This is everything I've written here or elsewhere over the last few years. You can search, filter by publication, or choose from some highlights below.
FILTERED: ALL TEACHING STARTUP

That Old Adage About a Startup With a Solution Looking for a Problem

That can be a plus

10.3.17





In Episode 6.7 of The Startup Show, we talk to NeuroPlus founder Jake Stauch about how his amazing brainwave tech struggled to take off until he found the right problem for his solution.

While a student a Duke University, Jake founded NeuroPlus, a company that tested audience reaction to advertising by scanning brain waves. His customers were routinely fascinated by his tech, but Jake couldn't get a lot of repeat business. A lot of customers didn't understand the data, and even when they did, they had a hard time grasping the value.

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When a Startup Takes On Big Corporations

And how to do it

9.19.17





In Episode 6.6 of The Startup Show, we discussed the challenges of starting up a retail product, in this case, Mati Energy, with founder and CEO Tatiana Birgisson. The beverage industry is home to some entrenched, deep-pocketed (sometimes evil) corporations, and the plucky startup has to be more than just unique and hardworking to survive in that environment.

There's almost always an element of luck involved.

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The Fine Line Between Love and Hate in Startup

The Startup Show - Episode 6.5

9.14.17





Last week, during what was supposed to be the shoot for The Startup Show's 7-block (episodes 7.1, 7.2, and so on), I instead gathered the talent and crew into the WXYZ lounge at the awesome Aloft Durham Downtown and there we all discussed the future of Teaching Startup.

In short, we discussed whether or not it should have a future.

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Ideas and money falling out of pockets on Sand Hill Road

The Great Silicon Valley Startup Debate

9.7.17





There's a lot of debate in this episode and it's all warranted and it's all around where you start your company and how much that matters.

When Automated Insights sought its Series A VC raise, we were offered a big check almost immediately, funding for years, provided we move our company out west. Robbie had a young family, I had a young family, it was pretty much off the table.

We got to our Series A, but it took much longer and was much more work than even we, conservative as we were, could have imagined. We didn't raise VC money locally, but we couldn't have gotten there without the support of the organizations and individuals around us for introductions, advice, and help with business development.

We wound up giving back to our community in different ways. Robbie turned to angel investing, and is involved with a number of local early startups. I hated writing checks, so I do this, and I did ExitEvent, and I advise and/or mentor anywhere from four to six local early startups at any given time.

A startup community is important, no doubt, but questions have to be asked and I think we ask most of them in this episode. How valuable is the local community? Does it need a physical, locational definition? What about digital communities (that's a big one for us)? What is support and what is just noise? Does everyone outside of the Valley need to be customer first?

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Why Startup is a New and Different Kind of Fun

The Startup Show: Episode 6.3

8.31.17





Before I started my journey at Automated Insights, I had spent a couple years consulting. This is what entrepreneurs do when they finish one thing and haven't figured out what to do next. But I didn't just do consulting, I went all-in on a consulting startup.

I hired people, I built the portfolio up to over 20 clients, I was doing over $1 million in revenue each year. This was the first time I had built something completely based on service and completely based on revenue, and that would inform how I thought about startups from that point on.

The lesson learned was pretty simple. Get to money, and get there quick.

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Why I Wanted MATI Energy and Neuro Plus on The Startup Show

Some reasons are obvious, some less so

8.24.17





There are some obvious reasons why I wanted to get Tatiana Birgisson, founder of Mati Energy, and Jake Stauch, founder of Neuro Plus, on The Startup Show. And also some not-so-obvious reasons.

Tatiana is one of the most impressive people I've met over the last five years. And it's conscious decision I just made to not call her the most impressive woman or the most impressive young entrepreneur I've met over the last five years.

When I first met Tatiana, she was dragging kegs of Mati Energy to startups all over the American Tobacco campus. She was perfecting the formula, brewing the beverage, packaging, marketing, selling, and delivering. Mostly by herself.

Forward a year or so later when she was the keynote at Triangle Startup Weekend. I brought my twin daughters, around 10 years old at the time, to hear Tatiana speak and take in all the startup. Tatiana made an instant impression on both of them, more so than my own startup championing around the house.

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Why That Startup Side Project Is So Important

Building The Startup Show

8.18.17





I'm so freaking lucky.

I realize how cool it is that I'm in a position where I can be so open about my side project(s) at any given time. I like to think I've earned that over a 20-year career of proving I can handle, and actually benefit from, doing two things at once.

In this episode of The Startup Show, Jon, Andy and I got into the really deep topic of side projects. I'm a big believer in the necessity of side projects, something between a hobby and a job, to fuel what it is your trying to do with your life. And if your "day job" is the right job, i.e. it's the roadmap to do what you want to do with your life, a second thing can't be anything but helpful to that first thing.

Over the last week I've realized a couple things. I've never been more convinced that Teaching Startup and The Startup Show can and will work and do big things, but I'm also more and more aware of how much I need to narrow my focus.

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The Startup Show: Doing Startup With Zero Ideas

It's not as crazy as it sounds

8.10.17





The latest episode of The Startup Show is the first in which we take an actual member question from our Talk board (in the member area of the Teaching Startup website, join now and use it please).

Dawn was let go from her job due to cutbacks. This is a great excuse for her to start her own company, which she has always dreamed of doing. One small problem, she doesn't have a single idea for a product, service, or anything else to sell.

This is actually not a problem. She served us up a great, universal entrepreneur's dillema.

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An uncomfortable but necessary discussion: The Startup Show talks sexual harassment

Because we need to move the conversation forward too

8.2.17





In Episode 5.2 of The Startup Show, we talk about sexual harassment in startup culture.

