How Not Giving A F*ck Gives You Confidence

Entrepreneurship is tough and the challenges are varied. You need to work incredibly hard, be clever enough to solve tough problems, but more than anything, you need to have emotional stamina. You need to have grit.

Yet in all the blog posts and videos you read and listen to about startups, that aspect of your life is rarely addressed. Because of this, I highly recommend reading a decent dose of self-help or motivational books. They can be just as useful as the Lean Startup. I promise.

One that I’m reading right now is titled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. It was written by Mark Manson, a well-known American blogger. In it he discusses a modern phenomenon: that we all desire to be rich and famous and successful, but we are uncomfortable with the hard path it takes to get there. We want so bad to be the next Zuckerberg or Jobs to the point that we can’t even acknowledge our current status of, (dare I say it)… average.

He continues by stating how social media compounds this effect. We are in constant FOMO mode which doesn’t allow us to make the true sacrifices needed to accomplish our goals. This constant feeling of being inadequate, or of jealousy, not only makes you feel like crap, but prevents you from being real with who you are and where you’re at. And without this ability, true success is nearly impossible.

Manson’s solution is that we should face our issues directly. That we should take full ownership of them:

Being open with your insecurities paradoxically makes you more confident and charismatic around others. The pain of honest confrontation is what generates the greatest trust and respect in your relationships. Suffering through your fears and anxieties is what allows you to build courage and perseverance.

Seriously, I could keep going, but you get the point. Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame.

Pain is an inextricable thread in the fabric of life, and to tear it out is not only impossible, but destructive: attempting to tear it out unravels everything else with it. To try to avoid pain is to give too many fucks about pain. In contrast, if you’re able to not give a fuck about the pain, you become unstoppable.

Creating a startup is tough. But if you can accept that the struggle is hard and long, it makes it more endurable, and therefore increases your chances of success. Yes, it’s a paradox, but an important one to understand if you are realize your full potential.

Read more of Manson’s work in his book, his blog and his twitter.

Prioritising Tasks The Stephen R Covey Way

In this week’s edition of The Motivation we look at time management as dealt with in the book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey, a seminal work in personal productivity and growth.

The 7 Habits lay the foundation for a successful career, teaching you how to approach fundamental topics such as relationship-building and how to communicate well. In Habit 3, Covey gives you powerful insights on prioritising tasks. He claims you divide your activities into 4 categories:

  1. Important
  2. Not Important
  3. Urgent
  4. Not Urgent

These 4 classifications overlap to form a grid of 4 quadrants (see image below) within which we organise our time.


The following is an overview of each Quadrant and the results associated with them:

Quadrant 1 covers the urgent and important and consists of problems and crises. Sometimes these can’t be avoided, such as when you get ill. But often times people focus solely on activities in this quadrant because of poor time management. Procrastination or lack of planning mean that a small issue becomes a big one. The results of focusing too much of your time in Quadrant 1 are stress, burnout and feeling like you’re always putting out fires.

Quadrant 3 covers the urgent, but not important and consists of activities such as responding to phone calls and emails, the content of which is not related to your goals. The appearance of work is there, but truly valuable outputs are scarce to be seen. Results include short-term focus and shallow or broken relationships. People focusing on this quadrant often feel victimized, out of control and don’t value goals and planning.

Quadrant 4 covers the not urgent and the not important. This is when you are spending time on activities that have no valuable output and are not related to your goals whatsoever. Whereas in Quadrant 3 you may respond immediately to an email that has low value, in this Quadrant you are responding to emails with zero value. The not urgent and not important also includes examples such as randomly browsing the internet or watching TV. The result of this kind of behaviour is someone who doesn’t take responsibility, gets fired from jobs and is dependant on others or institutions for basics.

Quadrant 2 covers the not urgent, but important. This is the work that, if you apply yourself to every day, will result in you achieving your goals. If you are building a media-focused startup, these are the tasks that will most directly result in eyeballs on the screen. If you have a hardware startup, this is doing the designs, or connecting with manufacturers. Focusing on Quadrant 2 results in a person who has vision, perspective, balance, discipline, control and few crises.

