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Kaitlin Fritz

Kaitlin Fritz

5 months ago

The Entrepreneurial Chicken and Egg

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

Nik Nicholas

Nik Nicholas

6 months ago

A simple go-to-market formula

Poor distribution, not poor goods, is the main reason for failure” — Peter Thiel.

Here's an easy way to conceptualize "go-to-market" for your distribution plan.

One equation captures the concept:

Distribution = Ecosystem Participants + Incentives

Draw your customers' ecosystem. Set aside your goods and consider your consumer's environment. Who do they deal with daily? 

  1. First, list each participant. You want an exhaustive list, but here are some broad categories.

  • In-person media services

  • Websites

  • Events\Networks

  • Financial education and banking

  • Shops

  • Staff

  • Advertisers

  • Twitter influencers

  1. Draw influence arrows. Who's affected? I'm not just talking about Instagram selfie-posters. Who has access to your consumer and could promote your product if motivated?

The thicker the arrow, the stronger the relationship. Include more "influencers" if needed. Customer ecosystems are complex.

3. Incentivize ecosystem players. “Show me the incentive and I will show you the result.“, says Warren Buffet's business partner Charlie Munger.

Strong distribution strategies encourage others to promote your product to your target market by incentivizing the most prominent players. Incentives can be financial or non-financial.

Financial rewards

Usually, there's money. If you pay Facebook, they'll run your ad. Salespeople close deals for commission. Giving customers bonus credits will encourage referrals.

Most businesses underuse non-financial incentives.

Non-cash incentives

Motivate key influencers without spending money to expand quickly and cheaply. What can you give a client-connector for free?

Here are some ideas:

Are there any other features or services available?

Titles or status? Tinder paid college "ambassadors" for parties to promote its dating service.

Can I get early/free access? Facebook gave a select group of developers "exclusive" early access to their AR platform.

Are you a good host? Pharell performed at YPlan's New York launch party.

Distribution? Apple's iPod earphones are white so others can see them.

Have an interesting story? PR rewards journalists by giving them a compelling story to boost page views.

Prioritize distribution.

More time spent on distribution means more room in your product design and business plan. Once you've identified the key players in your customer's ecosystem, talk to them.

Money isn't your only resource. Creative non-monetary incentives may be more effective and scalable. Give people something useful and easy to deliver.

Raad Ahmed

Raad Ahmed

8 months ago

How We Just Raised $6M At An $80M Valuation From 100+ Investors Using A Link (Without Pitching)

Lawtrades nearly failed three years ago.

We couldn't raise Series A or enthusiasm from VCs.

We raised $6M (at a $80M valuation) from 100 customers and investors using a link and no pitching.

Step-by-step:

We refocused our business first.

Lawtrades raised $3.7M while Atrium raised $75M. By comparison, we seemed unimportant.

We had to close the company or try something new.

As I've written previously, a pivot saved us. Our initial focus on SMBs attracted many unprofitable customers. SMBs needed one-off legal services, meaning low fees and high turnover.

Tech startups were different. Their General Councels (GCs) needed near-daily support, resulting in higher fees and lower churn than SMBs.

We stopped unprofitable customers and focused on power users. To avoid dilution, we borrowed against receivables. We scaled our revenue 10x, from $70k/mo to $700k/mo.

Then, we reconsidered fundraising (and do it differently)
This time was different. Lawtrades was cash flow positive for most of last year, so we could dictate our own terms. VCs were still wary of legaltech after Atrium's shutdown (though they were thinking about the space).

We neither wanted to rely on VCs nor dilute more than 10% equity. So we didn't compete for in-person pitch meetings.

AngelList Roll-Up Vehicle (RUV). Up to 250 accredited investors can invest in a single RUV. First, we emailed customers the RUV. Why? Because I wanted to help the platform's users.

Imagine if Uber or Airbnb let all drivers or Superhosts invest in an RUV. Humans make the platform, theirs and ours. Giving people a chance to invest increases their loyalty.

We expanded after initial interest.

We created a Journey link, containing everything that would normally go in an investor pitch:

  • Slides
  • Trailer (from me)
  • Testimonials
  • Product demo
  • Financials

We could also link to our AngelList RUV and send the pitch to an unlimited number of people. Instead of 1:1, we had 1:10,000 pitches-to-investors.

