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Why BitClout is a big deal
Everything you need to know about BitClout.
It started on a Saturday when I noticed several people on my Twitter network signing up for this service called BitClout. I had only read about it in passing and didn’t pay too much attention.
As someone who is relatively comfortable with crypto, this isn’t your regular sign up. You get a private key which is your password, and that’s it. If you ever forget your private key, then you can’t ever get your account back, which is why people are petrified of holding their crypto.
Once you get into the system, it is fairly familiar:,...
Early Optimal Work Cycles
The early build phases of a technology startup are exciting. We have spent time speaking to prospects, uncovered a segment we are building for and validated our solution with some rough prototypes.
In several of my early startups, I skipped all that to get into the building part. Rest assured almost all of them ended in failure other than the ones I got lucky with.
Our rebuild process is a little different from other early-stage startups where you just have 2- 3 people wearing multiple hats. Our team size is over to 10 people and includes specialists that give us the ability to go deeper faster. (This is also a big risk in the rebuild project and we may easily overbuild)
As the product owner/founder a critical decision to make is whether we choose to work in cycles or just use Kanban to ship features when ready. I don’t think there is a single right answer to this question. Listed below is what we have selected:
We are working in single week cycles
- I chose a single week cycle versus the Kanban method as I believe it provides the whole team with structure and some synchronization given our size. If we were a smaller team I may have opted for Kanban.
- A week cycle helps to bring urgency as well as reduce feature creep that can easily set in if one were to let cycles run longer. One doesn’t have time to ensure that every border-radius and shadow depth are optimal. (I have burned through many work cycles being far too critical on the design which I have learned to let go)
- We are able to discover blindspots faster. Today in one of our early iOS builds I found a broken flow that the backend was able to rectify immediately. Left unchecked we let our assumptions build up and that almost always backfires.
- We are running without any cooldown days/weeks. This drawback makes this cycle unsustainable over the long run. I plan to switch out of this cycle once the beta has shipped by the end of the Q1. Otherwise, you will be running the team way too hot and it will end up in burnout or lower quality output.
- Friday afternoons are internal demo days and most importantly a sense of progress for the entire team to see that they are working towards a set goal that is becoming a reality week after week.
I have found far more success with the above cadence. While this may be working for our team your mileage may vary. Speak to your team members, figure out what is important to you and at what stage you are in the validation and build cycle.
There are no perfect work cycles. There are several resources below that could be of some assistance in helping you find a cadence that works for you.
This books talks about cycles as well as not benchmarking your success only with output. Building features for the sake of building, rather than validating demand almost always ends in failure.
The famous 6-week cycle broken down by Ryan Singer at Basecamp. This short read goes into detail on how they effectively use this cycle length at the company. It is a great read and one I would recommend everyone who is building products.,...
8 Simple Steps to Build a Unicorn
Today I was listening to an excellent episode on the Saastr podcast. Link to the podcast and some references are in the resources. Listed below are great insights from Auren Hoffman.
- Don’t take the advice from people ten years older than you too seriously: I hadn’t heard this one before. He reasons that life is changing rapidly; most advice that worked ten years ago is not as relevant today. Early in my career, I made a mistake to rely too heavily on others’ advice rather than blazing my path.
- Avoid good opportunities: This was my favourite takeaway from the episode. I have learned this again the hard way. Good options are where one doesn’t have an asymmetric upside. This advice also applies to people who have already attained some level of success. Good opportunities take the same work as great opportunities. Wait for those to knock on your day. Say no very often.
- Delegate things you are good at: Common advice is to delegate those tasks we are not good at doing. Instead, we should delegate the things we are good as that gives us greater amounts of leverage and time to building our skills in the areas where we are weaker.
- Smartest people think ten days and 30 years out: Think for the short term and optimize for the long term and not the midterm. High performers pass the marshmallow test with ease. They can delay immediate gratification; however, they are making decisions to optimize for optionality. By removing the mid-term outlook and thinking with the longest of horizons, we can make far better decisions.
- Easier to decide which companies to invest in and which companies to start: To make money as an investor, you need to be both unconventional and right. To create a business, you need to have a third component to have the required unique advantage and desire to build it.
- VC’s almost always lie when they pass on your deal: They may say your addressable market is not big enough or that your team is not right. It usually isn’t the case.
- In startups doing trumps planning: Planning is critical at the earliest stages of your company. Referencing airforce pilots who use the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). “Being wrong will hurt you a bit but being slow will kill you.” Jeff Bezos. The need for speed is essential for all startup operators. There is always a balance that needs to be managed between 1% improvements and step functions.
- True 10xer’s take more time to manage than high performers: They take longer to hire, they require more of your time as a leader, but at the end of the day they bring back the value to the company in spades. Discovering future opportunities before you can even see them. Take the time to nurture them if you have been lucky enough to have hired them. Keep on giving them more responsibilities.
He spends the second half of the episode answering audience questions which are worth a listen as well.
Join four-time Founder and CEO Auren Hoffman as he breaks down how businesses can become the right model for explosive growth, emulate their strategy, and join the path to Unicorn potential in eight simple, hand-made steps.
Great write-up referencing many great resources for people who want to understand the concept of asymmetric opportunities in detail.
Another great gem from Farnam Street breaking down the OODA Loop in much greater detail for those interested.,...
Founders Guide: Journey to Relevance
The start of my entrepreneurship journey is almost cliche. It started at university in sunny Singapore.
I still remember in vivid detail how my cofounder and I had started our design and printing business. It was a few months into starting the company that we got our first big break. Designing and printing a large batch of name cards for a well-known company.
We were excited and had grandiose plans of what our business would become. Once we realized what we had agreed to, that is when the panic set in!
