Category Archives: Startup Culture

Blitzscaling 05:John Lilly on Leveraging Community to Scale Mozilla

This is my fourth 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.

Here are notes on session 5:-

  1. Following are the points shared & highlighted in the previous sessions by Reid Hoffman, Sam Altman and Ann Miura :-
    1. Faster decision making
    2. Avoid being solopenures
    3. If you are asking about product/market fit, you haven’t got it.
  2. While session 2,3 and 4 were focused on sharing learnings & best practices on how to validate the idea, how to build team and what should be the priorities when you are starting up, session 5 onwards it’s about how you can start creating team for execution & start executing.
  3. If you have to pick between product and growth, pick product
  4. If you are building something where you already have market leader, you have to play asymmetrically.For example:- When Mozilla team thought of building browser, IE had 95% market share. Mozilla team cannot compete directly with Microsoft, so they have to compete asymmetrically by leveraging open source community to build the browser and spread the word about it.
  5. Hiring right talent is critical for your start-up success. Hire the best who believe in your story & passion and can put in those extended hours and year’s to make your idea a success.Avoid those guys who come’s up and say company ABC is giving me $X and if you can give me $X=Y, I will work for you.
  6. Fire non-performers ASAP.You will make those mistakes in hiring, but correcting those mistakes is in your hand.
  7. Setting goals/OKR’s will help you realize what kind of goals will be correct and working for teams and individuals and what kind of goals you should have in future.
  8. To get better in goal setting, review them regularly(at least quarterly) and talk about the progress every week. Build transparency in the team about who is executing what and focus on lead indicators rather than lag indicators
  9. Once your product has proved that it is solving a problem for which customer is willing to pay or user can’t live without, get to know which services and products lead’s to the usage of your product. Google came with their own browser because they realized that it’s the browser that connects users with their product(search), so it’s crucial to control that part also.
  10. Even if you got an awesome product, nothing scales on its own.
  11. Network effect(where people refer your product to others) will only happen if they see a TRUE VALUE in your product. Linkedin was able to leverage the network effect because people saw value in networking with other professionals, thus they invited others on the Linkedin platform.  Firefox browser gave the value of better security, Chrome gave better speed, that’s why users referred those products to other users.
  12. Avoid building a nice to have product and focus on building must have product. Because for nice to have products, your users and customers will NOT contribute in your growth. And you will be spending hell lot of money in acquiring users & customers.
  13. Once you have found the product/market fit, to accelerate the growth:
    1. Improve product/market fit for the customers for which your product is still nice to have.
    2. Take advantage of users/customers for which your product is must have.
  14. To get B2B growth:
    1. Grow in your decision makers.
    2. Focus on your beta customers. Successful beta customers will become your lead generators
    3. Build awareness by:
      1. Trade marketing in Gartner and Forrester
      2. Pitch reports, insights and case studies to your audience.

Blitzscaling 04: Ann Miura-Ko on Thunder Lizard Theory and Achieving Product Market Fit

This is my third blog on the notes and my interpretations on the Blitzscaling session. 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.

