Blitzscaling 07: Mariam Naficy on The Dot Com Days and Knowing When To Blitzscale

This is my fifth blog on the notes and my interpretations on the Blitzscaling sessions. In the fall of 2015, Reid Hoffman began taking session called Technology-Enabled Blitzscaling at Stanford University.Blitzscaling is what you do when you need to grow really, really quickly. It’s the science and art of rapidly building out a company to serve a large and usually global market, with the goal of becoming the first mover at scale. And its also about why organization culture is important for Blitzscaling Because when you’re growing an organization very fast, you have to make people accountable to each other on a horizontal or peer-to-peer basis, and not just vertically and top-down through the hierarchy.

Session 2 notes can be found here. Session 3 notes can be found here. Session 4 notes can be found here.Session 5 notes can be found here.

Mariam Naficy is an American entrepreneur who is founder and CEO of Minted, an online design marketplace. In 1998, Naficy co-founded, the first major online retailer of cosmetics. In session 07, she shares her journey and challenges while building marketplaces/e-commerce start-up.

  1. Always think long term when taking decisions from building product to hiring to raising money
  2. Get mindshare of the customer as soon as possible when you are into defining a new category
  3. It will always take more money & more time than what you think as founder to achieve all those things from launching MVP, to getting your first customer, to raising money
  4. Marketplaces are about people on both sides of the platform. Leverage the power of community to get competitive power for your marketplace start-up.And to leverage community power, more than focusing on money, focus on giving value or personal growth.
  5. Taking point 4 forward, the Internet and digital tools have and will keep enabling creative talent to earn more money & praises. Giving a platform to these creative people to earn money and build their reputation is how your marketplace will become successful.
  6. When your start-up is growing and you need people to handle operations at the larger level, your first preference should be people who joined you initially. They are the one’s who understand your core business in much better way than outside hire.
  7. You need right kind of capital to survive and grow your start-up, because you are bound to make mistakes. So focus on making money and not just raising money.
  8. To make employees more accountable and more skilled, make peer feedback work in your growing start-up.
  9. When your start-up is small, you will focus on getting the product right, getting numbers and customers. But as you become more growth-hungry and scaling up, you need not know everything that’s going on in your company. Don’t micromanage or get into every detail. Instead, delegate and focus on building ownership and accountability for your teams.
  10. To achieve focus on execution and on building ownership and accountability, get data/metrics on the table and review them every week. Here the key is to decide what kind of metrics is applicable for your business. For example:- At qilo, at technology end, we focus on (a) time taken to deliver new functionality or defect (b) Number of defects detected in delivered functionality in production. At sales end, we focus on (a) number of outbound prospects to reach every month(b) no of conversation going on with prospect & demo’s given (c) revenue numbers
  11. Keep reviewing your metrics till you get them right. Invest in technology that gives you dashboards about those metrics. Otherwise, it will impact the decision making and performance of your team’s.
  12.  To create a marketplace, make sure that you have much more diversity in your product line.
  13.  Advice for women entrepreneurs
    1. Start as early as possible as life will start putting trade off’s to you very soon.
    2. Get male mentor’s as much as female mentor’s.
    3. Focus on earning revenue and VC’s will have no reasons to chase you as they also want to make money from you
  14. Reaching out to VC’s:  Best way is to reach out through reference by someone they already trust.
  15. In a marketplace, focus on supply and demand side at the same time. Focusing on the supply side will lead to more revenue. And value from your platform and focusing on demand side will help you get customers.