OVERVIEW & OBJECTIVES
- Entrepreneurial Epiphanies (and Lessons Learned)
- Thoughts & Theories (Primarily Pertaining to Pervasive Problems & Pitfalls)
- Improvement Ideas (and a Plethora of PART-time Projects & Programs)
- Seventeen (17?!?) Starter Startups?!?
- And An Admittedly-Asinine Alliteration Addiction!
10+ ENTREPRENEURIAL EPIPHANIES & LESSONS LEARNED (IamNOTaCEO.com)
BACKROUND & BIO:
Jeff Goldblatt is an Atlanta-based entrepreneur with ~15 years experience with various B2C startups (and an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School). As creator of The Rejection Hotline®, 300+ Humor Hotlines, National "Get Over It Day", and 40+ viral ventures that have each/individually reached Millions of people - and have collectively engaged audiences over half a BILLION, he became a nationally-recognized authority on viral media and content creation — (extended bio at ViralWhatever.com)
1. My First Epiphany - Most entrepreneurs / founders will put “CEO” on their first business card when starting a company. And I was no different back when I started my first company. But I
quickly eventually realized a few things... (full column soon)
2. "I'm Fired?!?" - In 2007, I made the (difficult) decision to “fire myself” as CEO of my first company - and it quickly became the BEST decision of my entrepreneurial career! Six months later, we had raised $850,000 in funding - and six months after that, we were a profitable 7-figure company... (full column soon)
3. Strengths, Weaknesses, and #SelfAwareness - I SUCK AT MANY THINGS! I am great at a few things. My (relatively unique) experience/expertise is creating/evaluating viral concepts with the potential to reach/engage huge audiences... (full column soon)
[Jeff's extended bio - including 12+ years creating "Viral Whatever" - can be found at ViralWhatever.com]
4. From a small JOKE to a Million-Dollar Startup - The Rejection Hotline / Humor Hotlines / RH Brands - #MyStartupStory ... (full column soon)
5. The Stomach-Punch Feeling of Losing 4 Million Dollars... (full column soon)
6. My Battle With Burnout... (full column soon)
7. My ENTP Epiphany... (full column soon)
8. My ADD Epiphany... (full column soon)
9. Entrepreneurial ADD - Curse or Gift? ... (full coming soon)
10. 80% Done... (then I lose interest and my brain gets hyper-focused on a new challenge...
...80% Done? --> 80% D --> 80 D --> I am 80D --> Iam80D.com / IamADD.com... (coming soon)
11. An Open (Thank You) Letter to Mark Suster - which (ironically? coincidentally? embarrassingly?) has sat on my laptop, 80% DONE, for over a year...(full coming soon)
12. Speaking of my Entrepreneurial ADD...
10+ THOUGHTS & THEORIES - Pertaining to Pervasive Problems & Prominent Pitfalls (ThoughtsOnStartups.com)
A) What IS a “Startup”?? - *It has a ridiculously (and dangerously!) broad / vague / ambiguous definition...
- A pair of bootstrapping co-founders, grinding it out from coffee shops, working on their pre-revenue, pre-funding MVP?
- A 70-person B2B SaaS company working on a $20 Million Series B round of funding that'll put their valuation around 9-figures? ... (full column soon)
*[Analogy: It would be ridiculous - and potentially dangerous - to simply talk about "Water" regardless of whether you meant rain, ice, steam, puddle, river, or ocean!]
B) "Entrepreneur" - There are MANY TYPES! And "Entrepreneur" does NOT (necessarily) mean CEO... or that you're a techie... or that the startup was YOUR idea... or... (full column soon)
C) “Best Practices” - It can be dangerous/detrimental to follow "best practices" (or ANY "startup advice") when ignoring type, size, stage, etc. (full column soon)
My favorite example:
D) “Success" vs. "Failure" (Spoiler: It's NOT as obvious a distinction as you'd think!)
