast.
20 billion IoT-connected devices are expected by 2023. So much data! All IT teams must keep up with quickly expanding technologies. Four must-know IoT topics:
Recognize the fundamentals: Priorities first! Before diving into more technical lingo, you should have a fundamental understanding of what an IoT system is. Before exploring how something works, it's crucial to understand what you're working with.
Recognize Security: Security does not stand still, even as technology advances at a dizzying pace. As IT professionals, it is our duty to be aware of the ways in which our systems are susceptible to intrusion and to ensure that the necessary precautions are taken to protect them.
Be able to discuss cloud computing: The cloud has seen various modifications over the past several years once again. The use of cloud computing is also continually changing. Knowing what kind of cloud computing your firm or clients utilize will enable you to make the appropriate recommendations.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)/Mobile Device Management (MDM) is a topic worth discussing (MDM). The ability of BYOD and MDM rules to lower expenses while boosting productivity among employees who use these services responsibly is a major factor in their continued growth in popularity.
IoT Security is key
As more gadgets connect, they must be secure. IoT security includes securing devices and encrypting data. Seven IoT security must-knows:
fundamental security ideas
Authorization and identification
Private key encryption
Public key encryption
With so much going on in the globe, it can be hard to stay up with technology. We've produced a list of seven tech must-knows.
Ben "The Hosk" Hosking
11 months ago
The Yellow Cat Test Is Typically Failed by Software Developers.
Believe what you see, what people say
It’s sad that we never get trained to leave assumptions behind. - Sebastian Thrun
Many problems in software development are not because of code but because developers create the wrong software. This isn't rare because software is emergent and most individuals only realize what they want after it's built.
Inquisitive developers who pass the yellow cat test can improve the process.
Carpenters measure twice and cut the wood once. Developers are rarely so careful.
The Yellow Cat Test
Game of Thrones made dragons cool again, so I am reading The Game of Thrones book.
The yellow cat exam is from Syrio Forel, Arya Stark's fencing instructor.
Syrio tells Arya he'll strike left when fencing. He hits her after she dodges left. Arya says “you lied”. Syrio says his words lied, but his eyes and arm told the truth.
Arya learns how Syrio became Bravos' first sword.
“On the day I am speaking of, the first sword was newly dead, and the Sealord sent for me. Many bravos had come to him, and as many had been sent away, none could say why. When I came into his presence, he was seated, and in his lap was a fat yellow cat. He told me that one of his captains had brought the beast to him, from an island beyond the sunrise. ‘Have you ever seen her like?’ he asked of me.
“And to him I said, ‘Each night in the alleys of Braavos I see a thousand like him,’ and the Sealord laughed, and that day I was named the first sword.”
Arya screwed up her face. “I don’t understand.”
Syrio clicked his teeth together. “The cat was an ordinary cat, no more. The others expected a fabulous beast, so that is what they saw. How large it was, they said. It was no larger than any other cat, only fat from indolence, for the Sealord fed it from his own table. What curious small ears, they said. Its ears had been chewed away in kitten fights. And it was plainly a tomcat, yet the Sealord said ‘her,’ and that is what the others saw. Are you hearing?” Reddit discussion.
Development teams should not believe what they are told.
We created an appointment booking system. We thought it was an appointment-booking system. Later, we realized the software's purpose was to book the right people for appointments and discourage the unneeded ones.
The first 3 months of the project had half-correct requirements and software understanding.
Open your eyes
“Open your eyes is all that is needed. The heart lies and the head plays tricks with us, but the eyes see true. Look with your eyes, hear with your ears. Taste with your mouth. Smell with your nose. Feel with your skin. Then comes the thinking afterwards, and in that way, knowing the truth” Syrio Ferel
We must see what exists, not what individuals tell the development team or how developers think the software should work. Initial criteria cover 50/70% and change.
Developers build assumptions problems by assuming how software should work. Developers must quickly explain assumptions.
When a development team's assumptions are inaccurate, they must alter the code, DevOps, documentation, and tests.
It’s always faster and easier to fix requirements before code is written.
First-draft requirements can be based on old software. Development teams must grasp corporate goals and consider needs from many angles.
Testers help rethink requirements. They look at how software requirements shouldn't operate.
Technical features and benefits might misdirect software projects.
The initiatives that focused on technological possibilities developed hard-to-use software that needed extensive rewriting following user testing.
High-level criteria are different from detailed ones.
The interpretation of words determines their meaning.
Presentations are lofty, upbeat, and prejudiced.
People's perceptions may be unclear, incorrect, or just based on one perspective (half the story)
Developers can be misled by requirements, circumstances, people, plans, diagrams, designs, documentation, and many other things.