We posted Journey's link in RUV Alliance Discord. 600 accredited investors noticed it immediately. Within days, we raised $250,000 from customers-turned-investors.

Stonks, which live-streamed our pitch to thousands of viewers, was interested in our grassroots enthusiasm. We got $1.4M from people I've never met.

These updates on Pump generated more interest. Facebook, Uber, Netflix, and Robinhood executives all wanted to invest. Sahil Lavingia, who had rejected us, gave us $100k.

We closed the round with public support.

Without a single pitch meeting, we'd raised $2.3M. It was a result of natural enthusiasm: taking care of the people who made us who we are, letting them move first, and leveraging their enthusiasm with VCs, who were interested.

We used network effects to raise $3.7M from a founder-turned-VC, bringing the total to $6M at a $80M valuation (which, by the way, I set myself).

What flipping the fundraising script allowed us to do:

We started with private investors instead of 2–3 VCs to show VCs what we were worth. This gave Lawtrades the ability to:

  • Without meetings, share our vision. Many people saw our Journey link. I ended up taking meetings with people who planned to contribute $50k+, but still, the ratio of views-to-meetings was outrageously good for us.
  • Leverage ourselves. Instead of us selling ourselves to VCs, they did. Some people with large checks or late arrivals were turned away.
  • Maintain voting power. No board seats were lost.
  • Utilize viral network effects. People-powered.
  • Preemptively halt churn by turning our users into owners. People are more loyal and respectful to things they own. Our users make us who we are — no matter how good our tech is, we need human beings to use it. They deserve to be owners.

I don't blame founders for being hesitant about this approach. Pump and RUVs are new and scary. But it won’t be that way for long. Our approach redistributed some of the power that normally lies entirely with VCs, putting it into our hands and our network’s hands.

This is the future — another way power is shifting from centralized to decentralized.

Sammy Abdullah

Sammy Abdullah

4 months ago

R&D, S&M, and G&A expense ratios for SaaS

SaaS spending is 40/40/20. 40% of operating expenses should be R&D, 40% sales and marketing, and 20% G&A. We wanted to see the statistics behind the rules of thumb. Since October 2017, 73 SaaS startups have gone public. Perhaps the rule of thumb should be 30/50/20. The data is below.

30/50/20. R&D accounts for 26% of opex, sales and marketing 48%, and G&A 22%. We think R&D/S&M/G&A should be 30/50/20.

There are outliers. There are exceptions to rules of thumb. Dropbox spent 45% on R&D whereas Zoom spent 13%. Zoom spent 73% on S&M, Dropbox 37%, and Bill.com 28%. Snowflake spent 130% of revenue on S&M, while their EBITDA margin is -192%.

G&A shouldn't stand out. Minimize G&A spending. Priorities should be product development and sales. Cloudflare, Sendgrid, Snowflake, and Palantir spend 36%, 34%, 37%, and 43% on G&A.

Another myth is that COGS is 20% of revenue. Median and averages are 29%.

Where is the profitability? Data-driven operating income calculations were simplified (Revenue COGS R&D S&M G&A). 20 of 73 IPO businesses reported operational income. Median and average operating income margins are -21% and -27%.

As long as you're growing fast, have outstanding retention, and marquee clients, you can burn cash since recurring income that doesn't churn is a valuable annuity.

The data was compelling overall. 30/50/20 is the new 40/40/20 for more established SaaS enterprises, unprofitability is alright as long as your business is expanding, and COGS can be somewhat more than 20% of revenue.

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Steve QJ

Steve QJ

10 months ago

Putin's War On Reality

The dictator's playbook.

Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev, delivered a speech titled "On The Cult Of Personality And Its Consequences" in 1956, three years after Stalin’s death.

It was Stalin's grave abuse of power that caused untold harm to our party.
Stalin acted not by persuasion, explanation, or patient cooperation, but by imposing his ideas and demanding absolute obedience. […]
See where Stalin's mania for greatness led? He had lost all sense of reality.

The speech, which was never made public, shook the Soviet Union and the Soviet Bloc. After Stalin's "cult of personality" was exposed as a lie, only reality remained.

