As a serial entrepreneur having founded both bootstrapped and funded companies, grown and scaled companies and been an angel investor I have had the privilege to see many different companies, cultures and investors. Most recently founding, bootstrapping and scaling Grasshopper to over $30m a year in revenue, which was ultimately acquired by Citrix. These experiences have developed a unique investor perspective and a true passion for empowering entrepreneurs to succeed. I love working with scrappy founders that will go out and get things done, not just talk about ideas.
Hopefully you will join me on this journey to further empower entrepreneurs to succeed and maybe create a culture that celebrates meaningful businesses, cultures and success that is not attached to raising money.
- Solve a real problem
Making things a little easier or small improvements are not good enough, we need to solve real problems people have.
- Passion not opportunity
A true passion for an industry, concept or idea is much more powerful than the size of the market. Don't just go looking for big markets with big opportunities, find passion first.
- Revenue and business model are important
The "build something massive, scale it and figure out revenue later" model works for very few if any companies. Having real customers, paying real money is critical and the best form of validation and traction. It is a big plus if it is recurring.
- Culture makes a company
It really matters and culture is what allows some companies to execute where others fail. From core values and core purpose to treating everyone as partners, it is all important and comes from the founders.
- Silicon Valley is not the only place to build companies
Amazing companies can be built outside of Silicon Valley, New York, Boston and other "hubs" and more and more so it is a competitive advantage to not be competing for the same, expensive and limited talent pool.
- Remote cultures can work
Having an office is great but having a remote team can also work, it is not always easy and hybrid, office and remote, is near impossible. For those that are passionate and dedicated to making it work, the benefits are huge.
- Paid advertising works
Content marketing, SEO, viral, social and all great channels should not be ignored but neither should paid advertising. It might be cool to say "we don't pay for advertising" but paid advertising channels, both online and offline, just work and any company that ignores this is missing a big opportunity.
- Bootstrapping is possible
Startup costs continue to drop, making bootstrapping even more possible. Founders can get much further with much less and should. Taking on money can be a nice accelerator and even open up networks and access not before possible but it should not change the culture.
- Series A, B, C is broken in many cases
The endless cycle of raise and raise again is mostly broken. It allows large funds to put more and more money to work but kills many great companies along the way. When companies doing $50m+ a year in revenue are not thought of as a success, there is a problem. The goal should be sustainable and profitable growth, not hitting some fake metrics to raise the next round of financing.
- Founded Grasshopper, bootstrapped to $30M+/year in revenue, acquired by Citrix
- Founded Chargify, built profitable, secured Mark Cuban investment
- Founded ReturnPath, raised from Flatiron Partners and management team secured
- Founding member of National Entrepreneurs' Day (http://entrepreneursday.org)
- Public speaking at FOWA, Big Omaha, LessConf, SuperConf, Entrepreneurs Organization
- Scaled highly efficient team to 45 with over $500k/year revenue per person
- Championed core purpose, core values and brand promise and process around it
- Created execution culture, regular rhythm, goals, budgets
- Hired and built world class management team
- Deep and real world SaaS experience at scale
- Built, scaled and managed true mission critical telecom network
- Built 24/7 customer support with phone, email and chat
- Scaled real paid marketing efforts including national radio ($12m/year) for SMB segment
- Pioneered and trained Ambassador of Buzz with sales based PR and buzz process