  1. In session 04, Ann Miura talks about Thunderlizards companies who are able to scale massively & avoid competitions to dominate the market.
  2. A company will be able to become a thunderlizard if they can attain following powers. Details about all these powers are given below:-
    • Category Power: – means changing rules of the market and game
    • Company Power: – means creating high-performance culture
    • Product Power: – means achieving product/market fit
    • Proprietary power: – means attaining IP’s or access to scarce resources
  3. Propriety Power:  – Your com will achieve proprietary power by
    • Obtaining Intellectual Property, example pharma companies discover drug and get IP for that
    • Access to scare supply, example DE BEERS
    • Creating on high switching cost, example Oracle DB
    •  Network effect, example Linkedin
    • Authentic teams, example qilo 🙂
  4. Every great company has one fundamental assumption which if turns out true they become really big. Veeva Systems(a cloud computing company focused on pharmaceutical and life sciences) had the assumption that they will be able to scale up well if they build their system on top of force.com. What’s your basic assumption?
  5. Product Power : – You will achieve product power if you have:-
    • Achieved the product market fit. If you are asking about product market fit, then probably you have not found that.A great article on this is here
    • Define a new market category, example SalesForce for cloud base CRM
  6. It’s sometimes seen that some entrepreneurs have proprietary power, but they fail to convert that into product power and concept just end up being a college project.
  7. Company Power : – You will achieve company power if  you have:-
    • Discovered scalable business model
    • Understood and able to create an organization culture that is unique to you.
    • Lowered your company debt and technical debt by defining proper
      • Processes for people operations/HR
      • Tech & operations processes
      • Compensation and Benefits processes
      • Career development path for your employees
      • Communication channels within the organization. Here is a great article to understand company and technical debt
  8. Most of the successful founders are able to think about how to attain company power early in their company stage. As an example, Google was able to attain company power very early when they have a small team.
  9.  Founder(s) who become successful CEO understands company power. And those who don’t understand this are replaced by investors or VC’s or have to get a CEO from outside.
  10.  You achieve Category Power by:-
    1. Defining new space by changing rules of the market and game, example AWS, Netflix, Apple
    2. Change the buying criteria of customers
  11. Catgeory power is achieved by looking externally whereas company power is achieved by looking internally
  12. Speed of decision making matters alot
  13. Founders who are on the path of creating a  thunderlizard company knows clearly why they are the best founding team for the idea they are executing.
  14. Even if you have created a technology solution, the biggest challenge is to find market for that solution. So if you have raised the seed capital or bootstrapping, always remain capital efficient so that you can survive longer.
  15. For marketplace start-up, most important is supply side of the platform and how much loyal will supply side remain with the marketplace. Demand side will not come back if supply side is not there.
  16. For solofounders, journey of start-up will be very tough as it become very lonely
  17. Steve Blank process of customer discovery is both a science and art. Most founders get the science, but fail to get the art.
  18. Start-up with multiple founders should leverage their diversity. VC’s want to see the balance of Yin/Yang in founding team.
  19. Founders should agree to largers vision where they want to go to avoid break-ups down the line
  20. In initial years, avoid recruiting agencies to hire people. Best talent is found internally
  21. Pivoting doesn’t mean changing your product button color, it’s about throwing what you are doing for something else. For example:- Slack was a gaming company pivoted towards enterprise collaboration software .

Blitzscaling 02: What Makes The Best Founders By Sam Altman

You need lots of mentoring and guidance when you are start(ing)-up or taking your start-up to next level of growth. And the best way to learn and get mentored is to read lots of books or listen to someone who has already done that. Recently I came across an awesome content on how to take your start-up from 0 to 1 to n.

In the fall of 2015, Reid Hoffman began taking session called Technology-Enabled Blitzscaling at Stanford University along with John Lilly (a partner at Greylock and formerly the CEO of Mozilla), Allen Blue (cofounder of LinkedIn), and Chris Yeh (cofounder of Allied Talent).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 I got more excited as entire session is 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 1 is about Introduction to class. And Session 2 was with Sam Altman about “What Makes The Best Founders”.

Session 2 notes are extended with my inputs for better understanding. All these are common advice which most of us have heard again and again but often ignore.

  1. Getting things done quickly is one trait differs successful founders from those who have gone back to do job.
  2. YC prefer startup’s with 2 or more founders
  3. Issue with solofounders :- There are too many things to do at fast pace that doing it alone is tough . Second reason is start-up journey is too tough to travel alone
  4. Founding teams break-up if they don’t have an agreement on what kind of company they want to build
  5. Best start-up hire least
  6. Next successful start-up companies will never be building next Uber, Facebook, Linkedin, AirBnB(Ya I know Peter Theil also said this originally)
  7. Launch quickly and focus that users get addict to your product
  8. Whatever you are building, get 10% better every week
  9. If your users are telling you that your product sucks and new users are NOT coming, it’s time your startup is entering into the dead zone
  10.  Pivoting is not about bragging how many times you went wrong. Failure should not shake you up , but at the end failure is a failure.
  11. Pivotes work when
    1. When you leave existing thing and build something you are passionate about
    2. When you are building something which is not working & got insights which doing this that people might need.Slack started as Gaming company pivoted to a messaging company
  12.  Want to learn how start-up works, get a job in start-up that’s about to grow
  13. From product perspective, focus on LOVE not LIKE
  14. Founders’ should spend 10% to 20% of their time in solving organizational and technical debt problems. Manjor focus will always be on sales and growth.
  15. Many start-up focus on everything like getting the best logo, website, Lawyer, VC but fail to build a product which users love and get hooked to.
  16. Distractors while growing/doing start-up
    1. Focus on getting PR to show you are super hero
    2. Going to networking events
    3. Focusing on raising money than building product which actually solves a problem
  17. One mistake which every successful founder does is “Waiting too long to fire poor performers”
  18. Future belong to start-ups solving clean energy and affordable health
  19. Physical and Mental intensity required to work on start-up is HUGE, thus starting early to do start-up makes more sense.
  20. How to fire your friend from your start-up:- Remain human, treat them with respect, help them find a job

Session 1:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3RrVmv5WwA

Session 2:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxKXJWf-WMg

In the subsequent weeks, I will be sharing notes for all the session. So keep watching this blog for more…………