In his book, Covey explains how to categorise activities into these quadrants and leverage this analysis. For example, he suggests not using daily planners with tight schedules that don’t allow for a bit of spontaneity or dealing with stuff that has to be dealt with immediately. He states this is too constraining and discourages people from proper planning. Rather you should schedule your time in a weekly fashion, with the broad goal to gradually move your focus from activities in Quadrant 1, 3 and 4 to Quadrant 2. So for example, you could start by dedicating 2 hours every morning to Quadrant 2 tasks, leaving the rest of the day open to whatever comes your way. As time goes on you should have less urgent matters to deal with so you can decrease the amount of time you put into the other Quadrants.

To summarise the power of this, let’s contemplate how you will feel at the end of the 2018. When you look back, what will you remember? Will it be all the emails and phone calls you answered? Or will it be the product you launched? Or the number of users you have? Covey’s simple yet powerful approach to examining how you spend your time should help you increase your productivity in real terms and help you achieve your goals.

If you would like to read further, here is the link to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on Amazon.

The Importance Of Milestones In Fundraising

Carlos Eduardo Espinal is a large figure in the European startup scene. As Seed Investor and Partner at Seedcamp he has invested in, or has lead the investment in, over 200 startups. In 2015 he published Fundraising Field Guide: A Startup Founder’s Handbook for Venture Capital, an excellent treatise on how to get money for your startup.

Chapter 2 of the book addresses the value of communicating milestones achieved, such as the hire of a senior marketing executive or hitting 10,000 monthly users. These accomplishments act as signals. They are ways of demonstrating you are on the track to success.

Leveraging a milestone to encourage angels or VCs to sign is a powerful tool and may seem simple, but there is a nuance to it. Espinal explains this from the point of view of the investor:

“The challenge to an early-stage investor is to balance investing in your startup before you [the founder] are too far along in your progress (and thus merit a higher valuation) and coming in too early in your journey (and risk losing it all). All investors strive to minimize risk without losing the opportunity to invest in a hot company. Investors are constantly trying to find the least risky point at which to invest. As such, some of the best times for a company to fundraise are either right before or right after the completion of a key milestone, but before so much time passes that the recently achieved milestone is no longer impressive.”

In other words, it is as a matter of helping the investor derisk the investment. For example, if a company is close to hitting their targets, the chances of them failing are relatively low. But once they announce publicly their achieved goals, the cost of shares in the company will increase, making the risk once again significant. Therefore an excellent strategy is to get signatures just as you’re approaching a milestone. The author explains how this is easier said than done:

While [getting signatures before you hit a milestone] makes obvious sense, only companies that instill a strong confidence and “fear of missing out” (FOMO) in potential investors regarding the company’s growth post-milestone completion can get investors rushing to get this kind of deal done.

On the flip side, some may want to invest only after your target is hit. In this scenario, they want to see the immediate effects of the event. For example, the expectation of growth after a new hire or product launch. They also may be waiting for others to come on board.

To be clear, milestones for investors are not always the same as internal milestones. Espinal explains the 4 types most relevant for angels and VCs:

  1. Human Resources. When you make a key hire that will have a major role, typically someone in a senior role of CEO, CTO, COO, VP of Sales or VP of Marketing. This demonstrates your ability to attract talent and ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’, so to speak.
  2. Product launch. Or feature releases that will have a significant impact on how you grow your user base or monetise.
  3. Market validation. Every company has a one metric that matters, the one number that is most important to them. This can be daily active users (eg. 100,000) or monthly recurring revenue (eg. $1 million) Hitting round numbers here is solid proof of your ability to grow.
  4. Funding and Partner agreements. If you sign off on a big corporate deal that signals success. Likewise, confirming other investment, no matter how small, can signal to bigger firms that you are capable of getting people to bank on you.

You should also keep in mind that different investors have different values as to which objectives are critical. When discussing your path with them, query as to which are important to them, but don’t stray too far from your vision. You will need room to pivot, which brings us to a final caveat. Don’t make investment dependant on hitting goals. This is known as investing in tranches. Espinal explains why this is bad:

If you consider a tranche as a glorified milestone, adhering dogmatically to it early on could have a negative impact. Why? Well, because endeavoring to meet the scheduled conditions may constrain your company’s growth options, even if midway through executing your stated strategy it turns out that it was a bad idea for the company to have the goal agreed upon for the release of the tranche.

Fundraising Field Guide is a short read full of practical advice which I highly recommend. If after reading the excerpts above you’re feeling energised, the next section is crucial for understanding how to manage your time effectively to make sure you hit your goals.

