“No Marketing” Isn’t as Impressive as You Think

Almost every early stage startup that pitches me these days talks about the traction they’ve had with absolutely no marketing whatsoever. “We have five hundred signups and we’ve done no marketing at all.” “Our beta list is growing quickly–and we’re not even marketing yet!” “Customers are knocking at our door, and that’s with no marketing.” […]

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Single Founders or Co-Founders?

Conventional wisdom says that startups should have two or three founders. People tend to have pretty strong opinions on the issue, although I doubt they have definitive evidence / proof to back up their opinions. Some investors won’t even invest in single founders at all–so understandably for entrepreneurs this is a big issue. Most “business-focused” […]

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Don’t be Data-Driven, be Problem-Driven

Recently a founder of an early stage startup asked me, “How do I convince my co-founder and team to be more data-driven?” I think I surprised him with my answer, because I told him that the key issue wasn’t being more data-driven, it was being problem-driven. Or more specifically, problem-aligned. Being data-driven (or at least […]

A Sense of Duty in Startups

I’ve never read a blog post about duty and startups (although I’m sure they’re out there), but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for awhile. Some people (founders and employees) have a sense of duty towards the work they do. Others do not. And that sense of duty is one of the elements that separates […]

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Launch Your Startup When You’ve Already Won

The tech industry is overly-obsessed with making noise, being self-congratulatory and too often, focused on the wrong things. We look at PR as a big win. We celebrate financings (although we also spill plenty of digital ink about not celebrating them too; and yet they’re common on tech news sites). There’s a time and place […]

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The Building Blocks of the Web

Building applications for the web (or mobile) has never been easier. And it will continue to get easier, as more companies develop what I think of as “building blocks”. These aren’t the low level fundamentals needed for web technologies to work, but the abstracted, easy-to-use components that more and more people are able to literally […]

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Crunch Time: Good or Bad?

Yesterday I got into a discussion with Devin Horsman about my post on product management. I expected someone to argue with me because I mentioned “crunch time” (where people work more than a typical 7-8 hour day). A lot of people have very strong opinions about crunch time (I hope I’ll hear some today!), and […]

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Building Startup Ecosystems Outside of Silicon Valley

I’ve been involved in building startup communities for awhile. In Montreal I started an entrepreneurship breakfast event, launched NextMontreal, spent time advising startups/founders, spoke at events, and more. It was a lot of fun and a shit ton of work. Now that I’m in Halifax, I’m still doing stuff, but taking a different approach. These […]

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Tiny, New, Addictive Behaviors (or How to Build an Awesome Minimum Viable Product)

Early on, once you’ve identified a problem genuinely worth solving, you need to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and put it into the hands of early adopters. In Lean Analytics, we call this the Stickiness Stage. I recently wrote that most startups fail at this point–they simply don’t get the traction they need (in […]

Don’t Sell Solutions to Universal Problems

“Would you like to make more money?” “Is hiring people hard?” “Are you overwhelmed by email?” “Do you wish you were healthier and more fit?” For most people the only answer to these questions is “yes”. They’re truisms. Universal truths. Universal problems. And they’re unsolvable. Too many startups confuse big vision and trying to solve […]

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