I've personally been involved in 3 different startups which, depending on your perspective and/or definitions, could just as easily be described as a success or a failure:
- One of them sold for 20 Million Dollars! (Success?) But we'd taken almost that much in VC funding at a valuation higher than the acquisition price. (Success? Failure?)
- One of them took $850k in angel funding, had 4 straight years of low 7-figure profits, all investors made money on their investment. (Success?) But we never got the exit we were looking for and we ended up laying off employees, selling off assets for pennies on the dollar, and shutting it down. (Success? Failure?)... #ItDepends ... [to be continued]
3) Lack of Self-Awareness/Acceptance of Strengths & Weaknesses... (full column soon)
4, 5, 6) MANY misconceptions (and prevalent problems / prominent pitfalls) related to "IDEAS"...
-- Many entrepreneurs know if they are great at graphic design, app development, sales... at MOST components of a startup. But most entrepreneurs do NOT know if they are great at ideas/vision/strategic-thinking/etc. (full column soon)
--- Why do so many also feel like it has to be THEIR idea? Probably because we've been told since the age of 5 that "there's no such thing as a bad idea" (FALSE!) and because every Entrepreneurship class or Startup Weekend or "how to build a startup" blog starts with something like "Step 1: Think of an idea." (This, in my opinion, is a big part of why ~99% of startups fail!) (full column soon)
---- Open Letter to Gary V. (I understand why you - and many others - are fond of saying "Ideas are Shit"... But I would like to argue for a slight modification to that statement... Coming soon at: www.MOSTideasAreShit.com)...
------ The difference between an “idea” and an “IDEA+++”)
* Note: Replace "Viral" (above) with "Product-Market-Fit" for startups where virality is not necessary.
7) Several sports examples/analogies [TEASERS: 1) Michael Jordan: Basketball vs. Baseball... 2) Why it doesn't matter if Bill Belichick sucks at passing, catching, running, blocking, or tackling?] (full columns soon)
8) Optimism vs. Realism - and why I think those "Never Give Up!" and "Winners Never Quit!" motivators can actually do more harm than good! (full column soon)
9) The problems/pitfalls of using OUTLIERS as benchmarks... (full column soon)
10) Funding Frustrations? (Spoiler Alert 1: MOST investments are BAD investments! Spoiler Alert 2: Friends & Family Funding = Founders Frequently Failing) (full column soon)
11a) Investors don't invest in one company; they diversify their portfolio to mitigate risk and increase chances of big wins. I believe that many entrepreneurs/startups should now consider that too! (more soon)
11b) I believe the ideas of "you must be all-in" (on one startup) are somewhat outdated from a time (just a few years ago!) before the cloud and AWS and WordPress and Shopify and Facebook Ad-Targeting and countless other services made it MUCH easier/faster/cheaper to launch MVPs! (more soon)
11c) Why don't more startups proactively anticipate their pivots? Why not use economies of scale and shared resources to simultaneously build/launch your next pivot (or 3!) BEFORE you're actually forced to? A-B testing is common in marketing campaigns, why not A-B test your core startup/product? (more soon)
* * * * * * * *
12) The Particularly-Prevalent "Puzzle Pieces" Problem:
Step 2. Read it again; use the drop-downs this time
1) IMAGINE that you have...
...the very real potential to be HUGE - and make MILLIONS of dollars!!!
2) NOW, imagine that you...
...actually take it to the next level and truly realize your (multi-million-dollar) potential!
IMPORTANT: Take a moment to notice how dramatically the situation changes with / without those drop-downs! This simple exercise not only illustrates some of the most common problems/pitfalls in the startup world, but also represents one of the biggest (simplest!) opportunities for improvement!
10+ IMPROVEMENT IDEAS & INITIATIVES - Plus a Plethora of (Primarily PART-Time) Programs - ReThinkingStartups.com
2) Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket! (MultipleBasketStartups.com)
(Don't spend all your time/effort on just one pursuit!)