Developers receive misinformation, misunderstandings, and wrong assumptions. The development team must avoid building software with erroneous specifications.
Once code and software are written, the development team changes and fixes them.
Developers create software with incomplete information, they need to fill in the blanks to create the complete picture.
Yellow cats are often inaccurate when communicating requirements.
Before writing code, clarify requirements, assumptions, etc.
Everyone will pressure the development team to generate code rapidly, but this will slow down development.
Code changes are harder than requirements.
7 months ago
Using Ruby code, a programmer created a $48,000,000,000 product that Elon Musk admired.
Shopify CEO and co-founder Tobias Lutke. Shopify is worth $48 billion.
World-renowned entrepreneur Tobi
Tobi never expected his first online snowboard business to become a multimillion-dollar software corporation.
Tobi founded Shopify to establish a 20-person company.
The publicly traded corporation employs over 10,000 people.
Here's Tobi Lutke's incredible story.
Elon Musk tweeted his admiration for the Shopify creator.
Musk praised Shopify founder Tobi Lutke on Twitter.
Explore this programmer's journey.
What difficulties did Tobi experience as a young child?
Germany raised Tobi.
Tobi's parents realized he was smart but had trouble learning as a toddler.
Tobi was learning disabled.
Tobi struggled with school tests.
Tobi's learning impairments were undiagnosed.
Tobi struggled to read as a dyslexic.
Tobi also found school boring.
Germany's curriculum didn't inspire Tobi's curiosity.
“The curriculum in Germany was taught like here are all the solutions you might find useful later in life, spending very little time talking about the problem…If I don’t understand the problem I’m trying to solve, it’s very hard for me to learn about a solution to a problem.”
Studying computer programming
After tenth grade, Tobi decided school wasn't for him and joined a German apprenticeship program.
This curriculum taught Tobi software engineering.
He was an apprentice in a small Siemens subsidiary team.
Tobi worked with rebellious Siemens employees.
Team members impressed Tobi.
Tobi joined the team for this reason.
Tobi was pleased to get paid to write programming all day.
His life could not have been better.
Devoted to snowboarding
Tobi loved snowboarding.
He drove 5 hours to ski at his folks' house.
His friends traveled to the US to snowboard when he was older.
However, the cheap dollar conversion rate led them to Canada.
Tobi originally decided to snowboard instead than ski.
Snowboarding captivated him in Canada.
On the trip to Canada, Tobi encounters his wife.
Tobi meets his wife Fiona McKean on his first Canadian ski trip.
They maintained in touch after the trip.
Fiona moved to Germany after graduating.
Tobi was a startup coder.
Fiona found work in Germany.
Her work included editing, writing, and academics.
“We lived together for 10 months and then she told me that she need to go back for the master's program.”
With Fiona, Tobi immigrated to Canada.
Fiona invites Tobi.
Tobi agreed to move to Canada.
Programming helped Tobi move in with his girlfriend.
Tobi was an excellent programmer, therefore what he did in Germany could be done anywhere.
He worked remotely for his German employer in Canada.
Tobi struggled with remote work.
Due to poor communication.
No slack, so he used email.
Programmers had trouble emailing.
Tobi's startup was developing a browser.
After the dot-com crash, individuals left that startup.
Tobi didn't intend to work for any major corporations.
Tobi left his startup.
He believed he had important skills for any huge corporation.
He refused to join a huge corporation.
Because of Siemens.
Tobi learned to write professional code and about himself while working at Siemens in Germany.
Siemens culture was odd.
Employees were distrustful.
Siemens' rigorous dress code implies that the corporation doesn't trust employees' attire.
It wasn't Tobi's place.
“There was so much bad with it that it just felt wrong…20-year-old Tobi would not have a career there.”
Focused only on snowboarding
Tobi lived in Ottawa with his girlfriend.
Canada is frigid in winter.
Ottawa's winters last.
Almost half a year.
Tobi wanted to do something worthwhile now.
So he snowboarded.
Tobi began snowboarding seriously.
He sought every snowboarding knowledge.
He researched the greatest snowboarding gear first.
He created big spreadsheets for snowboard-making technologies.
Tobi grew interested in selling snowboards while researching.
He intended to sell snowboards online.
He had no choice but to start his own company.
A small local company offered Tobi a job.
He must sign papers to join the local company.
He needed a work permit when he signed the documents.
Tobi had no work permit.
He was allowed to stay in Canada while applying for permanent residency.
“I wasn’t illegal in the country, but my state didn’t give me a work permit. I talked to a lawyer and he told me it’s going to take a while until I get a permanent residency.”
Tobi's lawyer told him he cannot get a work visa without permanent residence.
His lawyer said something else intriguing.