How To Use The List Of Startup Accelerators And Incubators

The MBA Is Dead’s interactive list of startup accelerators and incubators is designed to allow you find programs according to a region or vertical that you would be interested in. You can search the database by Vertical or Region as viewed in the GIF below.


In the search seen in the GIF, the user selects the category of Vertical, the subcategory of Ecommerce and the accelerator Mucker Lab at which point she can view the Details of the program. Read further to understand how each category and subcategory are organised.

Categories Of Verticals And Regions

Regions are defined as different geographical areas of the world, such as Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, Latin America, MENA, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the United States and Canada.

Under Verticals, you will find subcategories such as gaming and insurance. Some special ones to be noted:

  • Horizontal [don’t have a vertical focus]
  • Minorities [focus on supporting underrepresented communities]
  • On Going [accept applications year round]
  • Religious [have a religious aspect to their program]
  • University [typically you have to be affiliated with the university program, but not always]
  • Women [focus on supporting female entrepreneurs]

Once you select a subcategory, you are presented with a list of programs you can peruse. By selecting a program you will its Details, as in the image below.


Details Explained

In the first box, you see the program name, city and country. In the second and third boxes you will see the deals available. Most accelerators offer a standard deal for all companies. For example they will take 10% equity for $10,000 leaving your company with a valuation of $100,000. They will offer this to every startup. No exceptions.

But sometimes a program will make deals on a case per case basis. If so, they will say something like ‘we take between 5% and 10% in exchange for $10,000 and $20,000.’ To understand what these means in terms of valuations for your company, in the database I describe two scenarios, one is called High Value, the other is called Low Value. High Value is when the accelerator takes the smallest amount of equity and gives you the most amount of money. This is the most ideal scenario for you as it gives you highest valuation for your company. In our example it would look like this:

  • low equity: 5%
  • high offer: $20,000
  • high value: $400,000

The company takes 5% in exchange for $20,000 which gives you a valuation of $400,000.

Inversely, the Low Value is when they take the most amount of equity and give you the least amount of money. In our example, it would look like this:

  • high equity: 10%
  • low offer: $10,000
  • low value: $100,000

In this situation, the valuation of your startup is on the low end of the spectrum. While that may be less than what you hoped for, it may be a more accurate reflection of the value of your enterprise. Have a hard think before saying yes or no.

Sometimes you will see the two valuation sections are identical or one is empty. This means the deal that is visible (or the one that is repeated) is the only deal on offer. I realise this is not the best way to present the offers, but I figure giving you some information is better than none. Please be patient as I work to make this section more clear. In the meantime, always confirm deal terms.

Accelerator Website, Updates And Verticals

The boxes after the valuations display the website url of the accelerator, the date the information was last updated and a link to email me if you have any new information or if you’ve found an error. The final box displays what verticals the program focuses on, such as artificial intelligence, ecommerce or blockchain.

What To Do When You Find An Accelerator You Love

Once you find an accelerator (or accelerators) you love, you have to actively pursue a relationship with them. Learn how to do this at What To Do When You Find An Accelerator You Love.

[photo credit]

Keep My Emails Out Of Your Junk

Do you want to know how to raise money for your startup? Do you need information on how to expand your user base? Do you wonder how to grow on a personal level so to be a better business person?

The MBA Is Dead is here to answer these questions in my weekly newsletter. For example in Funding Alert 22 I address issues of self-confidence and explain Greycroft VC’s 9 tips for fundraising. In Funding Alert 21 I look at when is the appropriate time to start seeking investment and tips on how to manage the stress around it. Important stuff.

If you haven’t already signed up, you can do so here or on the subscribe form on this page. If you have signed up, you should make sure the emails arrive in your inbox and not your Spam or Junk folder. To do so, follow the instructions below on how to add my email address to your contacts below.

How to add my email address to your contacts

Look under the email service provider you use to see how.

AOL 8.0+

  • Step 1 Open an email from me
  • Step 2 Click Add Address icon
  • Step 3 Verify the sender’s contact information

AOL Webmail

  • Step 1 Click on the Addresses tab in the upper right corner of the Mailbox window
  • Step 2 Click on the New drop-down menu and select New Contact.
  • Step 3 Type the email address of the new contact in the Screen Name field and click the Save button.