PUT YOUR EGGS IN MULTIPLE BASKETS!
(Spread your time/effort among MULTIPLE startups!)
NOTE: This is a key premise for MOST of our ReThinkingStartups.com Programs. Obviously this concept is not right for ALL startups or ALL entrepreneurs; HOWEVER, we do ALL have experience multi-tasking:
- Win-Win: Work on startups while meeting other (single) people!
- Dating in the work place is frowned upon elsewhere. Not here! ;)
- Maybe you're over the whole bar scene...
If you've ever even considered working on a startup (or a second startup!?), might as well do it in a fun, casual environment like this and make it a Win-Win!
NOTE: All StartupsForSingles.com startup projects will also have a designated social cause in association with CharityWhatever.com - so it's actually a Win-Win-WIN!
6) "CoFounderator.com" - I believe that (many) problems in the typical "Co-Founder Search" process can be addressed by:
A) looking at the the potentially huge impact that "part-time startups" and "multiple horses in the race" could have on the co-founder "do it or don't do it" decision-making / risk-analysis process, B) encouraging self-awareness (recognition of strengths/weaknesses) in founders - and a more honest advice/feedback program before would-be founders go all-in, and
C) creating a program, a movement, or even a new incubator/accelerator model - designed to match co-founders (great at something) with co-founders (great at something else) and to create Startup MVPs ("Starter Startups") based on some of our "ReThinkingStartups.com Strategies" - particularly shared resources (even shared C-level talent!), economies of scale, and a cross-promotional network effect - intended to create smarter, more efficient, and more successful startups!
P.S. You're familiar with the idea that "you'd rather have a smaller piece of a much larger pie - rather than 100% of a much smaller pie" in regard to concerns about giving up equity... well, I think a similar philosophy could (should?) be that "you'd rather have part-time contributions of a GREAT co-founder - rather than full-time contributions of a less-qualified co-founder" in regard to the difficult and time-consuming process of searching for a great-fit co-founder who is ALSO willing to give up the security of their current situation to join you full-time...
7) Startups Within Startups - whether it's proactively anticipating a future pivot and starting it now or even an entirely different concept, when else can you start a startup and benefit from so many shared resources and economies of scale? (while avoiding all the traditional time-consuming parts of starting a startup - finding office space, interviewing/hiring, all the learning curves, etc. - you already did all that!)... (more soon)
8) Startups For Students - APPLY NOW FOR SUMMER 2017!!!
- Entrepreneurial Self-Awareness (recognition of strengths/weaknesses)
- There is value in putting "multiple horses in the race"
- There is value in the idea of Part-Time startups (at least initially)
- The belief that you must be "ALL-IN" on a startup can be unnecessary/outdated (for SOME types of startups and SOME types of Entrepreneurs)
11A) The "Magical 10% Theory" -- My key premise is that adding an additional 10% on a round of funding would almost NEVER be a big deal (or a deal-breaker) to an investor at ANY funding level. (The difference between investing $200k and $220k? The difference between $2 million and $2.2 million? If you're comfortable with the investment level of the former, then the latter really isn't likely to be a deal-breaker.) HOWEVER, almost magically, the dollars that comprise that "insignificant 10%" will simultaneously represent a HUGE (game-changing!) percentage of the PREVIOUS round...
...I believe that investing (in Idea Stage and/or Seed Stage startups) would become SIGNIFICANTLY more appealing if investors knew that they would receive that "Magical 10%" from the NEXT round of funding (making them whole or closer to whole, while still maintaining their upside/equity). It would:
- increase the likelihood of successful investments (because, in addition to betting on the ultimate success of the company, they're also investing in the ability to simply make it to the next/larger round of funding - a much more frequently attained milestone).
- AND, it would put more money back in the pockets of seed-stage investors (much sooner), thus making more funding available to other startups!
- and I believe all of that could be accomplished with MINIMAL effect on investors of subsequent rounds...