The recent incident at 500 Startups isn't the first time sexual harassment has made an appearance in startup culture. Far from it, just look at all the recent issues at Uber as a starting point. Nor do we think that this is something that will magically go away anytime soon.

It sucks, and we just feel like startup culture should, and more importantly COULD, be better than corporate culture in this regard. And we think the responsibility for that falls heavily on dudes like us.

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Teaching Startup: One Bad Early Hire Can Kill a Startup

It Comes Down to Managing Expectations and Staying Agile

6.19.17


I kicked off a program at Teaching Startup called the Summer of Startup. Every day in June and July, Teaching Startup is posting new educational and motivational content to make entrepreneurs better entrepreneurs.

Two years ago, an entrepreneur came to me with a dilemma. She had been approached by another entrepreneur who was being forced to wind down his own fledgling startup as his funding dried up. He was a one-person shop, he had made a decent run of it, but time was up.

Now he wanted to go to work for her.

I walked her through the dilemma. The guy had great tech and had been able to do a lot in a short amount of time with limited funds and resources. His was a tragic and all-too-common story. He raised a small seed round, crushed his milestones, a lot of investors were saying "maybe," and he just ran out of runway.

Happens.

So I asked her: Where's the dilemma? He didn't want a lot of money or equity. He wasn't looking for a specific role, but he came with ideas. He had connections, experience, and he filled a gap in a place she wasn't super strong. He came with zero baggage. He wasn't a jerk, no blemishes on his personal record.

She then explained, in a long, roundabout way, that he didn't fit the plan.

read the rest at: http://teachingstartup.com/one-bad-early-hire-can-kill-a-startup.asp


Teaching Startup: The Summer of Startup 2017

Kicking Off Our Summer Startup Project to Help You Kick Off Yours

6.5.17


Every summer I write a piece encouraging anyone and everyone to get started on a summer startup project.

For the last several years, I've been writing about the Summer of Startup. The idea developed around finding an entrepreneurial summer activity for my pre-teen kids, but it has since evolved into a theme for everyone I talk to.

Summer is just a different time. When you're in school, it's a huge downshift, of course. But even when you've moved on into the working world, everything still slows down from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Vacations are taken across your organization, kids have to be entertained and accounted for, and life just generally eases up a bit.

It's downtime, regardless of who you are or what you do.

Take advantage of it.

I'll tell you how in a second.

For us here at Teaching Startup, the Summer of Startup is going to be about turning this nice little niche we've carved out into a real, live thing. I've got four objectives:

1. Opening up the beta to those entrepreneurs who have been on the waiting list seemingly forever, which will conclude with opening up the beta to the public.

2. Building a more robust and useful website experience, making membership mean something more than access to all of the content.

3. Holding off on new episodes of The Show while we tighten up the definition of it, the chemistry, and the production.

4. Spreading the word of the mission to people who can help turn this into a business, including creating a deck for partners and investors.

read the rest at: http://teachingstartup.com/the-summer-of-startup-2017.asp


Teaching Startup: The Poker Episode

THE SHOW - Episode 4.3

5.22.17





In startup, everyone talks about failure and a lot of folks even encourage it -- Fail fast and fail often, they say. There's nothing wrong with this mantra, on its face, but it's rare that someone will actually walk you through what failure looks like and how to prepare for it. In startup, failure isn't the loss of your startup, failure is a long parade of pain.

In corporate life, failure is the loss of your job, maybe the loss of your house, your car, your family, everything you've worked so hard for. A lot of folks avoid startup because it seems like the risk is much higher to wind up in that aforementioned nightmare situation. But contrary to conventional wisdom, entrepreneurs don't love risk, they love to stare down risk, tolerate it, and mitigate it. If they're good, they eliminate it.

That got us talking about poker.

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Teaching Startup: All Startups Are Scams

THE SHOW - Episode 4.2

5.15.17





There's a fine line between being a dreamer and being an entrepreneur. Don't get me wrong, I mean this in the best light possible. Without dreams, without suspension of disbelief, without the ignorance of what can't be done, the entrepreneur is no different than the cubicle drone. One thing separates the entrepreneur from the dreamer: Execution.

There's also a fine line between being an entrepreneur and being a scam artist. Let's face it, if you're doing startup right, you're doing something no one has ever done before with no proof it will work, much less succeed. And you're trying to sell that vaporware, that dream, those magic beans, to customers or investors or both.

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Teaching Startup: When Do You Call Yourself An Entrepreneur

THE SHOW - Episode 4.1

5.8.17






Why do people hesitate calling themselves entrepreneurs? I meet entrepreneurs from all over the country -- these are smart, ambitious, even successful people who having trouble getting the term entrepreneur to roll off the tongue. And more often than not, it's because they feel like they don't know enough about startup to label themselves as an entrepreneur. This is ludicrous. And it makes me furious.

But I can understand the awkwardness of it. It's not like being a doctor or a lawyer -- there's no credentialed association to back up the fact that you studied and worked hard to become what you are. There's also a bit of sketchiness to it, those multi-level marketing and huckster salesmen who go with entrepreneur because it gives them a showy legitimacy.

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Chasing Money, Trading On Your Name

Episode 3.4 of THE SHOW, the Last One With Thad Lewis

4.10.17






So this is the last episode with NFL Quarterback, entrepreneur, and all-around great dude Thad Lewis. We find a comfort level and a common theme here, and get into a great discussion about funding and sales.

Colgan does this exercise in which he pretends to be Thad and dreams up his cold email marketing campaign. There's a lot there for any entrepreneur to take away. The initial marketing boost, or lack thereof, is something that kills companies quickly, and Colgan is brilliant at it.

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