  • Step 1 Open an email from
  • Step 2 Click Add Sender
  • Step 3 Verify that our contact information is correct
  • Step 4 Click “Yes”


  • Step 1 Open an email from
  • Step 2 Right-click the sender’s email address
  • Step 3 Select Add to Address Book in the short-cut menu
  • Step 4 Verify the sender’s contact details


  • Click the Show search options downward-pointing triangle in your Gmail’s main search field
  • Type in the From field
  • Click the link “Create filter with this search”
  • Check the option “Never send it to Spam”
  • Click Create filter


  • Step 1 From the mail screen, click on the Address Book tab
  • Step 2 Insert the email address you would like to add
  • Step 3 Click Quick Add

Mac Mail

  • Step 1 Open an email from
  • Step 2 Right-click the sender’s email address
  • Step 3 Click Add to contacts in the short-cut menu
  • Step 4 Click Save and Close

Microsoft Outlook Express 6+

  • Step 1 Open an email from
  • Step 2 Left-click the sender icon, or right click the sender’s name
  • Step 3 Click Add to contact
  • Step 4 Click Save and close

Microsoft Outlook 2003

  • Step 1 Open an email from
  • Step 2 Select Actions on the toolbar
  • Step 3 Select Junk Email from the drop-down menu
  • Step 4 Select Add sender to Safe Senders List
  • Step 5 Verify that our contact information is correct and click Ok

Microsoft Outlook 2007

  • Step 1 Open an email from
  • Step 2 Click Options on the Tools menu
  • Step 3 On the Preferences tab, under Email, click Junk E-mail
  • Step 4 Select Safe Senders or Safe Recipients tab and click add
  • Step 5 Enter the email address of the contact and click Ok

Mozilla Thunderbird

  • Step 1 Click the Address book button
  • Step 2 Make sure the Personal Address Book is highlighted
  • Step 3 Click the New Card button
  • Step 4 Under the Contact tab, copy and paste our address and click ok

MSN Hotmail (Classic)

  • Step 1 Open an email from
  • Step 2 Click Save Address in the menu bar
  • Step 3 Verify that our contact information is correct
  • Step 3 Click OK on the next screen

Window Live Hotmail
Adding to the Address Book doesn’t automatically add you to the Safe Sender list; you must mark the sender as Safe.

  • Step 1 Open an email from
  • Step 2 Click on the Mark as Safe link

Yahoo! Mail

  • Step 1 Open an email from
  • Step 2 Select the Add to Address Book link.
  • Step 3 Enter the email address of the contact and click on Save Contact.

Thanks for making the effort! See you soon in your inbox 🙂





How To Get Confidence From The School Of Life

Creating a successful startup is difficult work. It’s difficult because you are not sure if your idea is valid or crazy. It’s difficult because one day it looks like you may be creating the next Facebook while the next day your company appears to be a pipedream.

It’s also difficult because a startup is essentially just a theory. It’s a theory that people want your product. Creating a company is essentially years of work to prove this theory correct. This task is solitary in nature. As Peter Theil puts it in this book Zero To One:

“The prospect of being lonely but right—dedicating your life to something that no one else believes in—is already hard. The prospect of being lonely and wrong can be unbearable.

Therefore handling the emotional aspect of creating a company is vital. You have to have enormous belief in your abilities and self-esteem. One succinct book on the topic is On Confidence published by The School Of Life. The book gives a quick overview of the 9 categories of obstacles (see image above) preventing you from feeling that you can achieve your goals. For example, in Chapter 3 the author addresses the Imposter Syndrome:

“The impostor syndrome has its roots far back in childhood – specifically in the powerful sense children have that their parents are very different from them. To a four-year old, it is incomprehensible that their mother was once their age and unable to drive a car, tell the plumber what to do, decide other people’s bedtimes and go on trips with colleagues. The gulf in status appears absolute and unbridgeable. The child’s passionate loves – bouncing on the sofa, Pingu, Toblerone – have nothing to do with those of adults, who like to sit at a table talking for hours and drinking beer that tastes like rusty metal. We start out in life with a very strong impression that competent and admirable people are not like us at all.

This childhood experience dovetails with a basic feature of the human condition. We know ourselves from the inside, but others only from the outside. We are aware of all our anxieties and doubts from within, yet all we know of others is what they happen to do and tell us – a far narrower and more edited source of information.

