For over 5 years, my life revolved around growing my previous company, Binpress. In the months since we found a buyer for it, I've had some time to think about why it failed. Now that we've sold the company, I wanted to reflect on the journey my co-founder and I had with the company, from struggling to get users, getting to $30k in monthly revenue, raising a seed round and eventually selling the company on a down note.
Continue reading Binpress Postmortem
Why do people go to work at startups? is it the excitement of being a part of something new or is it the chance of being compensated unproportionally if the company blows up? Sam Altman of Ycombinator did a nice a write-up about employee equity compensation - and while I don't necessarily agree with everything (context is important), he makes some good points about how to think about employee equity.
This sparked a debate on HackerNews on whether getting minor equity is worth working at a startup for. The consensus seems to be that working at startups is risky and unprofitable, on both points I completely agree. Some choice quotes:
Even well-funded startups give me pause. I'm not interested in putting in founder-like work for entry-level employee-like compensation plus a lottery ticket.
Getting sweet $170k salary with some bonus, massage, free food and shuttle is good enough for me.
"Startup-bucks are even worse than a lottery ticket...." -
Also because if they are worth something, it's a motivation for the company to fire you before you can cash out.
All of those sentiments make perfect sense. However, if you're looking to work in startups to get paid, you're doing it wrong.
Continue reading Should you be working at a startup?
Buffer, the social sharing platform, released a blog post today detailing their employees' pay scale and specific salaries. The approach of open salaries is very interesting to me, but I'm wondering about the public aspects of releasing it online.
Transparent vs. Public
In the article, Joel (Buffer's CEO) refers to transparency as one of their core company values (which they'd previously released online as well). Transparency as a company value sounds noble, however reading their definition in the above link, I am feeling the real meaning is honesty instead.
I am of the opinion that not everything that goes on in the company needs to be shared as a default. I'm not talking about hiding or misleading information, rather not proactively sharing it. Mark Suster wrote a fantastic post on the topic of "How open should a startup CEO be with employees", and it covers some instances where complete transparency might be a detriment.
Please remember that we’re all wired different to accept uncertainty, risk & stress. And remember the reason that most people aren’t startup CEOs is that deep down while they might want your job theoretically most of them don’t actually want the kind of life and pressures that come with your job.
Continue reading Open salaries considered useful?
Another startup culture bash was making the rounds, this time about a common term in the startup world - "getting shit done", and what a terrible mentality it is to have. Disclaimer - I know the author personally, as him and I were at the same 500startups batch this summer, and I also consider him a good friend. But I think he's completely off on this one.
What does "getting shit done" mean?
Continue reading Getting Shit Done
Everybody and their grandma is now a "Growth Hacker", a term originally coined to describe marketers who use unconventional approaches and measure their effectiveness with analytics instead of gut feelings. In fact, apparently everyone who uses multiple marketing channels is now a "growth hacker".
As someone who is on the other side of the table, looking to hire someone to drive growth to his business, I have a newsflash for you - nobody cares about the exact classification and semantics of your title.
What Growth Hacking Means To Startups
Startups are designed for growth. Not every company needs to grow fast - most businesses don't. Startups use technology to achieve scale rapidly - that is the most common definition of what a startup is.
As such, traditional marketing - while very important and required, is typically not enough. That means that in order for a startup to achieve its goals, a different distribution approach is often required. Enter, Growth Hacking.
As such, growth hacking is not
Continue reading Nobody cares what “Growth Hacking” means to marketers