Product & Startup Builder

You Get What You Pay For

Added on by Chris Saad.

In most cases, you truly get what you pay for.

Time is often the most precious thing of all. I find myself willing to spend more and more money to save time or improve the quality of the time I spend.

Whenever I balk at the price of something premium, my beautiful wife reminds me "Would you expect a company to pay a recent grad the same amount they pay you to do the same job? Why not?"

She's right. Paying to fast-forward to the future - especially for a company - can be the difference between wasting enormous amounts of capital, life force and time on a failure and winning the proverbial lottery.

Hire great people. Listen to them. Ask them the right questions. Hustle.

Originally Posted On Facebook

Pitch Decks Are Not Just For Investors

Added on by Chris Saad.

Often times, startups put off creating a pitch deck until they need to raise capital from Investors. Even then, they usually see it merely as a necessary evil in the process of fundraising. However, I've found that putting together a pitch deck can be a critical tool in ways that go far beyond fundraising.

How?

Because you (as a founder), your team, customers, partners, and other key stakeholders also need strong, clear and concise narratives that help get everyone excited, aligned and moving in the right direction.

For founders: A pitch deck forces you to turn often vague notions and visions into a structured, reasoned narrative.

For customers and partners: Developing strong, reusable decks allows you to construct a strong, consistent story that unfolds naturally and gets continuously updated to cleanly handle all objections. This process allows you to scale your core message across all salespeople. Ideally, the deck mirrors and fleshes out what's on the website and other self-serve materials.

For the internal team: The right kind of decks/meta-narrative that is updated and presented on a regular cadence empowers everyone to act and make good decisions without "the boss" in the room.

Originally Posted On Facebook

Opportunity Cost Is Not Soft Or Abstract - It's Expensive

Added on by Chris Saad.

Opportunity Cost might be hard to measure, but it is not a theory or a soft abstract idea.

On Google it is defined as "the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.

The example they give is "idle cash balances represent an opportunity cost in terms of lost interest"

So, in simple terms, the money you leave in savings cost you whatever additional profits you could have made by investing it more cleverly in stocks or property etc.

Opportunity cost, however, is not just found in clearly defined scenarios where you can measure the alternative route retrospectively and do a calculation to figure out how much you lost. It's also felt in an infinite number of small decisions and procrastinations you might make every day.

Pushing a meeting to tomorrow. Passing on some hard work due to laziness or emotionality. Not following up with someone when they offer to introduce you to someone that could be helpful. Not following up when an introduction is made. Not taking or making a key investment. Staying in a small town when a different geography might suit your needs better.

On and on

I've been guilty of this many times. Most weeks. In fact.

My constant struggle, though, is to recognize the countless opportunities to optimize my costs and maximize my effective execution through life.

Originally Posted On Facebook

Defining True Value Creation

Added on by Chris Saad.

Value creation is when you put 1 unit in and get 2+ units out. When you put in a sketch and get a high fidelity rendering back out. When you give some feedback and the spirit of what you wanted is translated into a final product that is as good or better than you expected. When the questions get answered correctly before they get asked. When you can leave something with someone and it just gets solved with minimum fuss and frustration.

When you get fast-forwarded to the future.

Originally Posted On Facebook

Startups Should Prioritize Growth Over Profit

Added on by Chris Saad.

Reminder for VC backed startups regarding revenue, profitability and growth:

Typically, the goal is not to build a profitable business. The goal is to build something people/companies love whereby you understand the cost of growth (unit economics, revenue short fall etc) - and then fueling that growth as fast as you can with venture capital.

Over time, economies of scale, network effects and new revenue streams should make up the difference and blast you through to profitability at scale - or someone buys your big, growing and unique user-base for lots of $$

Originally Posted On Facebook

Product Strategy Is a Combination Of These 3 things

Added on by Chris Saad.

Often times product strategy is a combination of experience (knowing how apps typically solve a UI/UX problem - i.e industry best practices), good taste (having good judgment about what looks good and what doesn't), and empathy (having strong intuition about how and why given users might behave or react to certain things). Data and research can then be used to interrogate these instincts.

Originally Posted On Facebook

Understanding The Difference Between Strategy & Tactics

Added on by Chris Saad.