We are often left to conclude that we must be at the more freakish and revolting end of human nature. Really, however, we’re just failing to imagine that others are every bit as fragile as we are. Without knowing what it is that troubles or wracks outwardly impressive people, we can be sure that it will be something. We might not know exactly what they regret, but there will be agonising feelings of some kind. We won’t be able to say exactly what kind of sexual kink obsesses them, but there will be one. And we can know this because vulnerabilities and compulsions cannot be curses that have descended upon us uniquely; they are universal features of the human mental equipment.

The solution to the impostor syndrome lies in making a crucial leap of faith: that others’ minds work in much the same way as ours do. Other people must be as anxious, uncertain and wayward as we are.

In other words, we should constantly remind ourselves of the humanity of others, that they too, like us, have weaknesses. On Confidence is a short read, and highly recommended if you are ever in need of an emotional boost to get you through a tough period.

How To Get Funding For A Startup: 9 Tips

Funding for a startup is super hard! One great way to improve your fundraising game is to hear about how it was done by the pros. In this section we will look at a fundraising anecdote from Greycroft, a venture fund that makes initial investments from as little as $100,000 at the seed stage and up to $35 million from their growth fund. Here Alain Patricof recounts the tale of raising their second fund around Christmas in 2008, in one of the worst economic climates in modern history. While his story is not of a founder, but of a venture capitalist getting institutional investment (from corporate, pension funds, hedge funds, etc), the details he gives are insightful. He starts by sharing interesting statistics on his funnel:

We had 515 contacts, of this, roughly 250 passed for various reasons and 100 were non-responsive. We had 154 visits, 97 due diligence requests, 33 second visits, and 12 reference requests, to ultimately produce 9 institutional investors.

That’s less than a 2% yield of all contacts and 6% of first meetings.

Obviously these numbers won’t map perfectly to that seen by a tech founder. Usually the initial funnel for startups raising tends to be smaller. But seeing these numbers can help you understand the dynamics of getting funded. It can help you visualize the task before you, giving you comfort in knowing you are not alone in getting a ton of rejections. Patricof dives deeper, describing the rough treatment he received and how discouraging it was at times:

During the process, however, we learned a lot about various institutions and how they treat supplicants like us. Some of the highlights that immediately come to mind: courtesy on call backs in a time frame they set but don’t observe, due diligence processes which promise a month or two and take almost a year, people who invite you to full committee presentations and only one person shows up after you take two days and travel over 1,000 miles to get there in a rainstorm. And these are just a few of the examples.


The 9 Tips

The blog post continues to cite his numerous frustrations. But even more helpful are the  9 lessons he gleaned from his experience:

1. Never assume you know who will get over the finish line and make a commitment they will fulfill. At the end of the day the most unlikely group may come through for you and the most likely investor will disappoint.

2. Never assume you are done and that you have identified your group of investors. You have to keep pursuing new prospects up until the day you close as inevitably someone will get a hiccup and back away. Leave no stone unturned.

3. Never give up on an institution who says no. Keep providing them with up-to-date data and items of progress to keep them involved as you never know what will persuade them or perhaps why they said no in the first place.

4. Always, but always, ask the following questions before you leave the first meeting:

A – Do you actually have money to commit? If not, when?
B – What is the due diligence process and how long will it take?
C – How is the decision finally made?
D – If you were to commit, what would be the range of commitment?
E – Understand who the point person is in their group for follow up and decide who is most appropriate in your group to follow up. Make someone responsible.

5. Listen to what is said and keep extensive and accurate notes from every meeting even to the point of using a CRM system of some kind to record who was at the meeting and any identifying features (e.g. beard, color of hair, tall or short, or anything they told you about themselves) which might later assist you when going back to them for a later meeting. I guarantee you by the time you finish, all of the names will blend together and by the end if you see someone who you met early on, you will have forgotten everything about them including what they look like. Perhaps most importantly, remember the last thing they say as they or you walk out the door.

6. Have a very organized follow up process, and don’t wait for anyone who says they will call you back in 2 weeks or a month to call you back. Most times, because they will have had 50 meetings like yours in the interim, they will probably have forgotten what you look like and what they said they would do next.

7. Prepare in advance the list of all your company CEO’s, co-investors and personal references with e-mail and telephone numbers and collect all of the data on each company in your portfolio. Anything you can do to make it easier for potential investors will accelerate the process or maybe even get them started on due diligence sooner.

8. Don’t believe or be discouraged by stories you hear about other groups raising money who have done it faster. Most times it isn’t true, as it may have been just for a first closing. There may be special circumstances of which you are not aware or it may just be rumor. In today’s environment you should assume it takes a minimum of a year to complete the process and you better be prepared in managing your investment strategy of your existing fund so you don’t run out of money.

