Feb 12th, 2020

Are You Working on the Right Thing?

Together with many, many others I regularly put my finger on the pulse of ProductHunt to explore which products and services are new, hot and trending. Going through the list of “next favorite things,” one can only wonder what the rationale behind quite a few of the listed products is. Clearly some of them are meant to be a personal project or a side hustle — but quite a few seem to aspire to be the new new thing, alas their target group is minuscule and/or the problem the product solves is close to non-existent.

Which brings me to the quintessential question every entrepreneur should ask themselves (ideally before starting their venture): Am I working on the right thing?

As innocent and obvious as this question sounds, browsing through ProductHunt and its fellow brethren, indicates not every entrepreneur might have a good grip on the answer to this question. And again — nothing wrong with frolicking when you are toying around with an idea or it’s a side project. But when you consider this to be your ticket to startup nirvana, better have a good answer.

And the answer always starts with the customer and her interplay with the trifecta of Frequency / Density / Friction.

When looking at a product or service from the perspective of the user/consumer, Frequency describes the amount of times during your day you encounter the problem, which your offering aims to solve. Density describes the time/effort spent inside of the problem and Friction is the level of pain the problem causes you. This triple play was popularized by my friend and bestselling book author Chris Yeh.

Good businesses have high levels of all three ingredients — if one is missing, you typically don’t have a business (at least not one with a fast growing, large market).

Feb 3rd, 2020

Should I Stay or Should I Go

On June 10th, 1982 the English punk rock band The Clash released their namesake No. 1 hit single asking the age-old question “Should I Stay or Should I Go”.

In many ways it is the same question startup founders all over the world ask themselves from time to time: Should I continue to work on my startup or should I give up?

The other day a founder posed this exact question to me. I...

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Jan 21st, 2020

What a Super Bowl Ad Can Teach You About Leadership

A little while ago I found myself on a conference panel with David Barett, founder of Expensify. There is a lot to be said and learned from David and his uber-successful company — anything from his leadership philosophy (parts of which we have discussed here already). But the thing which stuck with me was his story about Expensify’s Super Bowl ad.

If you know anything about the Super Bowl, you...

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Jan 9th, 2020

The One Percent-Rule

Today, my colleague Mafe sent me an excerpt from an article she read:

”We can call this The 1 Percent Rule. The 1 Percent Rule states that over time the majority of the rewards in a given field will accumulate to the people, teams, and organizations that maintain a 1 percent advantage over the alternatives. You don’t need to be twice as good to get twice the results. You just need to be slightly...

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Dec 3rd, 2019

Everybody Either Writes Code or Talks to Customers

Earlier this week I had a delightful conversation with Expensify’s founder and CEO David Barrett at the Digital CPA conference in rainy Seattle. We talked about all things culture, innovation and how to bridge those two spheres in front of a group of leaders and CEOs. When asked about his company (which is a/the leader in expense management software and a happy unicorn) and how he keeps people working on the right things (namely:...

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Dec 3rd, 2019

Know Everything There Is to Know

If you have seen my last post, you know that I recently read Blake Snyder’s excellent book on screenwriting “Save the Cat”. It is a great (and fun) read which made me think about storytelling in a different way (especially in the context of pitching a business and my specific craft: Storytelling from stage). Plus it makes you see movies through completely different eyes – the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet.

In the book, Blake...

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Dec 3rd, 2019

What Screenplay Writers and Startups Have in Common

In one of the best scenes of the 2001 documentary Startup.com (one of my favorite docus – watch it!), you watch as the founders of the staring startup govWorks pitch potential names for their company to random strangers in a döner kebap shop in NYC. It is a brilliant example of some of the best and most valuable things anyone who is building something new can do: Get out there and road test your stuff.

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Nov 22nd, 2019

Freedom in the System

As you scale your business, you start putting systems into place. They take the form of processes, procedures, rules and regulations. It is, in many ways, the only way you can scale beyond a handful of people. But if you are not careful, you create not only bureaucracy but will stand in your own way.

Take my recent experience with America’s beloved airline Southwest. For better or worse I have frequent flyer status on Southwest...

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Nov 16th, 2019

On Paradigm Shifts

I just returned from the Rise of the Rest Summit where I had the distinct privilege of meeting some of the most inspiring, hard-working and smartest entrepreneurs around. In the evening I had an inspired conversation with a blockchain/crypto-assets entrepreneur about public equity markets, why they evolved into their current state of affairs and how a future decentralized system might look like. In the midst of our discussion the entrepreneur tried to explain the...

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Nov 11th, 2019

The 90 Minute Rule

The other day I had the distinct honor and privilege to spend more than an hour talking with LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner on stage at a Singularity University program. We touched upon many topics, the highlights of our conversation being beautifully summarized by the one-and-only Stephanie Crowley Papaioanu:

Graphic Recording

Among the many great comments, the piece which stood out for me was Jeff’s answer to a question from...

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