Steve Blank

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are world-class inventions that changed the nature of funding for startups. But don’t use such platforms prematurely. If you’re trying to crowdfund your initial idea, that almost guarantees you are working on the wrong thing.

New entrepreneurs misunderstand what Kickstarter is for. They think it’s a way to do customer discovery, to test their product’s appeal. In fact, going on Kickstarter freezes customer … [ Read more ]

Craig Wortmann

Just because somebody is willing to take something rudimentary from you for free is not proof you have a customer. But when someone commits financially—even at a major discount—that person is serious. And he or she is going to evaluate your product or service much more critically. That’s the kind of feedback you need.

You can also try to get upfront sales, though that’s a … [ Read more ]

Phillip H. Kim

It’s rare that all founding partners are equally committed. How much time each will invest, what opportunity costs each will accept, and the level of ambition each has may differ. That’s especially true if one founder had the original idea and brought on the others, or if one founder devotes himself to the business full time while his co-founders hang onto their day jobs. You … [ Read more ]

Philip Krim

Early-stage investors get excited about hearing your story, and how you’re going to change the world and why, as opposed to your saying, “Tactically, here are the next six steps we’re going to do, and this gets us to launch.” That tactical conversation—you need to have a keen grasp of it, but it’s not what sells the dream. It’s important to build your 12- or … [ Read more ]

Randy Komisar

You will do market research, but that comes later. Before trying to figure out how big your market is, you need to know that people have accepted and will continue to accept the gist of your value proposition. Otherwise, you’ll be piling assumption on top of assumption.

Tony Robbins

The biggest illusion people share with me is “I started a business so I can have more free time.” That’s like saying you had a child so you could have more free time. That is dumb, right? It’s another reason people fail. My view is that if your business is your mission, if it’s truly something you love and live for, it’s an extension of you, it’s … [ Read more ]

Pitch Deck Database

Pitch Deck Database frees you from the time-consuming process of searching for investor decks by aggregating data on over 700+ pitch deck examples from top tech companies of the world in one place, complete with their funding info and industries.

Build Products That Solve Real Problems With This Lightweight JTBD Framework

In my work as an angel investor and advisor, I often find myself dishing out the same advice: Do the work to make sure you are building a product that people will actually find valuable. That requires an incredibly deep understanding of the user, their hopes, and their motivations, instead of taking the easier path of operating off of untested assumptions.

Many entrepreneurs may do this … [ Read more ]

Vivek Mehra

Start-ups often take a while to get their execution right, primarily because of founder overoptimism. On the one hand, optimism is necessary to create a company. But on the other hand, that same optimism gets them into trouble by getting in the way of good judgment. Achieving the proper balance between optimism and execution takes one to two business-building cycles. You also need to balance … [ Read more ]

Bob Moore

Resilient founders don’t ask “Which competitor are we scared of?” Instead, it’s “What fully-formed company would be an existential threat to us, whether it exists or not? And if it doesn’t exist, why aren’t we building it?”

Bob Moore

I don’t worry about competition, I worry about my own vision being wrong, which creates an opportunity for competition to succeed. If anything, I think we spent too much energy thinking about the noise everyone else was making and not enough thinking about our own place in the real market.

Do Algorithms Make Better — and Fairer — Investments Than Angel Investors?

Can an algorithm outperform the average angel investor? And if it can, does that also mean it will make less biased investments? Researchers put these questions to the test: They built an investing algorithm and put it head to head with 255 angel investors in a simulation, asking it to select the most promising investment opportunities among 623 deals from one of the largest European … [ Read more ]

Drive Growth by Picking the Right Lane — A Customer Acquisition Playbook for Consumer Startups

One of the most common startup failure modes is investing in too many channels at once, and as a result not investing in any one channel enough. As an example, betting big on both SEO and virality feels like a really good idea (“We’ll grow twice as fast!”), but in practice it rarely works. And it’s often not clear that either of these routes are … [ Read more ]

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.