9. Focus early on to get a lead name investor that others will respect and follow.

Once again, Patricof was raising a VC fund from institutional investors. His path will not be identical to yours, but the fundamental elements are the same. You just need to tweak this advice to your personal process.

+ + + 

The MBA Is Dead has a database of 400+ startup accelerators and incubators with over $10 Million in funding available. Applications to these programs are closing soon. to make sure you don’t miss out on getting investment in your startup.

Read here the full article Confessions Of A VC Who Raised Money During Financial Armageddon.

Funding for a startup is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. 

Power Tips On Fundraising From Kevin Ryan

So I’ve been diving into the First Search tool I mentioned last week and reading some great articles, some snippets of which I’d like to share here.

The first one is a synopsis of an interview First Round did with Kevin Ryan, an entrepreneurial powerhouse who has been the founder, or chairman, of companies like DoubleClick, Gilt, MongoDB, BusinessInsider, and Nomad Health. In total he’s raised a whopping $750 Million in venture capital.

The article is a quick read, and is chock-full of great advice. For example, this instruction on when to start the fundraising process:

Before anything else can happen, you have to make sure you can get VCs to the table. If you start reaching out to them when it’s time to raise, it’s already too late. “When I plan to be raising in six months, I’m already out there, proactively connecting with VCs, having coffees, making as many of them aware of my company as possible,” says Ryan. “The conversation is safer when I’m not raising money.”

In this preliminary phase, the goal is to secure early expression of interest — an “I’d love to hear about it when you’re ready” — from as many VCs as you can, ideally six to eight. “No one can say no to the meeting when you’re ready to raise, because you can lead with, ‘You told me five months ago you wanted to hear from me when I went out to raise. I’m out there now.’”

His advice to begin the hustle months in advance makes sense when you look at the statistics highlighted in the article:

In First Round’s recent State of Startups Survey of 869 venture-backed founders, we noted that over half said it took them 3 or more months to raise their last round, over a third said they raised less than they set out to, and nearly a quarter pitched 20+ firms.

Ryan’s advice delves deeper, and gets even more nuanced. For example, the order in which you meet VCs can have an impact:

When you’re scheduling pitches, always save the best firms for last. “I like to have one or two meetings with either VCs that might not be the ideal fit or angels or other people who can give me commentary on the idea and how I’m presenting it,” says Ryan. “Every time you go through and do a presentation for the first time — or even several times — you find out it’s not great.”

Each meeting will also make you more familiar with your industry’s special variety of groupthink. “You’ll see the same questions come up over and over again,” he says. “By meeting three or four, you will have drilled yourself so you have tight answers to those questions.”

But my favourite tip is the one that deals with the emotional component:

At the outset, you might need to fake the confidence that you can and will deliver. But with every presentation, it’ll become more natural. “Don’t lose sight of the fact that VCs are not here to do nonprofit work. They’re looking for returns,” he says.

“You basically start to believe your own bullshit after a while, and that’s a good thing.”

You can read here the full article Step-by-Step Fundraising Tactics from the NYC Legend Who Raised $750M.

The Right Way To Do Onboarding

On November 30, 2017 First Round Capital announced a new product called First Search, ‘the largest database of curated, high-quality advice for building startups ever created’. First Search is essentially a repository of blog posts and documents organized around topics such as ‘growth-hacking’ or ‘visual-design’. Pretty cool!

The one thing I did find missing was the ability to see which articles were considered top-quality. A review system, or points ranking, like that used on Reddit, would help me hone in on the best content. Hopefully they’ll be implementing that feature soon. But other than that, this is definitely a great resource!

Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 16.13.34.png

Growth And Onboarding

While perusing First Search I came across many great articles. One was entitled ‘Why Onboarding is the Most Crucial Part Of Your Growth Strategy’ and was written by Casey Winters of Greylock. In it he tackles the challenge of getting users to return to your product after a first engagement. It is called retention or ‘stickiness’ and achieving it can be challenging. Lots of churn happens here as users find new products confusing or not worth the effort. A valuable solution to this problem is onboarding. So, what does successful onboarding look like? Winters provides 3 insights, including this one on the subtleties of educating users on how to use your app or website:

Principle #3: Don’t be afraid to educate contextually
There’s a quote popular in Silicon Valley that says if your design requires education, it’s a bad design. It sounds smart, but it’s actually dangerous. Product education frequently helps users understand how to get value out of a product and create long term engagement. While you should always be striving for a design that doesn’t need explanation, you should not be afraid to educate if it helps in this way.