As I've watched the nightmare unfold in Ukraine, I'm reminded of that question. Primarily by Putin's repeated denials.

His odd claim that Ukraine is run by drug addicts and Nazis (especially strange given that Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, is Jewish). Others attempt to portray Russia as liberators rather than occupiers. For example, he portrays Luhansk and Donetsk as plucky, newly independent states when they have been totalitarian statelets for 8 years.

Putin seemed to have lost all sense of reality.

Maybe that's why his remarks to an oligarchs' gathering stood out:

Everything is a desperate measure. They gave us no choice. We couldn't do anything about their security risks. […] They could have put the country in jeopardy.

This is almost certainly true from Putin's perspective. Even for Putin, a military invasion seems unlikely. So, what exactly is putting Russia's security in jeopardy? How could Ukraine's independence endanger Russia's existence?

The truth is the only thing that truly terrifies leaders like these.

Trump, the president of “alternative facts,” "and “fake news” praised Putin's fabricated justifications for the Ukraine invasion. Russia tightened news censorship as news of their losses came in. It's no accident that modern dictatorships like Russia (and China and North Korea) restrict citizens' access to information.

Controlling what people see, hear, and think is the simplest method. And Ukraine's recent efforts to join the European Union showed a country whose thoughts Putin couldn't control. With the Russian and Ukrainian peoples so close, he could not control their reality.
He appears to think this is a threat worth fighting NATO over.

It's easy to disown history's great dictators. By the magnitude of their harm. But the strategy they used is still in use today, albeit not to the same devastating effect.

The Kim dynasty in North Korea has ruled for 74 years, Putin has ruled Russia for 19 years (using loopholes and even rewriting the constitution).

“Politicians and diapers must be changed frequently,” said Mark Twain. "And for the same reason.”

When their egos are threatened, they sabre-rattle, as in Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump's famous spat about the size of their...ahem, “nuclear buttons”." Or Putin's threats of mutual destruction this weekend.

Most importantly, they have cult-like control over their followers.

When a leader whose power is built on lies feels he is losing control of the narrative, things like Trump's Jan. 6 meltdown and Putin's current actions in Ukraine are unavoidable.

Leaders who try to control their people's reality will have to die to keep the illusion alive.

Long version of this post available here

Karo Wanner

Karo Wanner

6 months ago

This is how I started my Twitter account.

My 12-day results look good.

Twitter seemed for old people and politicians.

I thought the platform would die soon like Facebook.

The platform's growth stalled around 300m users between 2015 and 2019.

In 2020, Twitter grew and now has almost 400m users.

Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi built a business on Twitter while I was away, despite its low popularity.

When I read about the success of Twitter users in the past 2 years, I created an account and a 3-month strategy.

I'll see if it's worth starting Twitter in 2022.

Late or perfect? I'll update you. Track my Twitter growth. You can find me here.

My Twitter Strategy

My Twitter goal is to build a community and recruit members for Mindful Monday.

I believe mindfulness is the only way to solve problems like poverty, inequality, and the climate crisis.

The power of mindfulness is my mission.

Mindful Monday is your weekly reminder to live in the present moment. I send mindfulness tips every Monday.

My Twitter profile promotes Mindful Monday and encourages people to join.

What I paid attention to:

  • I designed a brand-appropriate header to promote Mindful Monday.

  • Choose a profile picture. People want to know who you are.

  • I added my name as I do on Medium, Instagram, and emails. To stand out and be easily recognized, add an emoji if appropriate. Add what you want to be known for, such as Health Coach, Writer, or Newsletter.

  • People follow successful, trustworthy people. Describe any results you have. This could be views, followers, subscribers, or major news outlets. Create!

  • Tell readers what they'll get by following you. Can you help?

  • Add CTA to your profile. Your Twitter account's purpose. Give instructions. I placed my sign-up link next to the CTA to promote Mindful Monday. Josh Spector recommended this. (Thanks! Bonus tip: If you don't want the category to show in your profile, e.g. Entrepreneur, go to edit profile, edit professional profile, and choose 'Other'

Here's my Twitter:

I'm no expert, but I tried. Please share any additional Twitter tips and suggestions in the comments.

