I discovered this post by Sramana Mitra. It is about taking a critical look at the problematic child of a VC’s investment portfolio. I however see it another way - I see it as the information, a founder must always have at his/her fingertips. I feel this way after being inspired by another piece by Bob Parsons (founder, GoDaddy).
The whole point? It can be boiled down to :
Everything that is watched improves
Parsons takesa a leaf out of the life of John D Rockefeller - who was famed for his minute knowledge of all things oil. He was probably the only person in Standard Oi, who knew exactly how much it costs to extract, refine and bring to market, a barrel of oil. This, in the days before Excel. Similarly, out of Sramana’s points, I feel a few are the ones that should be worked upon.
- Which Market? How big is the Market? Why?
- What Value does the Customer see? What Price can you charge based on Perceived Value?
Both of the above points are related to pricing. There is a problem with these points as compared to the others. For example, resolving conflicts in Sales Channels, How to define Lead Sourcing/Generation/Qualification, etc. are solved problems. The issue with pricing is, only the founders should be qualified enough to fix a price - they know what their technology is and they know who to sell. Pricing is a problem, that if attempted to be solved by sales guys or code monkeys will result in a F***edCompany. The other thing that I feel is a tough problem to solve is
- What are the key additional hires / timeframe?
No matter how good you are, you cant do everything. However, it is an extremely tough problem to acquire new brains. Especially in a startup, where you may have to pay a lot more than they are actually worth.
- measure and watch everything of significance
Another point by Parsons. Sounds paranoid, but as a founder helps you give clear warning signals. For example, in a software company, a very plausible scenario is where a core module is being delayed causing all other modules to be delayed. However, as a founder you would trust your lieutenants to get the job done. What if it is’nt? What if the lieutenant bit off more than he/she bargained for? As a founder, I think I should know about it much much before it is beyond salvage. How about a metric to measure the lines of code committed everyday in each branch, in each module. Will this help me to flag warnings? I dont know, but I think it will.