Tobis lawyer advised him to start a business.
Tobi declined this local company's job offer because of this.
Tobi considered opening an internet store with his technical skills.
He sold snowboards online.
“I was thinking of setting up an online store software because I figured that would exist and use it as a way to sell snowboards…make money while snowboarding and hopefully have a good life.”
What brought Tobi and his co-founder together, and how did he support Tobi?
Tobi lived with his girlfriend's parents.
In Ottawa, Tobi encounters Scott Lake.
Scott was Tobis girlfriend's family friend and worked for Tobi's future employer.
Scott and Tobi snowboarded.
Tobi pitched Scott his snowboard sales software idea.
Scott liked the idea.
They planned a business together.
“I was looking after the technology and Scott was dealing with the business side…It was Scott who ended up developing relationships with vendors and doing all the business set-up.”
Issues they ran into when attempting to launch their business online
Neither could afford a long-term lease.
That prompted their online business idea.
They would open a store.
Tobi anticipated opening an internet store in a week.
Tobi seeks open-source software.
Most existing software was pricey.
Tobi and Scott couldn't afford pricey software.
“In 2004, I was sitting in front of my computer absolutely stunned realising that we hadn’t figured out how to create software for online stores.”
They required software to:
to upload snowboard images to the website.
people to look up the types of snowboards that were offered on the website. There must be a search feature in the software.
Online users transmit payments, and the merchant must receive them.
notifying vendors of the recently received order.
No online selling software existed at the time.
Online credit card payments were difficult.
How did they advance the software while keeping expenses down?
Tobi and Scott needed money to start selling snowboards.
Tobi and Scott funded their firm with savings.
“We both put money into the company…I think the capital we had was around CAD 20,000(Canadian Dollars).”
Despite investing their savings.
They minimized costs.
They tried to conserve.
No office rental.
They worked in several coffee shops.
Tobi lived rent-free at his girlfriend's parents.
He installed software in coffee cafes.
How were the software issues handled?
Tobi found no online snowboard sales software.
Two choices remained:
Change your mind and try something else.
Use his programming expertise to produce something that will aid in the expansion of this company.
Tobi knew he was the sole programmer working on such a project from the start.
“I had this realisation that I’m going to be the only programmer who has ever worked on this, so I don’t have to choose something that lots of people know. I can choose just the best tool for the job…There is been this programming language called Ruby which I just absolutely loved ”
Ruby was open-source and only had Japanese documentation.
Latin is the source code.
Tobi used Ruby twice.
He assumed he could pick the tool this time.
Why not build with Ruby?
How did they find their first time operating a business?
Tobi writes applications in Ruby.
He wrote the initial software version in 2.5 months.
Tobi and Scott founded Snowdevil to sell snowboards.
Tobi coded for 16 hours a day.
His lifestyle was unhealthy.
He enjoyed pizza and coke.
“I would never recommend this to anyone, but at the time there was nothing more interesting to me in the world.”
Their initial purchase and encounter with it
Tobi worked in cafes then.
“I was working in a coffee shop at this time and I remember everything about that day…At some time, while I was writing the software, I had to type the email that the software would send to tell me about the order.”
Tobi recalls everything.
He checked the order on his laptop at the coffee shop.
Pennsylvanian ordered snowboard.
Tobi walked home and called Scott. Tobi told Scott their first order.
They loved the order.
How were people made aware about Snowdevil?
2004 was very different.
Tobi and Scott attempted simple website advertising.
Google AdWords was new.
Ad clicks cost 20 cents.
Online snowboard stores were scarce at the time.
Google ads propelled the snowdevil brand.
They swiftly recouped their original investment in the snowboard business because to its high profit margin.
Tobi and Scott struggled with inventories.
“Snowboards had really good profit margins…Our biggest problem was keeping inventory and getting it back…We were out of stock all the time.”
Selling snowboards returned their investment and saved them money.
They did not appoint a business manager.
They accomplished everything alone.
Sales dipped in the spring, but something magical happened.
Spring sales plummeted.
They considered stocking different boards.
They naturally wanted to add boards and grow the business.
However, magic occurred.
Tobi coded and improved software while running Snowdevil.
He modified software constantly. He wanted speedier software.
He experimented to make the software more resilient.
Tobi received emails requesting the Snowdevil license.
They intended to create something similar.
“I didn’t stop programming, I was just like Ok now let me try things, let me make it faster and try different approaches…Increasingly I got people sending me emails and asking me If I would like to licence snowdevil to them. People wanted to start something similar.”
Software or skateboards, your choice
Scott and Tobi had to choose a hobby in 2005.
They might sell alternative boards or use software.
The software was a no-brainer from demand.
