Category Archives: Business Building

Company Soul

I read two things today about entrepreneurial failure.  One was a great long form piece by Alyson Shontell of Business Insider about Fab.com and one was by Tyson Ho about an unnamed diner in Manhattan which was shuttering.

They were both well-written and painted very different pictures of failure. The story of a Fab was one of bad economics, hubris, premature expansion and of investor/founder/employees selling a big vision and chasing the unicorn dream.

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Shark Tank – Squash You Like a Cockroach

Just watched Shark Tank with the wifey.  I still enjoy this show quite a bit despite it being somewhat predictable.  I’m always amazed at the businesses creative, ingenious people come up with.  Tonight had 3 brothers from Nepal pitching Yak treats for dogs. What you say?

Himalayan Dog Chew was the name of the company.

Yup. Exactly.

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Y Combinator Companies Copies Us – Drama

We are a heads down, drama free group so today, when a Y Combinator company copied us, it resulted in some excitement for the team. Here is a post on the YC copycat that we published on our team blog earlier today.

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We’re really proud of our data and technology at CB Insights. We’re also extremely excited about what we’ve done on the design and data visualization front to help our clients tell stories and get answers from the data.

And now it seems others are excited by it as well.

Yesterday, a Y Combinator company launched that has a striking resemblance to our own product. You can see screenshots below. Of course, using the exact color scheme and text could be oddly coincidental.

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Trust the Process

Hiring is hard. Our plans call for us need about an additional 20-25 folks this year. That means around 2 hires per month and this assumes zero voluntary or involuntary attrition (which is unrealistic to be honest).
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Questions I Ask on Reference Calls

I talked a bit about the importance of references so figured I’d share the questions I usually ask. If you have other questions you ask when doing references that you think really get at the heart of how good a candidate is, let me know.

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Metrics

Some jobs lend themselves to hard metrics. Sales/biz dev is one such place. But a lot of roles don’t. A lot of my former roles were strategy or analysis driven and so there was no hard metric. It was always soft and intangible and relied on people’s impressions.  When I worked in VC and corp dev, it was all about deals. It wasn’t explicitly but implicitly, you wanted to do deals in those roles. Sometimes, I think folks did bad deals just to make the deal count go from zero to 1. They’d never admit, but subconsciously, it happened.
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Industry Punditry

The weathermen sure did nail the blizzard predictions for snowfall. </sarcasm>

One of the things that I’ve wondered about since my time at Kozmo.com was if anyone out there keeps the pundits honest. All the analysts who during the dot com days predicted unsustainable models would be huge or that X, Y, Z company would be huge.

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Canada Goose

I’ve been seeing Canada Goose jackets everywhere in NYC. And so tonight, I did what comes naturally to me — I looked in the CB Insights database to see if it was in there, and there it was. Canada Goose had been acquired by Bain Capital in 2013.  (Yes – I’m a bit strange).

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Signaling Success: Time To Get a Ferrari

Neil Patel is a content marketer who I’ve learned a lot from. He writes killer long-form content about marketing that is insanely crazy valuable. So when he publishes something, I read it. He wrote a post about how a picture in a Ferrari made him $1 million. It’s a click-bait’y as hell headline and I obliged and clicked away.

You should read it as Neil is a great storyteller, but the premise in short is that nice watches, nice houses, nice cars, etc make you look successful and as a result, they open up doors for you with other people who are successful. Those doors can generate business.

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Learning in Dog Years

Matt Wong who is a member of our research team was on Ali Velshi’s financial news show on Al Jazeera TV last Friday. I don’t think Matt expected to be on TV 1.5 years after graduating. I can’t say I would have expected it either, but when they called, I was busy with client meetings, and it felt like Matt was ready.  And so I asked him if he’d like to do it, and after some thought, he said he was.

I’d recommend you watch him as he does a great job. Here’s the link.  They chunk it up minute by minute for some reason so start watching at 2:48.

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