Advice is More Important — and Overwhelming — Than Ever. Here’s How Founders Can Cut Through the Noise

Founders shouldn’t feel that they have to go it alone. An abundance of support and high-quality advice can make all the difference in times like these, which means getting the most out of your existing network of advisors and investors has never been more important.

Advice is by no means a silver bullet. And as we’ve previously noted, we’re steadfast believers that the best advice often … [ Read more ]

The Fundraising Wisdom That Helped Our Founders Raise $18B in Follow-On Capital

Two years ago, our team at First Round, led by Partner Bill Trenchard and VP Platform Brett Berson, began to quietly build out a program to help our founders navigate the choppy waters of follow-on fundraising. Long had we observed founders caught off guard by what was needed to raise their Series A after having a relatively easy time at the seed stage.

Realizing how … [ Read more ]

Brett Berson

When a founder says in a plainspoken manner, “When we close, we’re going to be…” you know that they already see the money in the bank. There’s no extra emphasis as they make the statement, but it’s clear it’s not in question. When talking about the future of your company orient around “when” and not “if.”

Anne Dwane

Consider comedians. Comedians don’t live in a different world [than] everyone else; they just see the humor in it. Likewise, entrepreneurs see opportunity where the majority sees mature, intractable markets. Entrepreneurial epiphanies come from a beginners mind, not a jaded one.

The Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail

From lack of product-market fit to disharmony on the team, we break down the top 20 reasons for startup failure by analyzing 101 startup failure post-mortems.

9 Habits of World Class Startups

Startups that grow into transformative companies do two things: (1) they nail the basics and (2) they cultivate the right habits (core operating principles).

The first is mandatory. If you don’t get the basics right, in all probability your company won’t succeed. A list of things we consider basics:

  • Fundraising (don’t run out of capital)
  • Ship (don’t just talk about it, ship it)
  • Customer focus (live

[ Read more ]

TMT: The Unit for Success

How the right mix of experience and innovation generates a great start-up top management team.

How to Craft Your Product Team at Every Stage, From Pre-Product/Market Fit to Hypergrowth

Nikhyl Singhal advises folks at every end of the startup spectrum, from scrappy early-stage founders to heads of product at some of the biggest unicorns. Founders and product leaders at companies big and small bring him their toughest questions: When should founders hand over the product controls? What should you look for in a PM? How do you structure the team? How do you balance … [ Read more ]

The Founder Dating Playbook – Here’s the Process I Used to Find My Co-Founder

Gloria Lin has gone on a lot of dates in the past year. No, not that kind. We’re talking about co-founder dating. As the next generation of company builders takes shape and new founder mafias spin out of places like Stripe, it stands to reason that more co-founder stories won’t fit the traditional mold, and will instead look a lot more like Lin’s.

Lin’s process is … [ Read more ]

Why Tim Cook is Steve Ballmer

What happens to a company when a visionary CEO is gone? Most often, innovation dies and the company coasts for years on momentum and its brand. Rarely does it regain its former glory. Here’s why.

Editor’s Note: for more on this theme, read “Visionary, Salesman and Pragmatist Model of Business Succes.”

Start-Ups: Stop Wasting Your Marketing Budget

Having the best product won’t help your start-up without a focus on segmentation, targeting and positioning.

Paul Graham

When a startup launches, there have to be at least some users who really need what they’re making — not just people who could see themselves using it one day, but who want it urgently. Usually this initial group of users is small, for the simple reason that if there were something that large numbers of people urgently needed and that could be built with … [ Read more ]

Ken Shotts

There are strong arguments that diversity promotes effectiveness. But I think that has implications that people haven’t really thought through. What about situations where some people believe diversity produces ineffectiveness? That’s not a hypothetical — this has long been the argument against diversity in the military. But there’s a counter-argument rooted in social justice. Do I want to live in a world where people’s outcomes … [ Read more ]

Elad Gil, Vinod Khosla

As Vinod Khosla has observed, your market entry strategy is often different from your market disruption strategy. And too many people focus on how small the market entry side is, but the entry point almost definitionally has to be small, because you have to find a space that isn’t covered or saturated by incumbents. If you find a gap and push your way through, often … [ Read more ]

Elad Gil

A lot of founders will go to customers and say “Hey, would you want to use this?” And customers will say “That’s great, we’d love to use it.” And so the founders go off and build it, but when then they come back with a product, no one’s using it. That’s because what they should have asked is, “Would you pay for this?” Being interested … [ Read more ]

Elad Gil

Markets with potential usually have a changing dynamic that allows new players to climb in and make room for themselves. It could be falling costs, new tech or a new distribution channel. Whatever it is, if you’ve heard something was difficult, you can’t just stop there because things have probably changed.

Elad Gil

As a general rule, when I make investments, it’s market first and the strength of the team second, which is quite different from a lot of other angel investors who are more founder-driven. I think that’s a mistake. Even if you have a strong founding team that’s able to pivot, they’ll probably stay trapped in the market they’re already in. Many great teams get taken … [ Read more ]

The Most Common Mistakes Made By Startups Throughout The Hiring Process

In the venture capital industry, we talk a lot about the importance of the founding team. But we might underestimate, especially in the early stages, something that might be as important as their drive, soft skills and strategic sophistication: their ability to recruit an A-class team. So I wondered, what are the best practices out there? I knew that I couldn’t find the golden formula, … [ Read more ]

Jim Clifton

Most well-meaning people are wrong about where startups come from. They believe startups come from innovation. But we found that startups come from what we call the “builder” quality: the entrepreneurial personality that leads people to start new ventures and bring them to success.

Khalid Halim

The double-edged truth of the fast-scaling startup: If the company grows as it should, it will outgrow many of its people.