Instead of playing it safe, we decided to take most of the job’s proceeds, buy a large-scale printer, and keep it in our dorm room. I remember the day we received the printer. The delivery person was very confused when he ended up at a student hostel. We assured him it was right and managed to convince him to drop it off in our dorm.
The excitement was palpable. In our head, this printer was what we needed to do to build a big business. I remember reading through a ton of manuals to figure it out. After many hours we finally got everything assembled, plugged the printer into the socket and turned it on.
Immediately the entire circuit for the floor went off with the load. That was when all of our excitement turned into horror in a flash.
I still laugh when I think about that day. While the business had an exciting beginning, it didn’t account too much, and we soon shut it down.
Every entrepreneur will have a genesis story. The moment when they decided to take a risk and put themselves out there.
Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs do not have the story of their dorm room startup, becoming a company like Dell.
After building startups for nearly two decades, I believe what it comes down to is whether an entrepreneur and startup can make it through the journey of relevance.
Listed below are the five steps I believe are needed if the entrepreneur and startup have a chance of completing the journey.
Step 1: The founder’s ability to become an exceptional producer
The best founders are not ordinary people. The words ordinary or average are their kryptonite. One cannot do 10,000 hours of being a founder and hope to have mastered everything about starting successful businesses. Exceptional founders are like producers who can bring together a variety of people together and create something phenomenal.
The pattern I have noticed is that the best founders start their journey by sampling many areas of expertise and hone in on one or two of them. These skills range from attracting top talent, creating buzz, designing products that delight users, writing amazing copy, understanding how finance works or being great at sales.
In the end, they can make things happen on their own.
Everyone believes that they can do this. However, when it comes to making those difficult trade-offs in life: sacrificing personal relationships, your health, all your resources and committing to something when everyone else tells you that you are wasting time. Very few people can keep up with these pressures.
If you are not ready to do the above and spend every waking moment becoming exceptional at one or two competencies that will give you an edge, you are better off not going further on this journey.
Step 2: Finding an opportunity where you have an edge and are on trend
The internet has democratized the ability for anyone to create a startup. As a result, anyone can pay Shopify $29/month and is now an entrepreneur. The best founders combine the exceptional skills that give them an edge with an opportunity that is part of a rising trend.
In 2005 a pair of founders started a service called Odeo which was going to bring podcasting mainstream. While they had the expertise in building businesses around content, the trend wasn’t there. They would have had to stick it out till 2018-2020 to have a relevant business.
Luckily in 2006, Odeo pivoted into a service called Twitter, building on the rising trend of providing short status updates found on Facebook. By pivoting their business, they could use their expertise to create one of the most significant companies of our times.
The longer the journey to relevance becomes, the greater the amount of sacrifice needed. Don’t get stuck on an idea if there isn’t a meta trend that is pulling you forward.
Step 3: The distance between your customers and yourself
I have met exceptional entrepreneurs who have found trends where they have an edge, yet failed to convert them into viable businesses. The reason is that the distance between them and the customer was too wide.
When one cannot easily reach their prospective customers, I wonder how well the founder truly knows the customer segment. These days everyone is talking about how remote work is the future, and I meet several founders wanting to build products for this segment. Yet, very few of them have worked remotely or had founders and company owners within their network who run remote companies.
You can bridge this gap by picking up the phone and calling up these companies. However, when you don’t truly understand who the customer is and have difficulty reaching out to them, it massively slows down the process.
When the process slows, you can’t iterate fast enough. When you can’t iterate fast enough, you start to make incorrect assumptions far more regularly. Which almost always leads to failure.
Step 4: Time to value
A much smaller set of founders reach this stage. However, this is the stage where your producer skills are put to the test.
We live in a world filled with new products and services that are vying for our time and attention. The bar for a new product and services has never been higher. Which means that the longer it takes for your product/service to deliver value to the customer, the more likely they are to churn or not buy from you.
The best founders understand this metric intuitively. The shorter the time to value, the greater the probability that the product will have a higher chance of going viral or achieving word of mouth growth.
The skills needed to reduce this metric are very high, which is why the first step was the founder to prove themselves as an exceptional producer. These are the people who can see the whole picture and work on how to bring that value sooner to the customer that they deeply understand.
Step 5: Building momentum
Successful startups and founders who become relevant understand the importance of building and keeping momentum.
If you have been fortunate enough to make it through step four and have a compelling product/service with a low time to value, the next step is to find a sequence of events that if repeated enough times will propel you to the next stage.
I meet many founders who have built decent businesses yet struggle to become relevant. It’s like they are stuck in quicksand. Always on the hunt for that one magical channel to solve all of their growth problems.
What I have learned in building businesses is that the founder has to be the force of nature that goes through the brick walls to get the momentum going in the beginning.
Once you have built significant velocity in a niche, you need to construct a strategy behind what levers you need to invest in, which will increase your speed and elevate you towards becoming relevant!
On a long enough time horizon with unwavering persistence, I believe most people can make it through the journey of relevance.
We have all read stories of the struggling founder who suddenly hit it big overnight and became a worldwide celebrity. More often than not, the founder was making the same mistakes and hoping for a different result.
Getting all five of the pieces above in a row is very challenging. On the surface, it might sound straightforward. Most entrepreneurs who have been through the cycles many times will tell you stories of juggling an almost insurmountable set of tasks at any one time.
When luck is on your side, and you get them all in a row, that is when the founder and the startup become relevant.
This article is one that I wish I had read when I was starting my journey of entrepreneurship. I hope that it can help someone out there who is either starting or stuck on the journey.
Wishing all of you who embark on this journey the very best. I’ll be sharing information like this in the HOV Newsletter as well, be sure to sign up!
*This article was originally published by ProPakistani.,...
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