Daniel Weinand is invited to join Tobi's business.
Tobis German best friend is Daniel.
Tobi and Scott chose to use the software.
Tobi and Scott kept the software service.
Tobi called Daniel to invite him to Canada to collaborate.
Scott and Tobi had quit snowboarding until then.
How was Shopify launched, and whence did the name come from?
The three chose Shopify.
Named from two words.
Shopify's crew has always had one goal:
creating software that would make it simple and easy for people to launch online storefronts.
Launched Shopify after raising money for the first time.
Shopify began fundraising in 2005.
First, they borrowed from family and friends.
They needed roughly $200k to run the company efficiently.
$200k was a lot then.
When questioned why they require so much money. Tobi told them to trust him with their goals. The team raised seed money from family and friends.
Shopify.com has a landing page. A demo of their goal was on the landing page.
In 2006, Shopify had about 4,000 emails.
Shopify rented an Ottawa office.
“We sent a blast of emails…Some people signed up just to try it out, which was exciting.”
How things developed after Scott left the company
Shopify co-founder Scott Lake left in 2008.
Scott was CEO.
“He(Scott) realized at some point that where the software industry was going, most of the people who were the CEOs were actually the highly technical person on the founding team.”
Scott leaving the company worried Tobi.
Tobis worried about finding a new CEO.
A great VC will have the network to identify the perfect CEO for your firm.
Tobi started visiting Silicon Valley to meet with venture capitalists to recruit a CEO.
Initially visiting Silicon Valley
Tobi came to Silicon Valley to start a 20-person company.
This company creates eCommerce store software.
Tobi never wanted a big corporation. He desired a fulfilling existence.
“I stayed in a hostel in the Bay Area. I had one roommate who was also a computer programmer. I bought a bicycle on Craiglist. I was there for a week, but ended up staying two and a half weeks.”
Tobi arrived unprepared.
When venture capitalists asked him business questions.
He answered few queries.
Tobi didn't comprehend VC meetings' terminology.
He wrote the terms down and looked them up.
Some were fascinated after he couldn't answer all these queries.
“I ended up getting the kind of term sheets people dream about…All the offers were conditional on moving our company to Silicon Valley.”
Canada received Tobi.
He wanted to consult his team before deciding. Shopify had five employees at the time.
A global recession greeted Tobi in Canada. The recession hurt the market.
His term sheets were useless.
The economic downturn in the world provided Shopify with a fantastic opportunity.
The global recession caused significant job losses.
Fired employees had several ideas.
They wanted online stores.
Entrepreneurship was desired. They wanted to quit work.
People took risks and tried new things during the global slump.
Shopify subscribers skyrocketed during the recession.
“In 2009, the company reached neutral cash flow for the first time…We were in a position to think about long-term investments, such as infrastructure projects.”
Then, Tobi Lutke became CEO.
How did Tobi perform as the company's CEO?
“I wasn’t good. My team was very patient with me, but I had a lot to learn…It’s a very subtle job.”
Tobi limited the company's potential.
He deliberately restrained company growth.
Tobi had one costly problem:
Whether Shopify is a venture or a lifestyle business.
The company's annual revenue approached $1 million.
Tobi battled with the firm and himself despite good revenue.
His wife was supportive, but the responsibility was crushing him.
“It’s a crushing responsibility…People had families and kids…I just couldn’t believe what was going on…My father-in-law gave me money to cover the payroll and it was his life-saving.”
Throughout this trip, everyone supported Tobi.
They believed it.
$7 million in donations received
Tobi couldn't decide if this was a lifestyle or a business.
Shopify struggled with marketing then.
Later, Tobi tried 5 marketing methods.
He told himself that if any marketing method greatly increased their growth, he would call it a venture, otherwise a lifestyle.
The Shopify crew brainstormed and voted on marketing concepts.
“Every single idea worked…We did Adwords, published a book on the concept, sponsored a podcast and all the ones we tracked worked.”
To Silicon Valley once more
Shopify marketing concepts worked once.
Tobi returned to Silicon Valley to pitch investors.
He raised $7 million, valuing Shopify at $25 million.
All investors had board seats.
“I find it very helpful…I always had a fantastic relationship with everyone who’s invested in my company…I told them straight that I am not going to pretend I know things, I want you to help me.”
Tobi developed skills via running Shopify.
Shopify had 20 employees.
Leaving his wife's parents' home
Tobi left his wife's parents in 2014.
Tobi had a child.
Shopify has 80,000 customers and 300 staff in 2013.
Public offering in 2015
Shopify investors went public in 2015.
Shopify powers 4.1 million e-Commerce sites.
Shopify stores are 65% US-based.
It is currently valued at $48 billion.