Real Founder Lessons

Techstars Atlanta 2021


Hey y'all!

I'm doing something a little different this year.

Instead of announcing my travel schedule to meet founders for my next Techstars class on Medium (like 2019 & 2020), I'm announcing it personal blog.

For those who have subscribed to my blog for years, thanks for giving me a little . . .

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The Broken Windows Theory of startups

(pay attention to details)

Quick note: I recently changed the format of my blog. You can read more about it here.

In the 1980s and 1990s there was a theory of policing called The Broken Windows Theory. The hypothesis was that cracking down on minor offenses would reduce the number of more serious crimes as a result of a general feeling of . . .

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Mentoring founders is hard

(what's your superpower?)

When my startup was growing like crazy and I felt like we had product-market fit, for the first time in my career I tried to mentor some startup founders. In 2012 I reached out to a half-dozen founder/CEOs with a simple offer...

If you agree to meet with me for coffee every month and tell me everything, I'll advise . . .

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What's your earned secret?

(at minute 8:07)

Founder Lesson
Talk with a dozen successful founders and you'll hear a few very common themes of general startup advice...

  • Team. Nothing matters more than great people. The hugely successful Techstars accelerator values team so much that they say that the five things they care about (in order) are "team, team, team, . . .

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Make one doughnut

(at minute 13:01)

Founder Lesson
There’s a doughnut shop in my neighborhood called Revolution Doughnuts. As a neighbor I can attest that they are a tremendous local success story and their ratings on Yelp put them in the top 15% of all restaurants in town.

Silvrback blog image
I lived nearby before they launched their first location, so I saw how the owner . . .

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Focus on problem being solved rather than technical difficulty of solution

(at minute 9:22)

Founder Lesson
A few years ago I had an epiphany moment about startups...the best founders are problem solvers. They see the world as infinitely malleable and proceed to think about ways to change it to add value. This might sound obvious, but when you compare "problem solving" to money, power or fame as primary career drivers, . . .

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You can't skip steps

(at minute 4:19)

Founder Lesson
I was recently talking with a founder. Last year he and I were spending a bunch of time together as he manually tested his theory of human behavior. At the time he had a full-time job and the manual test that I helped him execute had some holes, so I don't believe that he validated an intense enough consumer use case in . . .

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