When developing a strategy, be careful not to get caught up in any single tactic.

A strategy typically involves a number of strategic principles and focus areas. Tactics are the concrete steps you’re going to take to get there.

The Strategy is “we’re going to take that hill because it will be a great place to live”

The tactics are “we’re going to get 4 tanks, fuel them up, fill them with troops and go up the eastern side”

Also, as a leader, it’s your job to keep track of the big picture strategy while your team will get bogged down in the details. Very often they will confuse their focus area or passion project as the Strategy. It is not. You need to get all the moving parts right for any particular tactic to ultimately matter in the long term.

Originally Posted On Facebook

The Goal Is To Win The "Best Business Award"

Added on by Chris Saad.

The goal is not to win the “best technology” award. The goal is to win the “best business” award.

More often than not, a more effective sales and marketing operation with a simpler/easier to use product will beat the most comprehensive/powerful technology.

If you’re struggling to build your business around technology that most people don’t understand or can’t digest then consider going back to a blank piece of paper and building something very simple that is easy to understand and adopt. Even if that thing is not necessarily new or novel. Then expand from there.

Let’s call this the “gateway drug strategy”

Originally Posted On Facebook

Sell Your Own Shit!

Added on by Chris Saad.

When thinking of sales/go-to-market for your software, it’s very easy to believe that it’s cheaper/faster/more scalable to partner with others to sell your stuff.

This is almost never the case. Channel sales (selling through others) can be a useful booster once you have your core sales engine running, but initially you typically need to do the hard work of finding your own customers and telling your own story.

No one else will be as effective, articulate or motivated to do it as you and your direct team. There’s no other way to get the learnings you need. There’s no better way to build direct connections and brand awareness in the market. There’s no better way to fast track your sales and control your own destiny.

Figure out who your end customer is and “call” them

Originally Posted On Facebook

Great Collaborators Should Challenge Your Thinking

Added on by Chris Saad.

In your startup, you should be looking for collaborators who challenge your thinking. 

This does not mean they are 'assholes' or devil's advocate just for the sake of it, but rather they are sure to delineate the risks (so that they can be managed), help reveal blind spots, and fill in the blanks in terms of your own skillsets and capacity. 

In some cases these people should make you a little uncomfortable because they're giving you new data and areas of focus that you hadn't previously understood or considered important. 

It's important, though, that those people are able to 'disagree and commit'. Once you make the call, they should get on board and work their heart outs to make your decision and vision a reality.

Originally Posted On Facebook

3 Key Product Mistakes To Avoid

Added on by Chris Saad.

Startups often make a number of key product mistakes over and over. Some that come to mind today...

1. Starting with too broad a "platform" trying to solve all categories/verticals/use-cases. E.g. "It could be anything!"

2. Starting with the wrong specific problem or niche vertical when there might be another niche that has more pain and money associated with it. E.g. Working to help gardeners get leads instead of helping lawyers (more money in the latter).

3. Starting with the wrong specific solution by not directly attacking the #1 sub-problem in the given market/use-case. E.g. Building a product to help lawyers write proposals when what they might actually need most is new business leads

Originally Posted On Facebook

It's Not A Startup Unless...

Added on by Chris Saad.

It’s not a startup until you quit your day job. Until then it’s a side project.

It’s not a product until users are onboarding themselves. Until then it’s a technology/prototype/experiment.

It’s not a business until your product is generating revenue.

It’s not truly scalable until you can grow users/activity/revenue without a corresponding growth in employees. (H/t Colleague)

It’s not sustainable until your business is breakeven/profitable.

Originally Posted On Facebook

4 Things You Need To Prove To Raise Capital & Have A Good Exit

Added on by Chris Saad.

If you're building & running a self-serve consumer app, you really only need to prove 4 things to raise capital and have a good exit:

  • You can spend $x on acquiring a user and get $y in return. Where y is  the  Customer Life Time Value (LTV) and is many multiples above x.

  • The market your addressing is large enough such that your total revenue can become meaningfully large.

  • You have a clear strategy to reduce the cost of X and Increase the return of Y (This is essential if X is still greater than Y).

  • You have an IPO in your future and/or (more likely) you have a number of potential acquirers lined up - ideally you've started building relationships with them already.

Originally Posted On Facebook