...I'm not saying it would be easy to start this movement, but IF it could somehow (magically?) become a standard practice, I truly believe the "Magical 10% Movement" could have a magical (game-changing!) effect on Startup Investing across the board!!!
11B) "Investment Dollars" vs. "Investment Hours" - In a nutshell: Many Founders spend A TON OF TIME trying to get funding. In MANY cases, that funding is needed to hire employees. I believe that SOME "entrepreneurial employees" out there would actually be interested in that equity (rather than just the dollars that the Founder is attempting to sell the equity to attain)... Instead of struggling to find X dollars in funding (to use as salary to pay employees), why not entice employees by letting them work for that equity, the same way they would work for the dollars that you're trying so hard to find? Equity-Earning Employee-Entrepreneurs? #AlliterationAddiction
I'm not talking about traditionally insignificant amounts of equity via stock options with long vesting schedules (like startup employees are currently duped(?) into viewing as a valuable part of their compensation package). I'm talking about REAL chunks of equity - the same kind of equity you'd give up to a real investor (to get the funding necessary to hire those same employees). Every hour/day/week/month of employment would be tied to an amount of equity (based on value of the employee and valuation of the company) - just like every dollar of funding from an investor is tied to an amount of equity based on company valuation. (The primary difference is that you generally get the full round of funding at once whereas the Equity-Earning-Employees would be earning their equity one hour/day/week/month at a time, but that's just a little math/legal work to be done.) If you're a founder struggling to find funding to build your team, then what do you care if you give X shares to an investor for Y investment dollars so you can turn around and pay that Y dollars out in salary - OR - if you cut out the middle man (investor) and use that equity to pay employees instead of salary?
[NOTE: Common response: Most people can't work for no salary. Ok, so they'll work 20 hours instead of 40, get half as much equity, keep their full time job, and either it'll take twice as long or you hire 2 of them... not ideal - and obviously this model won't work for all people/companies - but still could be an interesting alternative for startups who struggle to find funding!)... (more soon)
12) Economies of scale, shared resources, a cross-promotional network effect... THE WHATEVER NETWORK! ...
More details soon! (Contact us here - or Jeff @ StartupWhatever.com - for more info and/or to get involved!)
SEVENTEEN (17?!) "STARTER STARTUPS" - "PITCHING FOR (part-time) PARTNERS!"
Yes, as ridiculous as it may sound, we plan to announce SEVENTEEN (17?!) STARTUPS (by the end of 2017!) - all based on some "ReThinkingStartups.com Ideas and Strategies", including but not limited to:
- Entrepreneurial Self-Awareness
- Complementary Co-Founders
- Recognition that there are MANY TYPES of Startups (and Entrepreneurs!)
- Ours will be mostly B2C and will at least START as Low-Risk "Starter Startups" -- meaning they can be started quickly, inexpensively, with PART-time commitments... and with modest goals of ~$1 Million (not $25 Million, not $250 Million, not Billions!)
- The many benefits of PART-TIME Startups (theSWANstartup.com = Sacrificing Weekends And Nights)
- The many benefits of Not Putting All Your Eggs In One Basket (MultipleBasketStartups.com)
- Shared resources, economies of scale, and a cross-promotional NETWORK effect...
- ... so the worst case scenario (for our "Whatever Network" startups run through one of our "Startup Whatever" programs) is that a "failed startup" simply becomes "content" or "marketing" or "lead-generation" or "customer discovery" for OTHER "Whatever Network" startups! (And/or they serve as experience, learning, training, A-B testing, market-research, etc. for the team)
- Some intangible "IDEA+++ secret sauce" provided by ~15 years of "ViralWhatever.com" experience
- Some tangible marketing assets, including a portfolio of proven-viral content and a database of 1.4 MILLION fans of our (past/present/future) "Rejection Hotline / Humor Hotlines" business - all of whom are legally subscribed (MMA-compliant, double-opt-in process) who have requested to receive updates from us when we launch new stuff!