Oftentimes even the best entrepreneurs propose innovative solutions to problems that don’t really exist. This to me is the #1 recipe for disappointment especially in “grade A” teams. Thankfully for every cloud-watching entrepreneur there’s a pragmatic hustler who is steadily chipping away at a massive pain they live and breathe every day. TK is the latter type of entrepreneur, and his startup ToutApp is aiming to fix the biggest productivity problem of all: email overload.
+1. Read more on HBR.
John Sculley, who ran Apple from 1983 to 1993, was a marketing and sales executive from Pepsi. He focused more on profit maximization than on product design after Jobs left, and Apple gradually declined. “I have my own theory about why decline happens at companies,” Jobs told me: They make some great products, but then the sales and marketing people take over the company, because they are the ones who can juice up profits. “When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don’t matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off. It happened at Apple when Sculley came in, which was my fault, and it happened when Ballmer took over at Microsoft.”
Really solid tips from Leo Widrich, cofounder of Buffer. It helps that Buffer is a great product. Key insight:
a writer doesn’t care about your product. But they care about providing value for their readers.
Leo’s three main steps are:
- Have your own startup blog, learn to tell stories
- Get to know writers via Twitter and Facebook (I would add: even better if you do it in real life)
- Stay laser focused on the ‘rising star’ bloggers, avoid the big names
Valuable lessons for VCs and entrepreneurs alike. Revolutionary companies are rare. They arise in unexpected markets in often exceptional circumstances. Andrew Chen’s exceptionally well-written reflection reinforces this lesson. Read the money passage below, or go to Andrew’s blog for the full thing.
The most exceptional cases defy simple pattern-matching
This is why as an investor, the focus has to be on teams that pass the brick wall test, a measurement of how passionate they are. In a startup’s life, there are countless times when defeat seems imminent. Entrepreneurs I like working with don’t accept defeat; when faced with a brick wall they smash through it.
When you go to a tech meetup, tech party, or read tech headlines, it’s easy to get swept away into thinking things are soaring for a number of startups. Company xyz now has a zillion users, another company just went viral, overnight sensation, etc.
It’s easy to fall in love with those headlines or worse, it’s easy to be distracted.
The truth of the matter is that it hardly ever goes straight up and to the right.