There are right and wrong ways to educate users. The wrong way: show five or six screens when users open the app to explain how to do everything — or even worse, show a video. This is generally not very effective. The right way: contextually explain to the user what they could do next on the current screen. At Pinterest, when people landed on the home feed for the first time, we told them they could scroll to see more content. When they stopped, we told them they could click on content for a closer look. When they clicked on a piece of content, we told them they could save it or click through to the source of the content. All of it was only surfaced when it was contextually relevant.

My favorite part of this tip is how nuanced it is. ‘Educating the user is bad’ is a common assumption. But there are certain ways of doing it that can be incredibly powerful. This goes to show how startups are more art than science, and that the right action can often be counter-intuitive. You can read the entire article here > Why Onboarding is the Most Crucial Part of Your Growth Strategy.

Fighting For Net Neutrality

The basic principle of Net Neutrality is that access to all websites and web services should be equal and that anyone can start their own website/service and make it accessible to anyone with internet access, just like any other website/service. This is important for everyone, especially for entrepreneurs.

Lots of big companies are trying make a profit by killing Net Neutrality. The reason for this was featured on Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. It is also illustrated by the hypothetical scenario described below where someone makes a call to their ISP to complain about internet speeds and access (as explained by Reddit user Arkadysmoon):

Me (after 50 minutes of juggling automated messaging and wait times): Yeah, so apparently I can’t access Facebook, Netflix or NYTimes? All I can read is the freaking NBC page.

Rep: Yes, ma’am. We’re sorry to hear you are having difficulty and are happy to help you with this matter. Please wait while I access your account.

… Rep: Ma’am, it looks like you only have the basic Internet Services package.

Me: Yeah, same one as last year.

Rep: Ma’am, in 2018, we are pleased to tell you we have actually improved our packages to better fit our customer’s needs. Your Basic Services Package covers your local news station and Comcast-approved affiliated websites only. If you wish to access more websites, you will need to upgrade your package to the Social Media, Streaming, or News Packages. If you want all three categories, you will need to upgrade to a VIP package. If you want access to more than 5 categories you will need to upgrade to the All Access Package.

Me: Uh, what?? Why? What do those cost? I want the service I had last year, I didn’t agree to any changes!

Rep: I understand ma’am. Your current Basic Services Package is the same price as last year at $79.99/month, each additional package is $9.99/month for unlimited access to the approved category. VIP Packages are an additional $49.99/month and each All Access Package is an additional $129.99/month.

Me: Are you @$*#&$ kidding me? If I want the same service as last year, I have to pay $210/month?! Rep: Yes, ma’am. And its unlimited access, so it really pays for itself the more time you spend on it.

Me: Uh, no…Why is there a change? I refuse to pay more for the same service. Isn’t it illegal to filter access to websites?

Rep: Ma’am, I’m pleased to tell you that in December 2017, Ajit Pai and the FCC decided to revoke Net Neutrality rules, allowing us at Comcast to better serve you with these customized packages. If you didn’t want this, you should have called your local government representative @ or submitted complaints to the FCC @ Have a nice day!

This is a future situation I’m afraid could happen if Net Neutrality rules are revoked this December.

Get the picture?

Net Neutrality gets attacked every few months and the only way to stop it is through activism. Basically letting politicians know that you are not happy with this. Another Reddit user, Dandymcstebb, supplied the email addresses of the five people voting on the issue. By contacting them, you can make a difference:

These are the emails of the 5 people on the FCC roster. These are the five people deciding the future of the internet.

The two women have come out as No votes. We need only to convince ONE of the other members to flip to a No vote to save Net Neutrality.

Currently PRO Net Neutrality: (thank them!)
– Mignon Clyburn – (confirmed ‘No’ vote)
– Jessica Rosenworcel – (confirmed ‘No’ vote)

– Ajit Pai –
–  Michael O’Rielly –
– Brendan Carr –

Spread this comment around! We need to go straight to the source. Be civil, be concise, and make sure they understand that what they’re about to do is UNAMERICAN.


I couldn’t have expressed it better myself. Let’s keep the internet free!