Startups Business and Team Notes

Published on Feb 14, 2017. Originally on Nov 20, 2013


  • Have a story. Tell a story. People love listening to stories.
  • Be individualistic when it comes to your motivation, ambition and orientation but if you are not a team player you will fail.
  • Deductive vs. inductive thinking: inductive thinking: what happens if we do that? Do first, starts with a conclusion, focuses on how rather than what; deductive thinking: starts with a hypothesis and end up with a solution.
  • Simplicity is not brief. Brief might be complicated but simple is clear. Speak plain simply; everyone has to understand.
  • Show your vision.
  • Show your passion.
  • Show the money.
  • Get to the point. Tell what you are doing very clearly.
  • Don't be abstract. Be pragmatic and concrete.
  • Accents; speak the constants. Don't slow down, speak your own rhythm.
  • Be humble; 80% about others, 20% about you.Don't refer to your company as a project. Don't say my project.
  • Never say you want to sell your company.
  • Get the investor to remember your name and the name of the company.
  • You are not pitching how great you are, but how you are building a machine that takes multiple inputs and produces money on top of all the great things you do.

What makes a good pitch?

  • Show traction; make it clear: number of users, market size, funds raised, reputed investors on your team, etc.Show how your product is fabulous.
  • Highlight what you had done before.
  • Show the uniqueness of your business.
  • Show why the team is interesting and competent.
  • Explain what you are doing and why people need it.
  • Show why people care.
  • Show competition; if you don't have competitors, you don't know you business that well.


  • Take a look at Bill Joos' "30-minutes presentation" templates and Guy Kawasaki's "10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 fonts".
  • Have two presentations; one to present and the other to send investors.
  • If you have complete sentences in your presentation, get rid of them unless it is a one sentence per slide or you are sending this presentation to investors.
  • Images make better presentations.
  • Be ready to do it without slides. You are not always given the chance to use them.
  • Show what you do.
  • Impress.
  • Secret sauce.
  • You are different.
  • Imagine if ... is a good start.
  • Be positive. Be negative and you will have bad reputation.
  • Be optimistic.
  • Manage relationships. Everyone knows everyone else — be cautious what you tell to whom.
  • Ask for help.
  • Don't show that you are staying around for a short period and leaving. Show that you are staying around and want to be global.
  • Don't be judgemental.
  • Company's culture must be able to attract and retain best talent.
  • Culture is the way of work.


  • People perceive having a co-founder as your first successful pitch, the co-founder is a risk taker who is set to take an idea to execution.
  • Having a co-founder should allow the team to cover more business functions if you choose each other well.
  • Don't fall in love with your co-founder, get on board those who make the business work, productivity is the key metric. When there is no productivity, you should split.
  • You can do it without a co-founder, it takes so much effort to cover all business functions and convince people you are up to the task.
  • People do it for different reasons, but doing it plainly for money won't cut it, there must be passion somewhere that translates to actions, lots of it.
  • Don't fall in love with what you do.
  • Don't be afraid to fail, fail quick and learn.


  • Be explicit about the behaviour you expect from the team from the start because later people will come with their own backgrounds and they need to mix in.
  • Allow for freedom to operate within the preset framework. It is about guidelines not rules.
  • Teams that enforce rules instead of guidelines lose flexibility.
  • Building a team is building trust. Building trust requires communication.
  • Trust requires skills, sincerity and reliability. Skill: can we do it? Sincerity: motivation. Reliability: do it once or more? But for a team, personal trust is what makes the team.
  • If a team member doesn't complete a task, instead of finding someone to blame, support the team to carry on the task. If there is no success after support, check if you have realistic goals.
  • Move from "I" to "we".
  • In companies people sometimes forget that they are on the same team.
  • Whilst growing, take care of overlapping responsibilities and gaps.


  • Think ahead of your time but not so far ahead as to be early.
  • Value from low to high: 1) manual, 2) mechanical, 3) electromechanical, 4) microelectronic, 5) software and 6) content.
  • Morality = the element of social progress.
  • Market your product before launch not after launch.
  • Raise funds before launch not after launch.

Business Development

  • Passion, skill, money are three spheres, company must operate within an intersection of all of these spheres.
  • Content marketing.
  • Lead scoring.
  • Challenger method for B2B sales.
  • Solution sales — Sandler.
  • Hire top talent.
  • Sales investment.
  • Growth hacking.
  • Have a flat multi-role structure at the beginning but have very talented specialised persons.
  • Things will change along the way; team restructuring will happen and more specialisations will emerge as business grows.
  • You can't hire people who are good at everything, you need people who are very good at one thing and who can have average opinions on other aspects of the business.
  • Marketing and sales teams.