To hide your Revue newsletter subscriber count:

Join Revue. Select 'Hide Subscriber Count' in Account settings > Settings > Subscriber Count. Voila!

How frequently should you tweet?

1 to 20 Tweets per day, but consistency is key.

Stick to a daily tweet limit. Start with less and be consistent than the opposite.

I tweet 3 times per day. That's my comfort zone. Larger accounts tweet 5–7 times daily.

Do what works for you and that is the right amount.

Twitter is a long-term game, so plan your tweets for a year.

How to Batch Your Tweets?

Sunday batchs.

Sunday evenings take me 1.5 hours to create all my tweets for the week.

Use a word document and write down your posts. Podcasts, books, my own articles inspire me.

When I have a good idea or see a catchy Tweet, I take a screenshot.

To not copy but adapt.

Two pillars support my content:

  1. (90% ~ 29 tweets per week) Inspirational quotes, mindfulness tips, zen stories, mistakes, myths, book recommendations, etc.

  2. (10% 2 tweets per week) I share how I grow Mindful Monday with readers. This pillar promotes MM and behind-the-scenes content.

Second, I schedule all my Tweets using TweetDeck. I tweet at 7 a.m., 5 p.m., and 6 p.m.

Include Twitter Threads in your content strategy

Tweets are blog posts. In your first tweet, you include a headline, then tweet your content.

That’s how you create a series of connected Tweets.

What’s the point? You have more room to convince your reader you're an expert.

Add a call-to-action to your thread.

  • Follow for more like this

  • Newsletter signup (share your link)

  • Ask for retweet

One thread per week is my goal. 

I'll schedule threads with Typefully. In the free version, you can schedule one Tweet, but that's fine.

Pin a thread to the top of your profile if it leads to your newsletter. So new readers see your highest-converting content first.

Tweet Medium posts

I also tweet Medium articles.

I schedule 1 weekly repost for 5 weeks after each publication. I share the same article daily for 5 weeks.

Every time I tweet, I include a different article quote, so even if the link is the same, the quote adds value.

Engage Other Experts

When you first create your account, few people will see it. Normal.

If you comment on other industry accounts, you can reach their large audience.

First, you need 50 to 100 followers. Here's my beginner tip.

15 minutes a day or when I have downtime, I comment on bigger accounts in my niche.

My 12-Day Results

Now let's look at the first data.

I had 32 followers on March 29. 12 followers in 11 days. I have 52 now.

Not huge, but growing rapidly.

Let's examine impressions/views.

As a newbie, I gained 4,300 impressions/views in 12 days. On Medium, I got fewer views.

The 1,6k impressions per day spike comes from a larger account I mentioned the day before. First, I was shocked to see the spike and unsure of its origin.

These results are promising given the effort required to be consistent on Twitter.

Let's see how my journey progresses. I'll keep you posted.

Tweeters, Does this content strategy make sense? What's wrong? Comment below.

Let's support each other on Twitter. Here's me.

Which Twitter strategy works for you in 2022?


This post is a summary. Read the full article here

Sammy Abdullah

Sammy Abdullah

5 months ago

Payouts to founders at IPO

How much do startup founders make after an IPO? We looked at 2018's major tech IPOs. Paydays aren't what founders took home at the IPO (shares are normally locked up for 6 months), but what they were worth at the IPO price on the day the firm went public. It's not cash, but it's nice. Here's the data.

Several points are noteworthy.

Huge payoffs. Median and average pay were $399m and $918m. Average and median homeownership were 9% and 12%.

Coinbase, Uber, UI Path. Uber, Zoom, Spotify, UI Path, and Coinbase founders raised billions. Zoom's founder owned 19% and Spotify's 28% and 13%. Brian Armstrong controlled 20% of Coinbase at IPO and was worth $15bn. Preserving as much equity as possible by staying cash-efficient or raising at high valuations also helps.

The smallest was Ping. Ping's compensation was the smallest. Andre Duand owned 2% but was worth $20m at IPO. That's less than some billion-dollar paydays, but still good.

IPOs can be lucrative, as you can see. Preserving equity could be the difference between a $20mm and $15bln payday (Coinbase).